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THE SITUATION ROOM
Refugee Crisis along Libya Border; Global Migration Crisis Feared; Tired, Filthy and Stuck at Border; "Moammar Ordered This"; Gadhafi Is Bombing Rebel Towns In Libya; Untrained Rebels Are Outgunned, Plead For A No-Fly Zone
Aired March 5, 2011 - 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, THE SITUATION ROOM: A bomb blast caught on video by CNN, blowing holes in Moammar Gadhafi's claim he's not bombing the Libyan people. Stand by for a report from rebel-held Eastern Libya. Gadhafi is fighting harder than ever to hold on to power. But does he have an exit strategy if he's forced out? We're taking a closer look at his options.
Thousands of refugees from Libya are crowded into a no-man's land on the border. Aid organizations now are pleading for help to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. We're taking you inside the camps and the exploding crisis.
We welcome our viewers from the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(GUNFIRE, CHANTING CROWDS, GUNFIRE, SCREAMING)
The uprising in Libya is looking more every day like a full-fledged war between Moammar Gadhafi's troops and rebel forces. The opposition is armed and on alert and towns bombed by Libyan forces this week. Our Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman and his crew were there when the bombs dropped.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): First the roar of the plane, then a bomb explodes just beside the road.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gadhafi army are attacking the bridge and his people with his planes.
WEDEMAN: The target was these men, a collection of soldiers who have gone over to the opposition and volunteer fighters gathering to launch a counter-attack against government forces which early Wednesday overran the town of Al Braga, site of one of Libya's largest oil refineries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No more Moammar Gadhafi. Stop, OK, good-bye, Moammar.
WEDEMAN: Strategizing is done on the run. In addition to control of the skies, the enemy has far more fire power.
"Our message to the world is that we want a no-fly zone," says General Bashir Abdulzeni (ph). "They're bombing us with their planes."
The Libyan revolt is beginning to look dramatically different from those that came before.
(On camera): In Egypt and Tunisia it was a fight between unarmed protesters and the regimes. Here in Libya it is becoming what looks like a civil war.
(Voice over): Further to the rear outside the town of Ashdabia (ph), weapons are being tested. Frantic preparations afoot in the event government forces push further east. Anti-aircraft guns fresh out of an arms depot are cleaned of grease. Everyone pitches in. And at Al Braga's Hellel (ph) Hospital the wounded from the nearby battle are rushed into the emergency ward. Four people killed in the fighting are in the hospital's morgue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what they give us, Gadhafi, only bombs and take our blood and take our oil. This man, no man, crazy man.
WEDEMAN (voice over): Outside, this fighter Abdul Salem Sallah (ph), vows to take the fight to Moammar Gadhafi's palace in Tripoli.
"By the grace of God, victory," he declares.
In this battle the opposition forces were victorious. Government troops were run out of town. What followed was a wild celebration. Fighters celebrating by tearing down one of the last remaining pictures of their hated leader. But Gadhafi had the last word. One of his jets dropping one last bomb to break up the party. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Al Braga in Eastern Libya.
BLITZER: Gadhafi has been giving the world new reason to believe he's in denial and quite possibly delusional. In a television interview and long rants on Libyan TV this week he refused to acknowledge the protests against him, and even claimed that all his people love him. CNN's Nic Robertson has more from Tripoli.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): From the moment he walks in, chaos erupts. Like an aging rock star mobbed by his fans.
(On camera): This crowd of people thronging around him, it is possible to see just how Moammar Gadhafi could believe that all his people love him. As soon as he came into the room here, everyone swarmed around him. They're chanting to support him. In fact, all he can see at the moment is a sea of hands and people shouting, shouting his name.
(Voice over): In no hurry, soaking up the adulation. Ten minutes before he takes up his seat. More than 2 1/2 hours before he stops talking. Long, even by his own standards. Not a man throwing in the towel. The reverse, telling rebels they still have time to put their weapons down.
MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LEADER OF LIBYA (through translator): I hope from my people in Benghazi, men and women, to go out and take the guns from the youth and give them amnesty.
