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THE SITUATION ROOM

More Than 150 Wounded in Bombing in Pakistan

Aired October 18, 2007 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, breaking news -- bombs ripping through a crowd cheering the return from exile of Pakistan's former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. Dozens of people are dead. More than 150 people are wounded. And those death tolls are climbing.

We're going to take you to Karachi in a moment. Our reporter is on the ground right near the former prime minister.

Also, nature's fury in two different locations across the United States. A daycare center takes a direct hit in Florida and a deadly storm tears apart a Missouri town.

And Donald Trump wants to build a fancy golf resort, but a small landowner is standing in the way.

Can he stand up to the real estate mogul?

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now in Pakistan, ambulances are carrying away the dead and the wounded as a triumphant return from exile turns into a scene of bloody carnage. A motorcycle -- a motorcade, that is -- driving past cheering crowds. Suddenly, a pair of shattering explosions killing a lot of people. At least, right now, 48 are dead. Dozens more are wounded. Those numbers going up.

That was the reception that we saw for the former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, only a little while ago, returning to Pakistan after eight years to seek her share of power.

Let's go straight to CNN's Dan Rivers.

He's on the phone.

He's in Karachi and was with Benazir Bhutto only moments before all of this occurred -- set the scene, Dan, for us.

Tell us what happened.

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it appears, Wolf, that there was a terrorist attack -- something that had been feared from the moment she touched down in Pakistan. We don't know exactly what happened. But witnesses are telling us there were two explosions. Some people we talked to were saying they were centered around a car that was about 15, 20 feet away from the vehicle carrying Benazir Bhutto amid those packed scenes on those packed streets of Karachi, as the motorcade made its way into the center of the city.

We were there probably an hour -- less than an hour before the blast happened. And we were stunned by the fact that there was no one holding the crowds back away from that vehicle and there seemed to be fairly lax security. No one checked who we were as we made our way right up to the side of that vehicle.

We don't know whether this was a suicide bombing, although people on the scene are claiming one of the bodies was that of a suicide bomber. But we've yet to have that confirmed by the police. But the death toll certainly is rising. The police are saying 45 dead. Local TV are putting the death toll much higher, at 93.

But certainly when I was there a few moments ago, we were counting dozens of dead bodies on the streets, body parts strewn across the road and blood spattered across the road. It was a gruesome scene, where people still are walking around dazed and injured after that attack.

BLITZER: How close, Dan, were these actual explosions -- what we suspect are terrorist bombings, at least two of them -- to the car, to the vehicle, carrying Benazir Bhutto?

RIVERS: Yes, I mean they were very close to the vehicle. We're not clear yet if the bombs were vehicle-borne or if they were carried by somebody. But there was certainly one vehicle that was totally destroyed that was right next to a police pickup truck, that was also badly damaged. It looked like the police pickup truck had been hit by this vehicle. But it's pretty difficult to say. There were very confused eyewitness statements there, with people telling different stories about exactly what happened.

But certainly this seems to be no surprise to people who had been watching this -- like me -- all day. The Taliban leader in South Waziristan, Batullah Massoud (ph), had said his suicide bombers were waiting for Benazir Bhutto to come back. And it appears that's exactly what's happened. It bore all the hallmarks of a terrorist suicide bombing.

BLITZER: Dan, I want to you stand by for a moment.

Peter Bergen, our terrorism analyst, who has been to Pakistan many times -- he's joining us now from New York.

Does this have the hallmarks, Peter, of Al Qaeda, based on the fragmentary information that's just coming in from Karachi?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, certainly simultaneous bombings is a hallmark of al Qaeda. And Benazir Bhutto himself told me some time ago that Osama bin Laden helped finance some kind of no confidence vote in parliament by bribing parliamentarians back as early as 1989, the first time she was prime minister. Ramzi Yousef, who trained an Al Qaeda camp and was the mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, also tried to assassinate Bhutto back in the early '90s. So al Qaeda has long had an antipathy to Bhutto. She is a woman. She is regarded by them as a liberal. She is, you know, someone they regard as quite problematic.

