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THE SITUATION ROOM

Time Running Out For Saddam Hussein?; Cloned Food Coming Soon?

Aired December 28, 2006 - 17:00   ET

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


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time.
ED HENRY, CNN ANCHOR: Standing by, CNN reporters across the United States and around the world to bring you today's top stories.

MALVEAUX: Happening now: A condemned man waits to die. Saddam Hussein now knows he will be executed. And one Bush administration official hints when that might happen.

HENRY: And President Bush says he's getting closer to a plan for Iraq, but is not quite there yet. This comes amid a new and scathing revelation regarding Iraq that comes from the late Gerald Ford.

MALVEAUX: And, even in death, he's a showstopper. It's 5:00 p.m. in New York, where friends and fans pack the streets to pay respect to the godfather of soul, James Brown.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

HENRY: And I'm Ed Henry.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

President Bush says he's making good progress, but still has more work to do on a new strategy for the war in Iraq. He huddled today with key members of his national security team at his Texas ranch, and, afterwards, talked to reporters there.

MALVEAUX: We have complete coverage for you this afternoon with CNN's Brian Todd here in Washington and CNN's Ryan Chilcote in Baghdad.

But we begin with our White House correspondent, Elaine Quijano. She joins us live from Crawford, Texas.

What is the latest, Elaine?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne and Ed, after huddling with his top security -- national security advisers for about three hours, President Bush did say that he was making progress when it came to crafting a retooled Iraq policy.

But the president made clear he's not ready to announce changes just yet. The president said he wants to have further consultations with the Iraqi government and members of Congress. And the president also reiterated his belief today that success in Iraq is linked with security for Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's important for the American people to understand. Success in Iraq is vital for our own security. If we were to not succeed in Iraq, the enemy, the extremists, the radicals, would have safe haven from which to launch further attacks. They would be emboldened. They would be in a position to threaten the United States of America. This is an important part of the war on terror.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: As for when President Bush might announce changes to Iraq policy, that's still expected to take place in the early part of January.

Now, also today, a senior Bush administration official commented after being asked about what the United States was hearing, as far as Saddam Hussein's execution date. Well, this official said, based on what the U.S. was hearing from Iraqi officials on the ground in Iraq itself, that, in fact, it would not happen tonight, but would likely be within the next few days.

Now, this official was very cautious, though, and made clear that this was a decision and a process being carried out by the Iraqi government, and cautioned us, saying that we needed to check with our sources as well in Baghdad -- Suzanne and Ed.

HENRY: Elaine, I wonder, as well, what is the administration saying there about what -- some are saying about Baathist violence in Baghdad, and whether that may be sparked by the execution of Saddam?

QUIJANO: Well, this official, this same official, basically said, look, these loyalists to Saddam Hussein will essentially use any excuse to cause violence, and, basically, said -- quote -- "If they want to hang their hats on this, that's fine."

He indicated, though, that the administration believes that the vast majority of Iraqis just want to put this behind them, of course, referring to bringing Saddam Hussein to justice -- Ed and Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, Elaine, just a quick follow, of course. Did the Bush administration, any officials, react to those statements made by the late President Gerald Ford to Bob Woodward, saying that he did not support the Iraq war, the decision to go in?

QUIJANO: Yes, well, senior Bush aides today said that this is a time when the Bush administration and the president himself are really focused on grieving, and also keeping their prayers and their thoughts with the Ford family. But, certainly, this is coming at an awkward time.

It was just yesterday, in fact, that President Bush, of course, praised Gerald Ford as a man who led with -- quote -- "common sense." And, of course, it's coming, as well, as you know, Ed and Suzanne, at a time when President Bush is under tremendous political pressure to change course in Iraq -- Ed and Suzanne.

HENRY: Thank you, Elaine Quijano, all over every angle of this story in Crawford, Texas.

And, as the president and his advisers talk about Iraq, blood continues to run through the streets of Iraq. Car bombings claimed more lives today.

MALVEAUX: And this comes amid new question about the execution of Saddam Hussein.

CNN's Ryan Chilcote is in Baghdad with the latest -- Ryan.

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ed, Suzanne, the government isn't saying when this execution will take place. For all we know, it could have already taken place, and they're just waiting to notify everyone.

Technically, it has to happen by the 27th of January. But the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has already made clear that he would like to see Saddam hanged by the end of the year. And he's under a lot of pressure from his own power base here in Iraq to do that, to get this over with quickly.

One thing that is clear is that this execution is highly unlikely to lead to a more peaceful Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHILCOTE (voice-over): As Iraq awaits the execution of Saddam Hussein, the violence continues.

