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THE SITUATION ROOM
Warning of Merciless Offensive; Tension in Streets of Tehran; Roadmap for the GOP
Aired June 9, 2009 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: CNN's Christiane Amanpour is in the Iranian capital for us.
And Gingrich had center stage, but did Governor Sarah Palin try to upstage him?
The former House speaker shrugs off any controversy with a new road map for the GOP.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But first, a shocking threat today from North Korea's communist rulers that may go way beyond the recent saber rattling, as the U.S. considers its own military options. Lots going on right now.
Let's go straight to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, for the latest -- Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as North Korea steps up the threats daily, the U.S. watching 24/7.
STARR (voice-over): North Korea now threatening to use nuclear weapons in a merciless offensive if provoked, raising new worries about Pyongyang's rhetoric.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates is reassuring Congress after visiting Fort Greeley, Alaska, where the U.S. has missiles aimed at trying to shoot down any incoming North Korean missiles.
ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I have confidence that if North Korea launched a long-range missile in the direction of the United States, that we would have a high probability of being able to defend ourselves against it.
STARR: U.S. spy satellites have seen preparations for potential missile launches at several North Korean facilities. The Obama administration trying to send the message -- it's not going to play again into North Korea's escalating tone.
DENNIS BLAIR, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: The character of -- of the North Korean behavior that we're seeing is a fairly familiar pattern of doing something outrageous and then expecting to be paid for stopping doing it.
STARR: Gates is now looking at military options if North Korea doesn't stop its nuclear program.
GEOFF MORRELL, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: He has tasked his policy team with trying to figure out creative and prudent ways to bolster defenses.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
STARR: So the real question still remains, Wolf, what is North Korea really up to here?
Why are they doing all of this?
As you know, the U.S. intelligence community believes part of this is that North Korea is in the middle of a succession crisis. And as that struggle goes on, as to who will take control when Kim Jong Il dies, that's causing a lot of uncertainty and something that worries the U.S. a good deal -- Wolf.
BLITZER: The older son suggesting, Barbara, as you know, that the younger son is about to get that succession.
What are you hearing over there at the Pentagon?
STARR: Well, you know, everyone has seen those open press reports and they think that is the stated succession route right now. But "The Hermit Kingdom," as they call it, is very closed. The U.S. doesn't really know, officials will tell you, what North Korea is really up to. That might be who Kim Jong Il is proposing to succeed him, but what about the high command around him?
What will the North Korean generals do?
This is a country that no one can really predict what will happen next -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon.
The shock waves are still spreading in official Washington after a former State Department employee and his wife were arrested and charged with spying for Cuba over the course of three decades. And for those who knew these alleged -- alleged spies, including Kendall Myers, the State Department diplomat, the shock may be even deeper.
We asked Brian Todd to take a closer look at these two individuals -- Brian, what are you finding out?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we know this indictment charges Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers of passing classified information to Fidel Castro's regime. Now, we're getting new information on just how under the radar this capital might have been for so many years. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
TODD (voice-over): Tom Murray had no idea that the tall, engaging professor with the bushy mustache was up to anything beyond his love of European politics and history. As for the allegation that Professor Kendall Myers was so-called Agent 202 for Fidel Castro's communist regime...
TOM MURRAY, FORMER STUDENT OF ALLEGED SPY, CONTRIBUTOR, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: It's a little chilling to find out that somebody may have led a -- a double life.
TODD: In the spring of 1992, Murray was a graduate student at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. Myers, now charged along with his wife with spying for Cuba for three decades, taught Murray's class, modern British politics. Murray says he never got an inkling that Myers was sympathetic to Cuba. But looking back through his notes after Myers' indictment, Murray picked up what he calls a chilling passage about the professor's administration for notorious Soviet double agents Kim Philby, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess.
MURRAY: It indicated that they were turned toward being spies by the desire to help Europe and not necessarily self-driven.
TODD: Murray is now a contributor to the online news and current affairs journal, TheDailyBeast.com, and has posted an entry on Myers on that Web site. He says looking back, he's also struck by a request from Myers that students read Rudyard Kipling's book "Kim," about British espionage against Russia in the late 1800s.
Equally shocked at these allegations, Larry MacDonald, a friend whose sloop is in the same Maryland marina as the 38-footer owned by Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers.