ROBERTSON: Incredibly, even as he was offering rebels peace, he was bombing them hundreds of miles away in the east. As he rambled his way through history and threats, some in the audience fell asleep.
Others shouting support had to be silenced by Gadhafi, thumping his microphone. The whole speech carried live on state TV. The biggest cheers for his warnings against Western intervention aimed, he said, at stealing Libya's oil.
GADHAFI (through translator): We will not accept this. Thousands and thousands of people will be killed if America or the Atlantic pact intervene in our country.
ROBERTSON: In the front row government ministers sat stone-faced as threat piled on threat, instability in the Mediterranean, attacks on the U.S. 6th Fleet, and an end to Western oil contracts. Then, as dramatic as his entrance, his exit no less theatrical, driven away in a golf cart, security men bouncing journalists and supporters out of the way.
(On camera): This is the scene after he's left. He's just gone out of building five minutes ago. The nice flower arrangement trampled over there by the hoards of people trying to get close to him. It's just a tidy up going on now. But his message at the end there, very clear. This situation cannot go on, we will have to do something about it. And a message for the United States as well; if you're thinking of coming in to Libya, we are ready for the challenge. Nic Robertson, CNN, Tripoli, Libya.
BLITZER: President Obama put Gadhafi and his forces on notice this week. His message, step down and stop the bloodshed, or you will all be held accountable. The president spoke about the situation in Libya during a news conference with the president of Mexico. He offered new help for refugees along with strong words for Gadhafi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Colonel Gadhafi needs to step down from power and leave. That is good for his country. It is good for his people. It's the right thing to do. Those around him have to understand that violence that they perpetrate against innocent civilians will be monitored, and they will be held accountable for it.
And so to the extent that they are making calculations in their own minds about which way history is moving, they should know history is moving against Colonel Gadhafi. And that their support for him and their willingness to carry out orders that are direct violence against citizens is something that ultimately they will be held accountable for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: One doctor describes the scene as a river of blood. Just ahead, the deadly battle that's believed to have injured hundreds.
Plus, he vows to fight to the death, but if the Libyan dictator falls from power, new questions about just where he could go.
And the United Nations warns of an escalating humanitarian catastrophe at the Libyan border as tens of thousands struggle to escape the bloodshed. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Get back to the unrest in Libya right now. One doctor in Zawiya is describing it as a, quote, "river of blood". Joining us now the "New York Times" columnist Nicholas Kristof.
Nic, thanks very much. Let me give the exact quote from this doctor in Zawiya. "There is a river of blood here in the hospital. The situation is very bad."
I now you're in close touch with people in Libya right now. What are you hearing?
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": There seems to have been a major counterattack on Zawiya. There are different versions of who is controlling it right now, but there is no doubt that there was a very strong, very forceful counterattack. I guess what I fear is it's emblematic of a pretty strong effort by Colonel Gadhafi to reassert control a pretty broad area, from Zawiya and on also into the mountains southwest of Tripoli.
BLITZER: He's certainly making a show of it. You Tweeted this. Let me read it to you from Twitter. You said, "I'm afraid that Gadhafi may have more staying power than many people expect. I hope I'm wrong." That's your Tweet @NickKristof.
Give us a little bit more detail why you think this is happening now.
KRISTOF: Sure. Well, just talking to people in Tripoli, especially people who have some connection with the military, their view seems to be that within Tripoli, and surrounding areas like Titura (ph), that the opposition has been to some extent terrorized into submission, that Gadhafi has essentially reasserted a measure of control there. That he is systematically going to the west and southwest as far away as the Algerian border and establishing control there. Then likewise, attempting - we're not sure how successful that will be -- but to move east as well.
Whether or not he succeeds there, by one account I heard he still controls 89 percent of Libya's oil refining capacity. And from the point of view of the rebels, who are way out in the east, it's an awful long haul to mount an attack all the way on Tripoli. And to do that they would have to bypass Sert (ph), the hometown of Gadhafi. And that's a pretty tall order for, you know, a bunch of people who are not a regular army. I guess I fear that Gadhafi may have, he unfortunately may be able to hold on a little bit longer in Tripoli than we might have thought a few days ago, that maybe our forecasts were a little bit too tinctured with hope than with reality.