So, you know, it's too early to tell. Unfortunately, the list of potential candidates who want her dead is rather long. It's not just Al Qaeda or the Taliban, it's also -- Karachi is one of the most violent cities in the world. There have been three terrorist attacks against the American consulate there since 9/11. Danny Pearl, the American journalist, was kidnapped and murdered there. It's a place with a great deal of sectarian strife between Shia and Sunni. There are parts of the city are no go areas. This is one of the biggest sites in the world -- 14 people. It's a mega city. It's parts -- parts of it are ungovernable. And, you know, as you know, Wolf, there is a very important election coming up. Musharraf and Bhutto have done some sort of deal. But a lot of things remain flux, as today's events show -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right.

Look at this picture, Peter, if you've got a monitor over there.

This is Benazir Bhutto. We just got this picture in. This is after the explosion. The Associated Press sending us this picture. You can see she is shaken as she is whisked away from, clearly, an attack, which we presume was against her and her entourage. We're told she is now in her home in Karachi, that she is safe.

But, clearly, this is a near miss -- a near call for her.

Peter, stand by.

We're going to stay top of this story. I also want to alert our viewers the White House has issued a statement saying the United States condemns the violent attack in Pakistan and mourns the loss of innocent life there. Extremists will not be allowed to stop Pakistanis from selecting their representatives through an open and democratic process.

Benazir Bhutto was well aware that her return from exile could be very, very risky.

I spoke with the former prime minister here in THE SITUATION ROOM last month and she was very open, very candid about the threats she said she faces from terrorists.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

BLITZER: You're a relatively young woman. How scared are you, though, because as you know, Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, they've attacked you in the past, and they clearly would like to go after you now?

BENAZIR BHUTTO, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN: Yes, of course, they would like to go against me. There's a lot of threats, because under military dictatorship an anarchic situation has developed which the terrorists and Osama have exploited. They don't want democracy. They don't want me back.

BLITZER: They don't want a woman to be the prime minister of Pakistan either.

BHUTTO: And they don't believe in women governing nations. So they will try to plot against me, but these are risks that must be taken. I'm prepared to take them.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

BLITZER: Benazir Bhutto is the daughter of the former Pakistani prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was overthrown by a military coup and later executed.

Back in 1988, she became the first woman prime minister of an Islamic country and was re-elected as Pakistan's prime minister in 1993. Both times she was forced to step down amid corruption charges that she denied. Bhutto's husband is Asif Ali Zardari. He played a key role in her government and was accused himself of stealing millions from state coffers -- charges both of them deny, as well.

Since going into exile, Bhutto fought for -- her corruption charges and has worked on her return to Pakistan.

We're watching this story.

We're not going to stay away from it for very long.

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty.

He's got The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: A little unsettling when you think about the nuclear arsenal that the government of Pakistan controls.

BLITZER: Very unsettling because that -- this is an Islamic country that already has not just the bomb, but a whole arsenal.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

BLITZER: And if bad guys were to get in charge of that regime over there, one could only imagine what would happen.

CAFFERTY: Yes. Well, let's don't think about it. Iraq has found a way to express their gratitude to the United States for getting rid of Saddam Hussein and bringing democracy to its people. They're awarding $1.1 billion in contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build a pair of enormous power plants in Iraq. The "New York Times" reports that the deal has raised serious concerns on the part of some U.S. military officials. They worry commercial investments by Iran inside Iraq could be used to cover military activities there.

That's probably going to happen. Iraq's electricity minister says the Iranian project will be in Sadr City, a Shiite area run by followers of the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Iran has apparently agreed to also provide cheap electricity to Southern Iraq and build a large power plant almost for free in that part of the country.

It sounds like moves that might make them a little more popular among the Iraqi people.

A U.S. military official who didn't know specifically about these power plant contracts says they're carefully watching Iran's overall presence inside Iraq, but added that, "This is a free marketplace so there's really not much we can do about it."

And, of course, this all comes after the U.S. has spent almost $5 billion of American taxpayer money just on Iraq's electricity grid -- forget the hundreds of billions on the war and the thousands of American lives lost there.

So here's the question -- how concerned should the U.S. be that Iraq is awarding more than a billion dollars in contracts to Iran and China to build power plants?

E-mail us at caffertyfile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/caffertyfile -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, Jack.

Jack Cafferty will be back soon.

Up ahead, American officials want to shut down a Muslim school in the Washington, D.C. area, saying their text books teach hate. Coming up, we're going to take you there and we're going to see what the school's administrators are now saying.

And loose nukes flown across the country -- how could it happen?

The military is about to take action.

