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U.S. Presence in Iraq Hits Milestone; U.S. Influence "Declining" in Iraq?; Bayh Retiring from "Dysfunctional" Congress; Tiger Woods' Apology

Aired February 20, 2010 - 18:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The world heard Tiger Woods apologize for his infidelities. Are his fans and his critics buying it?

This hour, veteran sports reporters Pat O'Brien and Christine Brennan on what's next for Tiger Woods, his family and his career.

Plus, the suspects in a Middle East assassination plot. Were Israeli agents behind the killing of a Palestinian Hamas leader? We'll look for clues inside Israel's super secret and ruthless spy agency.

And some of the most famous entertainers on the planet raising their voices to help the people of Haiti. Stand by to see and hear the new version of "We are the World".

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I know I have bitterly disappointed all of you. I have made you question who I am and how I could have done the things I did. I'm embarrassed that I have put you in this position.

For all that I have done, I am so sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: A remarkable, very emotional, very public apology by Tiger Woods. With his mother looking on from the front row, his wife absent, the golfing great apologized for his extramarital affairs and the scandal that sidelined his career.

He spoke about the therapy he's now undergoing, his Buddhist faith and his plan to return to golf one day.

Let's talk about it with former sports anchor and entertainment anchor Pat O'Brien and "USA Today" sports writer Christine Brennan. Christine, what did you think?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, USA TODAY SPORTS WRITER: Well, I tell you, we are seeing a man at rock bottom, I think, Wolf. He - you know compare the visual of Tiger winning a golf tournament, which is how most people see him, and then to see this today was really an eye opener, and how far away from golf he is.

You know, when he mentions golf in, what, the 12 to 13th minute of this thing, and a quick mention and hopes to come back some day until he makes all the talk about, you know, the Masters or the Arnold Palmer Tournament being held (ph), you know, just look ridiculous, all this speculation. This is a man in trouble.

I think it was a good first step for Tiger Woods. He has a long way to go, and yet there were still those controlling moments, you know, defiant, because that's Tiger. But, all in all, I thought it was - it was kind of breathtaking, some of the thing he was saying and the things he had to say, as -

Again, it's his first start. Maybe, you know, he's on the - that's the tee shot. That was not a hole in one. That's just the beginning of his coming back to, you know, wherever he ends up coming back to.

BLITZER: And I want to go through some of those specifics with you.

Same question, Pat, to you. What did you think?

PAT O'BRIEN, FORMER SPORTS ANCHOR: I agree with Christine on a lot of things. I was - I thought he went a little further than - than I thought he was going to go.

You know, we put these athletes and celebrities on Mount Rushmore and expect them to be role models, and I think the role model point today that Tiger did for kids who look up to him, or all of us who look up to him, is that it's not how you fall, it's how you get up. And I think Christine is right. This is the very first step of him getting up, and I thought he got up today quite well.

BLITZER: What was his immediate objective on this day, Christine, and did he achieve it?

BRENNAN: I - I think he probably did. You know, it makes you wonder why we didn't hear this in December or January, although if he's - you know, he said he's been in rehab, so clearly that's part of the process here, so I understand why it's now, but you wonder at that vacuum of three months. Wouldn't this have been valuable to him in the recovery process, say, in early January?

But, here we are. It's mid-February. And I think, you know, grandmothers in Dubuque who change their Sunday so that they could watch him play golf, you know, did they maybe feel just a - a hint of - of, you know, sadness for him? And, you know, if - if that's the case, and I'm guessing there were probably some people that do feel that way, Wolf, then I think that he probably achieved that, again, first step.

I mean, it's - the freefall has been so terrible and - and such a massive fall from grace, self-induced, of course, that - I mean, this is a long story that is now just, you know, beginning to be written.

BLITZER: He thought the rules didn't apply to him. He acknowledged that, Pat. Let me play this little clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOODS: I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I have worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn't have far - I didn't have to go far to find them.

I was wrong. I was foolish. I don't get to play by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I thought that was a pretty impressive statement he made, Pat.