LARRY MACDONALD, FRIEND OF KENDALL & GWENDOLYN MYERS: And I could not have been more flabbergasted had I heard they arrested Santa Claus. It's -- it was just astounding to me.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: Now both Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers have pleaded not guilty to the spying charges. Contacted by CNN, their attorney, Tom Green, said he would not comment on the recollections of Tom Murray.
The couple face a hear tomorrow on whether they'll be granted bail or some kind of house arrest -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Does Tom Murray recall how he left things off with Kendall Myers?
TODD: He does. He says that he was very anxious to get a grade back from an important paper at the end of the semester and that he wanted to talk to Myers about this. But he -- he got the paper back only with the grade, no comments on it. He wanted to see the comments from the professor. He also says the professor kind of went AWOL the last couple of weeks of the semester -- not unusual for a professor at a graduate school. And he says he never got the chance to talk to him about it, never saw any comments.
He did get an A on the paper, but he really kind of missed that opportunity to engage with the professor.
BLITZER: This is a real -- real spy mystery.
BLITZER: And there's going to be a lot more coming out on this, I suspect, in the weeks and months to come.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for that.
Brian Todd reporting.
Let's go back to Jack Cafferty -- Jack, he talk at my graduate school, at Johns Hopkins, the School of Advanced International Studies. And the answer is no, I never met him.
CAFFERTY: You know what I think we should do?
We should just put a full screen up with your curriculum vitae on it and let the folks at home read your resume.
What do you think?
BLITZER: It would be boring.
CAFFERTY: Well, not as boring as this here that I'm doing right now.
CAFFERTY: When it comes to gays in the military, the Supreme Court refused to hear a legal challenge to the don't ask/don't tell policy.
Now, that policy was put in place by President Clinton in 1993. It forbids those serving in the military from openly saying they are gay or lesbian. It also prevents the government from asking people about their sexual orientation when they join the service.
It's estimated more than 12,000 members of the military have been discharged under this policy, including more than 200 since President Obama took office.
While campaigning, then Senator Obama indicated that he supports eventually repealing or changing this policy, but he hasn't yet taken any steps to do so. A group of more than 1,000 retired military officers, including 47 four star generals, recently warned the president that overturning don't ask/don't tell would cause problems recruiting and retaining troops.
Liberal activists, on the other hand, who believe gays should be able to serve openly, are frustrated by the Supreme Court's refusal to hear this challenge and the Obama administration's lack of action on this.
Yet it seems like Democrats and the White House don't want to take on an issue that could divide the public when they need their support for other issues, like, for example, health care.
Meanwhile, a new Gallup poll suggests there might be more support out there on this issue than the president realizes. Sixty-nine percent of Americans now favor allowing openly gay members to serve in the military -- up six points from five years ago.
Also, this is interesting, maybe even more significant, the biggest increase in support has come from conservatives and weekly churchgoers.
Here's the question -- should the Supreme Court decide the fate of don't ask/don't tell?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and you can post a comment on my blog.
Where did you go to elementary school?
BLITZER: Washington Elementary School in Kenmore, New York outside of Buffalo.
BLITZER: It's no longer in business, unfortunately. Actually, kindergarten, first and second grade, School 81.
CAFFERTY: That's enough. I don't want to hear any more.
BLITZER: Thank you.
An old video coming back to haunt the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, just days before the country's election.
And the man accused of killing a doctor who performed abortions speaking to CNN.
Plus, President Obama's Colbert cameo -- is it harmless humor or, as some critics might suggest, beneath the Oval Office?
I'll ask James Carville and Kevin Madden. They're both standing by live.
BLITZER: In news around the world, a rare look inside Iran only days before the national elections.
Our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, is in Tehran -- Christiane.
CHRISTIAN AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the sun has gone down here, but supporters of both President Ahmadinejad and his main rival, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, are already in the streets and they will stay there until the early hours, shouting slogans at each other and making sure this campaign is heard before Friday's election.
Many people are now saying that Ahmadinejad can no longer count on being the frontrunner and is no longer a shoo-in to win Friday's election -- at least not on the first round, because Mir-Hossein Mousavi is fast creeping up in the polls.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): With just days to go before Iran's presidential elections, Tehran seems to be in the midst of a giant get out the vote street party. Bidding a wishful farewell to President Ahmadinejad, supporters of the leading opposition candidate, Mir- Hossein Mousavi, organized a human chain from the north of town all the way down to the south.
