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Moscow Snub; Prison Conversion; Severe Drought

Aired October 12, 2007 - 17:00   ET

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


BLITZER: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, the secretaries of State and Defense get blunt talk and a cold shoulder in Moscow. Russia putting up new opposition to U.S. plans for the missile defense system in Europe and making some serious new threats.

Also, a convicted terrorist who killed in the name of Islam now undergoing a shocking prison conversion.

Is the World Trade Center bomber, Ramzi Yousef, renouncing his faith?

And the war over water -- some parts of the country high and dry in a record drought. Now a controversial proposal sparking a fierce battle over a precious resource.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tense talks over U.S. plans to build a defense shield in Eastern Europe, with Russia now vowing to "neutralize" -- "neutralize" -- the proposed system. The president, Vladimir Putin, unswayed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Let's go straight to our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre.

He's watching this story for us -- are the Russians, Jamie, making any specific threats?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Not specific, Wolf.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed to be mocking the U.S. missile defense efforts, calling it something today about as likely as lunar bases on the moon.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Interceptor away.

MCINTYRE (voice-over): Last month's successful test of America's fledgling missile defense shield, in which a ground-based interceptor smashed a dummy warhead in space over the Pacific Ocean has only solidified Russian opposition to installing the system in Europe. Hosting America's top diplomat and defense chief at this country home, Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed to take a combative tone -- threatening to pull out of a cold war treaty limiting intermediate range missiles and saying the U.S. should deploy a system only with Russian cooperation.

PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Of course, we can sometime in the future decide that some inter-missile defense systems should be established and we're on the move. But before we reach such arrangements, we will lose the opportunity of reaching some particular arrangements between us.

MCINTYRE: The United States has repeatedly argued its plans are limited, that putting 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a tracking radar in the Czech Republic would be of no use in countering Russia's huge missile arsenal.

ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I would just like to emphasize that the missile defense system being proposed in Central Europe is not directed at Russia.

MCINTYRE: What it is directed at is Iran, which the U.S. fears in the future may be able to threaten Europe with the possibility of arming its medium-range Shahab 3 missile with a nuclear warhead. But Russia seems to be more alarmed about the prospect of the U.S. gaining a military advantage in its backyard.

SERGEI LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): There is a potential threat for us here and we will have to take some measures to neutralize this threat.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

MCINTYRE: Now Russia says it's willing to talk to the United States about working on missile defense together. And the U.S. it's willing to share information and technology. But where the two sides split -- Russia wants a freeze on any deployment in Europe and the U.S. plans to forge ahead. Both sides, Wolf, meet again in about six months.

BLITZER: All right, Jamie, thanks very much.

So how would this missile defense system work?

It's a little complicated. Pay attention. If Iran launches, for example, a missile aimed at Europe, it would be detected by satellites and ground-based sensors. Command and control systems would relay information to what's called an expand radar proposed for the Czech Republic. Currently it's used in the Pacific. This radar's job would be used to guide interceptor missiles to the Iranian warhead already in flight. An interceptor site proposed for Poland would house 10 long-range interceptors in underground silos like those now based in the United States. The interceptor missiles would use no explosives, instead deploying small, so-called kill vehicles to collide with incoming warheads far above the Earth.

That's the theory -- supposedly how it will work.

We'll watch the story for you.

A new CIA investigation has jaws dropping in Washington and beyond. The spy agency probing its own inspector general. Right now, he's been extremely critical of the way the CIA handles terror suspects.

Let's go right to our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena.

She's watching this story for us -- any reason to think, Kelli that there's a link between the probe and the inspector general's own criticism of the agency?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that is the key question. A CIA spokesman says that the director has asked for reviews so that, if need be, he can suggest specific improvements. But some former and current officials say that this move threatens to undermine the inspector general's independence.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

ARENA (voice-over): An unprecedented move to investigate the investigator.

FREDERICK HITZ, FORMER CIA INSPECTOR GENERAL: I think it's a bad idea.

ARENA: The CIA director has ordered a review of the agency's inspector general, John Helgerson -- the CIA's internal and independent watchdog. Frederick Hitz, the man who used to fill those shoes, says the move sets a terrible precedent.

HITZ: His authority will be perceived to be undercut by the fact that he, himself, is under investigation.

ARENA: Lawmakers, too, are troubled by the move, and some question the CIA's motive. In his five years on the job, the inspector general has written scathing reports on the CIA's terrorist detention and interrogation program and the agency's actions leading up to the September 11th attacks.

But the CIA insists the review is only meant to "help this office do its vital work even better."

John McLaughlin is the former CIA deputy director.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The inspector general may be upset by this inquiry, but I don't think he will be or should be intimidated because he has an independent power base.