O'BRIEN: You know, of all the people that have been involved in one of these things, including me, I've never heard the word entitlement said so gracefully. I mean, that's what it's about, that you - that he felt entitled that all of this was -was coming to him, and I think the grandmothers in Dubuque will be happy that - I hope they teach their grandkids that you have to own up to your mistakes.

And he used words like selfish and foolish and, you know, entitlement, and - and I was wrong. He did all the right things.

He also, by the way, answered a lot of questions that I was hoping he'd answer, especially about the confrontation with Elin, confrontation the night - Saturday (ph) - nights ago. Where he's been, Christine, 45 days - that's why we haven't seen him. He's been in - in rehab, and I could tell, having been in rehab, I could tell that he's been there and he's been listening, and that's a key thing.

BLITZER: Now let me play this other clip, Christine, for you, because it gets to an issue a lot of golf fans want to know about. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOODS: I do plan to return to golf one day. I just don't know when that day will be. I don't rule out that it will be this year.

When I do return, I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Now, he said he's going back to rehab right away now. How far fetched is it to - to think he might play in the Masters this year in April?

BRENNAN: Wolf, I think that that now, that is incredibly far- fetched. I would have thought, and of course a lot of speculation, as you and Pat know, has been on the Masters and playing maybe a tournament right before that to get warmed up. Boy, I don't know about you guys, but this sounds like it's a long way off. I - I mean, I think the big takeaway from this today, Wolf, for sports fans, for the - the golf side of this, which, of course, that's what Tiger is, he's a pro golfer and people want to see him play golf. I think the big message here is it's going to be a while.

I mean to have it mentioned so - almost as an afterthought, so well into his - his statement, and then to have it be - you know, I plan to come back and maybe this year, someday. Wow. I think we could easily be seeing - again, I have no idea, the story - the twists and turns are amazing - but I think we could easily see the entire year being lost for Tiger Woods.

BLITZER: Do you agree with that, Pat?

O'BRIEN: Yes, I definitely agree and it's a good point, Christine.

You know, he - I think it's - I don't think he's going to make the Masters. I mean, this is a mind game, golf, and his mind is so far away from golf. Christine makes a good point that it was very late in his press conference - press conference - very late in his statement that he mentioned golf.

You know, he said a very key thing, too. I need to take care of myself on and off the course, and I think that's what he needs to do.

Golf, by the way, to him is maybe the farthest thing from his mind right now. I think he wants to get his family back together, wants to make sure the media stops hounding his kids, and I think he took the right first steps here.

You know, in - in recovery, you have a prayer that says, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference, and I think he's following that - that prayer.

BLITZER: He - he really went on the offensive, Christine, when he told the media back away, not necessarily, he said, for myself, but for my wife and - and for the children, and - and I think that will resonate with a lot of folks out there.

BRENNAN: Well, it certainly resonates with the three of us, and where we work, and - and the kind of standards we have journalistically. I - I think because it's the 21st century and because of the - the paparazzi and because of the internet and all these websites that we never heard of that are now bookmarked on millions of golf fans', you know, computers because of the Tiger Woods saga, I'm not so sure how that's going to go for him.

I am - I hope - you know, again, I'm not going to chase after him or his family. I never would. You never would, Wolf. Pat, you wouldn't. But I do think that the reality is that the - the internet world, the tabloid world will have another idea completely on that one. BLITZER: I suspect you're right.

Pat, give me a final thought. We're out of time.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Good luck on shooing the media away. In a blogosphere world, that's impossible.

But I think he made a great first step. I've known him for a long time. I was very proud of him today. And, you know, let's - like Christine said, this is going to be a long, long road, but he's made the right first steps.

BLITZER: Pat O'Brien and Christine Brennan, guys, thanks very much for joining us.

President Obama creating a commission on debt reduction. I'll talk to the men he's putting in charge. They're vowing to, quote, "slay every sacred cow".

Plus, the all-star remake of "We are the World", raising funds for Haiti. If you missed it at the Olympics, you're going to hear it here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Without action, the accumulated weight of that structural deficit of ever increasing debt will hobble our economy, it will cloud our future, and it will saddle every child in America with an intolerable burden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Obama speaking before signing an executive order officially creating a bipartisan commission on debt reduction. Heading up that commission are former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican senator Alan Simpson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Thanks very much for joining us, Erskine Bowles, Alan Simpson. You guys have an important assignment right now the president has given you, but, Senator Simpson, what teeth do you really have that these recommendations, any recommendations, that you'd make will actually be implemented?

