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THE SITUATION ROOM
BP CEO Grilled on Capitol Hill; Killer to Face Firing Squad
Aired June 17, 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 ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: Lawmakers give BP's boss a grilling, but they only get frustrated in the process, an extraordinary showdown, as a Republican apologizes for accusing the Obama administration of a shakedown.
Unwilling to wait for the government to act, a small town launches its own fight against the invading oil. We're on the scene in Alabama.
And he will be strapped to a chair with a target placed over his heart. A convicted killer is due in the coming hours to be executed by a firing squad here in the United States, unless he gains a last- minute reprieve.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BP's boss, Tony Hayward, was on Capitol Hill today testifying for the first time since the April 20 oil spill. The CEO of the oil giant got it from both sides of the aisle, as lawmakers gave him quite a grilling.
Let's go straight to our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. She watched it all unfold.
The sparks were flying, Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They were, and chairman of that committee, Bart Stupak, just finally wrapped up the day-long hearing. And he told Tony Hayward that his evasiveness only served to increase, not decrease Americans' frustration.
Whether it is the criminal investigation his company is facing or something else, Tony Hayward was no hope to lawmakers who are trying to prove that BP tried to save money and did so by cutting corners.
BASH (voice-over): With his hand in the air, Tony Hayward swore to give:
REP. BART STUPAK (D), MICHIGAN: Truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth the matter pending before this committee? TONY HAYWARD, CEO, BP GROUP: I do.
BASH: But what BP's beleaguered CEO gave lawmakers was a whole lot of this.
HAYWARD: I wasn't part of the decision-making process on this well. I had no prior knowledge or involvement in the drilling of this well. I wasn't involved in any of the decision-making.
BASH: This investigative committee's goal? Get more information about crucial decisions leading up to Deepwater Horizon's explosion that lawmakers say show BP putting profit ahead of safety. Democrats tried.
REP. JOHN DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: Can you tell us under oath that the decision to use six centralizers instead of recommended 21 was not made to save time and money?
HAYWARD: I was not involved in that decision. So, it's impossible for me to answer that question.
DINGELL: All right. Did BP -- can you assure us under oath, again, that the decision not to fully circulate the mud was not made to save money and time?
HAYWARD: I can't answer that question, because I wasn't there.
DINGELL: Thank you.
BASH: Republicans tried.
REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R), TEXAS: Who would have had that information?
HAYWARD: Certainly the drilling team in the Gulf of Mexico. As...
BURGESS: But you're the CEO of the company.
BURGESS: Do you have any sort of technical expert who -- who -- who helps you with these things who might have been there?
HAYWARD: With respect, sir, we drill hundreds of wells a year all around the world.
BURGESS: Yes, I know. That's what's scaring me right now.
BASH: Hayward's attempt at contrition fueled eruptions of frustration.
HAYWARD: And one of the reasons that I am so distraught...
REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Could you answer yes or no?
HAYWARD: ... is that...
WAXMAN: I don't want to know whether you're distraught.
HAYWARD: I'm not prepared to draw conclusions about this accident until such time as the investigation has concluded.
WAXMAN: Well, this is an investigation. That's what this committee is doing. It's an investigatory committee. And we expect you to cooperate with us. Are you failing to cooperate with other investigators, as well? Because they're going to have a hard time reaching conclusions if you stonewall them, which is what we seem to be getting today.
HAYWARD: I'm not stonewalling.
BASH: But he did answer this question, contradicting President Obama.
REP. CLIFF STEARNS (R), FLORIDA: You're saying BP has had no reckless behavior, is what you're saying to us.
HAYWARD: I have seen no evidence of reckless behavior.
BASH: And while Hayward was bombarded by scathing criticism, another controversy was born, when the committee's top Republican accused the White House of forcing BP to fork over what he called a $20 billion slush fund.
REP. JOE BARTON (R), TEXAS: I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case, a $20 billion shakedown.
I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is -- again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown. So I apologize.
BASH: A senior Republican apologizing to BP. At first, his colleagues subtly distanced themselves.
BURGESS: Let me just make a statement for clarification. I am not going to apologize to you.
BASH: Democrats from Capitol Hill to the White House pounced.
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I find it incredibly insensitive, incredibly out of touch.
