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THE SITUATION ROOM
Wayward Pilots Were on Laptops; Massive Fire Rages for Two Days; We Don't Want Any Puppets; On Hold on Ohio's Death Row; Woman Joins President Obama's Golf Game; Twin Bombings Kill 160 in Iraq; Delta: Laptop Use is Firing Offense; Desperate Boys Forced into Sex Slavery; King Stops Woman's Flogging; Pregnant Mother Knifed to Death; Dallas Police Apologize for Citation
Aired October 26, 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, THE SITUATION ROOM: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, two airline pilots come clean, solving the mystery of why they ignored radio calls and missed their destination. Now we know what they were doing in the cockpit that left them completely distracted. Stand by for the new information.
Disturbing new developments in America's two war zones -- the deadliest bombing in Iraq in more than two years and growing anti- American protests in Afghanistan.
And ticketed by police for not speaking English -- there's outrage over the case of one Texas woman. And now there are signs it may not be an isolated incident.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It was a mystery that sparked days of speculation -- what caused two Northwest Airlines pilots to overshoot their destination by more than 100 miles while ignoring repeated calls from air traffic controllers?
Now we know. The men say -- guess what -- they were on their laptops.
Our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, is joining us now with more on what these two pilots are saying. Lots of interviews they were going on -- give us the information, Jeanne, that we have just been collecting the past hour or so.
JEANNE MESERVE, HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the pilots were both seasoned veterans with unblemished records. During five hours of interviews, they told NTSB investigators they were not asleep, not arguing, but were distracted.
MESERVE: (voice-over): The Northwest pilots tell NTSB investigators they did not fall asleep or doze, they just had a 19 hour layover. But they say they used their personal laptop computers during the flight -- a violation of company policy. The pilots tell the NTSB they looked at the computers during what they called "a concentrated period of discussion of scheduling issues" arising from the merger of Northwest and Delta.
The pilots also told investigators that during this discussion, they did not monitor the airplane. They were aware of conversations on the radio, but did not listen to transmissions from air traffic control or notice messages from company dispatchers. They say they'd lost track of time and only became aware they had flown past their destination when a flight attendant called them about five minutes before their scheduled landing.
PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: These pilots were simply not paying attention for a period of time.
And is that a serious offense?
It is. But it's not one that -- that, I think, put the lives of those people in jeopardy.
MESERVE: For a time last Wednesday, there was worry the plane had been hijacked. But military jets never got off the ground to investigate because, the Pentagon says, it was only told about the flight after it flew past Minneapolis.
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: They should have contacted NORAD sooner and allowed NORAD to participate. And what we're hearing is NORAD is very unhappy that they weren't really notified until they were told to scramble those jets.
MESERVE: Aviation officials respond that it was only after the flight went past Minneapolis that red flags really went up. That chain of events will likely be reviewed as the flight investigation continues. Today, the NTSB heard from three flight attendants on board Northwest Flight 188.
Meanwhile, Delta has sent $500 travel vouchers to the passengers on board the errant flight -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Do we know, Jeanne, what the flight attendants are saying?
MESERVE: No, we don't know what they're saying. Those interviews are taking place today. We hope we'll get a readout tomorrow.
BLITZER: OK, thanks.
Jeanne Meserve reporting.
Mark Weiss is here to add some perspective on what's going on. He spent 20 years as a pilot for American Airlines. He's now a homeland security consultant. Mark, thanks very much for coming in.
MARK WEISS, FORMER AIRLINE PILOT: Thank you for having me.
BLITZER: Does this make sense, these two guys are on a laptop in a cockpit and they didn't hear air traffic controllers repeatedly trying to get their attention?
WEISS: Well, laptops in the cockpit are a relatively new addition. We carry manuals in there. We carry approach plates in there, methods of landing at the airport. But to be so consumed by doing that it, that -- it does seem a little beyond the stretch of the imagination.
BLITZER: So there may be more to this story, is that what I'm hearing you suggest, than simply two guys -- you know, they're on their laptop?
WEISS: Well, I guess we'll find out as investigation continues. But certainly losing situational awareness is something professional crews just don't do.
BLITZER: How often does that happen, in your 20 years experience as a commercial airline pilot?
WEISS: Well, you don't lose situational awareness that's (INAUDIBLE).
BLITZER: I mean, because sometimes one pilot might nod off briefly on a long flight, right?