In just 24 hours in the Iraqi capital, a double bombing at a second-hand clothes market kills at least seven, and sends dozens more to the hospital. Another roadside bomb at a gas station kills at least 10 and wounds at least two dozen -- a mortar attack on a mostly Shiite neighborhood in the Iraqi capital, killing and wounding more innocent bystanders, among them a child.

And attacks on American troops continue. December has been the second deadliest month this year for U.S. forces, the fifth deadliest since the beginning of the war.

(on camera): Will executing Saddam lead to a more peaceful Iraq? The government hopes it will by demoralizing his supporters into giving up their fight.

(voice-over): Mussab al-Zawbay is a Baathist from Saddam's party. He asked that we not show his face for his own protection. He predicts the violence will increase and it will only get worse for the Americans.

MUSSAB AL-ZAWBAY, BAATH PARTY MEMBER (through translator): They will not be able to walk the streets anymore, just like the first Fallujah battle. It will happen again. Saddam is great man. They will lose, we will lose, the whole world will lose if Saddam dies. CHILCOTE: Many loyalists say that the fight has been going on without Saddam since he was captured more than three years ago, and will continue after his death.

But Saddam's supporters only make up one part of the insurgency. In Baquba, some extremists who want to build an Islamic state in Iraq took to streets in a show of force. For them, Saddam never mattered. The chaos will continue, and only a complete American withdrawal will do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHILCOTE: Now, we just heard from one of Saddam's attorneys that two members of Saddam's defense team met with Saddam Hussein today at the detention facility where he's being held, and informed him that the final decision has been reached, that he will be executed.

They say that Saddam took the news in stride and that he said that he believes that this is his destiny. He also said that he hopes for unity among the Iraqi people.

One other thing the -- the defense attorney told us, he said that none of Saddam's family members have been notified of an execution date. That's something that is required by Iraqi law. Again to Iraqi law, family members, Saddam's family members, are supposed to be given the right to see him before the execution -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks. We will be keeping a close eye on that.

HENRY: And this note on the execution: Saddam Hussein reportedly has passed on personal messages to his family, after meeting with two of his half-brothers today. That's from a defense lawyer, according to the Associated Press.

Both Hussein brothers are in U.S. custody. The AP reports that Hussein requested the meeting, which took place inside his prison cell.

MALVEAUX: As the nation mourns the death of former President Gerald Ford, we are now learning he strongly disagreed with President Bush on the war in Iraq. And, in a never-before-published interview, he bluntly called the administration's justification a big mistake.

CNN's Brian Todd joins us now more with the latest -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, Ed, an extraordinary sequence in Gerald Ford's story -- we now find out that, nearly two- and-a-half years before his death, Ford cut a deal with Washington's most powerful journalist, telling Bob Woodward of "The Washington Post": You cannot print what I'm saying until after my death.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Gerald Ford posthumously takes aim at his fellow Republicans in the White House and the war they started. Ford's frustration targets President Bush and two of his own former aides, pictured here with him in 1975.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, JULY 28, 2004)

GERALD FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Rumsfeld, Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TODD: During the July 2004 interview, Ford tells Bob Woodward he wouldn't have ordered the invasion, would have tried sanctions or other means.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

BOB WOODWARD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": The body language was one of consternation, unease. Here is this very seasoned, experienced politician. And he -- he just did not buy the Iraq war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: But Ford has a broader problem with Bush's foreign policy.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

FORD: And I just don't think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TODD: Ford, a moderate in his day, also wonders aloud about Dick Cheney's perceived ideological shift. Cheney, he says, was a first- class chief of staff, "but I think Cheney has become more pugnacious" as vice president.

Neither Cheney's office, nor a White House spokeswoman, would comment on Ford's criticism.

But CNN contributor and fellow conservative William Bennett is disappointed.

BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You -- you put the bomb in the tape recorder, and it goes off after he's out of -- out of reach. I think that was a departure from the normal Jerry Ford that -- that we know.

TODD: Still, one historian says, the release of this after Ford's death carries what he calls tremendous gravity.

As for the protocol of former presidents keeping quiet about their successors:

RICHARD SHENKMAN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Harry Truman criticized President Eisenhower. You had Jimmy Carter criticizing president after president. This is a rule that is almost made to be broken.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: But, in that interview, Gerald Ford also let go on Henry Kissinger, saying of his former secretary of state -- quote -- "He had the thinnest skin of any public figure I ever knew."

A Kissinger aide said he's out of the country and would not comment on Gerald Ford's criticism -- Ed, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Obviously a very controversial and sensitive subject -- as our own Elaine Quijano reported, they -- the Bush administration is not touching this one.

