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Bush Fights Back; 'Halloween' Producer Dies in Amman Blast

Aired November 11, 2005 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Now there's word that the man behind the "Halloween" series of horror movies has died.
And it's 7:00 a.m. in Seoul, South Korea, where a mother and child nearly lost their lives in a subway station. The entire incident caught on tape. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Questions and controversy about the war in Iraq taking center stage this Veterans Day with President Bush lashing out at his critics. And those critics lashing right back. CNN's Elaine Quijano is over at the White House with details of what happened today. Elaine?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And good afternoon, Wolf. Those pointed comments by President Bush in his speech today are part of a concerted White House effort to answer charges that officials here see as reckless.


QUIJANO (voice-over): Before a Veterans Day crowd of military families in Pennsylvania, President Bush hit back hard against renewed Democratic criticisms that his administration twisted intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the Iraq War.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.

QUIJANO: The president's pushback is part of the campaign-style strategy senior administration officials outlined earlier this week. It comes in the wake of the Scooter Libby indictment in the CIA leak case in which the president's top political adviser, Karl Rove, remains under investigation.

Democrats have revived their attacks about how the U.S. went to war.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY, (D) MA: The benefit was always given to this president because of the actions that he took after 9/11. But that we have found now historically was the fact that this administration manipulated and misused intelligence information that rushed us to war. QUIJANO: The president is also facing falling poll numbers. His overall approval rating continues to hover below 40 percent. And a new Associated Press/Ipsos poll shows 57 percent of people would not describe the president as honest.

STU ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think character has been one of bush's greatest strengths over the years. The idea that he's a straight shooter, he tells the truth. What you see is what you get. So this softening in his numbers on honesty, I think it's a significant problem.


QUIJANO: And top Bush aides acknowledge that headlines like the Libby indictment may have had an affect on the president's poll numbers. But officials at the same time believe that they can be restored. And Wolf, in the coming days, look for the administration to continue with its very forceful rebuttal of its Democratic critics and to enlist the help of Republican allies on Capitol Hill. Wolf?

BLITZER: Elaine Quijano reporting for us. Thank you, Elaine, very much.

He was among the most wanted men in Iraq, a top deputy to Saddam Hussein. Now there's word he's dead. Our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre is standing by with details. Jamie?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The report comes from an Arab satellite station. And at this point, Wolf, the Pentagon is not able to confirm it. But if it's true, it would mean the end of the line for somebody who once topped the most-wanted list of the U.S. military in Iraq.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): Izzat Ibrahim al Douri was the king of clubs, number six in the U.S. military's famous deck of cards of Iraq's most wanted. After the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Izzat Ibrahim, the former commander of the Iraqi military, was the highest ranking member of Saddam's inner circle still at large.

The U.S. military suspected he was the mastermind and financier of the growing insurgency. Ibrahim often appeared frail in public, but had a reputation for ruthlessness. He was a senior official responsible for northern Iraq, when poisoned gas was used against the Kurds in 1988, killing an estimated 5,000.

The U.S. military's habit of referring to him as al Douri, a suffix denoting his hometown created confusion in 2003 and 2004 when the detention of other al Douris fueled false reports of his capture.

By 2005, Izzat Ibrahim was reported to be in bad health, suffering from leukemia and is no longer considered a driving force behind the insurgency which now appears to be influenced more by foreign fighters and al Qaeda operatives than by former members of Saddam Hussein's regime. (END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE (on camera): With a $10 million price on his head, Izzat Ibrahim was at one time the most wanted Iraqi. But now he has been eclipsed by somebody the U.S. says is more ruthless, someone for whom they'd pay $25 million. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the head of al Qaeda in Iraq.


BLITZER: Jamie McIntyre, thank you very much.

Now to a report you'll see only here on CNN. A look inside "Operation Steel Curtain," that massive U.S.-led offensive along Iraq's border with Syria, aimed at stopping the flow of insurgents into the country. CNN producer Arwa Damon is embedded with the U.S. forces there. Arwa is now joining us live on the phone.

Arwa, how is it going?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're in Karabila right now. And it's actually very slow going right now. They're fighting a different kind of enemy in this portion of the war. A silent, but deadly enemy, improvised explosive devices.

I'm in the western portion of the city, and it is completely deserted of any form of civilian life. Practically not a single shot has been fired but as U.S. forces advance through these dusty, windy streets, they are finding improvised explosive devices almost on every street corner. They are buried under ground and they are made out of basically household items, pressure plates, two metal plates stuck together, locked around with duct tape, hidden into the sand.