WEISS: Well, I mean, you're talking about necessarily different issues. That's a, perhaps, a fatigue issue or -- you know, and I'm a firm believer in being allowed to sleep in the cockpit. It may be a very positive aspect of (INAUDIBLE).
BLITZER: They should get a little catnap.
BLITZER: But the other pilot stays awake during that time?
WEISS: Yes. That's probably the most basic of remedies that are available to keep somebody aware and awake and make sure that the flight is operated in a safe manner.
BLITZER: But what I -- I guess what I don't understand is, you know, all of us have laptops and we work on laptops. But -- and you can take a look and you can -- you can see in the cockpit, something you're very familiar with.
But even if you're on a laptop you -- you don't hear what air traffic controllers are saying to you?
WEISS: Well, you know, there's a number of methods of getting in touch with somebody. So even if they had the volume on the radios turned down, the company can get in touch with them. The other person -- certainly, in a flight like that, where you have such a sophisticated type of an aircraft, you wouldn't be starting down over Minneapolis and be at cruise altitude -- at that altitude over the airport. You would have started down a lot earlier. And losing situational awareness that far in advance seems to be rather inappropriate.
BLITZER: So as if they're on autopilot and they, you know, sort of program in destination and they type in where they're going, it just takes off -- and not takes off. But it just flies automatically in that destination.
BLITZER: You really don't have to do anything sitting in the cockpit?
WEISS: Well, you know, I -- I'm not going to go that far. That's not really true. What you do is you're monitoring the situation and the -- what the autopilot is telling you, what the computer is telling you. But that's not a function of the laptop, that's a function of the computers on board the aircraft.
BLITZER: And on the dash in the cabin.
WEISS: Yes, on board your aircraft, you have computers. And with (INAUDIBLE)...
BLITZER: So if you have a laptop, it's just a -- you know, a wi- fi laptop inside the cockpit, then you have some sort of connection and you're just online, is that it?
WEISS: You basically have your type of approach plates in there. But they're also built into the aircraft.
BLITZER: All right. So -- so you have a separate...
BLITZER: You just put it literally on your lap?
WEISS: Next to you. (INAUDIBLE).
BLITZER: And there -- and there's room for a laptop there.
BLITZER: And you just go ahead and do it. But it sounds like there's a lot more we need to know about this, because I've got to tell you, I've been getting flooded with e-mails and on Twitter. People are nervous right now they hear a story like this, understandably so.
WEISS: Well, I mean, absolutely. But -- but I think the reality is and what the general public really should really understand is that how many flights a day are there conducted in the United States and, really, around the world?
And how often do you hear something like this?
This is really an anomaly. This just doesn't happen.
BLITZER: And you're a homeland security consultant right now.
Were you surprised that jets were getting ready to scramble to take off?
WEISS: I'm not surprised that had they were getting ready to sec -- or getting ready to -- to assess the situation. What surprises me is that it took so long for them to get the word that this was happening. When you think about what happens here in Washington, D.C. And violating the airspace around the White House, even small planes are addressed that -- quite -- quite early.
BLITZER: Is this a career ender for these two pilots, do you think?
What kind of punishment are they going to get?
WEISS: Well, you know, that's really not up to me and I don't honestly know. I think what we really have to establish is really what happened during this flight.
BLITZER: And I suspect there's a lot more information coming out.
Mark Weiss, thanks for coming in.
WEISS: Thank you very much, Wolf.
BLITZER: The FBI is part of the probe into an extraordinary fire that burned at a fuel storage facility in Puerto Rico for two days. There's no word of any deaths. Investigators are trying to determine if the blaze is an accident or arson.
Our iReporters have been sending in some amazing images of this fire, among the largest in Puerto Rican history.
Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.
She's here with some of the dramatic video -- and it is amazing, Abbi, what we're seeing.
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, it was IReporters Friday morning, through Friday, through the weekend, that were really helping us understand just how massive this blaze was.
Take a look at some of the pictures.
Our iReporters -- our viewers were sending us pictures from the air, in this case, from a JetBlue aircraft, showing you that dense smoke that was rising from this -- that petroleum corporation there just outside of San Juan. We also had pictures from on the ground. If I could show you this video that was sent in the following day, this was showing us how the smoke -- 30 hours after the explosion -- because the wind had changed, the smoke was drifting over a residential area.
In stories like this, it's our viewers that are so important to helping us understand what is going on because we cannot be everywhere at once. And that's why we've now integrated iReport into the newly relaunched CNN.com here.