TODD: Right. Right.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Brian.

TODD: Sure.

HENRY: Thanks, Brian.

Up ahead, we will get more on Ford's criticism of the Iraq war from one of his former advisers. David Gergen will join us live in THE SITUATION ROOM this hour.

MALVEAUX: Also, James Brown at the Apollo Theater one last time -- fans lining up to pay tribute to the godfather of soul.

HENRY: Plus, the government makes a major decision on food made from cloned animals. Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our senior medical correspondent, is standing by with what you need to know.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Milk and meat from cloned animals could soon be coming to your grocery store, and you may not even know it.

HENRY: The Food and Drug Administration now is giving the go- ahead to food made from cloned animals, saying it's almost impossible to distinguish from regular food.

So, products from clones may not even get a special label.

Joining us now, our senior medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, today, the FDA basically said that food from cloned animals is safe to eat.

Walk us through from a medical standpoint. How did they reach that conclusion?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Ed, it's pretty fascinating, actually. We listened in to the conference that they had just a few minutes ago about this, talking specifically about the fact that they have looked at years, four years, worth of data, hundreds of studies on cloned animals, their offspring, and the food that they make, basically trying to determine if it's safe, or, more specifically, if they pose any additional risks.

And what they concluded was that they don't pose any additional risks, and also point out that there's only a few hundred cloned animals out there, just cattle, pigs and goats, as compared to the millions of animals that exist performed by natural selection. 9 But this was not a specific -- no -- no decision was made today, Ed. There's still a voluntary moratorium that's going to stay in place until April 2. It's going to allow a public discourse on this. A lot of people find this quite controversial. They're going to allow the public to actually have a conversation about this to determine exactly how this should be carried out.

Should cloned food, food from cloned animals and their offspring, be allowed? And should it be labelled? These are two decision points that are still going to need to made.

MALVEAUX: Well, Sanjay, in light of that fact, are there any advantages, or pros, to having the -- the meat or the milk from these cloned animals in the food supply?

GUPTA: Yes. Yes, I think that that sort of strikes at the heart of this, Suzanne.

I mean, I think that, if you ask people who are advocates of this, they will say there are significant benefits. First of all, cloned animals, they will say, are really, after the first six to 18 months, indistinguishable from any other animal.

If they're born with genetic mutations, usually, those things declare themselves in the first six to 18 months of their life -- also, you know, that cloning allows -- and I think this is the most important point -- allows exceptional animals to be bred.

So, for example, if you have an animal that makes a lot of milk, or makes particularly good meat, you can allow that animal to continuously be bred. And this exists in other modalities already on ranches today, through in vitro fertilization, in other assisted reproductive technology. They say cloning is just another adjunct to that.

And, finally, the meat and milk, most likely, will come from the offspring of the animal, not the clones themselves. The cloned animal are basically the breeders. They're the ones who are creating this sort of super-generation of animals after that.

HENRY: Now, Sanjay, you mentioned this is controversial, though. And one of the controversies is about labeling. And there are consumer advocates out there who have sharp concerns about this. Can you walk through that? GUPTA: Yes.

And, you know, it's important to reiterate again that this -- this may be one of the sort of biggest friction points in this whole thing. And no decision has been made on labeling as of yet, although, listening, again, just a little bit ago, to the conference, they talked specifically about the idea that it's unlikely that there will be labeling on this.

Let me tell you a couple of things, first of all. There are -- there are specific concerns. They say that the -- the food has not been tested in humans. Sure, there have been a lot of studies on the safety of the animals and the safety of the food. But it actually has not been given to humans in large quantities. And it's only four years worth of data. Maybe that's not enough.

Also, cloned animals often are born sick or deformed. And that's obviously of concern to people who might eat the offspring of those animals. As far as the labeling goes itself, you know, some people believe, look, you put an inherent bias against the food if you label it as cloned. Somehow, you're making a statement that, well, it's cloned, and, therefore, it's different.

The FDA, at least in their -- in their recommendations today, are saying, there really is no difference in safety. There's no increase in risk from cloned animals, so why label it?

But you're -- but you're exactly right, Ed. It's bound to be a friction point over the next few months.

MALVEAUX: And, Sanjay, just to be clear, we're not actually going to be seeing any of these kind of food products in the food chain, at our markets any time soon; this is a debate that's continuing?

GUPTA: Yes, exactly right.

And this is sort of the fascinating way of handling this as well. What they have done is, they say, over the next few months, they're going to allow a public discourse. There's going to be a moratorium. So, you're right. You won't see these cloned food products or offspring cloned food products on your -- on your shelves, in your grocery stores, for some time.