BASH: But, as pressure mounted, CNN is told the House GOP leadership met with Barton and demanded he take back apology to BP or lose his position on the committee. BARTON: I want the record to be absolutely clear that I think BP is responsible for this accident. And if anything I have said this morning has been misconstrued in an opposite effect, I want to -- to apologize for that misconstrued -- misconstruction.
BASH: Now, later, in plain English, Barton issued a written statement, where he said that he was sorry for using the term shakedown. And he also said, I retract my apology to BP.
Now, Wolf, why were GOP colleagues so eager for him to say that? Well, Democrats spent the day rushing out press releases, even fund- raising letters, calling Barton exhibit A of the GOP being beholden to big oil and pointing out that Barton himself has received $1.4 million from oil and gas companies.
And as one GOP source told me just a short while ago, Republicans have been saying BP bears the responsibility. What Barton said allows Democrats to say otherwise -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What a day on Capitol Hill. Dana, thanks very much.
Let's break down the shakedown controversy involving Congressman Joe Barton.
Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, John King. He's the host of CNN's "JOHN KING, USA." That comes at the top of the hour. And our national security contributor Fran Townsend, she was the homeland security adviser to President Bush. Earlier, she worked for Eric Holder at the Clinton Justice Department when he was a deputy attorney general.
First, John, to you.
You pointed it out accurately when we heard it this morning. It really was a wild moment. But I don't remember a time -- we have been in Washington a long time -- when things move this quickly from an apology to BP to apologizing for the apology to BP.
JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": As Dana pointed out, Wolf, I talked to several people in the Republican leadership. They were seething. Tony Hayward -- watch the tape -- sat there speechless. He could not believe that someone was apologizing not once, but twice, to him on national television.
This was scripted. Many days in Washington are scripted. This was pinata day for Tony Hayward. And, instead, tonight, the Republican Party is taking hits because one of its most senior members, the ranking member of that committee -- look, a lot question how this trust fund came about, the escrow fund.
A lot of -- some Republicans are saying, should the attorney general be in the same room when he's leading a criminal investigation? Those might be legitimate questions. But to twice apologize to Tony Hayward and to use language like shakedown and slush fund, all the way up the Republican leadership, they are appalled. They're still seething tonight.
They got the apology they wanted, but there are still questions as to whether Joe Barton will keep those positions.
BLITZER: And, Fran, Eric Holder, the attorney general, he reacted to what we heard from Joe Barton. I will play a little clip of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Members of Congress this morning, at the congressional testimony, said that the fact that you were present in the room with executives from BP while this ongoing criminal investigation and civil case is happening amounted to a shakedown. What's your reaction to that? And please address that, because they were -- they had some sharp criticism for you.
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I'm not aware of what was said, but I can say this.
The criminal investigation and the civil investigations, those are walled off. The Justice Department has said Tom -- in the person of Tom Perrelli, the associate attorney general, was very intimately involved in working out the deal with BP.
And let me be clear: I don't apologize for the Justice Department's role in this matter. And I don't apologize for the way in which this administration has approached this question.
We have dealt with this issue, I think, in a tough way to ensure that Americans who did no wrong will be compensated, that we do all that we can to protect our environment, and that not a penny comes from American taxpayers to do both of those things. So I think what we have done has been entirely appropriate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, Fran, does Joe Barton, though, have a point that when the White House is negotiating a $20 billion escrow account, a compensation account that BP should be putting forward, the attorney general is in that room, sitting there, even as his Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation of BP? Is that, in effect, a shakedown?
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, let's be really clear. The use of the word shakedown or slush fund was just plain ignorant.
I mean, it was -- it's bad politics and, by the way, it's just plain wrong. So, let's put that aside for a minute. The attorney general showed a tone-deafness to the appearance problem. He made clear in his press conference that the criminal and civil investigations are behind a wall from Perrelli, who negotiated the civil arrangement for the fund.
That's all correct. And they did it right. But attorney general himself is not walled off. That's the point that I think Barton...
BLITZER: So, you're saying he shouldn't have been at that meeting yesterday?
TOWNSEND: I think that was a mistake. If Perrelli was the guy who was negotiating this fund agreement, then he should have been the guy who represented the Justice Department, and no one in the name of the attorney general himself should have been there, because the attorney general will oversee both the criminal and the civil sides of this.
BLITZER: And we don't know what this criminal investigation is going to lead to, whether it actually leads to charges or doesn't lead to charges. We do know, John, that BP was under enormous pressure to come forward and make some money available.