(on camera): In the last week, the election here has suddenly taken a much more energetic turn. Rallies for all the candidates, particularly the top two, are jamming the streets. Here, up in the affluent part of Tehran, young people -- women wearing all manner of the head scarf that's required by law. And it will, in the end, be the turnout that makes the difference.
(voice-over): Women appear to be leading the charge. They say they want more freedom and equal rights -- even those who don't feel safe enough to reveal their faces, just their hopes. Please watch, but don't intervene. This young man, like so many, says he's simply fed up with life in Iran today. "I can take it no more," his sign proclaims. "Go green for Mousavi."
So green some have leaves strapped to their bodies. They want jobs, better pay, more opportunities.
And when one of the President Ahmadinejad's supporters strays into this opposition stronghold, the mood is raucous as the two camps try to drown each other out. Further downtown, the president's supporters are preparing a big rally in a mosque complex.
"I support Ahmadinejad," says this man, "because he built up the country. He's sincere and he's not corrupt."
"Mr. Ahmadinejad's the best man, the most powerful man. He will definitely win," says this woman. "We believe in him."
Experts believe Iran will continue its nuclear program no matter who wins. And when it comes to relations with the U.S. and President Obama...
MOHAMMAD MARANDI, TEHRAN UNIVERSITY: I think that either of the two candidates, they would respond positively to the United States if they feel that the United States makes a significant move toward improving relations.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: We even spoke to the granddaughter of Ayatollah Khomeini, who ushered in the Islamic Revolution 30 years ago. And she said that she hoped that now would be the time to restore relations between the United States and Iran.
This, the granddaughter of the ayatollah who launched "Death To America!" as the slogan of this country. So much has changed in the last 30 years.
In the meantime, many people are saying that unless something changes, unless there's a different president in Iran, analysts are saying both the economy, the political situation and relations with the rest of the world are headed, "over the cliff" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Christiane Amanpour in Tehran for us. She's going to be there for the next several days, leading up to the elections on Friday.
His revolutionary zeal and fervent emotion may be coming back to haunt the Iranian president, Ahmadinejad. He's now taking heat for claiming that he was once surrounded by a halo.
Let's bring in Brian Todd.
He's taking a closer look at this story.
A little strange.
TODD: You don't get that from politicians very much, at least not in this country, Wolf.
This was from a video clip in 2005, but it could come back, as Wolf mentioned, as a YouTube moment to play a role in the final days of his hard-fought campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice-over): A video clip of Iran's president becomes a campaign issue -- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking about his 2005 speech to the United Nations with a top cleric.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM YOUTUBE.COM)
PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (through translator): A member of the delegation told me, "I saw a light that surrounded you." I sensed it myself, too. I felt that suddenly the atmosphere were changed there. All the leaders and the audience were stunned for 27, 28 minutes and they didn't blink. I'm not exaggerating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Now, supporters of his challengers are said to be distributing the clip after Mr. Ahmadinejad denied making the comment.
Could it make an impact on Friday's presidential vote?
We asked an Iranian-born author and the head of a non-partisan political think tank.
TRITA PARSI, AUTHOR, "TREACHEROUS": The opponents of Ahmadinejad have been portraying him as someone that is disconnected from reality. And this video, in which he's essentially saying that world leaders were mesmerized by him for 28 minutes, plays into that.
KEN BALLEN, TERRORFREETOMORROW.ORG: I think they're trying to get out their base. They're trying to motivate their base. President Ahmadinejad's base is not going to be disturbed by those reports.
TODD: Iran's election is looking more and more like modern Western campaigning. This ad for a challenger echoes an Obama slogan -- "Yes, We Can!"
PARSI: The anti-Ahmadinejad candidates have really taken the incident to heart. They're using YouTube, they're using Twitter, they're using Facebook, they're using text messages on cell phones.
BALLEN: The more reform candidate would be more likely to benefit from the Internet. But, also, there's a lot of people on the Internet in Iran who are conservative and who back -- who back Ahmadinejad.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: Now, Iran votes on Friday, as we know. But there are four candidates.
And if none of them reaches that 50 percent threshold, the top two will hold a runoff.
Every indication, Wolf, now that it's very, very close.
BLITZER: We'll cover it every step of the way.