They're going to allow people to discuss this and make some recommendations, probably in April, as to how to proceed.

MALVEAUX: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, senior medical correspondent, in THE SITUATION ROOM, thanks so much for joining us, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thank you. Thank you.

HENRY: And coming up: We're now learning the late President Ford felt invading Iraq was a big mistake. We will get more from his former adviser, David Gergen.

MALVEAUX: And Somalia's capital in chaos, as government troops advance and Islamic fighters retreat. We will take you there.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENRY: And Carol Costello joins us now with a closer look at other stories making news.

Good evening, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ed.

Hello to all of you.

It's official: former Senator John Edwards announcing today he will run for president in 2008. John Kerry's former running mate made his announcement in New Orleans' flood-devastated Ninth Ward. Edwards says the biggest responsibility for the next U.S. president will be reestablishing America's leadership role in the world. He's also urging withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says he is already back at work. In a statement released today, he said he is preparing his state-of-the-state address from his hospital bed. And he says he will walk into his swearing-in ceremony, even if he has to do it on crutches. The seven-time Mr. Olympia broke his right thigh bone while skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho. But doctors say he's in great shape and he is recovering well.

The body of an American mountain climber missing in China for nearly two months has now been identified. Authorities say it is Charlie Fowler, a photographer and a climbing guide. Searchers found Fowler's body buried in snow on a remote mountain in China. He and his climbing partner, Christine Boskoff, were last heard from in early November. Boskoff is still missing.

A disruptive passenger on a U.S. Airways flight out of Washington could face some serious charges. An official says the man got angry when a flight attendant refused to serve him more liquor. He allegedly slapped another passenger on the back of his head. Well, that passenger just happened to be a federal air marshal working undercover. The air marshal detained the man and arrested him when the flight landed in Fort Myers, Florida.

That's a look at the headlines right now -- back to you, Ed and Suzanne.

HENRY: Thanks very much, Carol.

And coming up: Rest his soul. James Brown makes a final appearance at the same place he started his career.

MALVEAUX: And former presidential adviser David Gergen will join us. We will speak with him about Iraq, President Bush and his former boss, Gerald Ford.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENRY: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time.

MALVEAUX: Happening now: a senior Bush administration official now saying Saddam Hussein could be executed within a couple of days, and the condemned former dictator reportedly meeting with family members and said to be prepared to meet his fate.

HENRY: Also: the late former President Gerald Ford, strongly critical of the war in Iraq in a never-before-published interview. His former adviser, David Gergen, is standing by to talk with us about it.

MALVEAUX: And a massive outpouring of emotion, as fans flood New York's Apollo Theater, where the body of James Brown is lying in repose this afternoon. We will show you the tributes to the late godfather of soul.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

HENRY: And I'm Ed Henry. Wolf Blitzer is off today. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

MATTHEWS: More now on one of our top stories: Saddam Hussein will soon be executed. And one Bush administration official says that could happen in a couple of days.

I spoke with CNN's Ryan Chilcote about the possible effect of the execution.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: And, Ryan, is there any indication that Saddam's execution will further enrage the Sunnis, and this will lead to more attacks against American troops?

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is possible.

A lot of Sunnis blame the Americans for backing the government here in Iraq. And they blame the government. They believe that the government is a Shiite-led government that's pursuing a Shiite agenda, a sectarian agenda, and that Saddam Hussein is -- is really just a -- a victim in this government -- of this government that is seeking revenge.

And a lot of the Iraqis, they -- a lot of Sunnis, they blame the -- the government of Iraq for not doing enough to protect them. They believe that the Shiite-led government really is out to get them, and that the Americans are supporting them.

So, it is possible that this could lead to more violence, both for -- in terms of insurgent attacks against the government and against American troops.

HENRY: Now, Ryan, there have been reports that the Iraqi government will videotape the execution of Saddam Hussein. Is there any sense there on the ground about whether the Iraqi people or the American people will ever see this videotape?

CHILCOTE: The government isn't saying whether it will be videotaped, and whether that videotape would be disseminated to viewers here in Iraq and in the United States.

There is a precedent for that. Just about a week-and-a-half ago, a group of 13 men were executed. And we did get some video from the gallows of those 13 condemned men being led into the gallows, right up to the moment where they were hanged. That part was not shown.

And there -- there was -- the thinking at that time was that perhaps this is the Iraqi government testing the waters, trying to -- to gauge reaction. What we do know for sure is that the Iraqi government would like to do that. I think they feel that it's important to show the people of Iraq that, indeed, they have executed Saddam, so that there aren't any conspiracy theories.