And there are -- there have already been two incidents where U.S. marines have stepped on these plates. One yesterday that killed one marine and another incident today that killed five. It's very, very slow going. It's nerve-racking, but the guys pushing that are through here the U.S. marines and Iraqi army soldiers have to keep going, although they really don't know at any point where their foot might step.


BLITZER: Arwa, how valuable are the Iraqi troops who are joining the U.S. forces in this operation right now? Are they just there or are they playing a major significant role?

DAMON: They are valuable in the sense of not necessarily the firepower that they bring to the table, but they do bring something else. They bring a certain cultural awareness, a cultural understanding and the ability to communicate with the Iraqi people.

Also they have an insight into the Iraqi mind-set that, naturally, U.S. forces do not have. So while they're not necessarily here en masse in high numbers with massive firepower, they are able to communicate with the civilians and create that highly vital bond between the Iraqi security forces and the civilians that eventually will allow U.S. forces to hand over to the Iraqi security forces.


BLITZER: All right. Arwa Damon, our producer on the front lines with U.S. troops. Arwa, be careful out there. We'll check back with you. Let's check in now with CNN's Jack Cafferty. He is joining from New York with a new question for this hour. Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah. We've got a golden oldie. Bubba's back. Can't stay out of the news for very long. In a speech at Hofstra University yesterday, former President Bill Clinton called Congress' impeachment of him a quote, "egregious abuse of the Constitution," unquote.

We're either going to listen to him or me. One or the other.

BLITZER: We'll listen to you, Jack. Go ahead.

CAFFERTY: All right. Thanks. He also challenged those who say history will judge him poorly because he was impeached. That tends to happen sometimes when you are impeached. The reasons for his impeachment were perjury and obstruction of justice, not what went on in the Oval Office with Monica Lewinsky.

So here's the question. To historians, how much will President Bill Clinton's impeachment matter? You can email us at

BLITZER: I think you're going to get a lot of email on this question, Jack.

CAFFERTY: I don't know. But he's fine. You've got to like old Bill. He can keep his name on the front page of the paper if he decides to work at it a little bit.

BLITZER: He's Bill Clinton.

CAFFERTY: Absolutely.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Jack.

This note to our viewers. Coming up at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, we'll be back here in THE SITUATION ROOM and you'll hear President Clinton's comments. He was out swinging and we're playing it back for you exactly what he told those people at Hofstra University.

Plus, putting the Christ back into Christmas. Wal-Mart responds to complaints by the Catholic League. Find out how it will affect what you see in stores this holiday season. All that coming up. 7:00 p.m. Eastern in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up ahead, though, Senator Ted Kennedy, he voted against the war in Iraq and he calls President Bush's speech today deeply regrettable. He will join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Also, a subway scare you won't forget. A mother and a baby trapped in the door of a moving train. We'll show you the surveillance video and what happened.

Plus, his indictment is helping his novel make a comeback. We have the videotape. It's a unique flashback of the former White House official Lewis "Scooter" Libby on his novel "The Apprentice." I spoke with him about it a couple of years back. We'll tell you what he said.


BLITZER: These are live pictures you are seeing right now from the Jordanian Embassy here in Washington. Lots of people have gathered there outside a candlelight silent vigil in support of the Jordanian people. Condolences for those who died in that brutal series of hotel bombings earlier in the week. Live pictures coming from the Jordanian Embassy here in Washington.

Al Qaeda in Iraq meanwhile is giving new details of those hotel bombings, which the group says it's responsible for. CNN's Jonathan Mann is joining us live from Amman with the latest. Hi, Jon.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there have been three Internet claims of responsibility for Wednesday's attacks that killed at least 56 people. Al Qaeda is offering new details some intriguing and odd ones, if they are true, they are identifying the suicide bombers as four Iraqis. Among them, al Qaeda says, a man and his wife who both carried out the deadly attacks.

Authorities are not able to confirm that any of that is true but we are being told privately by security sources here in Amman that two of the bombers have been identified as Iraqis. Details of the investigation and what authorities know are still sketchy. We're told that 12 people at least have been arrested. More than that, about their identities, why they've been taken in or how serious any eventual charges against them may be are still unknown.