KING: We do. And, look, any questions of any administration about how they handle something so sensitive are legitimate questions.
And Republicans want to ask those questions, which is why they're so mad at Joe Barton for using shakedown and slush fund and for twice apologizing to Tony Hayward, because Fran makes an interesting point, and it's a worthy debate. Should the attorney general be there?
Another person in that meeting was another one of his former deputies, Jamie Gorelick, who now works for BP. And she helped negotiate this deal with the White House, including having the president go out and say BP is a strong company, BP should stay viable.
Those are all -- everyone out there watching has their own views on this, but any actions of any administration, Democratic or Republican, those are legitimate questions. Why the Republicans are so mad is because Joe Barton used that loaded language.
BLITZER: Well, is there anything wrong with Jamie Gorelick, who was the deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, now being a lawyer for BP and negotiating this deal with the White House yesterday?
TOWNSEND: No, absolutely not, Wolf. She's got -- there's no direct conflict, and, by the way, there's no appearance. She had a -- she went through a cooling-off period when she left the Justice Department. It's perfectly appropriate for her to be there.
It's interesting to note, to John's point, when Jamie Gorelick left the Clinton Justice Department as the deputy attorney general, the person who replaced, Eric Holder. That's when he became deputy attorney general.
BLITZER: And he was your boss.
TOWNSEND: That's right. BLITZER: Thanks very much, guys.
We will see you at the top of the hour on "JOHN KING, USA." You are going to have more on this, right?
KING: A lot more on this. And we will have -- including the chairman, Bart Stupak. He will be with us.
BLITZER: Excellent. All right, John, we will be watching. Thank you.
Jack Cafferty will have "The Cafferty File" in just a moment.
And then we will take you to the Alabama coast, where a small town is fighting back against the invading oil without waiting for the federal government to act.
Plus, can we really know how much oil is leaking, how much BP is actually capturing? I will speak with an expert from the flow rate task force. Stand by, new information.
And be careful what you text. If your cell phone or pager belongs to your employer, your private messages may not necessarily be very private.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: With the U.S. drowning in a monstrous $13 trillion national debt, it's clear that we consider any and all options to stem the tide.
Now, this may be an idea worth taking a look at -- then again, maybe not. A group of 51 German millionaires and billionaires is volunteering to give up 10 percent of their income for 10 years to help with Germany's finances.
CNBC reports these uber-wealthy Germans founded a club of the wealthy and proposed the so-called rich tax to Chancellor Angela Merkel. Germany, like much of Europe, is in the midst of belt- tightening situation, as the country debates an upcoming $80 billion -- or 80 billion euro -- excuse me -- austerity package.
It's a noble gesture, this, but so far there are only 50 German millionaires on board out of an estimated 800,000 German millionaires.
The total number of millionaires represents about 1 percent of Germany's population. That's similar to the ratio of millionaires here in the United States. It makes you wonder how many American millionaires would be willing to do the same thing.
And speaking of America's very rich, two of the wealthiest are calling on their fellow billionaires to give away half of their wealth for charity during their lifetimes or after they die. As first reported in "Fortune" magazine, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates want the 400 richest people in the U.S. to give $600 billion to philanthropy and charity.
Their goal is to create an expectation that the rich should give away a big part of their wealth to better society.
Somebody pointed out, $600 billion, that is less than one-half of this year's federal deficit.
Anyway, here's the question: Would a voluntary millionaire's tax work in the United States?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. Post a comment on our blog.
Here's a hint: Probably not. But we need to fill this time with something, so send me some e-mail.
BLITZER: It's a good question, Jack. Thanks very much.
A new U.S. Supreme Court ruling on privacy will impact anyone who uses a BlackBerry or a cell phone for work.
CNN's Kate Bolduan is here. She's got the details for us.
Kate, tell us what this is all about.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The long and the short of it, Wolf, is, worker, beware and pay attention.
The Supreme Court ruled today that a search of a public employee's state-issued pager was proper and not a violation of his privacy rights. The case dealt specifically with a California SWAT team officer who exchanged hundreds of personal messages, some of sexually explicit nature, on his work text pager.
The police department reviewed his text message records because of overcharges. The sergeant then sued. And now, after the Supreme Court got involved, they have decided that those state officials had a right to search his records. The justices even suggested that this ruling could apply to employees working for private companies as well under similar circumstances.