And there is also this feeling that they would like to give people justice, people who suffered under Saddam, the -- the right to -- they would like to -- to give them the ability to see Saddam Hussein himself be hanged. So, the government so far isn't saying -- Ed.

HENRY: Some fascinating details that still need to play out.

Thank you, Ryan Chilcote, from Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: And, as we told you at the top, President Bush has been meeting with his national security team, as he tries to come up with a new Iraq strategy.

Mr. Bush says he is making good progress, but still needs further consultations -- this as we learn that the late President Ford had strong reservations about the Iraq war.

HENRY: David Gergen is a former adviser to four different presidents, including Gerald Ford. He joins us now from Seattle.

Welcome, David.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Thank you.

HENRY: We appreciate you being with us.

And I want to first get to those comments. Gerald Ford made them in 2004 to Bob Woodward from "The Washington Post." Let's take a listen to one thing he said.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, JULY 28, 2004)

GERALD FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Rumsfeld, Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HENRY: Now, specifically, Gerald Ford there pointing out Rumsfeld and Cheney, two of his former aides he worked with in the Ford White House, that they made a big mistake here.

How damaging do you think this is to the White House, coming out now, given, especially, the awkward timing of this?

GERGEN: Well, the poignancy and the sadness that accompanied Gerald Ford's death, plus the -- almost speaking from the grave, in effect, about condemning this war -- and his comments, of course, go on from there to say we shouldn't be, you know, seeking out and trying to impose democracies around the world, unless it's in our national interest, we ought to show restraint. He says, in addition, that Dick Cheney has sort of caught the fever, as Colin Powell once said about the vice president with regard to Iraq.

These are pretty tough comments. And they were made, remember, a long time ago, 2004. Much earlier than the time when most of the country turned against the war.

So I think this is damaging. I think it -- I think it complicates President bush's efforts to, as soon as the -- you know, this funeral process is over, President Bush clearly is itching to go to the country and present his plans for Iraq. And now he's got this shadow cast from Gerald Ford, in addition to all the other shadows from the Baker-Hamilton commission and the public rebuke that he got in the elections in November.

He's got a very, very big hill to climb now to convince people that he's on the -- he's on the right new course.

MALVEAUX: Well, David, considering that many past presidents, of course, did protocol, following protocol, have a policy not to criticize the one that is currently in office, do you think this was a different case, a different scenario, considering the casualties, the cost of the Iraq war? Do you think that Gerald Ford should have spoken out? Did he have an obligation or responsibility to basically speak his mind?

GERGEN: You mean way back when?

MALVEAUX: When he made those comments two years ago.

GERGEN: I'm sure he had spoken out about it in 2004. Well, I think -- you know, I think the thing we have to be careful about is here that he spoke out in 2004 with the understanding it wouldn't be published for sometime after his death or until Bob Woodward wrote a book. And he couldn't have known then that it would come out at a particularly fateful and awkward moment for President Bush, when the president was very low in the polls. And this is -- you know, therefore, the damage is much more intense than had it come out, say, in 2005, or even 2004, when the president was riding higher in public opinion. So, you know, I just don't -- I'm sure he didn't want to hurt President Bush. He does respect George W. Bush, he obviously respects the father. Remember, he appointed the father to go out to the CIA, and he was a big, big fan of the Bush family.

So -- and this is not personal. In fact, as you know, he had a wonderful relationship with Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Thought Dick Cheney was a first class chief of staff, as he said.

What he did believe was that -- President Ford in this was classic. Ford's statement, he puts the country first. He puts it above his personal relationships. He retains the friendships but says, hey, look, guys, this is just wrong.

MALVEAUX: But David, I mean, beyond -- beyond his relationship with President Bush and his staff, do you think he had an obligation to the American people from 2004, up until the point where he still had his physical faculties, his mental faculties, to talk about what he believed was a big mistake?

GERGEN: Well, I have to struggle with that. I'm of mixed minds with that.

Would it been helpful had he spoken out? Sure. But there is a -- there is a fraternity among ex-presidents that they try not to micromanage their successors. It's sort of regarded as bad form to do that.

And I'm not sure that he would feel that it's his personal responsibility. And, you know, I have to say, particularly just after President ford's death -- and we're all saluting him, as we should -- I don't want to wander in and take a shot at him for doing that, for not speaking out.

I -- look, I think he left many, many contributions to this country. And I'd like to leave it there.

HENRY: And David, just to wrap it up now, to bring it...

GERGEN: Sure.

HENRY: ... and push it forward a bit to President Bush, we all know at the beginning of next month he's likely -- President Bush is expected to give a big speech in January, laying out a new strategy in Iraq.