Thanks very much, Brian, for that.
He admits hacking Pentagon and NASA computers, but this British man is fighting extradition to the United States and he's using an unusual argument.
Will the courts buy it?
Plus, an unusual order for President Obama -- shave Stephen Colbert's head.
But was his cameo appropriate at a time when America is at war?
James Carville and Kevin Madden -- they're here to discuss.
BLITZER: Look at those ominous skies over the U.S. Capitol right now here in Washington, D.C.
I'm supposed to go to the baseball game, the Washington Nationals baseball game. I hope there is a game tonight. Let's see.
Mary Snow is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Mary, I don't know if there's going to be a game or not, but those skies look pretty ominous.
SNOW: Yes. And getting pretty dark here, too, in New York. Something tells me that you're going to be sitting at home tonight.
SNOW: Taking a look at some of the news making headlines, out of Guantanamo and into a New York City courtroom -- the first detainee transferred from Cuba to the U.S. for trial is pleading not guilty. Ahmed Ghailani is charged in the bombings of two embassies in Africa in 1998.
His arrival comes as Congress and President Obama debate what to do with detainees when Guantanamo closes.
A British man is fighting extradition to the U.S. where he's wanted for hacking computers, including some at Pentagon and NASA. Forty-two-year-old Gary McKinnon has already lost several appeals. But his lawyers are now arguing he has a form of autism and that extradition and an American trial could trigger psychosis, even suicide. McKinnon admits to the hacking and has apologized. He says he was looking for evidence of UFOs.
A decade-long search has finally paid off for a dive team with the discovery of this Soviet submarine wreck in the Baltic Sea. It was destroyed, most likely by a mine, during World War II, and went down with a crew of 50. Divers found the wreckage between Sweden and Finland in February, but only announced it today, after positively identifying it. And French authorities are looking for a Picasso sketchbook stolen from this Paris museum overnight. It contained more than 30 pencil drawings by the artist done between 1917 and 1924. The book was in a locked case. A police unit that specializes in black market art sales is investigating.
And, Wolf, as you can imagine, it's said to be worth about $11 million.
BLITZER: Wow! Amazing.
All right, thanks very much, Mary.
Stand by. We're going to get back to you.
Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin -- the former House speaker at center stage.
Did the Alaska governor try to upstage him?
James Carville, Kevin Madden and Candy Crowley -- they're all standing by.
Plus, more powerful with more features -- fans of the iPhone were thrilled, until they saw the fine print.
BLITZER: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, a suicide attack on a luxury hotel in Northwest Pakistan. Three gunmen detonate a powerful car bomb that kills 11, injures dozens in a region where many are sympathetic to the Taliban -- now the target of an offensive by Pakistani troops.
Also, an explosion unleashes a toxic cloud at the North Carolina plant that makes Slim Jims. At least 38 people were hurt, several critically.
Plus, extraordinary calm under unimaginable pressure -- new details of what was going on in the cockpit only seconds before the plane landed on the Hudson River.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The former House speaker, Newt Gingrich, smacks down President Obama, maps out a road map to try to get power back for the Republicans.
Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It was a lively event last night. CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It was. You know, last night's fundraiser was for House and Senate Republican races. And it seemed to have gone without a hitch or a disparaging word, at least between Republicans.
Still, that's quite a feat considering the run-up to the event.
CROWLEY (voice-over): After several days of Palin party drama -- invitations, dis-invitations -- would she come?
Would she speak?
But the former speaker spoke and gave a shout-out.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I felt, looking at John McCain and Sarah Palin, this country would have been amazingly better off had they been in the White House.
CROWLEY: Also helping out at the GOP fundraiser, actor Jon Voight. Introduced as one of the few Hollywood types brave enough to be a Republican, Voight took to the stage, applauding the voices of dissent.
JON VOIGHT, ACTOR: Let's give thanks to them for not giving up and staying the course to bring an end to this false prophet, Obama.
CROWLEY: It was the Senate and House Republicans' biggest fundraiser of the year -- a year of living anonymously as a minority party with little to do but speak out -- something Gingrich does well.
GINGRICH: The great difference between Reagan's rhetorical skills and President Obama's rhetorical skills are that Reagan used his rhetorical skills to shine light on truths and fundamental facts. Obama uses his rhetorical skills to hide from fundamental facts.