But what's clear in this city is that after these attacks, the worst that modern Jordan has ever suffered, if the attackers were trying to sow fear and instability, they have failed. There have been spontaneous parades through the streets for much of today. There was a vigil on the steps behind me. This is the Radisson Hotel, the scene of the worst of the bombings. The people of this country, the king of this country have never endured a crisis like this to their national security. King Abdullah told our Brent Sadler today, though, that he is determined that those who were responsible for these attacks will be caught and will be punished. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jon Mann reporting for us from Amman. Jonathan, thank you very much.

Among the victims of those bombings, the Syrian American filmmaker, Moustapha Akkad, best known for producing the "Halloween" series of horror movies. CNN's Chris Lawrence is joining us now live from L.A. with more on this sad part of the story.

Chris? CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a lot of folks probably don't known the name Moustapha Akkad, but more than likely, you recognize his work. Akkad produced the long-running "Halloween" franchise, eight horror films that featured the character of Michael Meyers and his white mask.

The original launched the career of actress Jamie Lee Curtis and later installment gave actor Josh Hartnett has start. But Akkad himself was a real American success story, born in Syria, came here as a teenager, ended up earning degrees from both UCLA and USC.

Now earlier this week, Akkad was attending a wedding at the Radisson hotel in Amman, Jordan, when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the lobby. Akkad's daughter Rima (ph) was also attending that same wedding. She was also killed in the blast. And Rima's mother, Akkad's ex-wife, says both of them knew how dangerous being in the Middle East could be.


PATRICIA AKKAD, FILMMAKER'S EX-WIFE: Her dad Moustapha and one of our sons, Malik and Rima all of them were in Beirut when they had the bomb last spring against Hariri that was assassinated him and they were all safe. And that's what you think.


LAWRENCE: Now, Akkad said he did those "Halloween" films really to finance his real love, which was making religious themed movies like "The Message" hoping to educate people in the west about what Islam was. That movie was nominated for an Academy Award.


BLITZER: All right. Chris Lawrence, thank you very much for that story.

Coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the next battle in a war of words. Senator Ted Kennedy responds to President Bush who is lashing out at critics of the war in Iraq.

Plus -- a mother and child trapped in the door of a moving subway car. We'll show you what happens. Stay with us.


BLITZER: News from around the world now. Some very frightening moments in a Seoul subway station. A mother and her baby trapped in the door of a moving subway car. Our Zain Verjee is joining us now from the CNN center in Atlanta with the story and the frightening video. Zain?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Incredible pictures, Wolf. Surveillance cameras in the subway station recorded the incident as it unfolded before some horrified witnesses.


VERJEE (voice-over): Thousands of people ride the subway in the South Korean capital every day without incident. And Lee Chan Hee had no reason to believe her trip with her baby yesterday would be any different. So you can imagine her surprise when she tried to board a car and the doors closed in on the stroller with the baby in it.

She tried but was unable to wrench the stroller free. Then the train started to move. Another passenger on the platform saw what was happening and rushed to help. But Lee's problems weren't over. She was stuck. The train dragging her down the platform as her Good Samaritan falls and another witness rushes to pick up the baby.

LEE CHAN-HEE, MOTHER (through translator): At the same time I was being dragged, I tried to get up, but my jacket was caught between the doors.

VERJEE: Lee's fear turns to outright panic as the train rapidly neared the end of the platform about to enter the tunnel.

LEE: As I was getting dragged under the subway it was heading toward the dark tunnel. I thought, I am going to die. I thought I was going to bump into the safety gate at the end of the platform that says, do not enter. And I thought I wanted to survive.

But the driver alert tot the situation, stopped the train just short of the tunnel.


VERJEE (on camera): And, Wolf, we're told that Lee did suffer some head injuries, but they are only minor. And incredibly, the baby wasn't hurt at all.

BLITZER: Thank God for that. Thank you, very much, Zain Verjee reporting.

We'd like to remind our viewers THE SITUATION ROOM also airs live every weekday 7:00 p.m. Eastern. That's coming up later today. Just after the break, though, a prominent Massachusetts Democrat says Veterans Day is a day to honor the sacrifice of those who serve, not a day to campaign for support of the Iraq War.

It's what the senator says President Bush did today during his speech. After my break we'll hear from Senator Ted Kennedy.

And then, an amazing story. Imagine robbing a bank while talking on a cell phone. This woman is allegedly doing that. We'll tell you what's going on. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts did not vote for the war in Iraq and he's been an outspoken critic of it. On a day when many Americans are honoring veterans for their sacrifice, Senator Kennedy says President Bush in his speech today quote, "reverted to the same manipulation of facts to justify a war we never should have fought."