Given the Ford comments but given the other factors you mentioned, like the election, the Baker-Hamilton report, et cetera, what does the president need to accomplish in this speech?

GERGEN: You know, I don't think he can convince the country right now to rally to the war in Iraq. I think what he can possibly do is buy time. And a little more patience, give me a little more time.

But time is clearly -- time is clearly against him. It's running out rapidly. And I think that Joe Biden's comments yesterday against a surge in troops indicate he's going to have a real fight on his hands if he calls for a surge in troops, which looks now as if it's the leading option.

And he's clearly rejected the idea of talking to Iran, rejected the idea of talking to Syria. He's rejected all of the underlying premises, major premises of Baker-Hamilton.

You know, so I think he's going to have a fight on his hands. It's going to be a very divided country after he -- after he completes that. And his hope has to be that he can somehow have enough time politically with the Congress, with the public, to go forward with his plans.

HENRY: But given those challenges, when you say he needs to try to stall for more time, essentially, he's tried to do that before.

GERGEN: Right.

HENRY: What would you tell him?

GERGEN: He's been successful about stalling for time.

HENRY: But what do you tell him about a troop surge? Should he do that or not?

Some think he'd be doubling down and that it could -- could get the U.S. in deeper and it could -- could make the situation worse. What would you advise him?

GERGEN: I have been in favor a long time -- for a long time of sending more troops in. But, you know, it's very late now, and I think the hour has probably passed.

But the only way you can do it now is to accompany it by some very tough steps on the economic side and on the political side and the Maliki government. And with the assurances of the military that they're going to get more troops, that this is not going to break the back of the Army.

I don't think you can go forward in any other way. And to do that, just to put more troops in, to put more troops in is folly. It has to be accompanied by reforms on the part of the Iraqi government. And frankly, they ought to be -- we ought to be very time-limited.

We can't sit here just for month after month after month leaving our troops there as sitting duck there. You know, the casualty numbers this month in Iraq are going to be one of the highest of this year. And there's a real -- the mess is deepening in Iraq.

We've taken our attention off it a little bit in the last few days here in America with the death of President Ford and other events. But in Iraq, it's a deeper mess now than it was three weeks ago.

MALVEAUX: David Gergen, adviser to four presidents, including the late Gerald Ford.

Thank you so much for joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM.

GERGEN: Thank you. Good luck. Bye.

MALVEAUX: And up ahead, paying respects to the "Godfather." Right now in New York, praise and prayers for James Brown. We'll take you there.

HENRY: Also, a state of emergency in Somalia. Ethiopian and Somali forces continue to battle Islamists fighters in Somalia.

We'll have the latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENRY: In Somalia, government forces and troops from Ethiopia have Islamic fighters on the run. And today, Somalia's transitional government imposed a state of emergency in Mogadishu after the Islamic forces abandoned the capital.

MALVEAUX: CNN's Friedrich Pleitgen is in Addas Ababa, Ethiopia, with the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRIEDRICH PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ed and Suzanne, the Ethiopian government is telling us that the Islamist fighters in Somalia are basically in a state of disintegration. But what you're seeing is warlords that were previously on the side of the Islamists are now changing sides and joining the government's side.

Nevertheless, there's still a lot of turmoil in the country and still a lot of looting going on in the capital of Mogadishu.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Looting and gunfire in the streets of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. Islamist fighters retreated from the city as troops of Somalia's interim government moved in. But order has yet to be restored.

"Security was tight before but violence started again today. And I don't know where the Islamic Courts militia and officials have gone," this Mogadishu residents says.

Somalia's transitional government fears the situation could get out of hand. It is calling on local warlords and clansmen to help curb the looting and violence.

The Islamists had vowed to stay in Mogadishu. Now, some vow to fight on. But others concede defeat.

"The Islamic Courts Council will accept and let the Somali people choose whatever administration they want. And we are ready to give up power," says the vice chairman of the Islamic Courts Council. The tide turned against the Islamist fighters when Somalia's neighbor Ethiopia entered the conflict with its superior forces. It says about 2,000 Islamist fighters have died, another 5,000 wounded.

MELES ZENAWI, ETHIOPIAN PRIME MINISTER: Well, I believe something like 75 percent of our mission is complete. But we still have things to do. First of all, there are still are remnants of the extremist elements.

PLEITGEN: Ethiopia says it intends to continue tracking down what it calls hard-line jihadists in southern Somalia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN: Now, the Ethiopian prime minister also told us that his troops are still involved in operations to try and track down the leaders of this Islamist movement. He also says that his troops are going to remain in Somalia for as long as it takes to get the job done -- Ed and Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: It's day one of the Islamic world's holiest events. Millions of pilgrims are in Mecca for the annual Hajj. They've arrived from around the world, including from here in the United States.