BLITZER: People don't realize it's 500 miles from Benghazi along the Mediterranean coast, if you're heading west towards Tripoli. That's a long way to go.
KRISTOF: That's right. For armor, for example, if you want to transport tanks, if you want to get tanks from Benghazi all the way to Tripoli you have to have tank carriers. And it's not clear that the rebels have them at least in sufficient numbers. It's not clear to what extent they can operate some of these things, whether it's the tanks, or anti-aircraft weapons.
And the one thing that Colonel Gadhafi does have is control of a bunch of air strips and control still of the air force. That can be -- if there's no way of counterattacking that he can use that to pretty good effect.
BLITZER: Why does he have this ability to stay in power, yet the leaders of Tunisia and later Egypt, they collapsed within a matter of days?
KRISTOF: It all comes -- essentially in this kind of situation it comes down to the willingness of the army to shoot people. In Egypt, in Tunisia, the army was not willing to mow people down. In Libya it was. And that's partly because you had key commands in the Libyan military controlled by Gadhafi's sons.
BLITZER: The president of the United States says now on television, he said it in a written statement earlier, Gadhafi must go. But he's not really explaining what the United States is going to do to make him go. Does he need to get into specific details instead of just saying Gadhafi must go? Does he need to do something to back up those tough words?
KRISTOF: Well, I think it is helpful simply to say that Gadhafi must go. That I think will help peel away some of the Libyan military from Gadhafi. But I do think at the end of the day he probably will have to do more. There are no good options for us, but too often because we don't have any good options, we just sit on our hands and do nothing and there are things we can do. A no-fly option, you know, a no-fly zone is not great, but we could protect places like Benghazi relatively easily. I think that Secretary Gates kind of exaggerated the difficulty of it, if it were done in a more toward eastern Libya. We can jam Libyan broadcasting facilities. And we can support the rebels in broadcasting to Tripoli. All of those things would help in the margin. And I don't see any major reason why we shouldn't do them.
BLITZER: Is it too much for me to hope that the Arab world or Muslim world would take the lead in trying to help the people of Libya right now, as opposed to the United States, NATO, the Europeans? Because politically it would be so much better if the Arabs and Muslims did it as opposed to the West.
KRISTOF: That would be absolutely crucial. One of the things I finds so exhilarating about what is happening right now in Libya is the degree to which ordinary Arabs, and especially ordinary Egyptians, have been showing real leadership here. You're not seeing it as much from the Arab League but there are so many ordinary Egyptians who have been volunteering, and going out to the Libyan border, and crossing it. And providing medical support and sending in food and assistance.
Ultimately I think it's putting pressure on the Egyptian government, and beyond it the Arab League. I hope we can work closely with Egypt and Tunisia, in particular, to try to give some extra legitimacy and cover for international efforts to dislodge Gadhafi.
BLITZER: Because there's no doubt the Egyptians and Tunisians are doing terrific work helping refugees, hundreds of thousands of refugees already. They're doing a great job. I'm talking about militarily arming, for example, the opposition, engaging in a no-fly zone. They have air forces. They have capabilities.
KRISTOF: I think we should be a little bit careful about arming the rebels just because it's an area that is already awash with weapons. If you have supplied shoulder-launched anti-aircraft weapons, for example, you have to worry that they might end up in the wrong hands.
But I think that a no-fly zone, for example, instituted in conjunction with Egypt, with Tunisia, and maybe with Morocco would be just -- would be a huge step forward and it's something that is really hard for the United States and for Europe to do because of the whole legacy of imperialism and colonialism. It is something Egypt can do and provide real leadership on it.
BLITZER: Do you sense there's a split in the Obama administration on how tough to get toward Gadhafi?
KRISTOF: I think there's been a split in the Obama administration kind of from day one. You have, I think, a -- you know, sort of a foreign policy establishment, and especially from the Pentagon that is really reluctant to get involved. They feel they've got their hands full and that it's easy for these idealists to commit themselves into things and hard to get out.