I spoke with Senator Kennedy just a short while ago.


BLITZER: Senator Kennedy, thanks very much for joining us. Welcome back to THE SITUATION ROOM.

On this Veterans Day, the president made a very, very serious charge against his critics of the war. Many of the statements made against the war. Listen to this charge made by the president.


BUSH: These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them.


BLITZER: In effect what he's saying, senator, is that the criticism being leveled against him is undermining the war effort and endangering U.S. troops and emboldening terrorists. What do you say to that charge?

KENNEDY: Well, three things. "A mushroom cloud," "imminent threat," "al Qaeda connection," Don Rumsfeld appearing before the Armed Services Committee and saying, weapons of mass destruction, north, south, east, west of Baghdad, all -- none of which was true, all representations of the administration.

Secondly, on Veterans Day, all Americans pause because of the extraordinary heroism and bravery and sacrifice of American servicemen in Iraq and our veterans before us. And they deserve the truth and they deserve a real policy. And their families deserve to know when we're going to begin to bring those honored soldiers back home.

Today on Veterans Day we ought to have a president that is bringing us together, rather than a campaign appearance.

Finally, for those that -- my colleagues that didn't support the -- or did support the war, there was no question that this president was America's president after 9/11. And the benefit was always given to this president because of the actions that he took after 9/11. But that we have found now, historically, was the fact that this administration manipulated and misused intelligence information that rushed us to war.

BLITZER: He deliberately referred to a statement made by your Democratic colleague from Massachusetts, John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee last year. Listen to this excerpt from what the president said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: Many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way. When I vote to give the president of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat and a grave threat to our security.


BLITZER: In effect, he's saying there that John Kerry and the other Democrats in the Senate and the House, and he said there were more than 100 of them, who voted for that resolution, came down with it the same side of the intelligence he was coming down on.

KENNEDY: That is basically because this president, after 9/11, had the confidence, the trust of the American people, including members of Congress and the Senate. And when he represented that, there was a presumption that that was going to be correct. In spite of that, we find out, of course now, that the president gave assurances to the American people that Saddam Hussein was searching for nuclear materials in Africa, even though at the very time he was making that statement, the Central Intelligence Agency knew that to be false and that he represented positions from detainees, al Qaeda detainees that the intelligence agencies were said to be false.

There's no question this was the administration that rushed to war. Instead of focusing on the real threat, the threat of terror, which was Osama bin Laden, which is Afghanistan, that is where the 9/11 plans were made, and we had Osama bin Laden on the run in Tora Bora. We should have continued that effort and destroyed at that time al Qaeda. Instead, this administration rushed us to war in Iraq and today, Iraq has become a base for the training of terrorists. It makes no sense.

BUSH: You were among those Democrats who did not vote for that resolution to authorize the president to go to war, but you seemed to have no doubt in your own mind about the weapons of mass destruction on September 27th, 2002. You said this. You said, "there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein's regime is a serious danger, that he is a tyrant and that his pursuit of lethal weapons of mass destruction cannot be tolerated." You went on to say, "we have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."

That was based on the same kind of intelligence that the president was getting, right?

KENNEDY: Pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The fact is, we have known that Saddam Hussein was a -- a tyrant. We know he was a threat. The real issue, was he an imminent threat to the United States? The president never could have carried the vote in the United States Senate unless he represented that there was an imminent threat to the United States, because Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons or he was right in the proximity of developing it, and, secondly, that he had close associations with al Qaeda. The 9/11 Commission has dismissed the al Qaeda connection. And the various weapons inspectors have dismissed the -- the other claim. But Americans believed the president, because, I think, the great confidence that they had in his word after the -- 9/11.

I was on the Armed Services Committee. I listened to those who had been in the combat before and knew the areas. And General Hoare of the United States Marine Corps said that, if we went into Baghdad, it would make the last five minutes -- it will look like the last five minutes of "Private Ryan." And he was absolutely right.

Bush -- President Bush I understood that. And that is why they didn't go into Baghdad. But this has been an administration that rushed us to war, taking their eye off the real threat, which was al Qaeda, the dangers of Osama bin Laden, the dangers of terror that was in Afghanistan. And by ignoring that, effectively, or putting that aside, we have seen the spread of terrorist groups all over the world and the increasing threat of terrorists here, even here in the United States.