ARENA: Individuals familiar with the agency say some inspector general investigations drag on for years, putting careers in limbo and CIA officers in debt. And some former officials also believe the I.G. is trying to sway policy when his job is to just undercover wrongdoing. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's appropriate for the director to have a review like this. It's stopped short of an investigation. He has concerns being expressed by employees. He can't ignore those concerns.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ARENA: But there are other more traditional ways to address concerns. There is a White House panel set up to deal with complaints about the I.G. And when asked why the CIA director didn't go that route, intelligence officials tell CNN that would have been blowing things out of proportion -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Kelli, thanks very much.

We'll follow that story, as well.

Let's go back to Jack in New York for The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The United States is facing an obesity epidemic and, in many cases, it starts very young. Fully one third of children and teens in this country are either overweight or at risk of being so. And some schools are now trying to do something about it.

A local Denver TV station reports that the public school district there has been sending home student health reports to keep parents informed. These notices include things like the children's height, weight and body mass index -- which is a measure of body fat. And it includes a status labeling the child as overweight.

Some parents aren't too happy about this. One mother says this kind of information should be mailed directly home to the parents, not sent home with the kids, since the kids might read it.

Well, so what if they do?

Do parents really think that their overweight children don't know that they're overweight?

I seriously doubt it.

The Denver public school district says schools send material home with students all the time and they think it's important to inform parents of overweight children about their condition. They say when it comes to childhood obesity, the schools want to be part of the solution.

So here's the question -- is it the job of public schools to inform parents that their kids are fat?

E-mail your thoughts to caffertyfile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/caffertyfile -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jack.

Jack Cafferty in New York.

Up ahead, a shocking jailhouse conversion -- the World Trade Center bomber, Ramzi Yousef, now saying he's a Christian.

Also, why Al Qaeda has put a bounty on the head of a Swedish artist who talks to us about the death threats -- death threats that have forced him into hiding.

And if you live in the North and the South and the West -- the West -- the North -- if you live in the north, that is, the South and the West want your water. We're going to show you a controversial proposal that's igniting what's being called a water war.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: He killed and maimed the name of Islam. Now an infamous Muslim terrorist says he's undergone a change of heart and a change of religion in prison.

Let's go right back to Brian Todd.

He's watching this story for us.

Tell us about Ramzi Yousef -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, he claims he's a different person after several years behind bars. We spoke to people closely involved with Ramzi Yousef's case who are, at the very least, skeptical.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): One of the world's most notorious terrorists turns away from Islam. Ramzi Yousef, convicted for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing claims he's now a devout Christian. That's according to a source close to Yousef, who tells CNN Yousef converted at least two years ago because he became disappointed with Islam after 9/11, believing it had gone astray.

Asked why Christianity, the source said Yousef read parts of the New Testament while at a maximum security federal prison in Colorado, which houses other well known terrorists.

One Islamic scholar is skeptical of Yousef's claim of conversion.

AKBAR AHMED, AUTHOR, "ISLAM UNDER SIEGE": It's simply a ploy. It's a strategy, perhaps to reduce his prison sentence, perhaps to get better favors in prison. And this is what a lot of people would say. They'll tend to be cynical.

TODD: Count among those one of Yousef's prosecutors and even his defense attorney, who both describe him as manipulative. Yousef is a nephew of the 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

In the book, "The Looming Tower," author Lawrence Wright says: "When Yousef was captured in the mid-'90s, brought to New York and flown in a helicopter by the World Trade Center, one agent said, "You see, it's still standing. And Yousef replied, "It wouldn't be if we had more money."

Yousef was also convicted in a plot to bring down about a dozen U.S. airliners over the Pacific.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, NYU CENTER ON LAW AND SECURITY: That plot was thwarted very, very luckily when Ramzi Yousef's apartment building caught fire in Manila, the Philippines, and investigators then found all sorts of bomb making materials.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

TODD: Another interesting account I got from Yousef's defense attorney and one of his prosecutors, both told me Ramzi Yousef never appeared to them to be a very devout Muslim. Another prosecutor who observed Yousef acting as his own attorney in one of the cases says Yousef struck him as a megalomaniac: "He not only thought he could kill all of us, he also thought he could be a better lawyer than all of us." -- Wolf?

BLITZER: And, Brian, in your reporting, you've also picked up some other fascinating information about Yousef's time in this federal prison.

TODD: Yes. His attorney told me that Yousef, at certain times, had contact in the prison with convicted Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, and with the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh. He says they would sometimes be allowed recreation at the same time and they would talk.