This is an important decision in the expanding legal frontier of the digital era and leaves many asking, Wolf, where are the limits? Where do you draw the line for employee-employer rights in the workplace, as technology becomes more and essential in our lives?
BLITZER: All right, so explain in practical terms how this affects, impacts all of us who have BlackBerrys or cell phones and work?
BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely. It has many people asking, really, how far can an employer go? Can they search my records whenever they want to?
Well, because the court's ruling was narrow, it opens the door now to many more lawsuits over exactly where to draw the line for privacy protection in the workplace. Justice Kennedy, in writing the opinion for the court, even acknowledged that the justices purposely avoided a broad ruling today on how much privacy someone can expect at work because technologies are ever-evolving.
Best advice? Look no further than the justices themselves, Wolf. They suggested in their written opinion -- you don't always get advice in these written opinions -- that, if you're worried about your privacy, buy your own cell phone and use your own cell phone at work.
BLITZER: Don't use the company cell phone because...
BOLDUAN: For the personal matters.
BLITZER: ... because you know that there's a potential somebody else is going to be looking over all of those e-mails and text messages.
BOLDUAN: Exactly. Be careful, Wolf.
BLITZER: Good advice.
Thanks very much, Kate.
BLITZER: Taking matters into their own hands, residents of a small town aren't waiting for the government to help them fight the invading oil.
Plus, he now faces 10 terrorism and weapons charges. The Times Square car bomb suspect is indicted by a federal grand jury.
Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: He's accused of going halfway around the world to get explosives training from the Pakistani Taliban. A federal grand jury today indicted the Times Square bomb suspect, Faisal Shahzad, on terrorism and weapons charges.
Our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, is joining us now with the details -- Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there are 10 counts in the indictment. Six of them carry potential sentences of life in prison.
In a statement, Attorney General Eric Holder said the indictment shows that the Pakistani Taliban facilitated Shahzad's attempted bombing of Times Square on the evening of May 1.
Specifically, the government alleges that Shahzad received explosives training in Waziristan, Pakistan, from individuals affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban. It says he got that training in December of 2009. The indictment also says that Shahzad got money from an individual in Pakistan who Shahzad believed worked for the Pakistani Taliban.
The indictment says he -- says he received $5,000 in Massachusetts in February, and another $7,000 in Ronkonkoma, New York, in April. One of the new charges relates to that gun found loaded in the car he had left in an airport parking lot as he tried to leave the country.
The indictment says he purchased the $9.-millimeter Kel-Tec rifle in Connecticut. Shahzad did cooperate with investigators after his arrest on May 3. And we have been told they got valuable information from him, but there are a lot of charges here, Wolf, and serious penalties.
BLITZER: But no death penalty, right, Jeanne?
MESERVE: That's right, Wolf, because no one died. His car bomb did not go off. It is possible we will see additional charges, however. Very often in terrorism cases, we have seen superseding indictments as the government has developed more information -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jeanne, thank you -- Jeanne Meserve reporting.
Estimates of how much crude is really spewing into the Gulf of Mexico keep changing, they keep growing. We're going to talk to one of the experts charged with figuring it all out and see what -- how one town is doing battle with the oil on its own.
Also, veterans' tombstones discovered in a creek. There are more details of a huge embarrassment for Arlington National Cemetery, new information coming in.
And an American man is condemned to die by firing squad in just a few hours. We're going to go live to Utah and the scene of an especially controversial execution.
BLITZER: As the oil moved closer and closer toward their part of the Alabama coast, residents of one small community took matters into their own hands.
Our Mary Snow joining us now from Weeks Bay. It's right at the mouth of Alabama's Magnolia River.
Mary, what happened there?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, just to give you some perspective, south of us is Dauphin Island and Gulf Shores, where oil has washed up. It has not hit here. But officials say it's just a matter of time. They found traces of oil about 10 nautical miles out.
And you might see these barges behind me. That's one of their lines of defense. And this community is fighting with everything it's got.
SNOW (voice-over): Jamie Hinton has a battle plan to block oil from encroaching into his community, and he took us out to show us. Yes, there's containment boom, but he's not trusting it.
JAMIE HINTON, MAGNOLIA SPRINGS VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT CHIEF: You can see, just with the little wave action we have got now, it's almost going over the top of it as it is.
SNOW: And that's why Hinton mobilized nine barges at the mouth of Weeks Bay. But to get that line of defense in place, Hinton had to fight. And he was eager to show us why.
