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Ford Funeral In Grand Rapids, Michigan; President Bush Considers Options For Iraq; Saddam Hussein's Death And The Future Of Iraq; Will Congress Use Power Of The Purse To Enact Changes In Iraq?; Senator Harry Reid Profile; Shocking Prediction From Religious Broadcaster Pat Robertson

Aired January 3, 2007 - 17:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone the father gives to me will come to me. I will never turn away anyone that believes in me. He who raised Jesus Christ from the dead will also give new life to our mortal bodies through his indwelling spirit. My body therefore is glad and my spirit rejoices. My body also shall rest in hope. You will show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy. And in your right hand are pleasures forever more. Oh, God, whose blessed son was laid in a sepulcher in a garden. Blessed we pray this grave and grant that he whose body is to be buried here may dwell with Christ in paradise and may come to your heavenly kingdom through your son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ensure in certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ. We commend to our almighty God our brother Gerald, and we commit his body to its resting place. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The Lord bless him and keep him. The Lord make his face to shine upon him and be gracious to him. The Lord lift up his countenance upon him and give him peace. Amen. Let us pray together in the words our savior Christ has taught us.

Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever, amen.

Father of all, we pray to you for those we love but see no longer. Grant them your peace. Let light perpetual shine upon them. And in your loving wisdom and almighty power work in them the good purpose of your perfect will through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Grant, oh, Lord to all who are bereaved the spirit of faith and courage that they may have strength to meet the days to come with steadfastness and patience, not sorrowing as those without hope but in thankful remembrance of your great goodness and in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those they love. And this we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our savior. Amen. O, judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may now not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Oh Lord, support us all, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed and the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then in thy mercy we rest at the last. Amen. Rest eternal grant to him, o lord and that light perpetual shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the departed through the mercy of God rest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep. Through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight. Through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The conclusion of these days of mourning, the interment service now concluding. You saw the vice president of the United States, Dick Cheney, hand over the flag. The flag that had been draped around the coffin of the 38th president of the United States.

He just handed it over to the former first lady, Betty Ford, who was sitting there. This has been an emotional, emotional period for the Ford family. Especially as it's wrapped up, these six days of official mourning in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jeanne Meserve is on the scene for us. Jeanne, people of Michigan have really come out to celebrate this president.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: They have, last night at the ceremony in the museum, they sang the hymn "Shall we Gather at the River." They did gather at the river. There were hundreds of people, if not thousands here to share the ritual of this farewell. To listen to the music. To get what glimpse they could of the family, of the casket, to listen to the 21-gun salute, the rifle volley, the missing man formation overhead.

They were absolutely silent through it all. In this evening light, with the flags at half-staff, Betty Ford coming in first in a wheelchair, but then gamely making her way onto her feet to walk down to the grave site. To say good-bye to the man who was an eagle scout, a football star, a congressman from this district, a president, a son, a father, a husband. He came home. Wolf?

BLITZER: A true son of Michigan, he came home to his roots. This is where he played high school football. Went on to the University of Michigan, served valiantly in the U.S. Navy during World War II, came back as a lawyer from the Yale Law School. Set up a little practice in Grand Rapids, eventually running for Congress. And the rest, as we all know is history. Candy Crowley, you watched all of this unfold together with us. Seemed to have gone off without a hitch.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It really did, Wolf. I think what's been interesting is to listen to these speakers and listen to some of the commentary from the people who knew Gerald Ford and who spoke with him frequently in the White House and afterwards.

And really know, particularly yesterday in the public part of this, the very public part of this, but we're not just seeing the passage of a man or even the passage of a president, but the passage of time. It really tends to put the nation's time line in some perspective. It was fascinating to me from that level that in saying good-bye to Gerald Ford, we also said good-bye in some way to an era that had both its pluses and its negatives.

BLITZER: Perfectly said, Candy, thank you. Tom DeFrank of the "New York Daily News" has been spending his time with us over these past several days, educating us in about the Ford presidency. It's over now. He's back where it all started in Michigan.