ALAN SIMPSON, CO-CHAIR, NATIONAL DEBT COMMISSION: I haven't the slightest idea in the world. All I know is when the president of the United States asks you to join up for some suicide mission like this, you do. You respect the office.

And here we are. I - I have no expectations. All I can tell you is that when Erskine and I first visited (ph) they said, oh, you're going to be a scapegoat. You're going to be a stalking horse for taxes, you're going to be this or that. I said I'll tell you what we are. We're a stalking horse for our grandchildren, and if anybody can't wake up and smell the coffee about where this country is headed, while all the things you cherish are being wiped out by an engine with no brakes.

BLITZER: Why - why is this a suicide mission?

SIMPSON: Because we'll be called everything. You know, we'll be called - well, we had some names we were inventing.

We will be - you know, I'll be called a toady of the - of the Republican Party. I think Rush babe was after me day and night now, of course, the way he did with McCain. There's no telling what all, you know, they'll do these people (ph).

Anyway, we will be accused of toadying, of selling out, of tax - tax stalking horses. It just goes with the territory. Both of us have been in public life long enough to have our skin ripped off, but it grows back double strength, and we're ready to go with good humor and good faith.

BLITZER: Because, you know, Erskine Bowles, in order to deal with the deficit either cut spending or you increase taxes.

ERSKINE BOWLES, CO-CHAIR, NATIONAL DEBT COMMISSION: Yes, I'm - I'm pretty good at arithmetic. But what I can tell you -

Here's the good news. You know, when the president talked to both of us, he made it - he made two things really clear. First, that this was going to be bipartisan, and he set up a commission that's darn well going to be, and Alan and I are going to be great partners. Second, he said everything's on the table, and that's important because you can't start by taking things off a table and get to battle.

BLITZER: Well, you say everything's on the table. Entitlement spending, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid - you're ready to deal with that?

BOWLES: Wolf, everything is on the table.

SIMPSON: Everything. We're ready.

BLITZER: You're ready to make recommendations potentially -

BOWLES: Everything.

BLITZER: -- to cut Social Security?

BOWLES: Everything's on the table.

BLITZER: Are you ready to potentially recommend, Senator Simpson, tax increases?

SIMPSON: When I was here in the Senate - this is not some new epiphany for me. When I was here I had a hearing on the AARP once. Boy, they shrieked like a gun-shot panther. Nobody came to the hearing, but I was there.

They have to get in the game. We have 40 million people out there in that little organization and they're interested in marketing stuff.

BLITZER: Tax increases, on the table?

SIMPSON: Everything is on the table. But when you say - if you're going to use flash words all day long, this is your country, too. You can use all the flash words you want. The reason immigration reform failed is because every time we tried to get a more secure identifier, it was called a national ID, then parodied all day along.

If you want to just mumble taxes all day or cutting children or veterans and benefits, well, hell, you wouldn't go anywhere but we're going to go somewhere.

BLITZER: Because at stake, our children and grandchildren, they're going to be in debt and - and the country's solvency, economically, is at risk, right?

BOWLES: Wolf, it's unbelievable how rapidly this debt is going to grow over the next 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, and if we don't attack it now there's going to be no money for those who want to invest in education or innovation or research so that we can be competitive in a knowledge-based global economy. There's going to be no money for capital for small businesses to grow and create jobs.

We have got to address this deficit. We've got to do it now, and we've got to put everything on the table and we've got to tell the truth. If we do that, we've got a good chance to take it forward.

SIMPSON: The last time they did the corrective work on Social Security, they did raise the payroll tax by 1/10 of 1 percent or something. It was a total tweak. That was Moynihan and company, and Bob Dole, great patriots.

We're not in it as Democrats or Republicans. We're in it as Americans. But if - if there's just going to be shrieks of pain for man down (ph), the shrieks of pain for our grandchildren are going to be like the - the keening wail of a wolf.

BLITZER: It sounds to me like you're going to have deal with potentially the entitlements, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.