Our Zain Verjee is following the Hajj and is in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, with more.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, the city of Mecca is almost empty. About three million pilgrims heading out to the desert, to the Mina Valley, to spend the night in prayer and in meditation.

There are thousands of U.S. pilgrims here. We caught up with one of them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you need to do is, as soon as you get outside, get in this line here.

VERJEE (voice over): One of the youngest imams in the United States leading American-Muslims through the holiest moment in their lives.

Imam Thayr Anwar (ph) from California, arriving in Saudi Arabia to make the trek to Mecca.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a lot of fun, a bit stressful. But it's always challenging.

VERJEE: One hundred and fifty members of his congregation looking to their imam for guidance. He knows the ropes here. The rules, the times, places and spaces can be confusing.

(on camera): What are some of the things that they talked to you about on the way here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "How long it is going to take? Where are we going to go? How long is the wait? What are we going to do next?"

VERJEE (voice over): Imam Thayr's (ph) congregation in San Jose are among about seven million Muslims in the U.S. He says many American-Muslims are more aware of their identity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if it's due to 9/11 or it's just due to the fact that people are just sort of waking up and they feel that they want to be more devout.

VERJEE: The Hajj is the ultimate expression of devotion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the meantime, get on the bus, get something to eat.

VERJEE: For Imam Thayr (ph), it's always about logistics. Many pilgrims walk out to the desert to perform key rituals, get on motorbikes, on take taxis. Imam Thayr's (ph) group is taking a VIP coach, air-conditioned and with good food.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, as Americans, we have a lifestyle. So for us to actually sort of come to this lifestyle is a challenge within itself. So I think for everyone, it's a relative Hajj, if I may.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody's OK?

VERJEE: At the Hajj, Americans seem to get some perks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of places where at checkpoints all we have to do is tell them we're Americans, and we just keep on going.

VERJEE (on camera): And they let you in just because you're Americans?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just let us in because we're Americans.

VERJEE (voice over): This Hajj, Imam Thayr (ph) has a special personal perk. His father, who is an imam in London, is here with his son for the ride and for the rites.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: Tomorrow is the most important day of the Hajj, the Day of Arafat, where pilgrims wake up to first light and head over to the Plain of Arafat, to spend the day in prayer, asking for God's forgiveness until sunset -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Zain.

And last year, about 15,000 American-Muslims journeyed to Mecca for the Hajj. And this year, the State Department expects that number to be even higher. HENRY: There's a development in the Duke lacrosse case. Let's go right to New York. Carol Costello has details.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, this is just coming over the wire now, Ed. This is according to The Associated Press.

As you know, the prosecutor in the case, Mike Nifong, dropped the rape charges against those four Duke lacrosse players. Some people say he's been irresponsible in not turning over evidence to defense attorneys and to leaking sensitive information to the press.

Well, now the North Carolina Bar Association has filed a complaint against him. And this is very serious. It's an ethics complaint. And if he's found guilty of this complaint, he could be disbarred.

Now, the North Carolina Bar Association accuses him of breaking four rules by speaking to reporters.

We're going to keep following the story. I'll give you updates as I have them.

Back to you -- Ed.

HENRY: Thanks, Carol. The case getting more and more interesting. We know you'll stay on top of it.

Coming up in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour, John Edwards jumping into the race for the White House with an early and unconventional start. Find out what he says is the biggest challenge facing the U.S.

MALVEAUX: And still ahead this hour, thousands turn out to pay tribute to the legendary James Brown at the legendary theater where he got his start.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: And, of course, this just in from the office of Senator Tim Johnson. His update and latest condition from the hospital, from George Washington University Hospital.

It's his 60th birthday. They say that he remains in the intensive care unit at George Washington University Hospital, that he is surrounded by his family, that his overall general medical condition has improved, that he is gradually being weaned from sedation, and that he's opening his eyes and he's responsive to his wife.

As you know, of course, following this story very closely out of concern for his health, but also because he's the Democrat from South Dakota. And his health certainly has an impact on the balance of power in Congress.

So they're just getting the latest updated information from his office that in fact his condition is improving.

HENRY: And another big story we're following, a major snowstorm is blowing into Colorado. It's the second one to hit in just a week. Dozens of flights are already canceled at the Denver International Airport, and the governor, Bill Owens, has declared a statewide disaster emergency.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HENRY: Up next, James Brown, back where it all began for him. A final appearance at New York's Apollo Theater.