On the other hand, you've got some people who I think are quite close to the president. I think it's the president's own instinct that here we have a movement that reflects our values, where everything is at a turning point. And we want to make sure we're on the right side of history. You've had Obama kind of go back and forth between these two camps, and from my point of view not doing as much as we could have at some moments. I would say right now is one of them, in the case is Libya.
BLITZER: Nic Kristof, thanks very much.
Just want to remind our viewers you can follow Nick on Twitter, @NickKristof, all one word. Of course, read his columns in "The New York Times".
Thanks very much.
KRISTOF: Sure. Thank you.
BLITZER: The Libyan dictator Gadhafi is determined to maintain his grip on power. But if he falls, he could have some trouble finding is someplace to go.
Also an escalating humanitarian crisis at the Libyan border, why it could send shockwaves around the world.
BLITZER: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is warning the United States not to get involved in the crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GADHAFI (through translator): Libya will not be entered by America or the Atlantic pact until sink in blood. They know they will be entering hell and in a bath of blood. They will sink more than what -- what will happen to them will -- Libya will be more than what happened to them in Iraq or Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Right now Gadhafi is showing no signs of stepping down from power, but if the Libyan dictator were ever to be driven into exile, there are growing questions about where he could go. CNN's Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Brian, what would be his options?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he doesn't have as many options as other dictators before him. Moammar Gadhafi has some money and some friends left but both are dwindling by the day, and may mean a dire ending to all of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TODD (voice over): He says he'll fight to the death. His son, Saif, says the only options are to live and die in Libya. They may not have many other options. Analysts say there was a day when dictators on the ropes, like Moammar Gadhafi could bail out with their millions to places like the French Riviera, or Switzerland's Lake Geneva. No more. SCOTT HORTON, INT'L. COMMERCIAL ATTORNEY: Deposed dictators now are subject to lawsuits. Both civil suits by the governments that succeed them, and human rights suits, and they wind up being prosecuted and successfully sued.
TODD: Scott Horton is an international lawyer who's helping two countries retrieve money from their former leaders. He says the investigation by the International Criminal Court of Gadhafi for crimes against humanity will scare off some potential hosts if Gadhafi leaves Libya.
Saudi Arabia is a refuge of choice for ex-dictators, especially those how are Muslim. And Horton says the Saudis don't feel beholden to that court. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled there from Tunisia. Egypt's Hosni Mubarak may wind up there, but Saudi Arabia is not an option for Moammar Gadhafi.
HORTON: He was shown in a criminal investigation to have had close ties to an effort to assassinate then crown prince now King Abdullah. And the decision to extend asylum is going to be Abdullah's. It's hard to imagine him welcoming Moammar Gadhafi.
TODD: One leader who might, Robert Mugabe, the equally brutal and uneven dictator of Zimbabwe. Mugabe and Gadhafi are close allies. Analysts say Gadhafi has poured millions of dollars into Zimbabwe's coffers over the years. Gadhafi has some money he can bring with him to Zimbabwe, but experts say with much of it now frozen Gadhafi is not as attractive a guest even to Mugabe. So for as staying entrenched in Libya -
(On camera): Do you think that means he'll die there?
BARAK BARFI, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: I think there's a good possibility he'll fight to the death knowing he has very few options in front of him.
TODD: Even Gadhafi's old Latin American confidantes, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua may be getting cold feet. Scott Horton says during this Libyan uprising, their opponents, within their own countries, are getting more vocal against Chavez and Ortega for supporting Gadhafi. And they may feel it's not worth it to take him in at this point, Wolf.
BLITZER: But at the same time, Brian, there are some unintended consequences of freezing these dictators' money and isolating them.
TODD: That's right. As noble as it is to freeze their assets and try to isolate them analysts say some dictators when they are faced with the prospect of all this, will say, to heck with it. I'm not going to get outside of my country. I'm going to stay here and fight it out to hold on to what I have, and that may make some of these revolutions even more bloody.
BLITZER: A lot of people could die in the process. TODD: Right.
BLITZER: Might be better off if he simply left someplace and let the people of Libya have freedom.