BLITZER: The question, though, Senator is, did -- was the president the victim of bad intelligence or did he deliberately mis -- misuse intelligence to justify going for war -- going to war? And your colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Rockefeller, Senator Roberts, the chairman and the vice chairman, all of them unanimously came up with a report last year.

Conclusion 83 said this: "The committee did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities."

Is there any evidence they deliberately did that?

KENNEDY: The 9/11 Commission found the deficiencies in our intelligence, the operations.

The Roberts committee was meant to find out whether the -- the fact of the failure of intelligence, whether any of the intelligence was misused. And that -- that here -- that study has been going on and on. And, until Harry Reid, last week, effectively said to the United States Senate, we're going into secret session and find out about this, there was going to be no answers.

Now, as a result of Harry Reid's action, in two hours, we got more information, and that commission -- committee -- is going to get more information than we have had in the last two years. So, I believe that we will have much better information now as a result of that action.

But we get back to Veterans Day, don't we? This is a day we should honor American veterans and not be using it for campaign rhetoric.

BLITZER: So, we are -- we're out of time, Senator. But I will wrap up on this point. On this Veterans Day, the president of the United States is basically accusing you of not being patriotic, you and your critics, because you are undermining, he says, the war effort and endangering U.S. troops.

And, on this Veterans Day, that's a very, very tough charge.

KENNEDY: Well, the best way that you honor the bravery and the courage of American service men and women is to tell them the truth, tell them the truth about Iraq, and have a real policy, a real policy, not one that's being made up every single day, a real policy that is going to ensure the beginning of the return of those brave men and women back to the United States of America.

That is the best way to honor those veterans, not campaign- sloganing and not campaign talk.

BLITZER: On this Veterans Day, we will thank you, Senator Kennedy, for joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM.

KENNEDY: Thank you.

BLITZER: And still to come, authorities say she robbed not one, but two, not -- not necessarily two, but three, maybe even four, banks. In three of those bank jobs, the suspect, supposedly, spent her time chatting away on a cell phone. We will tell you what happened.

Also, they are soldiers and they are sisters, but they never knew they were related until they lined up next to each other during basic training. This is an astonishing story that we will share with you.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Perhaps she needs money to pay for her daytime minutes on her cell phone.

In Northern Virginia -- get this -- a woman is allegedly robbing banks while talking on her cell phone.

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us from Ashburn, Virginia, more with this very bizarre story -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is one of four banks this woman has robbed over the past month, all of them, as you said, in Northern Virginia.

We're here at this one in Ashburn, which is the most recent. Authorities say that, last Friday, she walked in through that door and -- in the afternoon, and, with a cell phone on, was approaching the teller with a cell phone on the entire time. She's using the cell phone the entire time, approaching the teller, and kept using the phone as she demanded money, and has done this in three of the four instances in which she robbed banks here in Northern Virginia. I'm joined now by Sheriff Steve Simpson. He is the sheriff of Loudon County, Virginia.

Sheriff, what are the working theories as to why this woman is using a cell phone while robbing these banks?

STEVE SIMPSON, SHERIFF OF LOUDON COUNTY, VIRGINIA: Well, I guess they are as numerous as -- as guesses we could make, whether someone is giving her direction on what to do, what to say, what not to say, maybe. Maybe someone is threatening her and making sure that she's not alerting them to call the authorities, or it could be something as simple as, she just wants to blend in and wants to look nonchalant and inconspicuous.

And maybe that's part of -- of what's she -- what's she doing. And we probably won't know that until we make an apprehension in the case, unfortunately.

TODD: Now, you mentioned to me earlier that there was something about her, her M.O., here in this last robbery, last Friday, the most recent, that is causing you a little bit more concern. What is that?


In the other cases, she did not display a handgun. In this particular case, she opened a purse and showed the teller the handgun in her purse. This tells me she's become a little more aggressive, maybe a little more violent in -- in tendency. We're not real sure.

I guess what my big concern is that, if she were to be confronted by a security guard or a police officer, or by even a citizen on the street that would confront her, would she take that gun out and use it? And that's a very big concern we have at this point.

TODD: All right, Sheriff, thank you very much for joining us. And good luck in finding the suspect.

Wolf, what we know now is, this woman is described as a Hispanic woman, 18 to 20 years old, about 5'5'', about 120 pounds, with dark curly hair.

They know the M.O. She's using a cell phone three of the last four times she's robbed banks -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Brian. What a bizarre story, that is.