And much more on the breaking news -- the devastating bombings in Pakistan. Dozens of people are dead. More than 100 are injured. The target -- the former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It was a stunning and potentially disastrous security lapse -- six nuclear-tipped missiles flown across the United States without anyone knowing they were there. Now, the U.S. air Force is getting ready to come down hard on those responsible.

Let's go to our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie, what are you learning? JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Air Force, Wolf, is planning to make this announcement tomorrow afternoon. But we can tell you right now that heads are going to roll.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

MCINTYRE (voice-over): The Air Force has wrapped up its probe into the August incident in which six nuclear armed cruise missiles were mistakenly loaded on a B-52 bomber at Minot, North Dakota one day and flown to Barksdale, Louisiana, the next. For 36 hours, no one knew the weapons were outside Air Force safeguards that are supposed to be fail-safe.

A senior official familiar with the investigation tells CNN as many as six officers will lose their jobs over the disturbing lapse. Criminal charges are also possible and still others may face lesser discipline, as the Air Force moves to restore confidence in the security of America's nuclear arsenal.

The slipup was so serious it qualified in military parlance as a "bent spear incident," which must be reported immediately to the secretary of defense.

ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: There was a complete review of all of that immediately after the incident. And, you know, everybody was -- everything was assessed at that time and everything was secure. It will be our intent to reduce to the lowest level humanly possible that something ever happens again.

MCINTYRE: Among the questions Air Force investigators looked at -- was a waiver granted to store the live nuclear weapons in the same bunker at Minot as missiles with dummy warheads, leading to the mistake?

Who authorized the waiver and why?

ADM. MIKE MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Certainly being at a point where we can assure everybody that we have control of these weapons in a very assured way is where we -- is where we absolutely have to be.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

MCINTYRE: And the Air Force insists there was never any danger of these weapons being detonated. But, again, they're supposed to be under the tightest security. And the fact that they could be transported across the country with nobody knowing about it raises a question that if somebody was really trying, could they have stolen one, because the inventory control was so lax?

Again, tomorrow, the Air Force is going to try to show that that's not possible anymore.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon. Terror suspects seized and smuggled to prisons abroad -- today, a dramatic turnabout as U.S. lawmakers apologize in the case of a man who was shipped off to Syria. That came during gripping Congressional testimony about a secret U.S. anti-terror tool.

Let's go to straight to our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena -- Kelli, what's this all about?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's about a man named Maher Arar. Now, he could not come to the United States to tell his story because he remains on a U.S. terror watch list. So he testified before Congress via videoconference.

Now, his real life story is disturbingly similar to the plot line in the new movie that's coming out this weekend, "Rendition."

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "RENDITION," COURTESY NEW LINE CINEMA)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one has told me why I'm here or what I've done. This is crazy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ARENA (voice-over): The movie is called "Rendition". That's when the government transfers someone it thinks might be a terrorist to another country for interrogation. Maher Arar says the film isn't far off.

MAHER ARAR, FORMER DETAINEE: I was interrogated and physically tortured. I was beaten with an electrical cable and threatened with a metal chair.

ARENA: Arar is a Syrian-born Canadian citizen who found himself on the wrong flight at the wrong time. He told lawmakers he was making a connection in New York when U.S. authorities took him into custody and deported him to Syria -- a country where human rights groups say torture is common. He was held for 10 months.

ARAR: When I was not being beaten, I was put in a waiting room so that I could hear the screams of other prisoners. The cries of the woman still haunt me the most.

ARENA: Arar says he was accused of having connections to Al Qaeda and was repeatedly asked about an acquaintance -- questions he could not answer.

ARAR: Five years have passed since my original detention and I have never been charged with any crime.

ARENA: The Justice Department says Arar was not rendered, merely deported. But one U.S. official admits that since September 11, the government has sent about 50 people to other countries for interrogation. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've been conducted lawfully, responsibly, with a clear and single purpose -- get terrorists off the street and gain intelligence on those still at large.

ARENA: Arar insists he's not a terrorist.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ARENA: It was his own government of Canada that provided the original intelligence suggesting that he was. But after a lengthy investigation, Canada cleared him and paid him about $10 million for his suffering. But the U.S. still considers him danger -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Kelli, thanks very much.

Kelli Arena reporting.

Up ahead, fake bombs smuggled past airport screeners at an alarming rate. We're going to show you the results of a shocking undercover test.