The bay is home to an estuary and leads to the Magnolia River -- 700-plus people live in Magnolia Springs, where Hinton has lived his whole life and serves as the chief of the local fire department.
Mail is delivered by boat, and wildlife dot the landscape, but there's an underlying anxiety.
HINTON: And to think that, if we can't stop the oil from getting into here, it could be lost for multiple generations.
SNOW: In early May, when CNN first visited Magnolia Springs, Hinton had already sounded the alarm and was told by some locals he was overreacting. BP had provided a single line of boom, so Hinton drew up a plan to use barges along with containment booms.
BP has since provided much more boom, staff and equipment, but Hinton says he's relying on his community, and not the government.
HINTON: Are they going to handle it like they did Katrina and Ivan and the Valdez spill?
SNOW: The town of Magnolia Springs had to get government approval to line up the barges. Hinton says he was ready to do it even if it meant going to jail. That didn't happen. Magnolia Springs now has government money to keep those barges out here for four months. At the first sign of oil, they will move the last barge in place.
HINTON: The barge with the crane just getting diagonally placed between there and this barge. And that seals the gap.
SNOW (on camera): How confident are you, you're going to block this oil?
HINTON: I'm very confident that we're going to block the stuff on top of the water.
SNOW: How about below? Let's talk about (INAUDIBLE)
HINTON: Scares me to death.
SNOW: You heard him hit there saying it scares him to death about the underwater plumes and to try to protect this community against them -- Magnolia Springs. He's trying to use underwater containment booms although they say it's very challenging to use them.
But you know volunteers have been going out in the water every day monitoring, looking for traces of oil, and even sent divers under there. But some of the people in the community here say, you know, they are determined because they feel these communities get lost in the shuffle and they are going to say what they say is their corner of the world -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And let's hope they do. Magnolia River, Weeks Bay, it sounds so beautiful, and let's hope it stays that way.
Mary, thanks very much. Mary Snow is on the scene for us along the Gulf Coast.
Even as BP manages to contain more and more of the leaking oil estimates of the amount still gushing out of that ruptured well keep on increasing.
Let's talk about it with Ira Leifer. He's a professor at the University of California Santa Barbara. He's part of the government team tasked with estimating the flow of oil from that rig.
Professor, thanks very much for joining us. Are you on board up to 60,000 barrels a day? Is that the number you accept?
IRA LEIFER, OIL FLOW RESEARCHER, SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA (via phone): I'm very -- in somewhat taken aback by hearing that number out of BP at this point. Clearly BP has the best engineers, they're figuring out how oil and gas move through pipes and reservoirs. That's their business.
And if they have this kind of a number weeks and weeks ago, why didn't they let us know? I mean why in the world did they try top kill with a flow like that? I --
BLITZER: I thought -- let me interrupt you for a second.
BLITZER: I thought the number that just came out the other day 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day coming out, that was the number that your committee, the flow rate, the technical committee came out with. That's not a BP number.
LEIFER: I am not completely read some stories but I understand that BP had come up with a number internally in that regard. Our number is very recent and it's on our analysis of the data which we only received last week.
And I can't really comment too much on the number because the reports are being finalized, both commenting on the report that BP had internal report of 60,000 which I saw in the media today.
BLITZER: Well, there was an official announcement from the flow rate technical group saying that their latest estimates based on the pressure gauges, the high resolution video, that it was now between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels a day.
You were on that committee, you were part of the meetings in Seattle, Washington that reviewed all the data, right?
LEIFER: Yes, indeed, Wolf. And that is the number that we've come up with based on the small amount of data that we've been able to analyze in the time available.
One other thing, these systems a well into a natural -- deep underneath the well do change with time. And so we can only evaluate where we actually have data. We can't say what happened five minutes before or an hour afterwards.
BLITZER: So what I hear you saying is it might be that number between 35,000 and 60,000. It could be a whole lot more and maybe even less. Is that what you're saying?
LEIFER: Exactly. We can only say for the data we actually have looked at, we do know that it changes with time.
BLITZER: Here's what -- here's what Tony Hayward, the BP CEO, told Congress today. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY HAYWARD, CEO, BP: It appears that our latest containment effort is now containing about 20,000 barrels a day. By the end of June, we expect to have equipments in place to handle between 40,000 and 50,000 barrels a day and by mid July between 60,000 and 80,000 barrels a day.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do you buy that?