CROWLEY: Along with a critique of the Obama administration, Gingrich offered the faithful a road map to majority status. Chiming in on a recent debate over who's a real Republican, Gingrich preached inclusiveness.
GINGRICH: I am happy that Dick Cheney is a Republican. I am also happy that Colin Powell is a Republican.
CROWLEY: Long considered an idea man for the party and a presidential possibility by some, Gingrich advised the GOP to stick with fundamental principles -- lower taxes, less government intrusion, the defense of individualism. It was vintage Newt, a reasoned defense of Republican policy, a few history lessons and big blasts at the administration. There was this on the economy. GINGRICH: It means their budget is already wrecked, because we're going to have higher unemployment, greater government expenses and less revenue than think projected, because their plan has already failed.
CROWLEY: And this on foreign policy.
GINGRICH: Let me be clear. I am not a citizen of the world.
CROWLEY: Is not as new or electric Sarah Palin, but Gingrich still delivers.
CROWLEY: And he can still raise money. Organizers say last night's haul was about $14.5 million. That is not bad but it's not completely terrific, a bit less than similar events over the past five years. Maybe that's because of the economy, maybe it's a sign of a party still trying to find its ceilings, Wolf, not to its voice.
BLITZER: It's going to take a while for the Republicans to get their act together. Thanks very much, Candy, for that.
Let's discuss what's going on with our Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor James Carville, and Republican strategist Kevin Madden. They're both joining us right now.
I guess, Kevin, I should ask you first, was there a real competition behind the scenes between Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, both of whom are considered possible 2012 presidential candidates?
KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Oh, I don't think so. I think a lot of the controversy here had more to do with scheduling snafus, and miscommunication among the parties that were planning this than it had anything to do with any personal competition.
BLITZER: I was told by people very close to the situation that she really did want to speak and she was upset that they pulled the rug from out from under her.
MADDEN: Well, I don't think Governor Palin had any real reason to be upset. I think there was ample opportunity to take the invitation when it was first offend a few months ago to speak at it and I think the miscommunication after that initial snafu is what led to all the controversy. I think anytime you have somebody who picks up the mantle like Newt Gingrich did and agrees to speak at the - as the key note speaker at an event like that then you have to afford him the opportunity to be the key speaker.
BLITZER: James what would have been so bad if both of them had spoken?
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I don't know, and I really tried to say something nice about Republicans, because it becomes so predictable, but this is a party that's way overly reliant on older white males, and they have Newt Gingrich and Jon Voight as the headliners. It's like, come on, guys, get in the game. Jon Voight, I was in the Marine Corps when "Midnight Cowboy "was an incredible movie, but they can't find somebody under 60?
BLITZER: Who would have been better, James?
CARVILLE: I don't know. I'm not a Republican. Maybe they don't have anybody under 60? Maybe that's their problem.
BLITZER: They've got young guys in the congress, senate and house.
MADDEN: James, I think you're putting too much in the one dinner. We have an incredible bench of talent, different ethnicity, and I think we have a lot of members of our party of the female gender that are playing a leading role in crafting an agenda for the future. I think that we shouldn't put so much stock in just one dinner.
CARVILLE: But that's not just one dinner. That is your biggest dinner of the year. You don't control the executive branch. That's the headline event of the Republican Party for the year 2009. And they have a combined age of 120.
MADDEN: Fund-raising dinners in Washington, D.C. are not going to persuade voters. I think this is a very inside the beltway controversy, even if it's worthy of being called a controversy.
BLITZER: Hold on a moment. I want to switch gears dramatically to the Colbert Report last night. I don't know if you stayed up late and watched it on Comedy Central. Stephen Colbert went to Iraq, met with the U.S. military commander General Odierno, in front of a lot of troops, all of whom were pretty excited and happy to see his show but they had this exchange. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: General, I overheard your conversation about Stephen's hair.
STEPHEN COLBERT, TALK SHOW HOST: Wait a second. You overheard? Are your spy satellites really that good?
OBAMA: No, but my ears are really that big. A man who understands the appeal of a -- I say if Stephen Colbert wants to play soldier, it's time to cut that man's hair.
COLBERT: Wait a second. Wait a second.
GENERAL ODIERNO: Sir, is that an order?
OBAMA: General, as the commander in chief, I hereby order you to shave that man's hair.