Also, U.S. officials now want to close a Muslim school in the United States. Coming up, serious questions about what they're teaching, what's going on. We'll go there.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Take a look at this -- damage from a tornado that ripped through Pensacola, Florida only a few hours ago. Among the buildings hit, a daycare center full of kids. Amazingly -- amazingly, no one was hurt.

And a possible tornado is blamed for two deaths in Northeastern Missouri. Several other tornadoes were confirmed across the state, but damage, fortunately, was minimal.

Let's go to Carol Costello.

She's monitoring some other stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- what's going on, Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A couple of things, Wolf.

A top Army official says the service will likely only be able to add 4,000 new soldiers next year. That's just a fraction of the 35,000 the Pentagon set as a goal by 2010. Current troop shortages have leaders forcing about 9,000 soldiers to stay on beyond their retirement or reenlistment dates under a program known as Stop Law (ph).

In news impacting small business, Americans are almost equally divided over whether the economy is in a recession. In a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, 46 percent say yes; 51 percent say no. But African-Americans are much more pessimistic about the economy. Sixty- nine percent of those asked say there is a recession. Only 28 percent say there's not.

Oh, it's finally over. Yankees Manager Joe Torre saying thanks, but no thanks to a $5 million contract for one more year with the team. He is leaving the job he has held since 1995. He's turning down not only the salary, but also substantial playoff bonuses. The team's president says it's now time for the Yankees and all of us to move forward.

One of the most famous movie love scenes of all time -- Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in "From Here To Eternity." Well, Kerr has died at the age of 86. She was born in Scotland and lived most recently in eastern England and she had been suffering from Parkinson's Disease.

Back to you -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A great actress, indeed.

Thanks very much, Carol, for that.

Up next, the latest on the breaking news out of Pakistan -- bomb blasts killed dozens near the convoy of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as she returns from exile.

And find out why the Bush administration hopes for permanent bases in Iraq may prove to be a tough sell in Baghdad.

And the race for the White House -- can Rudy Giuliani win over Evangelical voters?

I'll ask one of the most influential Evangelical leaders. He'll be joining us right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Happening now, the breaking news we're following out of Pakistan. The Associated Press now reporting at least 108 people are dead in explosions that went off near the convoy carrying Benazir Bhutto. The former prime minister returning today to Pakistan after eight years in exile. She was not injured in the blast. We'll get you more information. This is still a breaking story.

House Democrats fail to override a high profile presidential veto. They fell just 13 votes short of the number needed to bypass the president and expand the popular children's health insurance program known as SCHIP.

And the price of crude oil hitting a record high again -- $89.47 a barrel. And now gas prices are following suit. According to the AAA, the national average up two cents today, and up four cents since Monday. I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Thousands of U.S. casualties and hundreds of billions of dollars are not enough to buy a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq. The Iraqi government now says it does not want the U.S. military to find a home away from home in Iraq.

CNN's Jim Clancy is in Baghdad -- Jim.

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, while the U.S. troop presence in Iraq, as well as U.S. taxpayer support for its government, is expected to extend well into the coming decade, government officials here in Baghdad tell CNN they put the U.S. on notice -- no permanent bases here.

That message was delivered directly to Vice President Dick Cheney at the White House by Iraq's national security adviser.

Here's what he told CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOWAFFAK AL-RUBAIE, IRAQI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The people of Iraq, the parliament and the Council of Representatives and the government of Iraq, they all say no -- a big fat no -- N-O for the bases in Iraq. No military bases for Iraq because we believe that is a direct encroachment to our sovereignty. And we don't need it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLANCY: If Vice President Cheney had a response, he would not elaborate. But the U.S. state department did have a comment to make. A spokesman telling us, "There is no particular U.S. desire to have a permanent presence in Iraq but we do expect to have a long-term strategic partnership and the terms of that will be discussed."

Those talks expected to get underway later this month. And there is much to discuss from the U.S. side, concerns about how much money and how much of a presence the U.S. will have here in Iraq from the Iraqi side, concerns about public sentiment against a permanent U.S. presence in their country.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jim Clancy reporting from Baghdad for us. Thank you, Jim.

Closer to home, here textbooks teaching students to hate. That's long been an allegation leveled against Saudi Arabia's schools. Now a Saudi school in this country is coming in for some very, very sharp criticism and perhaps even a lot more than that.