LEIFER: I certainly hope he's correct, but there's need for a safety margin there, which there does not seem to be.
BLITZER: Explain what a safety margin means. What does that mean?
LEIFER: Well, what if, for example, the flow increased by 10 or 15 percent, say, in the month of July? Then suddenly we have thousands or tens of thousands of barrels of oil dumping into the Gulf.
And I don't think any of the listeners would feel that that would be an acceptable condition that 5,000 or 10,000 barrels of oil is an acceptable amount of oil to ooze into the Gulf every day.
BLITZER: Are you fully confident that when the relief -- these two relief wells that they're digging are finished in August, at some point, either early to mid August -- at least one of them is supposed to be done by then -- that that will end the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico?
LEIFER: I mean, I like to share an optimism because the alternate is much more worrisome but the reality is this is an extremely challenging technical feat for BP to succeed during a season that's predicted to be very active with hurricanes in water at depths where this has never been tried before.
I certainly hope they get it right on the first time that they don't make things worse. It could easily happen that they don't cut safety corners and so on which could lead to more people being killed in this horrible accident.
BLITZER: Well, we hope that none of that happens. We hope it succeeds. We'll check back with you, Professor. Thanks very much.
Ira Leifer from the University of California Santa Barbara, who's part of the government's flow rate technical team.
It's been 14 years since the last U.S. execution by firing squad. Now the next one could only be a few hours away. We have details of the final appeals by a convicted killer in Utah. We're going there live.
And donated blood is at the center of $16 million government fine for the Red Cross.
BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now.
What do you have, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. Well, after intense criticism over its actions on a Turkish aid flotilla, Israel is relaxing its blockade on Gaza.
The security cabinet says more goods, possibly even construction materials will be allowed through. Troops will continue to prevent weapons and rockets from making their way in.
Palestinian leaders dismiss the move as aesthetic and say the blockade should be lifted completely.
And the FDA has fined the American Red Cross $16 million for haphazard and unsafe blood screening. The Food and Drug Administration says although the supply appears to be safe the group didn't take necessary steps to safeguard donations.
The Red Cross already faces dozens of violations and has been fined over $21 million since 2003. In a statement today, it says most of the violations were before 2008 and it's made significant improvements since then.
And Jesus will return in Monroe, Ohio. The original artist who designed the now singed six-story statue outside the Solid Rock Church says he would be honored to create another one. It was destroyed by a lightning strike earlier this week.
The church is taking new design proposals for a new version of the statue that has been known as "Touchdown Jesus" because of its raised arms.
So I guess that "touchdown," we might not see that with the new version -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. We can see how the (INAUDIBLE) there. All right, thanks very much for that.
Strapped to a chair with a target pinned over his heart, a convicted killer is scheduled to be executed here in the United States by firing squad within a few hours. We're going to live to Utah.
And last weeks, revelations of a grave mix-up, now tombstones are discovered in a creek at Arlington National Cemetery. What is going on? We're investigating.
BLITZER: A convicted killer is scheduled to be executed by a firing squad in just a few hours in Utah. It'll be the first execution in 14 years and only the third time a firing squad has been used since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty back in 1976.
CNN's Ted Rowlands is joining us now from Draper, Utah with more.
Walk us through what's happening, Ted, right now. We're only a few hours away.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, Wolf, the condemned man Ronnie Gardner is losing most of his appeals. He still has three appeals in front of the United States Supreme Court. And we just heard from the governor of Utah who denied an appeal by Gardner asking for a stay in his execution. That was denied.
Gardner has had his last meal, steak and lobster tail, had that last night.
And you mentioned the firing squad. This has gotten a lot of interest, obviously, because a lot of people don't realize that the firing squad is still on the table in the United States. Utah is the only state that has the firing squad as an option for condemned prisoners.
And Gardner chose this himself a few weeks ago so it's his decision to die via a firing squad. There's debate, of course, around the country on capital punishment even within the families of murder victims in this case. There's debate on whether or not Utah should killing him.