Well, when asked what they discussed, the attorney said they talked about TV shows, movies, prison food, but nothing political in nature.

BLITZER: What a -- what a group. All right, Brian.

Thanks very much.

Al Qaeda has put a bounty on the head of a Swedish artist over a controversial cartoon of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. Now, he's living in hiding as death threats are pouring in.

Our CNN international correspondent, Paula Newton, talked it him -- Paula?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this isn't your typical Al Qaeda target. This is rural Sweden and the home of artist Lars Vilks, a man who now finds himself on the Al Qaeda hit list.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

NEWTON (voice-over): Lars Vilks says he wanted to take a stand for artistic freedom. Now, because of that, police are telling him to lie low and check his car for traps and bombs.

Why?

Al Qaeda says Vilks is a marked man. They want him executed for sketching this -- a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog.

(on camera): You set out deliberately to provoke and insult Muslims?

LARS VILKS, ARTIST: I don't think it should be a problem to insult a religion, because it should be possible to insult all religions. And it could be a -- in a democratic war out there. If you insult one, then you should also insult the other ones.

NEWTON: This eccentric Swedish artist and sculptor says he's an equal opportunity offender -- even depicting Jesus as a pedophile.

CNN has chosen not to show details of his religious works.

All of this now playing out in a menacing video.

(CLIP FROM AL QAEDA VIDEO)

NEWTON (on camera): There you are again.

VILKS: Yes. Yes. It's being show, yes.

NEWTON (voice-over): Al Qaeda offers Muslims $150,000 to murder Vilks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I have the occasion, I should inshluar (ph) -- slaughter you.

NEWTON: Those chilling words written by this wife and mother, Amatullah (ph), who follows the most conservative tenants of Islam and lives just an hour-and-a-half away from Vilks.

(on camera): You said you would slaughter him like a lamb.

Do you mean that?

AMATULLAH: Yes. Yes.

NEWTON (voice-over): Amatullah has already been fined for threatening Vilks. Still, she says she won't stop until he's dead.

AMATULLAH (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Call me a terrorist. Call me an Islamist. But I have the right to defend my prophet.

NEWTON: Swedish police, who would not comment on security, say they have warned Vilks Al Qaeda sympathizers could be hunting him down here.

(on camera): Did you just get a death threat?

VILKS: I will kill you, you son of a bitch.

NEWTON: Why aren't you afraid? You just received a death threat.

VILKS: You get use to it.

NEWTON (voice-over): Something else he's getting used to -- driving every night to a location near a safe house. Then, we went along on his secret route -- climbing walls through back gardens.

(on camera): Boy, this is crazy.

VILKS: Yes, this is crazy. But it's -- I think it's very good.

NEWTON (voice-over): This artist, now in hiding, makes no excuses -- his drawing, his right, he says.

VILKS: If you don't like it, don't look at it. And if you want to look at it, don't take it too seriously.

NEWTON: Vilks knows such defiance could get him killed. Still, he claims his art is worth dying for.

(on camera): Good night.

VILKS: Good night.

NEWTON: We'll see you.

VILKS: Good night. Good night.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

NEWTON: Wolf, pretty much daily the death threats continue it come in via e-mail, via text message, those phone calls. But along with all of those death threats comes a lot of publicity and certainly Vilks made no bones about it -- he did do this to provoke.

BLITZER: Paula Newton.

Thank you very much.

What a story that is.

Up ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, record drought sparking new battles in the water wars. Find out which states may eyeing your rivers and lakes.

And will Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize serve as a launching pad for a White House run?

I'll ask his former presidential campaign manager, Donna Brazile.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Watch your water -- that's the warning from one Great Lake state governor, as fights grow over the increasingly scarce resource.

Let's go back to CNN's Carol Costello.

She's watching this story -- so why are the so-called water wars, Carol, heating up?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, cities -- some cities are in an absolute panic over water. Atlanta's water supply will run dry in 90 days. Cities out West having trouble, too.

So where do you turn?

It turns out there is no helping hand in this country.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

COSTELLO (voice-over): Beautiful, sparkling water -- it's a resource that's becoming so scarce, it's sparked a new kind of war. The latest bomb thrown by New Mexico governor and presidential candidate, Bill Richardson, who told a Las Vegas newspaper: "I want a national water policy. We need a dialogue between states to deal with issues like water reuse technology, water delivery and water production."

States like Wisconsin are awash in water.

GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), MICHIGAN: And the minute somebody starts talking about a national water policy, watch your lakes. That's all I can say.

COSTELLO: Them's fighting words. Michigan's governor says what Governor Richardson really means is my state needs water, give me some.