There you see an iReport right there on the front page.
CNNIReport.com. This is the place now to see all that content and to submit your content, as well.
In terms of this blaze, Wolf, investigators now looking at suspicious graffiti that they found in the San Juan area, trying to find if that was involved, whether this was, in fact, arson -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Abbi Tatton, thanks very much.
A critical election only days away and fueling growing anti- American protests on the streets in Afghanistan. We're going there live.
President Obama fires back at critics, including the former vice president, Dick Cheney. The president's message in his own words. That's coming up.
Plus, an apparent crack in the glass ceiling in what some see as the White House boys club.
BLITZER: It's the deadliest day for the United States in Afghanistan in more than four years. Fourteen Americans were killed in two separate helicopter accidents today. In addition to the rising death toll, the Obama administration is also facing growing resentment among Afghan civilians only a couple weeks before the critical presidential runoff election.
Our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, is joining us now from Kabul with more.
All right, what are you hearing on the streets of Kabul -- Chris?
What is going on?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I'm hearing a little bit of frustration and the beginnings of resentment, after British, French and American officials used their influence to push this Afghan election into the second round.
LAWRENCE: (voice-over): Protesters in Kabul scream at Afghan police, calling them "American slaves" and "sons of Obama." And the rising anger at American influence is not confined to the street.
SHAKRIA BARKZAI, AFGHAN PARLIAMENT: They just want someone to be a good partner for them. But what the Afghans want...
LAWRENCE: Shakria LeMieux is a member of the Afghan parliament.
(on camera): Do you think that American and European officials have been a help to Afghanistan's election?
BARKZAI: Technically, yes. Politically, no. They played the most dirty game in the Afghan election, unfortunately.
LAWRENCE: (voice-over): Flashback to Hamid Karzai, as he agreed to a runoff election, flanked by a U.S. senator and U.N. official to Americanize a diplomatic triumph. But to LeMieux and others, just another symbol of outside pressure -- bending Afghan's president to their will.
BARKZAI: But we don't want any puppets.
SEN. GEORGE LEMIEUX (R), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: America's interest here is that we have a fair process in this election.
LAWRENCE: Republican Senator George LeMieux flew to Afghanistan last weekend, meeting with both candidates for president. LeMieux says the U.S. and its allies had to step in. If Karzai would not accept that investigators found massive fraud, it could have discredited the entire government.
LEMIEUX: And I think we were right to -- to press for a second election, to make sure that there was no doubt that the person who wins that election, either President Karzai or Dr. Abdullah, did so legitimately, because it's going to help further our efforts to make sure that Afghanistan succeeds.
LAWRENCE: But LeMieux says outside pressure has done the same damage as massive fraud.
BARKZAI: It's like Afghan decision is nothing, but foreign decision is important?
LAWRENCE: Guaranteed that Afghans won't see any winner as legitimately their own.
LAWRENCE: Yet LeMieux told me she doesn't have a problem with the runoff per se, but with the outside seeming to force it on Afghans. She says too much outside influence is not allowing the -- Afghanistan's own political system to develop naturally -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Chris, the Afghan politicians you're talking to, what are they saying about this debate we have going on here in Washington over deploying more U.S. troops to Afghanistan?
LAWRENCE: Some are telling us that it would be a huge help to be able to secure some of these areas and allow the government to gain greater control of the country. Others, like LeMieux, say if these troops come, they need to be positioned more along the borders, not in the cities.
BLITZER: Chris Lawrence in Kabul for us.
Thanks very much.
Chris, be careful over there.
As President Obama weighs sending more troops to Afghanistan, critics, including the former vice president, Dick Cheney, are slamming him and accusing him of dithering.
In a speech just a couple of hours ago over at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida, Mr. Obama answered his critics, saying he will take the time necessary to get the decision right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To make sure you're not bearing the burden of our security alone, we're enlisting all elements of our national power -- diplomacy, development and a positive vision of American leadership in the world. And while I will never hesitate to use force to protect the American people or our vital interests, I also promise you this -- and this is very important as we consider our next steps in Afghanistan. I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm's way. I won't risk your lives unless it is absolutely necessary.
OBAMA: And if it is necessary, we will back you up to the hilt, because you deserve the strategy, the clear mission and the defined goals, as well as the equipment and support that you need to get the job done. We are not going to have a situation in which you are not fully supported back here at home. That is a promise that I will always make to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The president also met with 11 sailors and Marines who were selected by their commanders for excellent performance.