ODIERNO: Yes, sir, Mr. President.
COLBERT: Hold on. Hold on.
OBAMA: Thank you General. And once again, my thanks to everybody over there.
ODIERNO: Thank you, Mr. President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. There you have it. He goes ahead, General Odierno, he gets the razor, and he does exactly what the commander in chief told him to do, shave off Stephen Colbert's hair. James Carville, somebody shaves your hair I know on a daily basis, so you can probably identify on that. Anybody who complains about the president getting involved in these late-night skits, do they have a point? Or is that ridiculous?
CARVILLE: I don't want to say it's ridiculous, but there's a long history in this country -- Bob Hope did this all the time, people have gone and entertained the troops. I think that the fact that you have the commanding general there and the president comes on, I think this was in line. I think most people like to hear those troops over there laughing and Colbert going on and being part of the gig and getting his haircut. I thought that was a pretty good line, but yeah, there's some danger of this, but I think this is well within reason. As I say, people like for the troops to be entertained. I think most people are positive about that.
BLITZER: Kevin, you probably remember Richard M. Nixon when he went on "Laugh-In" and said "sock it to me."
MADDEN: Bill Clinton back when James was making all the right moves with him, he was on Leno. Even President George W. Bush went to NASCAR. I think there's ways to engage voters that are outside the political sphere in a very smart way, but James is absolutely right. Oftentimes there's a line here, kind of line running on an ice rink. One fatal slip and you can really hurt yourself. I think with this one, he didn't do any harm, and I think General Odierno had a good time, Stephen Colbert got his hair cut, didn't have a good time, but in an interesting way they are infusing pop culture with politics, and that's engaging new voters so I don't think there's any harm done where.
CARVILLE: He's overrated. He's doing fine with.
MADDEN: I think Wolf - you know James, I think Wolf had you and I to talk about this subject for a reason.
CARVILLE: I think so, too.
BLITZER: Thanks very much. I love John McCain's self- deprecating line telling the soldiers don't forget to clean your muskets. Good line. All right. Guys, thanks very much.
His former boss says nobody pushed her around. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor used to be one of his top assistants. I'll speak with her mentor, the legendary Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM for a rare interview.
And iPhone fans were thrilled to see the new version just unveiled but some are just getting to see the fine print.
BLITZER: He started out as a young assistant district attorney, and career that's led to her becoming the first Latina nominated to the United States Supreme Court. Let's hear now from a key mentor to judge Sonia Sotomayor.
Joining us the legendary district attorney for Manhattan Robert Morgenthau. He's here in Washington. Mr. Morgenthau, thanks very much for coming in.
ROBERT MORGENTHAU, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Thanks for asking me.
BLITZER: You recruited Sonia Sotomayor when she was finishing Yale Law School. You went up there, got to know her, you wanted her, tell us something about this woman we don't know.
MORGENTHAU: Well, she's incredibly smart, hard-working. I mean, she graduated from Princeton, she was on the Yale Law Journal, one of the top students, hard worker, nobody pushed her around.
BLITZER: So you got to know her well.
MORGENTHAU: I did.
BLITZER: How much years did she work for you?
MORGENTHAU: She worked for me for five years.
BLITZER: What stood out in your mind about her?
MORGENTHAU: Well, she was always prepared. One of the assistants who came there with her in the class of '79, I said, well, she was half a step ahead of you guys. He said, no, she was a full step ahead of us. She was street smart and also an intellectual.
BLITZER: You've had a lot of your assistant D.A.'s who have gone on to become judges. She's one of 70 assistant D.A.s?
MORGENTHAU: Yes. She's number 70.
BLITZER: Where were you put her?
MORGENTHAU: Right at the top. She was outstanding, and she quickly got a reputation as somebody that couldn't be pushed around. All the judges wanted to clear their calendars, would lean on the young D.A.s, try to pressure them in settling a case. Nobody succeeded in putting pressure on her. She was independent, tough, smart, fair.
She had two big cases that got a lot of attention. One was the case against a so-called Tarzan burglar. He would swing down on a rope, kick in a window and he murdered three people and committed a lot of robberies. She tried him, convicted him. He got 137 years to life.
BLITZER: Pretty good.
MORGENTHAU: He's still in there. And then she had another case, we lobbied together New York state's on the child pornography laws to be strengthened. Went to the Supreme Court -- excuse me -- went to the supreme court on a case -- they found it was constitutional.