GRANHOLM: Hell, no. That's my response. This is exactly why we need someone in the White House who understands Michigan's concerns.

COSTELLO: Her mission is to keep the water in the Great Lakes in them. She fears water needy states like Governor Richardson's New Mexico will raid Lakes Michigan, Superior, Michigan, Erie, Huron and Ontario, siphoning off huge amounts of the Midwest water for themselves. This fear of Western American cities coveting someone else's water has long been an issue.

Remember the movie "Chinatown?"

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "CHINATOWN," COURTESY PARAMOUNT PICTURES)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, Mr. Gitts (ph), either you bring the water to L.A. or you bring L.A. to the water.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: It was about Los Angeles' secret attempt to siphon off water from unsuspecting farmers. Some say that's a scenario not so far-fetched when you consider persistent water shortages out West and severe droughts in states like Georgia.

Lake Lanier, which provides water to Metro Atlanta's five million citizens, will run dry in three months. But if it wants help from Michigan, forget it. If Atlanta or New Mexico wants to dip into the lakes...

HUGH MCDIARMID, JR. MICHIGAN ENVIRONMENTAL COUNCIL: We invite Governor Richardson and his constituents to come to the Great Lakes and, you know, and share the water. But to do it within the basin, where it is not being lost forever.

COSTELLO: In other words, move on over to Michigan, where drinking water is plentiful.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

COSTELLO: And, you know, you really can't blame Michigan or any other Great Lake state. I mean, think about it, all those people fleeing those states to live in warmer climates, hurting those states' economies as they left in droves. And now they want the one wonderful resource a state like Michigan has -- water.

BLITZER: What about this notion of charging these other states for the water?

Supposedly they could make some cash.

COSTELLO: You'd think so. But, you know, it would cost a lot of money to ship the water out. And Lake Michigan is suffering from drought, too.

So why take a chance?

BLITZER: Carol, thank you very much.

The average American uses 100 gallons of water each day. You can cut back by using water that would go down the drain to water plants or clean clothes or whatever. You could also wash your car on the grass, sweep your driveway and pavement instead of hosing them down and make sure your sprinklers aren't watering paved areas instead of your lawn. Some handy ideas to start saving that precious resource.

Up next, the science behind Al Gore's Nobel Prize -- is all of it so sound?

We're going to show you some of his claims about global warming that are being questioned.

Plus, a CNN exclusive -- a husband's desperate quest to find his wife. We have tapes of the phone calls that, unfortunately, came too late.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Happening now, Senator Ted Kennedy recovering from surgery. Doctors in Boston removed a blockage from the Massachusetts Democrat's carotid artery today. They say the 75-year-old senator is doing just fine.

New information in the investigation of that fatal September shootings of 17 Iraqis by Blackwater guards. A source telling CNN a preliminary military report shows that U.S. soldiers found no evidence the Blackwater guards were fired upon. The private security firm is not commenting on that, at least not yet.

And will street -- and Wall Street caps off a positive week, with help from a bid in the technology sector. Oracle's proposed buyout of BEA Systems helped to bolster the Nasdaq to a 33 point gain. The Dow Jones Average rose a hearty 78 points.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A former vice president, almost a president, an Oscar winner and now winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to raise awareness about global warming. Al Gore is unquestionably on a roll right now.

Let's go right to our chief technology and environment correspondent, Miles O'Brien, watching this story for us. All right, he's doing, obviously, very well.

But what about the message that he's pushing forward?

MILES O'BRIEN, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, timing is everything. So while Al Gore has been preaching the global warming message for years now -- decades -- the movie, which captured one of those lectures, came at just the right moment. It was right on the heels of Hurricane Katrina. And, finally, it seemed, Americans were listening to his warnings.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

AL GORE, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER: Keep that in mind.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): It may be little more than a glorified PowerPoint presentation, but it couldn't have been more convenient for Al Gore and for those who agree with him that it is time it turn up the heat on those who doubt global warming.

OLE DANBOLT MJOS, CHAIRMAN, NOBEL COMMITTEE: He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted. O'BRIEN: Al Gore struck the right note at the right time and now wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

GORE: Tipper and I will go to Oslo and I will accept this award on behalf of all of those who have been working so long and so hard to try to get the message out about this planetary emergency.

O'BRIEN: Gore shares the honor with the worldwide organization of scientists that has been sending up warning flags for nearly 20 years.

MARTIN PARRY, CO-CHAIRMAN, IPCC: What they've done now is finally establish at the global level, there is an anthropogenic, a man-made climate signal coming through on plants, animals, water and ice.