Ohio's troubled death penalty program hits a new snag.
Plus, a real life fright as a Halloween haunted house gets a police officer in trouble.
BLITZER: Betty Nguyen is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Betty, what's going on?
NGUYEN: Hi, there, Wolf. Well, six Harvard Medical School researchers became ill after drinking coffee spiked with a chemical preservative often used elsewhere in the building. Now, this incident happened back in August, but was just revealed yesterday. One researcher passed out. Others reported symptoms ranging from dizziness to ringing in the ears. All of them, though, quickly recovered. But at least one of those affected says he doesn't see how it could have been just a simple accident.
Pop singer Madonna is breaking ground for a girls school in the capital of the African country of Malawi. According to the star's Web site, the school's goal is to give girls the education needed to serve their communities and their country. Madonna has adopted two children from Malawi, but critics claim she used her celebrity to circumvent adoption laws.
All right, this is a really scary story. Last night, Baltimore police Sergeant Eric Michael Janik was leaving a Halloween haunted house called The House of Screams when an employee with a bladeless chainsaw came up behind him. Well, Janik pulled his service revolver and pointed it at the employee, who put his hands in the air and then backed away. Janik was suspended with pay and police say he smelled of alcohol.
It's kind of frightening -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly is.
All right. Thanks, Betty, for that.
Death row inmates in Ohio are getting a reprieve -- at least for now. Some executions are being put on hold. Brian Todd is working this story for us.
I guess they want some doctors' advice before they go forward with some of these executions.
What's going on?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They want that advice, Wolf. But apparently they're not getting enough of it. The state attorney general has filed a motion in U.S. district court, essentially saying they're interesting trouble getting doctors not only to oversee some of these procedures, but even to give them advice on them.
The filing from the Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray says, "A small number of promising leads have emerged, but identifying qualified medical personnel willing and able to provide advice to the state regarding lethal injection options continues to be challenging and time-consuming."
Now, in that same document, Cordray says ethical and professional licensing implications have deterred doctors from speaking publicly or even privately about alternatives to lethal injection.
Four scheduled executions in Ohio have now been delayed because of problems with the lethal injection procedure there. We reported in mid-September on the case that provoked this most recent debate -- Romell Broom, a man convicted of rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl, was scheduled to be put to death on September 15th. Prison officials tried for two hours to find a suitable vein. They pricked him 18 times. Finally, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland postponed his execution. And it's still on hold while the state tries to find alternatives.
Experts say in some states, doctors are required to be present during the execution, but that's always been a very sticky ethical issue with the American Medical Association
In Ohio, doctors have double checked the inmates for usable veins the night before, but have not been present during the executions -- Wolf, they're having a heck of a time getting doctors to step forward and even advise them on any alternatives.
BLITZER: So what alternatives are they looking at?
TODD: Well, according to this court filing, they are looking at injecting lethal drugs into the inmate's bone marrow or muscles as an alternative or backup to the intravenous procedure. Now, Broom's lawyer is -- after his debacle in September -- complained that prison staff actually hit muscle and bone during that attempt and that it was very painful to him. So whether that's going to, you know, complicate matters in this -- I mean whether that idea will complicate things or maybe constitute cruel and unusual punishment, that's yet to be played out.
But again, they're having a tough time trying to find any kind of alternative in Ohio.
BLITZER: What a story.
All right, Brian, thanks very much for updating us on that.
Breaking the grass ceiling, as some are calling it -- a woman joins President Obama's golf game over the weekend, as the White House comes out swinging against allegations of sexism.
And sex slavery in Afghanistan -- young boys condemned to dance and more so their families can survive.
Also, more of my interview with Senator John Kerry. He tells us why things could get worse, not better, in Iraq and what must be done to prevent that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I'm doing good. I'm home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, the race for governor of New Jersey now, at least according to one poll, almost dead even. We spoke to Republican challenger Chris Christie last week. Today, the best political team on television will quiz the incumbent Democrat, Jon Corzine.
Once thought dead in the water, the health insurance public option is coming back to life.
But is it really likely to pass?
Dana Bash is standing by with a reality check.
And the president has declared swine flu a national emergency.
Is the H1N1 virus already at epidemic levels?
And what does the government plan on doing about the shortage of vaccines?