SIMPSON: Right.

BLITZER: You're going to have to deal with defense spending, too. Is that right?

BOWLES: You're going to have to deal with everything. Everything is everything.

SIMPSON: Yes.

BOWLES: And if you're not willing to do that, then we're not going to get there.

SIMPSON: I just had a vision. I come from cattle country. We're going to slay every sacred cow in the field.

BLITZER: But you raised an interesting point earlier. You're going to be the target, not necessarily from Democrats, but from fellow Republicans.

SIMPSON: Oh, yes.

BLITZER: If you go ahead and recommend some tax increases.

SIMPSON: Well, if - but if -

BLITZER: You're ready for that?

SIMPSON: I - I don't know what's coming, but all I know is that if we're just going to mumble the word "taxes," those are flash words, and we don't need to do that. We need to talk about your children and the people you care - or every program in government that you love is going to disappear because of this rudderless engine sucking it up.

BLITZER: What worries me, and let me know if it worries you, long term - not now, not in the short term, the next a year or two, but longer term, if something isn't done, inflation, and people's net worth simply disappearing.

BOWLES: Not just inflation, but hyperinflation. It could be really bad. That's why we've got to step up, put our big boy pants on, and really go after this and go after it hard.

BLITZER: We're counting on you guys to come up with some solutions because the stakes are enormous right now. Thanks very much and good luck.

BOWLES: Thank you.

SIMPSON: Our pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Spy secrets revealed. We'll take you inside Israel's ruthless, deadly, very efficient intelligence agency. A lot of questions about its possible link to a murder mystery playing out in the Middle East right now.

And is the end in sight to the war in Iraq? I'll ask the U.S. ambassador in Iraq, Chris Hill. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll talk about growing fears that Iran is filling the void.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Suspicion is swirling around Israel's spy agency, the Mossad, in the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai, and while we may never know for certain, we do know that Mossad is notorious for its efficient, ruthless and deadly operations. CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Jerusalem with more - Paula.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the chief of police in Dubai has reportedly said he is 99 percent sure that Mossad is behind the assassination of a Hamas leader. He has told Dubai TV that if it is proved it is Mossad, he wants the head of the intelligence agency to be put on the Interpol list, effectively making him a wanted man.

No comment obviously from Mossad, which has many successes and some failures in its past.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Capturing the architect of the holocaust, undoubtedly one of Mossad's greatest achievements. Adolf Eichmann was arrested in Argentina in 1960 and brought to Israel. He was tried and executed in 1962, the only time Israel has carried out the death penalty.

Rafi Eitan was head of that Mossad operation.

RAFI EITAN, HEAD OF MOSSAD TEAM: If we wanted to kill him, we could kill him, quite easily. But we wanted to take him into trial, and that's much more difficult.

HANCOCKS: Ten years later, what became known as the Munich Massacre, Palestinian terrorists killed two Israeli athletes at the Olympics in Germany and took nine more hostage, demanding the release of 200 Palestinians. Israel refused and all of the athletes were killed in a bungled rescue attempt by the German military at the airport.

GOLDA MEIR, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: It was evidently planned very well by the terrorists, and our boys paid for it.

HANCOCKS: Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir is believed to have ordered Mossad to track down the killers.

In 1973 three Palestinians were killed in Beirut including Mohammad Yusuf al-Najjar, head of Black September, the Palestinian group which carried out the attack. Three months later, in Lillehammer in Norway, Mossad agents killed the wrong man, a Moroccan who had no connection to the attack. Five agents were caught and imprisoned but released to Israel two years later.

Mossad waited six more years to get the right man, killing Ali Hassan Salime in Beirut.

RONEN BERGMAN, AUTHOR, "SECRET WAR WITH IRAN": Throughout the years, Mossad earned himself a reputation of efficient and ruthless intelligence agency with, quote, "license to kill".

HANCOCKS: But an attempt to poison Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Jordan in 1997 failed spectacularly. The Mossad agents were caught and Jordan's late King Hussein forced Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister then as now, to send the antidote to save Mashaal and release Hamas' spiritual leader Sheikh Yassin, a man who Israel killed a few years later.