Let's go right to Brian Todd. He's following this story. He has been following it for a while.

Brian, just to set the scene, you're at the Islamic Saudi Academy in nearby Alexandria, Virginia. That's just outside Washington. What's going on?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, after years of scrutiny by CNN and others, there are serious concerns that Saudi schools like this one are still use something of those very controversial textbooks.

New claims Saudi Arabia is not coming clean on the issue of religious tolerance. U.S. officials are concerned the Islamic Saudi Academy, a private school in the U.S., just outside Washington, funded by the Saudi government, is still using textbooks that preach religious hatred. Those officials are asking the state department to do something pretty unusual.

NINA SHEA, COMM. ON INTL. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: To strive for bilateral agreement for the Saudi government itself to close its own school until it comes clean with its textbooks.

TODD: A U.S. government panel became concerned when they went to Saudi Arabia recently and tried to examine school textbooks there. They say they weren't given a single one. According to one report cited by the U.S. government the books used to contain phrases like "the hour of judgment will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them."

State department officials did not say they would pressure the Saudis to shut down this school. But ...

TOM CASEY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We will continue to work with the government of Saudi Arabia to press them to make the kinds of changes that they have committed to make in their textbooks.

TODD: A spokesman at the Saudi embassy told us there is no inflammatory material in the textbooks at the Islamic Saudi Academy here in the U.S. That his government is working with the state department to deal with any objections over the text in Saudi Arabia. And the several changes have already been made.

When we followed up on his suggestion to go to the Virginia school, we were first told to leave. Then after we persisted, Administrator David Kovalik came out and addressed the key charges.

DAVID KOVALIK, ADMINISTRATOR, ISLAMIC SAUDI ACADEMY: There are no such passages that teach hatred or intolerance toward any other faith. That's not what we are here for. We're here to teach values.

TODD: David Kovalik has been a teacher and an administrator at this school for about eight years. Now when I read in the passage from two years ago about Muslims and killing Jews, he admitted that this school did have some what he called questionable passages in its textbooks but have since taken them out.

Just to try to verify some of this, we got a student to get us a textbook. This is a fifth grade textbook on Islam and the Koran. We are now in the process of working with an Arabic translator to verify that there is no intolerant content at least in this book, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Brian. We will stay on top of this story together with you.

Shocking results from an undercover test of airport screeners. Get this. They missed as many as 75 percent of fake bombs smuggled through checkpoints at some of the country's busiest airports.

CNN's Susan Roesgen has more from Chicago.

Susan.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, if I were here in the security line at O'Hare in Chicago I would be able to get through with this bag. But undercover government investigators made it through the screening with fake bombs.

The security lines at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, undercover government investigators say they were able to sneak through with fake bombs and bomb parts 60 percent of the times they tried. In Los Angeles, the rate was 75 percent. And in San Francisco, the screeners were better but were still fooled 20 percent of the time.

CLARK KENT ERVIN, FORMER DHS INSPECTOR GENERAL: It is absolutely not acceptable, all these many years after 9/11, all these many years after the creation of the Department Of Homeland Security.

ROESGEN: Critics like former homeland security inspector general Clark Kent Ervin say there's no excuse for contraband making it past transportation security administration screeners. Surprisingly, however, some passengers are more sympathetic.

DAVID CASEK, PASSENGER: I mean I can imagine sitting at one of those monitors and looking at just image after image going across the screen. It has to be a little numbing after a while. Maybe they could do something to rotate those people in and out a little more quickly to get them more breaks you know to keep them fresh and keep them alert.

ROESGEN: In fact, the TSA says the screening procedures are better now than during the yearlong investigation that ended late last year. And the TSA says that because bombs don't look like this anymore, the TSA's own tests are intentionally difficult for screeners to pass.

ELLEN HOWE, TSA SPOKESWOMAN: So we expect a significant failure rate because if tests were easy, everybody would be passing. We want the tests to be hard and we want the tests to replicate the real world scenario.

ROESGEN: The TSA also claims that every airport carry-on lane in the country is tested for security breaches every day. The Transportation Security Administration says the better technology is on the way but critics say that humans still run those machines and that leads to potential for human error.

Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Susan, thanks very much. Susan Roesgen reporting.