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Now some new developments in a story we first brought you right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Striking back at allegations of sexism, President Obama invited a female staff member to join his all male golf foursome on the links over the weekend.
Let's go to CNN's White House correspondent, Dan Lothian.
He's with the president down in Jacksonville, Florida.
There was some serious, quiet criticism of the president. You reported on this a couple weeks ago. And now, clearly, the White House seems to be responding.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does appear to be that way. And perhaps it will put this to rest. You know, to put all of this in perspective, the president is focused on some major policy issues, in particular Afghanistan and the way forward there.
But what he does when he's relaxing, who's he's playing with out on the golf course or on the basketball court has been the subject of conversations around Washington and criticism from some women's groups, who've been criticizing the all male roster.
LOTHIAN: (voice-over): President Obama surrounds himself with powerful women -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, top adviser Valerie Jarrett, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. But on the golf course, on the basketball court or ankle deep in a Montana river, Mr. Obama surrounds himself with men.
Where are the women?
AMY SISKIND, PRESIDENT, THE NEW AGENDA: Well, they're missing out on not only the ability to mentor build and relationship build with the president, to relationship build with others who he surrounds himself with.
LOTHIAN: When CNN first reported this story, no women had participated in an Obama presidential sports outing -- not even invited to a White House basketball pickup game for cabinet secretaries and members of Congress.
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Did the president invite any women?
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think your appearance on the list appears to be accurate. I would say that the point is well taken.
LOTHIAN: Especially since some of the administration's top women, to borrow a popular slang, got game. Ambassador Rice played high school ball. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius played in college. In a recent interview with NBC, the president dismissed the notion that his inner sports circle is an all boys club.
OBAMA: I think this is bunk.
LOTHIAN: Well, maybe he's record. This weekend the president played golf with Melody Barnes, his chief domestic policy adviser who appears to have been around the greens for a while. Perhaps this will chip away at the perception that women who voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Obama don't always have the all access pass.
SETH KAPLAN, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: He's kind of gender lines are not created intentionally, but they emerge more naturally, and so I think it's important for everyone at work to be aware of these issues.
LOTHIAN: Spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked today if adding Melody Barnes to the lineup this weekend was in direct response to all the criticism. He said no, she's just a good golfer. Wolf?
BLITZER: Dan Lothian stirring things up a little bit with his report a couple weeks ago, the "New York Times" following suit over the weekend.
Let's discuss what's going on with our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley. She's here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
How do you read this, Candy? What's really going on here?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, golf games and basketball games are symbols at this point for an administration that is still we're not really sure whose fingerprints are on what big policy so to me this is an issue of, yes, workplace sensitivity. Do women feel left out? Do they not feel left out? Do they feel as if they have a choice, but when you look at this administration in particular, I think what you're beginning to hear, certainly in the "Times" story and some other people have reported on this, is some women saying it's also about do they have a voice inside the administration because, you know, the most powerful people that we tend to talk about a lot, certainly Michelle Obama, you have to put aside are David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel and so who has got the president's ear, and these games become sort of symbolic of who is he including, and we also know that inside those games lots of times some business gets done or at least a relationship is furthered.
BLITZER: You know, you probably remember this better than I do because a lot of presidents play golf, you know, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton. Did they ever invite women out there to go with them? I don't remember. Maybe you do.
CROWLEY: Again, no, I don't, off the top of my head. Again, we're moving forward. Women are moving forward saying relationships happen there and women should have that choice, but, again, I think we're talking About something larger and it's not just does the president had a powerful women in his cabinet?
He does. Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, those that Dan mentioned, but the question is do they have power? Does Hillary Clinton have the predominant voice in foreign policy? If you read and if you talk to people around, doesn't seem as though. How much does he listen to Susan Rice? How much does he listen to Kathleen Sebelius on health care?
BLITZER: Or Janet Napolitano. There are a lot of women in his Cabinet.
CROWLEY: The numbers are there and they're in powerful positions but in Washington it's who has got his ear and so I think that's what this is about.
BLITZER: Because the suggestion has been inside the white house, Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, there's a little boys network going on with the president and that some of the women, whether Valerie Jarrett or Melanie Barnes might be on the outside looking into.