Danny Yatom was head of the Mossad at the time and ordered the hit.

DANNY YATOM, FORMER MOSSAD HEAD: No. I'm not sorry at all. I think that no terrorists can enjoy any immunity, and they should know exactly that the free world will chase them if they continue to execute terror attacks.

HANCOCKS: He agrees with the policy of ambiguity when asked about operations.

YATOM: Everything should be hidden, because it is an unlawful operation in any other territory.

HANCOCKS: The current head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, is saying nothing. By remaining silent, there are less likely to be international repercussions and any international agency in the world likes to keep their targets guessing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HANCOCKS: A quick update on the investigation in Dubai, 18 people are now accused by Dubai police of being involved in this assassination, and we understand that two Palestinians are currently in custody.

We've also heard from Dubai police that one of the unidentified people is a woman who is wearing a large hat and white trousers and was seen hovering in the hotel lobby - Wolf.

BLITZER: Paula Hancocks reporting for us from Jerusalem.

Virtually all U.S. troops are scheduled to be out of Iraq by the summer of next year. Is the U.S. on track to meet that timetable? I'll ask the U.S. ambassador in Iraq, Chris Hill.

And Senator Evan Bayh is walking away from a Congress he calls dysfunctional. But who's to blame? I'll ask him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The war in Iraq has reached a milestone. Right now, there are less than 100,000 American troops in Iraq.

That's the first time the U.S. troop presence has been that low in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion back in 2003. But could fewer troops spell trouble if violence flares when Iraq votes in a critical upcoming election?

Joining us now is the U.S. ambassador in Iraq, Chris Hill. Mr. Ambassador, welcome back to Washington.

CHRISTOPHER HILL, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: Thank you very much. BLITZER: You're just here for a few days and you're going back to Baghdad.

HILL: Just for a few days and back to Baghdad.

BLITZER: All right, under 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq right now. All the combat troops are supposed to be out by the end of August, and then all the other troops, almost all the other troops, with a - a few trainers and - and security guards for the U.S. embassy, are supposed to be out by the summer of - of next year, 2011. Is that schedule working out?

HILL: Well, first of all, we reached an agreement with the Iraqi government in December, '08, and, indeed, we - we reached a schedule that we would be down to 50,000 by end of August and we'd be down to - by zero - to zero by the end of 2012.

BLITZER: So it's working (ph)?

HILL: So we - we are on schedule for that.

BLITZER: And - and General Odierno, the U.S. Military commander, he's on board. He says that the U.S. can do this?

HILL: Absolutely. I mean, we work on this every day. There's a lot of transition involved, a lot of things going from Military to civilian, Military to Iraqis. But we are on schedule.

BLITZER: The Iraqis are supposed to have their elections in the next few weeks, in early March. Does the election outcome impact the U.S. troop withdrawal?

HILL: Well, certainly we are there now for the elections. We will assist the Iraqis in maintaining a safe and secure environment. And so, we worked very hard on that day-to-day to make sure these elections come off. It's very important for Iraq's future.

BLITZER: So, no matter what happens after the election, if there's violence, the U.S. is getting out.

HILL: Well, you know, I don't want to say we're getting out. You know, we're looking for a long term relationship with Iraq. I mean, we have the world's biggest embassy there. We're going to be very involved in Iraq for generations to come.

So, I'm not going to say we're getting out. What we're doing is trying to get combat missions out of there, you know? End combat missions and get on with the task of having a normal relationship with a normal country.

BLITZER: The U.S. will have a diplomatic presence and economic presence, a lot of civilians. But I'm talking about the Military will be out of there for all practical purposes.

HILL: Yes, exactly. The Military has worked very hard to make sure the Iraqi military can handle things. They are handling things. And yes, it looks like things are on schedule.

BLITZER: Are you confident this election will be free and fair?

HILL: You know, they have prepared very hard for this. We worked very hard with them. We went through the election law which is tough going. And, you know, you have to kind of fasten your seat belts in the next few weeks. But we are convinced that it will be a good election.

BLITZER: Because you've seen all these reports that the government, Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki, they are using the Iraqi military for political purposes to try to score political gains. Is that accurate? Are they doing that?