Let's go up to New York -- Lou Dobbs getting ready for his program that begins at the top of the hour.

Lou, what are you working on?


At 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN, we will be reporting on President Bush, who today blasted critics of the war in Iraq. We will be analyzing whether the president can convince Americans that he has a strategy for victory -- as well tonight, threats from televangelist Pat Robertson intensifying an already bitter national debate over intelligent design. We will have a special report tonight on God and American politics.

And I will be joined by a Florida state senator who has sparked a national controversy by sponsoring legislation that would make Spanish a compulsory language for more than a half-a-million Florida schoolchildren. We will have that and a great deal more. Please join us -- now back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lou.

Lou comes up right at the top of the hour.

Up next, former President Bill Clinton lashes out at those who impeached him. Will his troubles in office outweigh his record in office when the history books are written? We will hear what you have to say about that.

And two U.S. Army recruits line up at basic training and begin to notice some resemblances. You will never believe what they found out.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: On this Veterans Day, let's show you some pictures we're getting in right now into THE SITUATION ROOM -- live pictures coming in from the Iwo Jima Memorial here in Washington, a tribute to U.S. troops from World War II, the Marines, specifically.

And, over in Santa Monica, California, it's called Arlington West. Hundreds of people -- it doesn't look like it right now, but they will be flocking to pay respects to American servicemen who have died in Iraq, more than 2,000 simple crosses adorning this area. People read the names of the dead from a book of the fallen -- all of this going on, on this Veterans Day.

Let's return to our top story right now, President Bush's major speech on this Veterans Day.

For some analysis, let's bring in CNN political analyst Carlos Watson, who is joining us from San Francisco.

Carlos, the president came out swinging today against his critics. What -- what do you think his strategy is right now?

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's part of a larger 2006 strategy, Wolf, in which he wants to do something rare for a politician, which is share the stage.

And to the extent that the president has been on the stage by himself and Republicans generally, the story has been about Tom DeLay and Katrina and now these most recent losses in Virginia and New Jersey. But to the extent that he's able to compare and contrast his approach with Democrats, whether that be Ted Kennedy or John Kerry or others, I think the White House thinks that they have got a fighting chance.

And, certainly, they want to use the next couple months to do that. But I will say this. Looking forward to the State of the Union, I won't -- I wouldn't be surprised, Wolf, given that the president is now talking to a wider circle of advisers, including some people who formerly advised him, but haven't been more recently, whether or not we see a major departure, whether that's on Iraq strategy, as John McCain called for yesterday, or, frankly, whether that is on anti-poverty issues, in wake -- in the wake, if you will, of Hurricane Katrina.

BLITZER: What about the Democrats? They certainly were thrilled by the results in New Jersey and Virginia this past week and also the results out in California. What is next for them?

WATSON: The best news is, collect the money in the short term.

Democrats have already done a good job, both for those running for the U.S. Senate and for governor in 2006, of putting forward strong candidates. But now you are probably going to see, Wolf, as many as 20 Democratic candidates from major offices, including in some border states, like Missouri and Tennessee, enjoy a bounty of money.

So, you may end up with 20 candidates who have $10 million or more as you move into the summer and fall of next year. It's a big accomplishment.

But I will say that Democrats are going to have a couple of tough challenges, because at least two issues, Wolf, are likely to come back that may make Democrats fight amongst themselves. One are the issue of taxes. And we saw taxes become a heated issue on the other side of the aisle this week in the House of Representatives and in the Senate among Republicans.

But Democrats are going to have to talk about how they will deal with the budget deficit. And, then, second, Wolf, I expect to hear some Democratic candidates, not office-holders, but candidates, begin to bring about, again, the question of a military draft, which has always been controversial. But I think you will hear more of it on the stump going forward next year.

BLITZER: And, quickly, on Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor -- you're in California -- how does he re -- rebound from this enormous setback of -- of Tuesday?

WATSON: You know, I said a couple days ago, while it was still fresh, that you would see contrition, that you would see him reach out to some of the centrists, and you would see more of his wife, Maria Shriver, a popular Democrat.

You're already seeing all three, Wolf, just in the last 72 hours. Expect some interesting announcements on education, especially as he gives his state-of-the-state speech in January.

BLITZER: Carlos Watson -- thanks very much, Carlos.

WATSON: Very good to see you.

BLITZER: Nothing like a little notoriety to pump up sales -- for quite some time, there had been virtually no sales of Lewis Scooter Libby's book "The Apprentice," except in some secondhand bookstores.