Who do religious conservatives want to be the next president of the United States? That's a good question. And I will ask a key leader of the southern Baptist convention, Dr. Richard Land. He is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Welcome. We'll speak with you in a moment.

Also, standing up to the Donald. The Billionaire wants to build a golf course. But one stubborn man is standing in his way. You are about to meet him.

And how concerned should the U.S. be that Iraq is awarding more than $1 Billion in contracts to Iran and China to build power plants? Jack Cafferty with your email.

A lot more coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Presidential picks narrowing for Christian conservatives with the republican Senator Sam Brownback expected to drop out of the race for the White House tomorrow. So who will evangelicals back?

Richard Land is the president of the ethics and religious liberty commission of the southern Baptists convention. He's also the author of a new book entitled "The Divided States of America."

Dr. Land, welcome to THE SITUATION ROOM.

RICHARD LAND, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION: Well, thank you. It's good to be with you.

BLITZER: Well, what do you think? If Giuliani who's the front- runner in at least a lot of these national polls, if he were to get the republican nomination, a man who supports abortion rights for women, gay rights, would you be able to vote for him?

LAND: I personally would not. How many evangelicals would I think depends on Giuliani. I mean there are some things he can do to mitigate the damage.

I saw a poll just today that said if there was a third party candidate in the race between Giuliani and Hillary, that they would get 14 percent. It would drop Rudy's vote right now from 43 percent to 34 percent.

BLITZER: And it would guarantee that let's say Hillary Clinton the democratic nominee.

LAND: That's right. It would.

BLITZER: What would be better from your perspective, Hillary Clinton as president or Rudy Giuliani as president?

LAND: Well, I refuse to answer that question on the grounds I might tend to incriminate myself. I don't endorse candidates. I'm just saying it is a matter of personal moral conscience, I can't vote for a pro-choice candidate. But Giuliani could do some things that would mitigate the damage and would encourage more evangelicals to sort of vote for him as the lesser of two evils.

BLITZER: Because millions of votes are at stake. You represent a lot of people out there who if they don't vote, for example, that could really hurt the Republican Party.

LAND: Or if they voted for a third party, it would. I mean, 40 percent of Bush's raw total vote in 2004 against John Kerry were considered to be evangelical voters.

BLITZER: Some have spoken, Dr. James Dobson among others, of a formal third party candidate. If Rudy Giuliani, for example, were to get the nomination would you support that?

LAND: Well, I don't get involved in supporting parties. But it would be nice to have someone to vote for the first Tuesday in November and as a matter of moral conscience, I can't vote for a pro- choice candidate. Just as a matter of moral conscience, I can't do it.

BLITZER: Mitt Romney used to support abortion rights for women. The former governor of Massachusetts says he no longer does. Would he be acceptable to you? Could you vote for Mitt Romney who is the front-runner at least according to some of the polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire right now.

LAND: Well, you know, I'm not going to say who I would vote for. I have said who I wouldn't for. But I take his conversion on the pro- life issue at face value. I have too many family members and too many friends who used to be pro-choice who have become pro-life. I don't think the charge of being a flip-flopper is going to stick. I think that he is considered by most evangelicals to be a pro-life candidate who would adopt pro-life policies in his administration.

BLITZER: Some evangelicals as you know well know have suggested they couldn't vote for a Mormon. Could you?

LAND: Under the right circumstances, I've encouraged Governor Romney when he was governor. I said look, you need to give a JFK-type speech. I believe that Jack Kennedy was the only person who could convince tens of millions of Protestants to vote for a Catholic in 1960. Only Mitt Romney can convince millions of evangelicals that it's OK to vote for a Mormon.

BLITZER: What would you want him to say in that speech?

LAND: Well, I would not want him to defend Mormonism. President Kennedy didn't defend Catholicism. What he did was defend the right of a Catholic to run for president. If I was advising Romney, I would say give a speech in an evangelical venue the way Kennedy did at the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in Houston, and I would say look, I'm not the Mormon candidate for president. I'm the republican candidate for president. And I'm going to be guided by my moral conscience. I have a right to have this faith and run for president. That's the American way. We don't have a religious test for office. Judge me on my administration in Massachusetts. Judge me on my record. And don't judge me because of my faith. And here's how my faith would and would not impact my performance of my office. I think if he did that, he could convince a lot of people who have reservations to vote for him because after all, you know, we are voting for our commander in chief, not pastor in chief.