We talked to one friend of one of the victims, however, who said that Gardner cannot die soon enough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRAIG WATSON, COUSIN OF MURDER VICTIM: You know, Mr. Gardner chose the firing squad, and I have my opinion on why he chose that. But as far as I'm concerned, as long as he's executed, I don't care how it's done. You know? I think -- I think he chose the firing squad because I think he thought he'd get some sensationalism out of it.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
ROWLANDS: Here's what's going to happen. Assuming nobody intervenes here. Shortly after midnight, Gardner will be brought into the death chamber in the prison behind me here in Draper, Utah.
He'll be seated in a chair, strapped into the chair, and then given two minutes for his last words. He'll be able to talk for two minutes. And at that point a hood will be put over his head, a medical professional will come in and actually use a stethoscope to pinpoint the location of his heart and pin a small target on his heart.
There are five members of the firing squad. They will be only 20 feet away using 30 caliber rifles. Four of them with live rounds, one will have a blank. They will then all target Gardner's heart. Shooting him.
They say that he should lose consciousness within seconds and will be dead within seconds.
And this is the way that he has chosen to die. And again, that is coming sooner than later for Mr. Garner, looking at midnight, local time, shortly after unless the United States Supreme Court intervenes.
BLITZER: And explain to our viewers the blank. Why they want one of those shooters to have a blank.
ROWLANDS: Because these five individuals will of course forever remember this event. And they will always take with them the fact that they don't know if they, themselves, delivered that fatal shot into another human being.
And so if they have trouble down the line with what transpires, it's sort of a catch so that they don't have that certainty that they actually killed another human being if they have troubles down the line.
All of the members of the firing squad, Wolf, are law enforcement professionals who volunteered for this duty.
BLITZER: Ted Rowlands will stay on top of it. We'll check back with you, Ted. Thanks very much.
Meanwhile a new huge embarrassment over at Arlington National Cemetery here in Washington just one week after revelations of a mix- up in graves. There's now word that some gravestones have been discovered in a nearby creek.
CNN's Lisa Sylvester is looking at this for us.
So what have you found out, Lisa?
SYLVESTER: Well, Wolf, there are enough concerns -- enough concerns have been raised that now the House Armed Services Committee chairman announced that he plans to hold a hearing next week on the management problems at Arlington National Cemetery.
The latest problem old head stones found discarded in a creek bed.
SYLVESTER (voice-over): Dozens of headstones sat abandoned in an unlikely place -- a stream at Arlington National Cemetery -- until a "Washington Post" reporter alerted cemetery officials.
It's not clear if these headstones were assigned to graves or ones that were discarded with incorrect inscriptions.
Work crews removed from the creek bed at least one headstone that did have a name on it.
KAITLIN HORST, SPOKESWOMAN, ARLINGTON NATL. CEMETERY: We're very concerned that this -- this news is very upsetting to families. And we understand that and we want to do the right thing. We're very committed to doing the right thing here the best we can.
SYLVESTER: Last week the Army released the results of a seven- month investigation that found serious problems with record keeping and mismanagement at Arlington National Cemetery.
Two hundred graves with either missing or unmarked headstones and burial urns mixed in with a pile of excess dirt. The grave markers found in the creek seemed at least 30 years old and were apparently being used to prevent erosion at the creek bed.
But how did they get there and do they belong to anyone?
Since 1994 as headstones deteriorate and weather, the cemetery's policy has been to ground up the old headstones and recycle them. Many of the headstones found this week predate that new policy.
Still veterans groups express dismay that those who serve their country in life might have been neglected this way in death at Arlington National Cemetery.
RYA GALLUCCI, AMVETS: It was jaw-dropping when we first learned about it because it's something that Americans revere and they look on with such pride. And it's the last-standing testament to the sacrifices that our military men and women have made.
SYLVESTER: Cemetery superintendent Jon Metzler who was scheduled to retire next month received a sharp reprimand from the Army secretary after the Army report last week.
SYLVESTER: Now there was that headstone that did have a name on it. And late this afternoon we got word from Arlington Cemetery that they did identify the deceased service member. But they -- and they were able to contact the family member who told them that there is currently a headstone on that grave. So the discarded headstone could have been a replacement.
But why and how it ended up in the creek right now is anybody's guess -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. We'll stay on top of it. It's pretty shocking stuff at Arlington National Cemetery.
Jack Cafferty is next with your e-mail. And we'll be right back.
BLITZER: Let's check back with Jack for the "Cafferty Files." Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour is would a voluntary -- voluntary millionaire's tax work in this country?