Now that Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff has been indicted in the CIA leak scandal, the sometimes steamy novel he published a decade ago is now a hot commodity. Look at this. Twenty- five thousand new copies are being rushed to print right now.

I spoke with Lewis Scooter Libby about the book back in 2002.


BLITZER: Let me talk a little bit talk about your book, "The Apprentice." It is now out in paperback, a novel, which I read, a fascinating novel, a first novel. You have been writing this novel for, what, 30 years?

LEWIS SCOOTER LIBBY, DICK CHENEY CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, not continuously for 30 years. I first wrote it as part of a college course. And that's how you get all the way back to a long time past. I think it is a little less than 30.

BLITZER: You got some credit at Yale for writing that.

LIBBY: Yes. Fortunately, that enabled me to graduate. That was always a nice side benefit of writing it.

But there were large gaps. I went to law school. I practiced law for six years. I put it away in a drawer and didn't touch it. It was only later on, when I came out of the State Department and started to research it and then really wrote it in the course of two years between '93 and '95.

BLITZER: And it deals in a blizzard in Japan, 1903. Very briefly, give us a little tease. What's it about?

LIBBY: Well, as you say, it is about an apprentice who is running an inn during a snowstorm, a blizzard, in this very remote part of Japan. And the blizzard strands a number of travelers. These are not the sort of high-class courtier Japanese, but working-class people.

And among these guests is a beautiful girl. And, as it happens, the apprentice comes upon, innocently, a corpse. And that plunges him into this sort of vortex of activity, in which is he sexually attracted to the girl. He is suspected by some of having killed this man that he found. And he is trapped in this possible larger conspiracy involving mysterious men sort of moving in the forest, and troops movements, and assassination rumors and that.

BLITZER: I think you have told us enough. The keyword -- having read the book and knowing something about you, the keyword is sexual romance. I guess our viewers are going to be intrigued.

See what Scooter Libby, the White House vice president's chief of staff, has to say about all of that.

Thanks for joining us.

LIBBY: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good luck with the paperback edition.

LIBBY: Thank you very much.


BLITZER: Sales beginning to take off on that book, but, unfortunately for Scooter Libby, not as a result of any good reason.

Let's check in with Abbi Tatton to see how the novel is doing online -- Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, if you have got a copy of this book, like you do, an autographed copy, no less, you might want to get in quick, if you want to sell it and make some cash.

We have been following the sales online this week. On, earlier this week, there was a collectible edition going for $2,400 -- that one inscribed to Bob. That one is now gone. You have missed out on that one.

Now the most expensive collectibles are dropping. They seem to be hovering around the $1,000 mark. If you don't have that kind of cash to spend and do want to get a copy, though, don't worry. Today, we found three under $40 -- still a lot of money for a book that was $12.95 when it was first printed -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Did you see how he inscribed it to me? Did you notice that, Abbi?

TATTON: Let's see here. I just see -- I just see a signature here. That's all -- no "To Wolf," I'm afraid.

BLITZER: That's it. So, I -- I wonder how much that's going to be worth. All right, never mind.

Abbi Tatton, thanks very much.

Let's go up to Jack Cafferty.

Jack, when you write your book, your next book, you will do a nicer inscription for me, right?

CAFFERTY: I'm not writing any books.

BLITZER: You should.

(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: You should write a book.

CAFFERTY: That -- I mean, I -- maybe it's a good -- you said you read it. His description of it made it sound just awful.


CAFFERTY: A Japanese tourist trapped in a blizzard? I mean, I -- I can't -- I can't imagine anything more tedious to plow -- it sounded like the Donner Party on sushi or something...


BLITZER: You have got to read it. You have got to read it.



CAFFERTY: No, I don't.

BLITZER: All right. Don't.


CAFFERTY: In a speech today -- this e-mail thing -- you want to get e-mail from television viewers, say the name Bill Clinton. That's all you have to do. Boy, do they write in.

He gave a speech at Hofstra University. And the former president, who is still concerned about his legacy, called his impeachment an act of egregious abuse of the Constitution -- egregious. He also challenged those who say history will judge him poorly because he was impeached. And that, of course, is certainly a possibility. Impeachment is not a good thing when you are the president.

The question is this: To historians, how much will President Bill Clinton's impeachment matter?

Bill in Piscataway, New Jersey: "Bill Clinton's impeachment will be brought up in every history class for the next 100 years. They will spend five minutes on why one president lied about his sex life. And the rest of the semester will focus on why the next president lied us into war."