BLITZER: It doesn't look like that's happening without a fight on his part. Thanks very much.
The refugee crisis along Libya's border is getting more desperate by the day. We're taking you to the crowded camps where the aid workers are warning of a humanitarian catastrophe.
More than two decades after the disastrous bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in Scotland a renewed call to bring Gadhafi to trial.
BLITZER: The United Nations warns that a refugee crisis is unfolding right now along Libya's borders. U.N. officials say more than 200,000 people have crossed over into neighboring Tunisia and Egypt and more are coming. CNN's Ivan Watson is at the Libya/Tunisia border.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The scene at the Libyan border is getting ugly. In this frontier bottle neck thousands of refugees, most of them Egyptian migrant workers all fleeing the fighting in Libya, waving signs to the United Nations in a desperate plea for help.
The Tunisian military and police are struggling to keep matters under control. Sometimes beating back refugees who try to jump the fence.
(on camera): Look at this mess here on the border. That green flag signifies the end of Libyan territory and right over here, this is the red flag of Tunisia. And behind this gate over here, this blue gate, is the no man's land in between where you have thousands of desperate people who are trying to flee the bloodshed in Libya right now.
And they're being forced to wait because the Tunisians simply do not have the capacity to bring all of these people in right now.
(voice-over): Expect more scenes like this in the days and weeks to come. Egypt alone has more than a million citizens working in Libya and they need help getting home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we know, Egypt is also under a lot of stress now politically. So any country who is able to provide air lift or sea movement should pick up the ball so that more people leave the -- more Egyptians are able to go back to their country.
WATSON: Egyptian hairdresser is stranded here after Libyan soldiers stole his money and cell phone on the road from Tripoli.
(on camera): Tomorrow what do you do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I don't know.
WATSON (voice-over): Among the refugees, there's one man who actually wants to go into Libya. This Libyan exile, who fled the Gadhafi regime 22 years ago and until now has never gone back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I can enter, I will enter, yes, and I help the people there. I try to help the people and I try to do something with the resistance against the government.
WATSON: The rush of refugees has already overwhelmed. The network of temporary camps and shelters set up by the Tunisian government. As the wind kicks up, this growing army of stranded foreign workers is left camping in the dirt, victims of the storm that is transforming the Middle East. Ivan Watson, CNN, on the Tunisian/Libyan border.
BLITZER: The problem of refugees fleeing unrest is a lot bigger than just Libya. It's bigger than North Africa and indeed the Middle East. We could see a huge shift in population affecting Europe and countries indeed around the world.
Lisa Sylvester has been looking into this part of the story for us. It's pretty shocking potentially what could happen.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Wolf. Italy's foreign minister has estimated as many as 300,000 Libyans could try to leave Libya ending up in his country. This is on top of the refugees flooding in from Tunisia and Egypt, adding to Europe's migration pressure.
SYLVESTER (voice-over): Crossing what's known as the Sicilian Channel, would be migrants from North Africa are arriving by the boatloads escaping the violence that has swept across Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya, hoping for a new home in Europe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): All of us, we are not asking for anything. We only ask for a possibility to find work in Europe.
SYLVESTER: Thousands of North Africans have arrived at the tiny Italian island of Lampeduca in the last two weeks. The island is only about 180 miles from Libya's capital, Tripoli. The U.N. refugee agency says the processing facility there has been inundated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So now you have a situation like a center with 800 -- with a capacity of 800 containing 2,000 people. This is very difficult to handle.
SYLVESTER: The political upheaval in North Africa and the Middle East has disrupted the countries' economies. In Libya, oil production has ceased in some parts of the country. The European union's borders agency is patrolling waters off North Africa to try to stem the exodus.
DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We're in sort of the worst-case scenario. What we've had is a tremendous population explosion in North Africa and the Middle East creating a situation where two-thirds of the population is under the age of 25. At the same time as the economies of these countries are completely dysfunctional and cannot provide work and opportunity.