Michael in Virginia says, "No, neither does cutting taxes and then expecting millionaires to give their tax savings to charity. Instead of buying companies. If volunteerism worked as touted, the coffers of every charity helping the poor would be bursting. Given the tax rates are at their lowest in more than half a century."
T writes from Tennessee, "Instead of figuring out how to get more money from its citizens, the government should figure out how to effectively spend the money it already has. In other words, if you are or I spent money without some sort of budget, sooner or later no one would loan us anymore. Our credit score would be so low it wouldn't even tip the scale. A large portion of the deficit in this country is interest on loans to foreign -- from foreign countries. This is insane."
Rob writes, "The wealthy already pay more than their fair share on taxes. If we would adopt a flat tax system then this idea would at least have legs."
Chandra writes in Las Vegas, "No, and nor should it. I wouldn't trust the government to use the money responsibly. And still -- it still wouldn't be enough for them. It never will. The entitlement programs currently on the books have gotten so out of control that many people become dependent on them and are on them for life. When you pay someone to do nothing, that's what they'll do."
Mike in Anaheim, California, "Probably not, Jack. Most millionaires got to that lofty place in life because they had the good fortune to afford a truckload of tax accountants to help them avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Why would any of them now volunteer to pay more?"
And Ben is angry, writes this, "Considering 90 percent of the wealth is with 1 percent of the population, yes, tax them. They ought to be grateful we're not tarring and feathering them. That bunch of exploitative, unscrupulous thieves."
CAFFERTY: That's cold. If you want to read more on this go to my blog, CNN.com/caffertyfile.
Exploitative, unscrupulous thieves.
BLITZER: Unfair. Unfair. Some of them are. Thank you, Jack. See you tomorrow.
CAFFERTY: All right.
BLITZER: Up next, Jeanne Moos has a "Moos Unusual" take on BP's appearance before Congress today.
BLITZER: BP's Tony Hayward took a beating today. Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The CEO of BP was pinned down like a lab specimen. His every gesture under the microscope while he was being dissected.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would you do that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're copping out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're really insulting our intelligence.
MOOS: No wonder Tony Hayward was checking his watch less than an hour into the hearing.
HAYWARD: With respect, sir, we drill hundreds of wells a year all around the word.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I know. That's what scares me right now.
HAYWARD: One of the reasons that I'm so distraught --
REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Could you answer yes or no? HAYWARD: Is that --
WAXMAN: I don't want to know whether you're distraught.
MOOS: Within seconds of when he began reading his prepared testimony --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tony Hayward, look at my hand --
MOOS: A protester popped out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to be charged with a crime. You need to go to jail.
MOOS: She ended up being arrested, describing herself as a fisher woman from the Gulf Coast.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think your voice was heard today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope to God it was.
MOOS: When Hayward resumed his prepared testimony it sounded familiar like BP's commercial, the "Huffington Post" pointed out.
HAYWARD: The Gulf spill is a tragedy -- a tragedy -- that never should have happened. And I'm deeply sorry that it did. I'm deeply sorry.
MOOS: He had plenty of regrets.
HAYWARD: I regret. BP regrets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't you just say, I'm sorry?
HAYWARD: I am very, very sorry.
MOOS: On TV, CEO Hayward had a gushing co-star. Sometimes got bigger billing.
WAXMAN: It said BP used a more dangerous well design to save $7 million. What do you think about that?
MOOS: But Hayward wasn't exactly spilling his guts.
HAYWARD: I can't answer that question because I wasn't there. I was not part of that decision-making process. I was not involved in any of the decision-making --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't want to hear that.
MOOS: Hayward danced around the committee's questions like that Brazilian baby who's become a hit viral video. But Hayward was phasing the music.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're stalling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I want you to keep this in your mind as well.
MOOS: As the hearing went on Hayward's face grew redder. Possibly stress-induced rosacea, suggested one dermatologist. As he evaded questions, we learned what Hayward isn't.
HAYWARD: I'm not a cement engineer. I'm not an oceanographic scientist. I'm not a drilling engineer.
MOOS: Everyone kept asking if he'd stay a CEO.
REP. BART STUPAK (D), MICHIGAN: Do you expect to be CEO of BP much longer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it time for that CEO to resign?
HAYWARD: I'm focused on the response, sir.
MOOS: When you're having a day this bad, it's best not to look back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to be charged with a crime.
MOOS: Jeanne Moss, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: That's it for me. I'm Wolf Blitzer.