O'BRIEN: That is the most recent assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC believes in the next century temperatures on earth will increase between 3.25 and 7 degrees. Sea levels will rise 7 to 23 inches and they say there is a 90 percent certainty it is a human cause problem.

JAMES HANSEN, NASA CLIMATOLOGIST: The picture has become clear enough that we should be telling people about it. It's not a time for renaissance.

O'BRIEN: And in some cases, Gore didn't let the facts get in the way of a good story. Saying pacific islanders have evacuated to New Zealand, a prediction that has not happened yet. That polar bears have drowned for lack of firm ice. There's no proof of that. Or implying global warming would generate more tornadoes. No smoking gun there either.

A judge in Britain mentioned those exaggerations and six others, Wolf, as he ruled on whether "An Convenient Truth" should be shown to high school students. But the judge also said it is clear that it is based specifically on scientific research and opinion but that it is a political film, albeit, of course not a party political film. Of course, the Nobel laureate now, Al Gore disagrees. He says it's a moral and spiritual issue.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There are other global warming doubters, as you well know, Miles, out there. Who is left and what do they say?

O'BRIEN: Well, they are fewer and further between, Wolf. And it's interesting. There's been a big progression on what they've been saying. Most of them now, even the ones the absolute hard core doubters, do admit now that human beings have something to do with all this. It's really boiling down now to what should be done about it. Much of the world is insisting on sort of mandatory caps on emissions of these greenhouse gases. The U.S., the Bush administration, insisting voluntary measures will do the trick.

BLITZER: Miles O'Brien watching this for us. Thanks, Miles, very much. The chairman of the Nobel committee cited Gore's co-winner, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for creating broader awareness about the connection between human activity and global warming.

The IPCC was established back in 1998 to study scientific literature on climate change from around the world. The IPCC says its goal is to produce balanced reporting of existing viewpoints on the causes of global warming.

CNN, as you know, is committed to reporting on climate change. Mark this on your calendar, very important. "Planet in Peril," a CNN investigation exploring the world's environmental issues. Join Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin next Tuesday and Wednesday, October 23rd October 24th at 9:00 p.m. eastern only on CNN; 9:00 p.m. eastern. That's not necessarily next Tuesday and Wednesday. It's October 23rd and October 24th.

Former vice president Al Gore insists global warming is not a political issue. He's insisted that he does not plan to run again for president. But there are those who still think he should, especially now. So, what are the chances?

And joining us now, our CNN analyst Donna Brazile, a democratic strategist.

You were the campaign manager for Al Gore back in 2000. So, he's won a Nobel peace prize. Will he now change his mind and run for president this time around?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN ANALYST: No, Al Gore indicated that the only campaign that he intends it embark on is to continue to raise awareness about climate change and the planetary threats that we face with global warming. I think Al Gore has done a tremendous job as a private citizen in raising awareness on this issue. He's not indicated that he's ready to run. He's not ready to throw his hat in the race.

BLITZER: So he doesn't have his fire in his belly this time to seek the presidential nomination.

Yesterday James Carville, our democrat strategist, our CNN political analyst, said if one of the other frontrunners should stumble he wouldn't rule out the possibility that Al Gore would change his mind and run.

BRAZILE: Well James is absolutely right. If Al Gore decides to run, he could win the nomination.

BLITZER: Wait a minute. You think he could beat Hillary Clinton?

BRAZILE: I think he could beat Hillary Clinton. Look, the reason why I think he could beat Hillary Clinton is he came in first last time, the democratic base would be very excited. He has broad grassroots support and organized labor would rally behind Al Gore, but Al Gore had not indicated he intends to run. In fact, he is talking about endorsing one of the top contenders.

BLITZER: Who is he talking about endorsing?

BRAZILE: Well you know, he has plenty to choose from. I think that at the right moment he will make a right decision in terms of supporting someone who would ultimately lead this country down a new path.

BLITZER: The last time Howard Dean. That didn't exactly work out.

BRAZILE: Well that was a different political season and Howard Dean was running as sort of the outside and Al Gore with his inside credentials, his support gave Howard Dean a lot of credibility. Unfortunately Howard Dean fizzled out an hour.

BLITZER: You think endorsement of Hillary Clinton is in the works?

BRAZILE: I think Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards. Look, Al Gore has served with Chris Dodd and Joe Biden. He knows all of the presidential contenders. He served with Bill Richardson. I wouldn't rule out any one of the candidates.

BLITZER: Here's what I don't understand, Donna. If you think Al Gore could actually get the democratic nomination and whoever the democratic nominee would be well-positioned to become the next president of the United States, given the political environment out there right now, why wouldn't he, a man who got so close back in 2000, decide to throw his hat in the ring?