CROWLEY: Right, and these women, Valerie Jarrett among them and Anita Dunn is another who have said listen, it's not the case. We feel perfectly comfortable, but, again, there are stories beginning to seep out and we heard this in the campaign as well, was that did candidate Obama listen? Who are the powerful women? Again, you have to set Michelle Obama aside because that clearly is a relationship where she has a lot of say so and he listens to her, but I think what you're seeing in this kind of metaphor is are women being listened to, and remember that women vote more than men do, and they vote in greater percentages and so women are watching this white house.
BLITZER: Good point to remember. Thanks very much, Candy, for that. We have a new way for you to follow what's going on in THE SITUATION ROOM. I've been on Twitter now for about a month. You can get my tweets at twitter.com/WolfblitzerCNN, all one word. Check it out. You'll hear what's going on and read what's going on.
Twin bombings kill 160 people. More than 500 are injured. Is Iraq descending back into chaos as the U.S. looks towards an end to the war? I'll ask that question to Senator John Kerry. Stand by.
Plus, a pregnant mother stabbed to death in front of her family. Was it simply because she was a Muslim? A horrifying case goes to trial.
BLITZER: Wow. The deadliest bombings to strike Iraq in more than two years. Twin attacks outside two government buildings in Baghdad not far from the green zone. It killed at least 160 people, including 30 children on a bus. Is it the latest sign that the country could be unraveling as the U.S.-led war moves towards its end game? I spoke about that with Democratic Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
BLITZER: A lot of people forget about Iraq, but over the weekend we saw horrible terrorist car bombings in Baghdad. A couple weeks ago Tom Ricks, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, the author of "Fiasco," was on this show, and he said this.
TOM RICKS: My view in Iraq is not that it's been going well but it's been very slowly quietly unraveling partly because the surge never solved the basic problems. All the basic issues in Iraq that led to a civil war are totally there.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, I totally agree with that last conclusion and I've been saying that for some time that Iraq has never been resolved in the fundamental political divisions that were at the root of the violence previously. There is no resolution to the federal constitution and to the reconciliation between Sunni and Shia. There is still no oil law, and there is still no resolution with the Kurds. Those were always the four principled sources of tension.
What I think has happened is that the interested parties have arrived at an agreement that they are probably just as happy to have the United States get out and get out of the way and then they will wind up doing what they all deem to be in their best interest. I -- I think there is the possibility of it getting tougher, but I -- but I tend to think the party's real interest is in our beginning to draw down and depart, so my hope is that whatever flows will be Iraqis making up their minds about their own future which is we always said they ought to do.
BLITZER: Are you afraid though that everything that the U.S. has done in Iraq over these years might turn out to be in vain? KERRY: I hope not, Wolf, and I think more likely not depending on what you say -- depending on what you mean by everything we've done. Could it turn from the democracy that we tried to create into something more authoritarian? I think that is a very real possibility. Does it mean that every sacrifice or every effort made by America will be lost in that happening, no, but they are going to decide this, and that's ultimately what we have to realize about all of these places. We can't decide the outcome of local interests or national interests in every country in different parts of the world. We should have learned that a long time ago.
BLITZER: Senator Kerry thanks for coming in.
KERRY: Thank you. Good to be with you.
BLITZER: You can get a lot more information on what's going on in Iraq right now. Go to CNN.com. Our new and improved website. It's got all the information you need to know, including video up to the minute information, CNN.com. That's the place to be.
We're just getting new information into THE SITUATION ROOM right now and the story involving that Northwest flight and the overshooting of the Minneapolis airport. Jeanne Meserve is standing by. She will be joining us in a minute. We're going to get her on what's going on.
And also ticketed for not speaking English. A Dallas driver says it happened to her and apparently she's not the only one. What she wants now from the police who pulled her over.
BLITZER: Getting some additional information on that Northwest flight that overshot Minneapolis. The two pilots in the cockpit not responding to air traffic controllers. Jeanne Meserve is getting some more information.
Jeanne, you reported a little while ago that they were saying they were working on laptops in the cockpit?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, and it looks like there will be grave consequences for the pilots. They told the NTSB during five hours of questioning they were using their personal laptop computers during a discussion of scheduling issues. They admitted that was in violation of company policy.
Now a statement from Delta which is the parent company of Northwest. It says that these pilots will remain on suspension while this investigation continues, but then Delta says this. Using laptops or engaging in activity unrelated to the pilots' command of the aircraft during flight is strictly against the airline's flight deck policy and violations of that policy will result in termination and it looks as though the pilots may eventually pay for this with their jobs. Back to you. BLITZER: They are in deep trouble. Thankfully the flight landed safely. Appreciate it very much, Jeanne.