HILL: You know, I wouldn't go that far on this. I mean, obviously, the institutions in the country are not what they should be. They need to be worked on. That's going to take years. But, I think, overall, this system is going in the right direction and I think they're going to have a positive election.

BLITZER: The government is Shiite-led. Will the Sunnis get a fair shake in these elections?

HILL: Well, the Sunnis will certainly be a part of any future government now. In fact, they're part of the government now. So, one of the big questions is: Which Sunnis are going to be part of it? Is it going to be a more secular-led Sunni? Is it going to be more sectarian-led?

So, we'll see how that works out. That's going to be up to the Iraqi voters to decide.

BLITZER: I spoke back in October with Tom Ricks. You know Tom Ricks. He's a journalist, an author or the author of "The Gamble" and "Fiasco." He knows this subject quite well.

And he was very skeptical about what's happening in Iraq right now. He told me --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM RICKS, AUTHOR, "THE GAMBLE": It's coming apart slowly at the seams and the only thing Iraq is changing is: American influence is declining. So, all the basic problems that were there for years before the surge are still there. All of them have led to violence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: You know, there are a lot of problems in that country. These are problems that have taken a thousand years to build. We're not going to get rid of them in a couple of years. But the fact is, this is a country that's increasingly democratic. If you looked at how they did that election law a couple of weeks ago, I mean, they really worked through that. They made pen and ink changes in the side of the bills. You can see Sunni and Shiite politicians working on this. There's a lot to take hope from. Is it going to be easy? It is not going to be easy. It's going to require a lot of work. And we're at it every single day.

BLITZER: But you're convinced the end result somewhere down the road, in the years to come, there will be a stable, democratic Iraq when all the dust settles?

HILL: Well, as Iraqi would say, "Inshallah" -- I mean, you know, we certainly hope that that will be what they --

BLITZER: That's what you hope. Do you think there will?

HILL: I think there's a lot of reason to be hopeful about Iraq. Now, you know, they have done a lot of oil contracts in recent months. I mean, they have the means. You know, in 10 years, Iraq could be rivaling Saudi Arabia as an oil producer.

So, they'll have the means to deal with these things. They'll have to figure out how to use some of these resources. But they have the ability to be as you described.

BLITZER: The Tom Ricks argument also is very depressing when he sees who the big winner is in Iraq right now. And this is what he told me. I had this exchange with him. I said, if U.S. influence is declining -- which is what he said -- if that's the case, is Iranian influence increasing and he said --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICKS: I don't know if it can increase any more than it is already. The Iranians are the single biggest winner in this war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: I hate to think of the Iranians as winners. Frankly, the Iranians made a lot of mistakes and have become one of the most isolated countries in the world. But the question is: what countries will be interested in Iraq if there's a perception that we're not interested. And, certainly, the United States should remain interested because we don't want a situation where the Iranians are able to exert more influence.

BLITZER: Could you see an alliance emerging between the Iraqi Shiites and the Iranian Shiites?

HILL: You know, you have to remember that during this time of Saddam Hussein, he fought an eight-year war with Iran with an army that is 80 percent Shiite. So, I think --

BLITZER: But it was Sunni dominated.

HILL: Well, it was an obvious 80 percent Shia. So, I would not go too far on the notion that somehow Iraqi Shia are the same as Iranian Shia.

BLITZER: How much influence does Iran have in Iraq right now?

HILL: Iran is there. They are there economically, but they're also there in rather malevolent terms. So, they are helping some of the -- some of the Shia militia groups. So, we have to be very vigilant on this and I can assure you that General Odierno and I are.

BLITZER: And the Kurds, where do they fit in to this whole picture?

HILL: Well, the Kurds, you know, they've had a rough history too and they are looking to -- you know, they will be a part of Iraq. They are very interested in remaining in Iraq, but it has to be a democratic Iraq. And so, they are looking very carefully to see if it's an Iraq that will live up to this democratic constitution.

BLITZER: Good luck to you and good luck to General Odierno and all the men and women, Military and civilian, who are doing the best they can under pretty tough circumstances. I appreciate what you're doing.

HILL: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Thank you -- Ambassador Chris Hill, the United States ambassador in Iraq.