BLITZER: So she won that one, too.
MORGENTHAU: And they tried the first case two people on child pornography, isn't them to state prison.
BLITZER: A lot of commotion has erupted off the comment she made, "I would hope a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." She said it several times more or less that same line. When you heard that, what do you think?
MORGENTHAU: I think she's probably right, but, you know, she said she regrets it and --
BLITZER: Do you have a problem with that kind of -- the comment that somebody, you know -- a judge is supposed to be fair, responsible, you know, doesn't look at the background, and all of a sudden she says her experience as a wise Latina woman would make her a better judge.
MORGENTHAU: I think that's right. I'll never forget, we had a case against two national partners at Lybrand, Ross and Montgomery, which was then one of the big eight accounting firms, and contrary to the conventional wisdom, the assistant in charge of that case put two black women on the jury, and the conventional wisdom 40 years ago was you didn't want women, and particularly you didn't want black women, because they weren't sophisticated enough. There were five men on that injury, all were corporate executives. When the jury would come back with the questions, the five men were huddling and these two women were on the outside. Finally when the jury would go out, it turned out to be the last time the warden heard one of these black women say to the treasurer of IBM World Trade, what in the world is wrong with you? Can't you understand what the case is about? That jury came back then for conviction. It wouldn't have come back if there hadn't been the two black women on that.
BLITZER: Robert Morgenthau, the D.A. in Manhattan. More of that interview will be coming up Saturday in THE SITUATION ROOM, 6:00 p.m. eastern, a rare interview with Robert Morgenthau, the district attorney of Manhattan.
Coming up an exclusive, the man accused of killing a doctor who performed abortions speaking to CNN with some chilling comments.
BLITZER: Ted Rowlands had an exclusive interview. Let's go to Wichita, Kansas, for the latest. What happened today, Ted?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, we were not able to record the interview at all. We were able to meet for exactly 30 minutes inside the jail. There was a glass partition between us. We communicated over a phone.
ROWLANDS: In a 30-minute jailhouse interview at the Sedgwick County Detention Facility in Wichita, Kansas, Scott Roeder, the man accused of killing abortion doctor George Tiller, told CNN that he's received a number of, quote, encouraging letters from people around the country. Though he didn't admit to murdering Tiller, he did say if he's convicted, then, quote, the entire motive was the defense of the unborn. When asked his thoughts on the fact that Dr. Tiller is dead, Roeder said, quote, the fact that his clinic is closed is a victory for all the unborn children. Today the family of Dr. George Tiller announced the clinic, where Tiller performed abortions, will be permanently closed. As for Scott Roeder's comments to CNN, Tiller family lawyer, Dan Monnat, had little to say.
DAN MONNAT, TILLER ATTORNEY/FRIEND: Personally, I'm reluctant to in any way legitimize Mr. Roeder or anything he stands for by directly responding to his statements. Actually, I'm content to let law enforcement determine whether this defendant merits any attention. And I would encourage anybody other than law enforcement not to give Mr. Roeder and his extremist views the publicity that he obviously craves.
ROWLANDS: A couple other things he said, Wolf, was he was not schizophrenic, his mental health is sound. When his trial is over, he will tell all, quote, unquote. Wolf?
BLITZER: Thanks very much for that. Let's go to Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What kind of lawyer would let his client give an interview to the press?
BLITZER: I was surprised by that too and he is saying he is normal. He is not crazy. There goes the insanity plea.
CAFFERTY: Yes big mistake. I am not a lawyer but a big mistake it would seem to me.
Question, should the Supreme Court decide the fate of don't ask and don't tell?
I get this from P., "Trust me. As someone who recently ended his career in the U.S. Army and is gay, I can say don't ask, don't tell is a blessing. The Army is such an incredibly segregated, racist institution and most civilians don't realize it. Allowing gays to be open will just make it worse. It's for their protection and people don't see that. The military likes to cover up all their faults, including hate crimes."
Kathy writes, "Why must we go to the Supreme Court and ask them to force us to do what we know is right. People said African- Americans in the military would destroy morale. They said women in combat zones would destroy morale. Neither did. Now some people continue to say that gays in the military will destroy morale. Let's just get it right on our own this time."