MALVEAUX: We'll show you the flood of fans lined up to pay tribute to the "Godfather of Soul."

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENRY: It's where his career got started. And now James Brown is at New York's famous Apollo Theater one last time. His body lying in repose, with thousands of fans lining up to pay their last respects to the "Godfather of Soul."

CNN's Carol Costello is live in New York with that story.

Good evening again, Carol.

COSTELLO: I'm telling you, it is an incredible scene. A funeral like no other.

As you can see, there is a huge crowd around the Apollo Theater. They're letting people in like 10 at a time. And then people file up to his open casket.

The Reverend Al Sharpton has been standing beside that casket virtually the whole day and part of --late into this afternoon. We spotted some famous people going in -- the actor Paul Giamatti, Rachel Weisz, the actress. Congressman Charlie Rangel just paid his respects.

And there was also a Brown impersonator singing to the crowd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO (voice over): With all the pomp and pageantry of a royal funeral, horse-drawn carriage carrying the golden casket, thousands packing Harlem streets to say good-bye to the man they say epitomized the slogan "I'm black and I'm proud."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It wasn't a time when you were proud to be black. And there was color. I didn't know how to define myself. And that was the first time I heard something like that, and it made me feel good. It made me feel proud.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still today, I can say I'm black and I'm proud thanks to James Brown. I'm still black and I'm proud.

COSTELLO: James Brown, born in poverty, became one of the most influential black musicians of the century. .

JAMES BROWN, SINGER (SINGING): Papa's got a brand new bag.

COSTELLO: Today, he returned to his musical roots, the Apollo Theater, where he made his debut in 1956 and secured his spot in history as the godfather of glitz, glamour and raw soul.

Some die-hard fans began waiting the night before for the chance to pay their respects to the fast-footed legend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody can outperform him. In this age of technology and everything, he did it without technology and still was bigger than all of the stars today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's number one. Always he's number one. And there will never be another one.

COSTELLO: James Brown's body remains on public display throughout the day. A fitting tribute, it would seem, to a man many Americans considered royalty.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: In case you're wondering, as I told you, Reverend Al Sharpton stood near the casket for most of the day. As for the woman who calls herself Brown's wife, she was eventually allowed in to pay her respects, but she did not stand by the casket very long.

Back to you, Ed and Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: An incredible scene there, Carol. Thank you so much.

And, of course, tomorrow begins six days of funeral services, tributes and services for President Gerald Ford. The detailed schedule, including times for the public to pay its respects, is spelled out online.

Our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner, has details.

Jacki, what can you tell us?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, Suzanne, you can find the full schedule online at the Gerald Ford Memorial Web site. And on here it will tell you exactly moment by moment where Gerald Ford's body and casket are going to be.

We start on Friday at St. Margaret Episcopal Church. Just afternoon, there'll be a service at this church in Palm Desert, California. A private service, but the closed casket will be there overnight for the public to be able to pay its respects.

On Saturday, Ford will be flown to Washington, D.C., where a motorcade will head to the World War II Memorial. That will pay tribute to Ford and his fellow World War II veterans.

Then it will make its way over to the Capitol, and what will happen is the casket will go up the east steps of the House of Representatives in tribute to the 25 years of service Ford spent as a congressmen. Then it will move into the Rotunda and there will be a state funeral there.

The public can pay its respects on Sunday and Monday.

On Tuesday, it will leave outside the steps of the Senate in tribute to his service as the vice president.

Then the body will be taken to Grand Rapids, Michigan, will eventually be buried at the Ford Presidential Museum.

Situation blog -- SITUATION ROOM blog is where we have all of these links posted for you -- Suzanne, Ed.

HENRY: Thanks very much, Jacki.

Of course, CNN will be covering that closely.

Here's a look at some of the "Hot Shots," meanwhile, coming in from our friends at The Associated Press. Pictures likely to be in your newspapers tomorrow.

In Santa Monica, California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger works at the hospital. Earlier, he conducted a video conference with his staff from his bed. He broke his leg, of course, skiing in Idaho over the holidays.

In Spain, orange farmers protest government policies in the street.

In the West Bank town of Hebron, Palestinian kids build a snowman. It's the first snowfall in the area since 2004.

And in Atlanta, a baby panda sits on a scale at her weekly medical exam. She came in at just under 13 pounds.

And that's this hour's "Hot Shots," pictures often worth a thousand words.

We're here every weekday afternoon from 4:00 to 6:00. We'll be back at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, just one hour from now.

Until then, I'm Ed Henry.

MALVEAUX: And I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

"LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now. Christine Romans is in for Lou.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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