Indiana Democratic Senator Evan Bayh shocks his colleagues by announcing he won't seek re-election. He tells us why he's fed up with Washington and who's to blame.

Also, remaking a classic to help Haiti. Hear the new version of "We Are the World" -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: When Senator Evan Bayh suddenly announced his retirement this week. He became the new face of discontent with the way Congress works, or doesn't work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We're joined now by the outgoing senator from Indiana, Democrat Evan Bayh.

Senator, thanks very much for coming in.

SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: The chairman of the Democratic Party, your party, Tim Kaine, was on "AMERICAN MORNING" earlier today. And he said you're completely wrong when you say Congress is not getting anything done. He has a whole list of all the very important things Congress has done this year. You want to respond to him?

BAYH: Well, Tim Kaine is a good man and it's true that some things have gotten done over the last year. No doubt about that. But not nearly enough has gotten done. And I don't blame the Democratic Party for that. I was listening to your intro, and I certainly don't blame the president. He's making an honest effort to reach out. But it takes two to tango. I chalk most of this up, Wolf, to the fact that, you know, on the Republican side, they need to be statesmen and women and step forward. They got some political advantage now going their way. But they need to put some of that aside to get the public's business done, with regard to getting the deficit down, for example, getting the economy moving once again.

On our side, we got some very fervent Democrats, they're good people, but they got to realize that some progress is better than none and not have always have these litmus tests if you can't get 100 percent.

So, you know, I think Tim is right. There have been good things. But a lot more needs to get done. And I think you can just look at the public opinion polls to understand the American people agree with that.

BLITZER: He cited the economic stimulus package which he credits with helping to turn the economy around, moving it away from the brink of a Great Depression. He cites the equal pay for women legislation that became the law of the land, extending health care benefits for about 8 million children -- poor children, increasing health care benefits for other poor people. Those are important things that Congress did this year.

BAYH: Those are very important things, Wolf, but those were all done about a year ago. And it's been a long time. We got more progress yet to make. And regrettably, the two sides are just getting entrenched, there sort of like tribal warfare unfortunately, where each side is just trying to beat the daylight out of the other and forgetting, Wolf -- at the end of the day, we're all Americans first, not Democrats or Republicans, but Americans and --

BLITZER: Do you want to -- do you want to name names? Who's really -- you said the president is not responsible, the Democrats aren't responsible. You say Republicans are responsible. Go ahead and name some names. Who is to blame for this?

BAYH: Well, you know, look, I'm not -- there's plenty of blame to go around and, you know, I'm not going to call people out on national television. But I will say this: the two most recent examples and I think Tim would probably agree with this if he were on the air here. We had a vote on a deficit and debt reduction commission that had been endorsed by many on the other side of the aisle. The president was reluctant to offend some in Congress but stepped forward and said, no, this is a good idea. I'm for it.

The minority leader endorsed it a year ago, and said, yes, this is the kind of thing we had to do. Then when it came up for a vote, Wolf, it would have passed -- bipartisan, Democrats and Republicans together. It would have passed but seven people that co-sponsored the bill decided no, for short-term political reasons, we're not going to be for it and the minority leader decided, "You know what, I don't want the Democrats to look fiscally responsible before the election."

OK. It's that kind of gamesmanship that's not right. On the jobs bill, that's American people's top priority -- top priority. And, so a proposal was being worked out. Max Baucus was working with Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch was working, you know, another good Republican. Many Democrats putting together something that wasn't what everybody wanted but it was going to make a significant difference.

BLITZER: But Harry Reid -- Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, the majority leader, he backed off that jobs bill, didn't he?

BAYH: Yes. But look, I don't think Harry is to blame on this one. I think Harry wanted to go forward and get something done.

Here's what happened, Wolf -- right on the cusp of getting something done, once again, because of short-term political calculations, the minority leader decided, "You know, I like some of the things that are in there but I'm not going to come forward and actually endorse the thing because I want to reserve the right to kick the Democrats in the shins on the thing."