BRAZILE: You know Al Gore is pursuing his lifetime ambition to make his world and his country a better place.

BLITZER: Couldn't he do that as president?

BRAZILE: Well absolutely but he's shown that one person can make a difference and he doesn't have it sit in the oval office to make a difference Al Gore, I do believe because I have seen him leave a crack in the door, but right now I don't think it is in the cards for Al Gore to run in 2008.

BLITZER: He's only 59 years old so he has some time.

BRAZILE: Not only did he look well today but we're all proud of him. We're excited he got this award.

BLITZER: Donna, thank you very much.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

BLITZER: Congratulations to Al Gore on this award from us, as well.

Dramatic tapes. You're going to hear a frantic husband trying to get help for his wife, but the people on the other end of the line know she's already dead but won't tell him.

Also, there is a new crop of war movies coming out of Hollywood, but at least one director is bracing for a backlash. They may not be the war images you're used to seeing. We'll tell you what's going on.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Now to some disturbing police tapes from the night a New York woman died in custody over at Sky Harbor Airport in phoenix. Carol Gotbaum's husband try to warn airport emergency workers to take great care with his troubled wife, but it was already too late.

CNN's Alina Cho has been following the case.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What you are about it hear is the desperate voice of Noah Gotbaum frantically trying it get in touch with police to tell them that his wife, Carol, was emotionally disturbed and needed to be treated with kid gloves. What he didn't know at the time was that Carol, his beloved wife, had already died, shackled and alone in a holding cell. In fact, by the time her husband was calling, she had already been dead an hour.

NOAH GOTBAUM: They are waiting for her down in Cottonwood at ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

GOTBAUM: At the rehab down there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

GOTBAUM: She is suicidal. Obviously, she is - she has been - she is alcohol abusive but she is also in depression and the police have to understand that they're not dealing with someone who's been just drinking on flight and ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

GOTBAUM: Acting rowdy. That's not what's going on here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Yes, I think somebody talked to the other dispatcher on that earlier and we passed along that information.

GOTBAUM: Well but again, I have not heard anything back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I don't know. You know, unfortunately ...

GOTBAUM: It concerns me, Mike, that they have not called me, that they're just dealing with her, that she is all alone. OK? Because she should not be.

CHO: At this point the airport and police both knew Carol Gotbaum was dead but they weren't telling Noah anything. Phoenix police tell us that's because proper protocol is it finish their preliminary investigation before notifying next of kin.

For the first time the family of Noah Gotbaum is speaking out extensively about who show was, what led to her alcoholism and depression and how they believe she was manhandled by police.

DOUG MULLER, CAROL GOTBAUM'S BROTHER IN LAW: What I think is that Carol must have been so desperate, so desperate and in my heart what I believe it was a cry for help. She believed she needed to get on to that airplane for the sake of her children, to get help for the struggles she was going through. And she was prepared to do that at any cost.

CHO: Police have maintained Gotbaum accidentally strangled herself while trying to escape from the handcuffs. Exactly how she died is still a mystery.

Alina Cho, CNN, New York.

BLITZER: Later tonight, new details about what happened the day Carol Gotbaum died at the Phoenix Airport. "AC 360" goes inside the investigation and tells you what you haven't heard before. Join Anderson Cooper tonight, 10:00 p.m. eastern.

Let's go to Carol Costello. She's here in Washington monitoring some other incoming stories making news.

Hi Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Wolf. Hello to all of you.

In Boston, state police are redirecting commercial traffic from the so-called Tobin Bridge. A routine bridge inspection detected a crack in one of the support beams. Authorities say the restriction will be in place until further notice and commercial traffic should look for alternative routes.

The mother of a 14-year-old suburban Philadelphia boy accused of plotting a Columbine-style attack at a school is in trouble herself. Michelle Cossey was arrested today on charges she illegally bought her son firearms, including a semi-automatic rifle. Police acting on a tip confiscated a sizable arsenal from the boy's bedroom yesterday. He's in custody. Prosecutors say Cossey did not know of her son's plans but her indulgence enabled him.

You saw it live on CNN earlier today. A Florida jury has acquitted guards and a nurse at a youth boot camp of charges they caused a teenager's death. Video of what happened back in January 2006 sparked wide spread interest in the case prompting Florida's legislature to order the shut down of all such camps. Several guards are seen hitting and kicking the 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson as the camp nurse looked on. Anderson died the next day.

California is the first state on record to prevent the punishment of landlords for renting to illegal immigrants. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this week signed a law prohibiting property owners from asking potential tenants about their immigration status. Proponents of tighter immigration control have said the California law would keep local governments from taking action on an issue where the federal government has failed.