In an impoverished country ripped apart by decades of war, desperate children will do anything to survive. There's one ancient custom in Afghanistan that lures untold numbers of boys into a life some of them say is worse than death. CNN's Atia Abawi has that story.
ATIA ABAWI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A young boy dances dressed in woman's clothing, his face lathered in makeup. He's known as a boy without a beard, performing for a crowd of Afghan men, a custom known as boy play. He has bells on his feet but they might as well be chains because this is more than dancing. The boys are lured or snatched from their families and forced to become sex slaves by powerful men.
CNN obtained this video from a pimp who introduced us to two dancers who are now adults. The two boys did not want their faces shown and they say they are continuously threatened, beaten and raped by men who attend the parties. They say they were forced into boy play as teenagers. They continue to dance because it's the only thing they know and the only way to make money.
For each performance they get about $30, but the dancing often leads to assault. Farhad was 13 when his older neighbor raped him and locked him up as a sex slave for five months. I got used to him, he says. He would sometimes take me to parties and sometimes other places. I was with him all the time. Jamil was with a powerful warlord who has left the country. He says he's now married but he continues to provide for his younger brothers and sisters. I make them study, dress them, feed them, he says. Any money I make I spend on my family. I don't want them to be like this, be like me.
Islamic scholars have condemned this as immoral but the age-old practice goes on, especially in northern Afghanistan, and with nearly 60,000 street kids in the capital of Kabul alone there are plenty of potential victims. One human rights group has produced a brochure warning parents about the danger.
MOHAMMAD MUSA MAHMODI, AFGHAN IND. HUMAN RIGHTS COMM.: Pretty much unappreciated by the society, unaccepted, and illegal, but still it -- it continues because of the culture of impunity, lack of legal provision against this practice.
ABAWI: Jamil and Farhad feel trapped. We are not happy with this line of work, Jamil says. We say it would be better if god could kill us rather than living like this. Hundreds of boys in Afghanistan don't have a choice. They are condemned to dance for their masters, and one day may become masters themselves.
Atia Abawi, CNN, Kabul.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: What a story. Thank you, Atia Abawi, doing some excellent reporting for us from Afghanistan.
Her crime of working for a TV show that spoke about sex. Her punishment, get this, 60 lashes. Now the king of Saudi Arabia has intervened in a case that's making headlines around the world causing outrage. CNN's Octavia Nasr is our senior editor of Mid East affairs and she has details of the new developments.
OCTAVIA NASR, CNN SR. EDITOR, MIDEAST AFFAIRS: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been called by many of his countrymen the king of hearts in reference to what many Saudis believe are his compassionate attempts to reform his ultra conservative kingdom and bring it up to date with the rest of the world. He used his power Monday and pardoned female journalist Rosanna al-Yami saving her from 60 lashes, a Saudi criminal court had sentenced her with along with a two-year travel ban from the kingdom. An unusual move for the king but certainly not unheard of.
Last year he pardoned a woman who was gang raped but was still sentenced to hundreds of lashes for being in the presence of the unrelated males who raped her. Today's case started with a controversial Lebanese TV show that explores taboos of the Middle East. When a thick red line featured a Saudi man bragging about his alleged sexual escapades, the station's Saudi offices were closed and the man was sentenced to five years in jail and 1,000 lashes.
Then came her sentence. Her punishment for working for the station that aired the show with a bragging guest. A second Saudi female journalist was still being sought in the case. King Abdullah's surprising pardon came as the prosecutor in the case was requesting an even harsher sentence for her, saying 60 lashes is, quote, simply too lenient.
For many, the pardon leaves no room to doubt where the monarch stands on the trial and the sentence. As to why King Abdullah wouldn't use his power to bring reform faster to his country, in an ultra conservative society with fundamentalists, even a king in limited in what he can do.
Octavia Nasr, CNN, Atlanta.
BLITZER: President Obama declares a swine flu emergency. Where's all the vaccine the government promised? Part of the problem could be 50-year-old technology.
And a driver ticketed for not speaking English? Now we're learning it may not be the first time.
BLITZER: A pregnant mother stabbed to death in a German courtrooms her husband and young son watched in horror. Now the man who allegedly attacked her simply for being a Muslim is on trial. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is following developments for us.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this case caused so much outrage among Muslims not only here in Germany but also around the world, that when the trial got under way today in the city of Dresden, it was only under very tight security.