SYLVESTER: Others like this woman from Tunisia are leaving not to finds work, but because she is too afraid to stay.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): I had a good job and a car for ten years, but now I can't leave the house anymore. It's impossible for women to leave. Girls are being abducted. Women raped in their own homes.
SYLVESTER: Cheers erupted at one point at Lampeduza processing facility when rumors spread that France would accept the would be migrants, but the rumors turned out to be false.
SYLVESTER: And right now, the people who arrived at Lampedusa, Italy are being allowed to stay. Also, Italy's prime minister announced that his country is sending humanitarian aid to Tunisia to help with to help with thousands of refugees who are leaving Libya.
Also, the United States has also sent some humanitarian aid. We know two C-130 planes have arrived in Libya. But one big question now is the United States doing more. I mean, they're just talking at this point about humanitarian aid, any more action that the Obama administration needs to step up and do.
BLITZER: What I'm hearing is that the U.D. is ready to do more, but would like to see the international community get involved, international organizations, the Europeans and certainly the Arab world and the Muslim world. They'd like to see some help coming in as well.
But I think the President of the United States has made it clear to all of his aids let's do whatever we can to help these refugees but make sure that the whole world, the U.N. International Relief Organizations do all they can as well.
The good news -- and we heard this earlier from Nick Kristof, the Tunisians are doing a lot. The Egyptians are doing a lot, but there's so much more that has to be done. These people are in dire shape right now.
SYLVESTER: You know, people look back, though, to Bosnia 1993, for instance. And the international community did get together and do something. So what's the difference then?
BLITZER: You know, it was a different situation then, but this is weighing very heavily on President Obama right now. Potential crisis, potential nightmare, the slaughter of thousands of people if Gadhafi wants to fight to the bitter ends, she's got the weapons to do that. He's got not only conventional weapons.
He's got some mustard gas. He could do that if he really wants to do that, he could kill a lot of people. You know, the president is saying to himself what can we do? It's on my watch as president of the United States. What should we be doing?
There are some in his administration and certainly in Congress who are saying get that no-fly zone up and about, start arming some of the opposition and the rebels, if you have will. He's reluctant to take that step right now. I think they're waiting to see what happens over the next few days.
SLYVESTER: Yes, Senator McCain is among those saying that we need to have a no-fly zone that's in place. But from my perspective, this is looking to be long, drawn out, protracted battle here. What do you think, Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, I think the pentagon is very reluctant to go ahead with the no-fly zone. It's not just a no-fly zone to fly planes over the skies of Libya. You got to first knock out their anti-aircraft capabilities and radar. You don't want to danger U.S. planes or NATO planes flying over.
McCain makes the point though that if you were to announce a no-fly zone, Libyan pilots themselves would be deterred and they would stop flying because they don't want to be shot down out of the sky. That's a risk.
You know, who knows what the outcome would be. I know there's a serious debate going on and I know that the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs Staff, they're not eager to get involved. Right now, they have two other wars they're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan right now.
All right, Lisa. We'll leave it on that note. Thanks very much.
All right, they are tired. They are filthy and they want to go home. We're going to meet some of the refugees stuck along the Libyan border where the crowds and the desperation are overwhelming.
And a new effort to prosecute Gadhafi for a decades-old act of terror, the bombing of Pan-Am flight 103.
BLIZTER: More now on the exploding refugee crisis along Libya's border. President Obama is praising both Egypt and Tunisia for accepting refugees while those countries deal with their own political transitions. The hordes of people stuck in refugee camps simply overwhelming. Let's get back to CNN's Ivan Watson at the Tunisia/Libya border.
WATSON (voice-over): Exhausted and filthy, hundreds of Egyptian refugees waiting in a warehouse in Tunisia after fleeing the conflict in Libya. Among them this 29-year-old accountant named Mahmoud Abdullah.
MAHMOUD ABDULLAH, ACCOUNTANT: It's not good.
WATSON (on camera): What did they do?
ABDULLAH: They take anything. They take everything. They take money. Take watch. Take telephone. Take everything.
WATSON (voice-over): Abdullah starts to tell us he can't wait to be reunited with his children in Egypt. When some refugees get angry at the sight of our camera --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no. Peace.