Back to you.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Carol, for that.

Let's get an update on what is going on at the top of the hour, Lou Dobbs standing by. He's going to tell us what he's working on.

Hi Lou.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: How are you doing, Wolf?

Coming up at 6:00 p.m. eastern here on CNN, tonight we're reporting on the Bush administration's complete failure to support what's left of our middle class. There's new evidence that the middle class is being crushed by debt and is in danger of disappearing. What is this president's position? What in the world is he thinking? We'll be finding out.

And police officers in one of the biggest cities in the country seeding with anger because their patrol leaders and community leaders refusing to allow them to protect their community and their citizens from illegal criminal aliens.

And the Department of Homeland Security says that this identity card will secure our ports and our borders. We'll tell you why and where homeland security is simply a joke.

And three of the country's best political analysts and strategists join me to give us some perspective on, among other things, what the Nobel peace prize might mean to Al Gore's thoughts of running for president.

Please join us for all of that and much more at the top of the hour.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Let me put you on the spot Lou and get your opinion. What do you think? Do you think Al Gore should throw his hat in the ring?

DOBBS: Well you know, when it comes it should, we're bless with plenty of politicians but I would think that he would be sorely tempted to do so because this is, obviously, a very important award, a prestigious award that gives him I think an outstanding and perhaps, considerably improved chances to win his party's nomination.

BLITZER: You know it's interesting that they decided to give this Nobel peace prize award for what is, some would argue a scientific achievement promoting some kind of science, but I guess they think the ramifications if global warming really takes effect, there could be a lot peace issues, war issues, scrambling going around and that's why they decided to put it in the Nobel peace prize category.

DOBBS: Yes I think that as you say, it might be scientific. Others would argue it's questionable science around it. I don't think it matters whether it's scientific or not. One we should contending with and as responsibly as we can for the planet.

I do think, however, the fact that the peace prize has been extended here on the suggestion that war might be the result of global warming overlooks a lot more immediate and extent dangers to peace and that is, of course, dwindling resources and not only in terms of global warming, but, in fact, we're suffering a 500-year drought in this country, limited resources and basic commodities that we'll be contending with as the world's population sores to 9.5 billion people over the course of the next half century. There are serious issues not only in global warming and certainly not global warming, you have it take quite a leap to get to the idea it's a question of war and peace at this point.

BLITZER: All right, Lou. See you in a few moments that top of the hour. Lou Dobbs, stand by for that.

Up ahead, studies show we're losing the battle of the bulge in America, but what we if we waged an all-out war on obesity.

Also, a slew of Iraq war films getting ready to hit the movie screens like some say the portrayals are way off the mark.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Study after study is confirming it now. Obesity in America is dramatically on the rise.

And joining us now our special correspondent Frank Sesna for this week's "What If" segment.

Hi Frank.

FRANK SESNA, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi Wolf. What if I go to the soft drink machine and I want to buy something and I now see these things are coming in gallon and a half sizes and I'm thinking this is what we're consuming in this country. I started digging into this because we've been hearing a lot about obesity and overweight Americans and it's really shocking what you see.

Check this out from the CDC. In 1960, the typical man age 40 to 49, 5'8" and 169 pounds. Fast forward about 40 years, they put on 30 pounds, nearly 30 pounds, another inch, inch and a half. Women, in 1960, again age 40 to 49, 5'3", 142 pounds, 40 years later up 26 pounds, another inch. It's a problem. It's an epidemic of huge proportions.

What if we got off the couch, put down the fries, quit talking and did something about America's brewing epidemic; obesity. We could start by getting people to understand this is not about appearance, it's about health that obesity could bankrupt us if it doesn't kill us.

In some states, nearly one person in three is considered obese already and it's getting worse. What if this is America's future?

Obesity among our kids is exploding. Over the past two decades, the proportion of overweight kids under 12 has doubled. Among adolescents, it's tripled.

You might not know that obesity contributes it heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, osteoarthritis, certain cancers and liver disease, but we do.

What if we put a price tag on it? The surgeon general has. Says obesity contributes to an estimated 400,000 deaths each year. That's about the city of Miami, each year.

The federal government says obesity costs us more than $117 billion annually, more than twice what the fed spends on education.

What if we got serious about it? We put better food on the table, physical activity back in our routines, especially in schools. We'd see this kind of football instead of this kind of football. We do something about the 12.5 million kids in America who are overweight or obese.

What if we make obesity a national priority with a national commitment?

And this thing, Wolf, is literally sweeping the country. Look at this map, this is quite something. Just ten years ago, according to the CDC, just a few states there, handful of states 20 percent or more obese or overweight. Now look, the entire country in just ten years.