PLEITGEN: Covering his face, his hands and feet cuffed, Alex W. was led into the Dresden courtroom. The man accused of killing Marwa el-Sherbini didn't speak in the opening session of the trial. The charges are murder and attempted murder, the state prosecutor says. If the charges are upheld, he has to expect a life sentence.
It was on July 1st in the same courthouse. Marwa was testifying against Alex W. in a defamation case when he allegedly pulled out a knife and started stabbing her. He stabbed her 14 times before he was stopped. Marwa died on the way to the hospital. She was pregnant. Her 3-year-old son witnessed the attack. Her husband jumped to her help.
But a police officer rushing to the scene mistook him for the assailant and shot him in the leg. The case caused major outrage in the Islamic world, especially in Marwa's native Egypt. The country's ambassador was on hand in Dresden for the opening of the trial. He made clear what he expects.
RAMZY EZZELDIN RAMZY, EGYPTIAN AMBASSADOR TO GERMANY: A speedy sentence, a just sentence that is commence rate with this heinous crime. I think that is going to happen. I have every confidence in the justice system.
PLEITGEN: But some Egyptians living in Dresden we spoke to say their trust in Germany has been all but shattered.
MOHAMMED AHMED KHALIF, DRESDEN RESIDENT: We have fear about our family here, about our children.
PLEITGEN: The prosecutors in this case say Alex W. killed the veiled Marwa out of deep hatred for Muslims.
MAGDI KHALIL, DRESDEN RESIDENT: She was killed just because she had something over her hair, this is your problem, because nothing else --
PLEITGEN: The proceedings are set to take another two weeks and Muslim groups in Germany watching the case say the country should realize to them it's not just a murder trial. The reputation of Germany's criminal justice system is also on the line.
PLEITGEN: And, Wolf, a lot of international observers watching this trial say really the only thing that could smooth over international public opinion would be a very, very severe verdict for Alex W. Wolf? BLITZER: Fred Pleitgen reporting from Berlin.
Here at home, a Dallas driver wants an investigation and a Texas- size apology from the police. She's furious and filing a complaint after getting a ticket for not speaking English. Let's go to Ed Lavandera.
What are the police saying about all this?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's the kind of story that has the top leadership of the Dallas police department shaking their heads tonight. One driver ticketed for not speaking English. We're learning it's not the first time this has happened.
LAVANDERA: There it is in writing, a ticket for being a non- English-speaking driver, a $204 fine. Ernestina Mondragon got it three weeks ago from a rookie police officer with the Dallas police department. She was also ticketed for making an illegal u-turn and not having her driver's license with her. I felt humiliated, she said. My self esteem hit the floor. I felt like I'd been discriminated against. Mondragon has lived legally in the United States since 1980. She does speak a little English but has struggled to learn the language.
Her case is not an isolated incident. Dallas police officials say they found 38 other tickets issued for not speaking English in the last three years. All those tickets are being dismissed and the fines will be reimbursed. The police chief has launched an investigation into the officers who wrote the tickets and the supervisors who approved the work.
CHIEF DAVID KUNKLE, DALLAS POLICE: Apologize to the Spanish- speaking Hispanic community. It's particularly disappointing for a city like Dallas because we are very, very diverse.
LAVANDERA: There is a federal law that requires drivers of commercial vehicles like trucks, limos and taxi cabs to speak English. But Dallas police say none of the tickets were issued to commercial drivers. Chief David Kunkle says as the department has switched over to an electronic citation system, the non-English-speaking driver charge appeared in a dropdown menu. He believes officers thought it applied to people like Ernestina Mondragon. But that explanation isn't enough for critics of the Dallas police department.
HECTOR FLORES, LULAC: When it happens 39 times, there's something a little more serious that's inherent in law enforcement in Dallas.
LAVANDERA: Mondragon says the stress of the three tickets which essentially totaled more than $600 put her in the hospital for a weekend and her attorney says they want the city of Dallas to pay for that more than $5,000 medical bill. BLITZER: Are the authorities going to look back beyond three years for similar incidents?
LAVANDERA: Sounds like they might. In fact, they're willing to do that. We're also told that several civil rights leaders here in the area are calling for the city of Dallas and the police department to look back ten years to see how many times it's happened.
BLITZER: Ed Lavandera reporting for us from Dallas, thank you, Ed.