BLITZER: Which is a fair point. Among the other front-runners on the republican side do you like of them? McCain, Fred Thompson? Do you have any problem was those two, for example?

LAND: No. No, I don't. Personally, I know both of them. I think they are fine men. They would make fine presidents. I know Mike Huckabee. I think he would make a fine president.

You know the issue, of course, is that we have a pro-life plank in the platform of the Republican Party and most of my constituency, they have been voting in the last few presidential elections for the republican candidate and not because he's the republican candidate. But because he's the pro-life candidate. And if the republicans take that off the table, then it scrambles everything.

BLITZER: Dr. Land, thanks very much for coming in.

LAND: Thank you.

BLITZER: Let's check in with Lou Dobbs to see what's coming up at the top of the hour.

Lou.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you.

We will be reporting tonight on new outrage in Congress over the failure of the federal government's so-called policies on border security and trade. Sections of the much delayed fence along our border with Mexico being made with steel from communist China.

And we will be taking issue with the distortions and outright lies of the powerful farming lobby and its pro-amnesty allies. Compelling evidence that contrary to their assertions of those special interests, government crackdowns on illegal immigration do not lead to labor shortages on our farms.

And well funded socioethnocentric interest groups trying to stop another community from enforcing immigration laws and protecting its citizens and their communities from the impact of illegal immigration.

We will have that report and we will have the inside story of the struggle to deport criminal illegal aliens from the country. Ames Holbrook, a former federal agent, author of "The Deporter," is among our guests here tonight.

Please join us for all of that, all of the day's news at the top of the hour here on CNN. Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: See you in a few moments, Lou. Thank you.

Up ahead, how concerned should the U.S. be that Iraq is now awarding more than $1 billion in contracts to Iran and China to build a power plant in Iraq? Jack Cafferty with your e-mail. That's coming up.

Also, he is standing in between Donald Trump and his latest green project. The man who has the nerve to stay no to the Donald.

And the divorce. The president's love life makes world headlines. The president of France that is.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: What may have been the worst kept secret in France is secret no more. An attorney for the new French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, confirming rumors of the marriage on the rocks announcing France's first couple will divorce.

CNN's Carol Costello is joining us now.

What's the reaction in France, Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is different from what it would be here, Wolf. That's for sure. You know there is a huge transit strike going on in France. But the streets are abuzz with news Cecilia left the president. Cecilia Sarkozy has never wanted to be first lady. She has said it bores her. So she left. The Sarkozy marriage is over.

Love, it used to be so romantic for Nicolas and Cecilia Sarkozy, a powerful man, a beautiful former model. They were so close during Sarkozy's run for president. Some might say by design.

GUILLAUME DEBRE, TF1 FRENCH TELEVISION: He used his wife to soften his image. Now she left him and he's alone.

COSTELLO: That tactic sounds so American.

We often accuse our politicians of using their spouses for political gain. The Clintons, anyone? Still the Sarkozys don't reflect love American style. Remember, the French yawned when they heard about Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky.

DEBRE: A lot of French people look at American politics and Americans' lives, in a way of puritanical, hypocritical and repressed. And for them, divorce sex matters are a part of life and they admit it and they accept it.

COSTELLO: Yes, the French newspapers scream Sarkozy's divorce but don't expect French voters to now question his leadership because he lost his wife.

Contrast that to American politics, it's is a different game. Remember when Ann Romney told voters the biggest distinct between her husband, who was running for the republican nomination, and his opponent, Rudy Giuliani, is he's only had one wife. Giuliani's had three.

The only real shock to the French over the whole Sarkozy saga was that their marriage unraveled so publicly that cozy and Sarkozy had long left the marriage. Cecilia Sarkozy even flying off to New York for a time with her lover. When she did come back to her marriage, she exactly hide the fact she wasn't that into her husband. Back in July, a Sarkozy angrily fended off American photographers at the waters of on of New Hampshire. Cecilia was nowhere to be found. Skipping an American vacation and tea with president and Mrs. Bush to shop in Paris. And now the final but expected blow, divorce.

Still, this is a first for France. Never before has a couple divorced while the president was in office. But when you compare it to former president Francois Mitterrand, it's no big deal. The world discovered he had a secret second family when they showed up at his funeral.

BLITZER: That's France. This is the United States. Carol, thanks very much. Good work.