WATSON: Though small in stature, the accountant rushes to protect us and we quickly leave the warehouse. Wait, wait, wait. OK. OK. Here's why the crowd is so anxious. They're desperate to board this Egyptian Navy waiting at the dock outside.
(on camera): Around 1,200 very tired, but very relieved Egyptian refugees are lined up right now to board this Egyptian Navy ship, one of several that have been sent to help evacuate stranded people.
But the United Nations says more ships and boats and planes need to be sent in to help move out these legions of stranded travelers. They say the numbers that are being taken out on this ship is just a drop in the bucket.
HOVIG ETYEMEZIAN, UNHCR: It's a drop in the ocean so far. We need to have more of that coming and more ships, which can take more than 500 each and an air -- also an air bridge so that we can have more people flying out.
WATSON (voice-over): Over the past 24 hours, a sprawling tent city for an estimated 18,000 people has sprung up near the Libyan border. The U.N. is supplying thousands of tents, but it's the Tunisian military and many volunteers who are helping feed the refugees. Foreign aid workers say the Tunisian response to this crisis has been astounding.
ETYEMEZIAN: The entire organization is being done by them.
WATSON (on camera): They're welcoming all of these people.
ETYEMEZIAN: It's an aamazing -- I have never seen such solidarity in my life.
WATSON: Back at the port, a line of Egyptian refugees clutch bags in one hand, passports in the other. One man is so excited, he kisses the ground before stepping on to the gang plank and we find our friend the accountant, Mahmoud Abdullah.
ABDULLAH: I am very happy.
WATSON (on camera): Very happy? Why? ABDULLAH: I will see my family in Egypt. I will see my daughter and my son and my wife, my mother, my father. Every -- my family. All my family.
WATSON (voice-over): At last Abdullah boards the ship for what he hopes will be the last leg of a long and dangerous journey. Ivan Watson, CNN at the port in Tunisia.
BLITZER: More than two decades after the distrust bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland a renewed call to bring Gadhafi to trial. What victims, families heard that triggered their fresh call for justice.
One is a dictator, the other an actor. Jeanne Moos coming up later as well.
BLITZER: It's 23 years since Pan Am flight 103 was blown out over the skies of Lockerbie, Scotland. Now victims' families are renewing their demands that Gadhafi be prosecuted for the attack. CNN's Mary Snow is joining us from New York. She's got more. Mary, why now?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the families are picking up on statements made by the now former justice minister in Libya. He has cut ties to the Gadhafi regime. These families' pleas have now reached the highest levels of the U.S. government.
SNOW (voice-over): This interview last week with Libya's former justice minister is what's behind new calls to prosecute Moammar Gadhafi for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103. Two hundred seventy people were killed. Most were Americans. CNN obtained this video of Mustafa Adbul Jalil heard here in this translation telling a Swedish newspaper that Gadhafi was directly involved.
MUSTAFA ABDUL JALIL, FORMER LIBYAN JUSTICE MINISTER (through translation): The secret is that Moammar ordered this. This is a fact or -- This is a fact to whom, to his supporters, to the intelligence officers.
SNOW: Jalil didn't provide owed but in a letter to President Obama and to the secretary of state two families cite his words in calling to prosecute Gadhafi. Hillary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she has reached out to the Justice Department and FBI.
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't think it's only Gadhafi. I think there may be others as well who were involved in some way and, like you, I would like the families to have whatever information they can finally get and then whatever legal action we can take.
SNOW: This was the only man ever convicted in the Pan Am 103 bombing. Said to be near death suffering from prostate cancer, he was released from a Scottish prison and returned to Libya in 2009 on compassionate grounds. He is still alive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we have to have a fair trial.
SNOW: Jack and Kathleen Flynn lost their son J.P. who was returning home with other students from a semester abroad. They say they've always believed Gadhafi was behind the bombing.
KATHLEEN FLYNN, PAN AM 103 VICTIM'S MOTHER: It's a very horrible scenario to go through life knowing that someone murdered your child and there was no justice done.