BLITZER: How much blame --

(CROSSTALK)

BAYH: Now, let me be even-handed here. On our side, there are some people who -- they are good people but they decided, you know what, there are tax cuts for business to create jobs and we just don't like tax cuts and, you know, business has had enough and we'd like to do it another way even though this was the only way to get something done. So, it's that kind of --

BLITZER: But to fair, you're blaming some of your liberal colleagues as well?

BAYH: Some of them are allergic to tax cuts for businesses to create jobs. They feel that, you know, more direct government spending is a better way to go. That's a legitimate debate.

My point simply is, if you can get what you want -- well, this proposal was better than nothing at a time when the American people are crying out for action, for job creation and getting businesses moving once again. Let's -- as the old adage is -- the cliche, don't make the perfect the enemy of the good. That happens much too often around here.

BLITZER: All right. Let's look ahead a little bit. You have $13 million in campaign cash. What are you going to do with that money?

BAYH: Well, I haven't decided yet. I'm going to take some of it to help whoever our nominee is in Indiana. I think we got a good chance to win that election. And so, I'd like to be very supportive financially. I also --

BLITZER: How much can you give that nominee legally?

BAYH: Well, I don't know. That's a job for the lawyers. And they have gotten back to me yet. As you can imagine, I've been kind of busy the last 48 hours. But I do want to help our nominee. That's number one.

And number two, I'd like to help like-minded Democrats, you know, people who want to get things done, who are practical, who want to reach out and forge principled compromises with those on the other side of the aisle, Wolf. I'd like to use some of those resources to accomplish that.

BLITZER: So, basically, what I hear you're saying, the $13 million, a lot of it, if not all of it, you want to give it away to fellow Democrats so they can get elected?

BAYH: Yes, that's one of the things I'd like to do.

BLITZER: And what about you personally? What do you hope to do after -- your life after the U.S. Senate? Where will you be heading? What would -- what would be the dream job for you?

BAYH: Wolf, you're channeling my wife. She's been asking me that question for the last 72 hours as well. You know, I don't know. I really have an open mind, Wolf. But I can tell you this, public service, trying to help the people of this country, will always be a part of what I do because that's part of my DNA. And fortunately, there are ways to accomplish that without being in the United States Senate or an elective office.

BLITZER: You know, some are already saying, you know, he's not ruling out becoming a lobbyist. Do you plan to become a lobbyist?

BAYH: I do not. No.

BLITZER: We'll leave on that note. Good luck to you. You still got some time in the United States Senate. We hope you'll be a frequent visitor here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Now that you don't have to worry about being re-elected, you can obviously speak your mind a little bit more openly, right?

BAYH: Yes, I can. Invite me and I'll do exactly that.

BLITZER: We appreciate it, Senator Bayh. Thanks very much.

BAYH: Take care.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Some of the biggest names in music team up to remake a classic and raise money for Haiti. CNN has been granted permission to play for you the entire new version of "We are the World." Stand by. You'll see it and hear it right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(MUSIC) BLITZER: The Haitian government says at least 212,000 people were killed in the devastating earthquake on January 12th. While recovery has begun in Haiti, it surely will be slow and very, very long. The need there is still very great.

Now, how can you help -- as we listen to "We Are the World 25."

(MUSIC VIDEO, "WE ARE THE WORLD 25")

BLITZER: We'd like to thank the producers of this video for allowing us to show it here on CNN in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can download the video to donate to Haiti relief. Go to World25.org or iTunes.com/wearetheworld. That's all one word.

You can also text "world" to 50555 to donate $10 to Haiti relief. Cable and satellite customers can get the video on demand.

Up in space, an American astronaut looks out at the new windows of the International Space Station. One of today's "Hot Shots" from around the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN.

BLITZER: Here's a look at some of this week's "Hot Shots."

In Indonesia, a family wades through flood waters.

In Orbit, NASA astronaut Nicholas Patrick gazes outside the newly installed windows of the International Space Station.

In Katmandu, Nepal, traditional mass dancers celebrate National Democracy Day.

And in Zurich, Switzerland -- check it out -- a lion yawns over at the zoo.

Some of this week's "Hot Shots," pictures worth 1,000 words.

I'm Wolf Blitzer -- join us weekdays in THE SITUATION ROOM from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern, and every Saturday on 6:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN. And at this time every weekend on CNN International.

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