BLITZER: Only I see what four states.

SESNA: Four states and District of Columbia.

BLITZER: So what are we going to do about this?

SESNA: Well, this is a big thing. Up on Capitol Hill, they've got 100 bills or more, things called life-long improvements and food and exercise act, the common sense consumption act but this will not come from government. It's going to come from localities putting physical education back in their schools. Most importantly it will come from families who will take care of their health and their children's health.

BLITZER: Well, let's hope they do. Frank, thanks very much. Startling, startling numbers in there.

SESNA: It's really quite shocking.

BLITZER: Frank Sesno, our special correspondent.

Let's go back to Jack Cafferty in New York for the Cafferty File.

Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question this hour is, is it the job of the public schools to tell parents that their children are fat?

Ed writes from Philadelphia, "No, it's not the public school's job to say if our children are fat. Parents can already tell by looking at them."

Sandy writes, "The schools could do more to keep the kids healthy, but labeling them isn't it. Do they know how eating disorders begin? The way to fight obesity, anorexia and to get our students healthy is to promote healthy diets and take time for exercise, starting in kindergarten. Let's get interested in creating healthy adults and not causing complexes that could have disastrous outcomes."

Willy in New York, "Schools have an obligation to help parents improve their kids' health including updating them about obesity. Sadly, parents who are more involved in their shcoolign will most likely be more engaged in their health, leaving kids with uninvolved parents or parents struggling to make a living unwilling or unable to improve their children's condition. The more the issue is raised, the better."

David in California, "Yes, unless the child is suffering from a physical impairment or illness, I believe fat kids are a form of child abuse and reckless endangerment in its most visible form. In a perfect world where people were held accountable, the so-called parents would be penalized, up to and including jail time for failing to improve the physical fitness of their children."

Kevin in Kentucky, "You just said do you really think your overweight children don't know they're overweight? Well, the same question can be asked of the parents. Do you really think parents don't know they have fat kids? The schools are really trying to educate the parents, not the children. This is one reason why my children will never see the halls of a public school."

And John in Miami writes, "I don't think the parents would stop eating long enough to read the notice."

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

Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Jack, for that.

Up ahead, a new crop of Iraq war movies. Do they paint a true picture of American troops? There's controversy unfolding.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Hollywood moviemakers are bracing for a backlash from a new wave of Iraq war films.

Let's go to Kareen Wynter in Los Angeles.

Kareen.

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Wolf. It's really no secret that many films are coming out related to the war in Iraq, but what may surprise you, quite a number of them are pointing the finger at U.S. troops and the American government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you all think is going to be the first casualty of this entire conflict? Do you know what it is going to be? It's going to be the truth.

WYNTER: The truth, according to legendary filmmaker Brian De Palma will likely spark backlash when "Redacted" hits theaters in November. Fans looking for American patriotism won't find it in this film. U.S. soldiers play the villains who rape and murder an Iraqi girl. It is said it be based on true events.

BRIAN DE PALMA, DIRECTOR, "REDACTED": Show the pictures. If you show the pictures of what is happening to the innocent civilians, this war will come to an end very quickly.

PHIL DONAHUE, DIRECTOR, "BODY OF WAR": See the pain, don't sanitize the war.

WYNTER: Also bringing the pain home is talk show legend, Phil Donahue. His new documentary "Body of War" chronicles the life of an injured vet.

THOMAS YOUNG: All I saw were women and children running away from gunfire before I took a bullet myself.

WYNTER: Thomas Young will never walk again. He blames President Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a massive foreign policy blunder.

WYINTER: Nick Broomfield's "Battle for Haditha" takes aim at Washington, as well, recounting the now infamous murder of 24 Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops in reaction to a roadside bombing.

NICK BROOMFIELD, DIRECTOR, "BATTLE FOR HADITHA": By showing these kinds of things the American public will understand that the situation in Iraq is completely untenable, it's unwinnable and nothing good is ever going to come of it.

MICHAEL MEDBED, RADIO HOST: My big problem with these films is that there's no balance.

WYNTER: Conservative radio host Michael Medbed says these films simply underscore Hollywood's the left-wing agenda by sliming the military. MEDBED: Portraying them as losers who are demented and out of control and rapists and murders, that's not the way most Americans see the troops.

WYNTER: These directors argue most Americans have been kept in the dark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are fed up with this war and being lied to by the Bush administration.

WYNTER: Wolf, if we reached out to the Pentagon and the White House. Neither had seen the films and, therefore, couldn't comment.

Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Kareen, thanks very much. We'll be back in one hour. Let's go to Lou Dobbs. He's in New York right now.

Lou.

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