Chris writes, "There are intelligent, thoughtful people on the other side of this question. Many people feel that issues involving gay, lesbian and transgender people are being forced on us and it's gone too way far. Calmly step back and think about the soldiers for one second. If the military wanted this, it would be done this morning. Obviously, there are enough people who believe the soldiers on the ground don't want this any time soon."
Zac in Atlanta says, "Jack, I can say as a gay man that I am sure that Scalia and Thomas would love nothing more than to be able to send me and others like me to the front lines. I'm amazed they passed up the opportunity."
Ed writes, "Recently, a West Point graduate and Iraq war veteran who speaks Arabic was discharged from the army for being gay. Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" nailed it when he said, 'We allow our interrogators to torture prisoners but we banish the soldier who can tell us what that prisoner is saying.' It truly is insane."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/Caffertyfile. Look for yours there, among hundreds of others. Wolf?
BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.
President Obama, by the way, wants health care reform. It is not clear how he will pay for it. We want to know what you are thinking. Are you willing to pay higher taxes for universal health care? Submit your video comments to ireport.com/situationroom. Watch us tomorrow to see if your video makes it on the air.
It was the most spectacular emergency landing in recent memory.
The pilot that saved all those lives with his extraordinary work tells his story today.
Plus, the fine print that has some iPhone customers fuming. We have details of the deal they say is no deal at all.
BLITZER: Fans of Apple iPhone were ecstatic to see the new iPhone unveiled yesterday until they read the fine print. Now, many of them are mad at AT&T, the sole U.S. provider. Our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Abbi, why are they angry? ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: This is the reason. If you have already got one, if you are already an iPhone user, you are the one going to be charged more to get the new version. Here's how it works. If you are a brand new AT&T customer, if you want to get your first time iPhone when it comes out June 19th, you will get charged $199 for a two-year commitment. But if you've already got one, if you are an existing customer and you want to upgrade, you could be charged twice that even three times that if you don't want to sign up for the two-year commitment. That has people online mad signing online petitions writing things like on Twitter, AT&T is going to punish my loyalty by charging me $200 more. The complaints actually go further than that. Some people saying that AT&T isn't ready to support the new upgrades of the new iPhone.
BLITZER: What is AT&T saying about this?
TATTON: This is the sole U.S. provider. An AT&T spokesman saying that that lower price is actually subsidized by AT&T, that's why it's lower and that existing customers, the further they are into their contract, they'll be eligible for that lower price. About the upgrades, he said, AT&T is working on system upgrades to support the new features, features like multimedia texting. He said that will be available later in the summer.
BLITZER: Abbi, thanks very much. Lots of commotion on that front.
2012 is certainly a long way off. Before they can think about retaking the white house, Republicans are eying a couple of state houses. Today, the action is on the Democratic side. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider is watching it all unfold in Alexandria, Virginia.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Republicans are desperate for a comeback in Virginia and New Jersey.
Last week, New Jersey Republicans nominated former prosecutor Chris Christy for governor who touts his conviction of 130 corrupt public officials. Christy is leading Democratic governor Jon Corzine, a former Wall Street executive in a year when that is not such a good thing to be.
In Virginia, Republicans are rallying around attorney general Robert McDonald for governor. While Democrats are fighting it out in a tough three-way primary. The big question, what will happen to the Obama vote that put Virginia in the Democratic column for president last year for the first time in 44 years? Will it go to Terry McAuliffe, a former fundraiser and adviser to the Clintons or are there lingering resentments from last year's primaries?
TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VA. GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Folks, we have big issues. That's why I'm running for governor.
SCHNEIDER: McAuliffe has raised big money, something his opponents are trying to use against him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama ran against the kind of big money politics that McAuliffe represents.
SCHNEIDER: Former state legislator Brian Moran is running hard on the issues including repeal of a state constitutional amendment that bars legal recognition of same sex relationships. The late polls show a surge by State Senator Creigh Deeds, the only one of the three who comes from outside the northern Virginia suburbs. He hopes he can get those votes now that he has been endorsed by "The Washington Post."
Last year, the presidential primary brought out nearly 1 million Democrats. Were they strictly Obama voters or will they be there for other Democrats?
Bill Schneider, CNN, Alexandria, Virginia.
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news of chaos and carnage as they detonate a car jack with more than 1,000 pounds of explosives and they blow up a luxury Pakistani hotel.