When it comes to having his own way, Donald Trump may have met his match. A stubborn Scotsman is standing up to Donald Trump refusing to sell his house and make way for the billionaire's new golf course.

CNN's Phil Black has the story.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the shores of the North Sea, along a beautiful stretch of the Scottish coast, Donald Trump wants to build what he calls the greatest golf resort in the world. Few have the courage to defy Trump. Quarry Mike Forbes is among the few. Forbes' property sits in the middle of Trump's proposed development.

So you'll be an island.

MIKE FORBES, LAND OWNER: Yes. Yes.

BLACK: Trump has offered to buy but Forbes isn't selling.

FORBES: It's my history. All my family come from here, you know.

BLACK: It is fair to say this isn't the tidiest property in Scotland. Rusting cars and crumbling barns.

FORBES: Need a bit of repair. I will get on to it some day.

BLACK: Forbes says it is not much but it is his castle. What does Trump think?

DONALD TRUMP: It's a pigsty and I say get your house clean.

BLACK: Donald Trump says that your property is a pigsty.

FORBES: Yes. Maybe to him. Not to me. But I have always said I had his money it would look nice, you know?

BLACK: Trump says he can build around Forbes but he believes the Scotsman's messy ways are a deliberate strategy to frustrate him and drive up the price.

FORBES: I've got everything I need. I don't need no more.

BLACK: Mike Forbes isn't the only obstacle standing between Donald Trump and his Scottish dream. Other locals have formed action groups to fight for the conservation of this area and Trump must still follow a long, complicated process to receive final approval for the development. The battle for the hills still has a long way to go.

Phil Black, CNN, Malmedy, Scotland.

BLITZER: And Forbes isn't the only real estate hold-out making headlines. The 86-year-old woman who owns this Seattle house, check it out, has refused an offer of almost $1 million from developers who are now building a five-story retail complex around her.

And check this out. In China, the owners of a small hotel there held developers at bay for more than three years, even after construction left them on a dirt island. They eventually moved.

Up ahead, Iraq is awarding more than $1 Billion in contracts to Iran and China for power plants. How concerned should the U.S. be? Jack Cafferty and your e-mail. That's coming up next right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Check back with Jack for the Cafferty file.

Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question, Wolf, this hour, how concerned should the U.S. be that Iraq is awarding more than $1 billion in contracts to Iran and China to build power plants inside of Iraq?

Richard writes from Denver, "We have failed miserably in Iraq in every way, including helping build a new infrastructure. Why would we be surprised when they go to other sources willing to help? Bush and his oil buddies have ripped them off so badly they have no confidence in American companies."

Vinnie writes from New York, "Are you kidding me? Our warriors are putting their lives on the line in that hell hole for Iraq's freedom. The government of Iraq shows its gratitude to the U.S. by awarding Iran and China billions of dollars. That should be the final nail in Iraq's future for the U.S. Our government should start bringing our troops home immediately."

Rashaan in New Jersey, "If we want Iraq to be on its own, we must allow them to control their own infrastructure and economy. Maybe this can put them on the right track to independence. Think about it. We've spent over five billion on their electrical grid and they can barely power a flashlight. It's time to allow Iran and China to do what privatize American bloodsuckers do not care about doing: providing electricity after we blew everything up."

Don in Tennessee writes, "It should be no problem to the U.S. After all, they are supposed to be a democracy that can spend their money as they see fit. They are just like U.S. businesses that go for the cheapest way to get things they want."

Donna in Idaho, "If they have that kind of money, then they should be using it to have their own Army and fight for their own freedoms and get us out of there. I guess no one is smart enough over there to put their own people to work and build their own power plants."

And Patrick writes from North Carolina, "I'm sure these no bid contractors are going to give mean kickbacks to Chinese, Iranian and Iraqi officials. Something they learned from their education at the Bush, Cheney, Halliburton School of Ethics."

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.

Wolf.

BLITZER: See you back here in one hour, Jack. Thank you very much.

And this note to our viewers, mark your calendars. Starting November 5th, just one year from Election Day 2008, THE SITUATION ROOM will be on for three hours back to back from 4:00 p.m. eastern to 7:00 p.m. eastern. "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" will air at 7:00 p.m. eastern. That starts November 5th.

Today we are back in one hour once again from now. Until then, thanks very much for watching.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

"LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now.

Lou.

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