SNOW: Bert Ammerman isn't hopeful he'll ever see Gadhafi tried. His brother Tom was killed in the bombing. Ammerman wants the U.S. to be directly involved in removing the Libyan dictator from power.
BERT AMMERMAN, PAN AM 103 VICTIM'S BROTHER: His just reward should be capital punishment but if he's removed from power, that to me would mean that our loved ones didn't die in vain and that's why our inaction is frustrating and irritating me immensely.
SNOW: Wolf, you heard Secretary Clinton say that she's reached out to the FBI and the Justice Department. A spokesman for the Justice Department would only say that the investigation into the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 remains open. Wolf --
BLITZER: What else do we know, Mary, about this new evidence that's out there?
SNOW: Very little, actually and, you know, that is a big concern. When these families say there is a small window of opportunity to gather that evidence. The two senators from New Jersey who represent a number of the families -- the victims' families say they're very anxious to talk with the former justice minister in Libya to see what evidence he's talking about.
BLITZER: Mary, thanks very much. Mary Snow with that part of the story. From soldiers to spiritual leader, stand by for our "Hot Shots."
BLITZER: A shot of the nation's capitol. Here are some other "Hot Shots." In South Korea, U.S. soldiers sport chemical warfare gear during a military exercise.
In India, spiritual leaders clean the banks of a river. In Pakistan, Pakistani children fleeing Libya are greeted with flowers at an airport.
And in Germany look at this, a girl dresses as a dragon and her parents as police officers to celebrate Carnivale.
"Hot Shots," pictures worth a thousand words.
Rambling speeches that are hard to understand. CNN's Jeanne Moos reports.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It had to happen. Moammar Gadhafi and Charlie Sheen seen simultaneous live on morning television. Gadhafi using words that stumped even the translator.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Colloquial term used by Gadhafi, which I did not understand.
MOOS: But some of Sheen's quotes are a little hard to fathom, there's even something called live the sheen dream that generate some of the pithier quotes when you click on his head.
London's "Guardian" newspaper put a quiz on their website called whose line is it anyway? Gadhafi or Sheen? Your face will melt of and your children will weep over your exploded body?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that's Gadhafi.
MOOS (on camera): It's Charlie Sheen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charlie Sheen again?
CHARLIE SHEEN, ACTOR: Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body. Too much.
MOOS: Nah, not too much. He was only joking about the effects of the drug he's on.
SHEEN: I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen.
MOOS: Meanwhile, Gadhafi is always blaming hallucinogenic pills for the actions of protesters.
(on camera): I have defeated this earth worm with my words. Imagine what I would have done with my fire breathing fists.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gadhafi?
MOOS: Sheen. I am like the queen of England.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gadhafi?
(voice-over): Both men surround themselves with women. Gadhafi has his female bodyguards. Sheen has --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The goddesses now live with Charlie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your two girlfriends, the goddesses.
MOOS: But you sure can't say Sheen and Gadhafi dress alike. Gadhafi and his falling off the shoulder robes requiring constant rearrangement while Sheen shows up in the New York City t-shirt made famous by John Lennon "Let It Be."
But they did make some surprisingly similar gestures. Gadhafi to his chanting followers. Sheen to his kids.
SHEEN: You're right here.
MOOS: Seriously, though, sorry, Charlie. We know the comparisons between you and Gadhafi are ridiculous, but we in the press just can't resist. At least Sheen has some defenders.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's crazy. He's not that bad. I've seen worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe fundamentally in a man's right to party if he wants to.
MOOS: Gadhafi and Sheen may be seen saying call me, bro, just not to each other. Jeanne Moos, CNN.
(on camera) These resentments are the rocket fuel that lives in the tip of my saber.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saber, come on, that Gadhafi.
MOOS: That's Sheen. New York.
BLITZER: Leave it to Jeanne Moos. Thanks very much, Jeanne. You can follow what goes on behind the scenes here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm on Twitter at wolfblitzercnn, all one word at wolfblitzercnn. You can follow me on Twitter.
Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Join us week days in the situation room from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Eastern and every Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN and at this time every weekend on CNN International. The news continues next on CNN.