Curtis in Portland, Maine: "How much it matters said it will depend upon the individual historian and what size axe they have to grind. Impeachment is the only thing I know about President Andrew Johnson. Did they have interns back then?"

John in Lutz, Florida: "Bill Clinton's impeachment will be seen by historians the same way it's viewed by people today. His famous line, 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman,' has overtaken Richard Nixon's famous 'I am not a crook' line. Bill Clinton has no achievements during his presidency. The office of the presidency was on autopilot, and Bill Clinton crashed the plane."

W.H. in Jericho, Vermont: "Who knows? but have you seen the bumper sticker that says, 'No one died when Clinton lied?'"

And Zach, who wrote this while he's driving on 95-South in Washington, D.C. -- apparently in his car, he wrote this e-mail: "I don't think history will put much stock in Clinton's impeachment as it relates to Clinton the president. It is, however, a perfect history lesson on the pitfalls of partisan politics."

I don't want anybody writing to me while they are driving their car on 95 in Washington, D.C., during the rush hour.

But, Zach, since you are apparently also watching THE SITUATION ROOM in your car, swing by and drop off a little takeout Chinese for my buddy Wolf in THE SITUATION ROOM down there in Washington.


CAFFERTY: This weekend -- a reminder: I do a little business show on weekends, along with Andy Serwer and Susan Lisovicz. It's called "In the Money."

And, coming up this weekend, we are going to talk about that new proposal to cut the mortgage interest rate tax deduction. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich is our guest. He will join Andy and Susan and me, talk about what that would mean if it happens and whether there is a chance it will happen.

"In the Money" airs tomorrow at 1:00 and Sunday at 3:00. And we do take roll, so, try to be on time, because we write down who is there and who's not.

BLITZER: It's an excellent program, Jack.

Thanks very much.

CAFFERTY: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: See you in an hour in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: To our viewers, in THE SITUATION ROOM, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, you will be able to hear exactly what Bill Clinton said at Hofstra University. He came out swinging. He was very forceful.

Up next, while serving their country, they found each other. We will tell you what happened.



BLITZER: On this Veterans Day, American soldiers stationed around the world will tell you that their lives have been changed by their time in the military. That's especially true for two young California women.

Our Zain Verjee joining us once again with more on this remarkable story -- Zain.

VERJEE: Wolf, it's really amazing.

Many new military recruits say that their fellow soldiers quickly become a new family, especially those serving far away from home. That turned out to be true in every sense of the word for two new Army privates.


VERJEE (voice-over): Just one look at Yolanda and Keysha Williams (ph), and most people can tell they are sisters. But they were literally the last to know. And they discovered it in the most unlikely of places, boot camp.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were jumping up and down, screaming and everything. We were happy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was excited. I wanted another sister.


VERJEE: With the same last name, the women wound up standing next to each other in formation. when they arrived for basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Fellow trainees noticed the resemblance right away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We ran to the bathroom after that. And we are like...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After that, because we had high foreheads and we look alike.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. We kind of have like the same forehead. (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We took our nose and stuff. We noticed similarities.

VERJEE: In the weeks that followed, more similarities emerged.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Favorite color, blue.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We both like to eat.

VERJEE: So many similarities that their drill sergeant, Timmy Searcy, took notice. He did some investigating and discovered the women had the same father, former Marine Tyrone Williams (ph), who died in 1992, 29-year-old Yolanda the product of his first marriage, 18-year-old Keysha (ph) born of his second marriage.

Searcy was the one who broke the news.

SERGEANT TIMMY SEARCY, U.S. ARMY: Once we found out the information, they wanted to give each other a hug. But, you know, we had to keep it professional. All right, one-minute hug. All right, let it go.

VERJEE: Their women's mothers were eventually able to fill in the blanks. And they are very happy Yolanda and Keysha (ph) have found each other.

KATHALEEN WILLIAMS-BENNET, MOTHER OF YOLANDA WILLIAMS: This is her first time away from home. And I thought, God is good. I can sit back and relax. She's with her sister.


VERJEE: A heartwarming story, Wolf.

BLITZER: Indeed, it is. Thanks very much, Zain.

We are back here in THE SITUATION ROOM one hour -- hour from now, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Until then, I'm Wolf Blitzer.

"LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now. Lou is in New York.

Hi, Lou.

DOBBS: Hi, Wolf. Thank you.


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