TOM DEFRANK, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Wolf, in 1976, during that bitter primary fight with Ronald Reagan, he got caught in a rainstorm in Boca Raton at a shopping mall, he got drenched. His hair was slicked down. His suit was a complete mess and he looked like a mess and he knew it. And he began his remarks by apologizing for his appearance.

And he said, but you know what they say, aristocracy is of the soul, not of the cloth. And so, I know I don't look very good but I think I'm a darn good president. Well, I think we all have to let history sort out the good president part. But I can say, as somebody who was there, he was a darn good guy. Those of us who were lucky enough to be along for the ride cherish our experience and savor the memories.

BLITZER: I think I can echo that as well. Tom DeFrank, thanks for all your help for us. Candy Crowley, Jeanne Meserve, earlier James Carville and J.C. Watts. This concludes our special coverage of the funeral of the 38th president of the United States. Our condolences to the family.

And coming up new details on the timing of the president's big Iraq announcement. Will a troop surge be in the mix? We're also going live to Baghdad where the New York Times' John Burns is standing by to speak with us. Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Standing by, CNN reporters across the United States and around the world, to bring you today's top stories. Happening now, will President Bush decide to send more troops to Iraq? He's said to be very close to a fresh war strategy, with sources saying a short-term surge in troop strength being an active subject of discussion right now.

Also, a man on guard at Saddam Hussein's execution is now under guard himself, detained and questioned over whether or not he leaked the cell phone video of Saddam Hussein being taunted just minutes before his hanging.

And a Christian TV evangelist has a dramatic prediction for 2007. He forecasts a mass killing, perhaps, of millions of people. And who does Pat Robertson say told him this? I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It's the execution of the investigation into what happened at Saddam Hussein's execution. In Iraq, one man is being held, his motives being questioned. He's a security guard who was at Saddam Hussein's hanging. An adviser to the Iraqi prime minister says the guard leaked the now infamous cell phone video to internet sites and TV stations.

Iraq's national security adviser says two more people could soon be detained. And two other men convicted with Saddam Hussein could soon be put to death as well. How might things have been handled had the United States been in charge of Hussein's hanging? Today, the spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq, Major General Bill Caldwell, answered that question.

Meanwhile, there are updates on Iraq's kidnappings and killings. Five contractors kidnapped in November appear in a videotape released today. The four Americans and one Austrian urge the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq.

Meanwhile, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is among the items under consideration as President Bush considers options for Iraq.

Joining us now with more on this part of the story, our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Bush says that his announcement will come in the days ahead on his Iraq plan. This is a plan that the president, Wolf, is calling a new strategy.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): Emerging from his first cabinet meeting of the year, President Bush didn't even mention Iraq. But once again, framing it as part of the war on terror.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... the need to protect ourselves from radicals and terrorists, the need to win the war on terror.

MALVEAUX: Instead, he tried to sell his domestic agenda to the incoming Democratic-controlled Congress.

BUSH: And together, we have important things to do.

MALVEAUX: The president's Rose Garden message and rate op-ed in Wednesday's "Wall Street Journal" calling for bipartisanship reflects Mr. Bush's new political reality, that he needs to change course to get things done. But even within his own party the question remains, is he willing to change course in Iraq by possibly calling for more U.S. troops?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's very clear that the administration is very open to this possibility.

MALVEAUX: The conservative policy group the American Enterprise Institute has been lobbying the White House to order such a surge. Insiders say the debate over the prospect has been fierce, but that the president is likely to send anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 additional men and women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think this is a question simply of stubbornness and refusal to admit defeat. I think this is a question of the administration recognizing that defeat will have terrible consequences.

MALVEAUX: But some warn if the president does sign off on more troops, it could be devastating.

LAWRENCE KORB, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: We already surged back in the fall. And what happened is more Americans died when we surged. The Iraqis were supposed to send six battalions into Baghdad, along with the extra 7,000 American troops. Only two showed up.

So when people say, "Well, you've got to train them," well, it's not a question of training. It's motivation.

MALVEAUX: But the bottom line, White House officials insist, is Mr. Bush has not signed off on anything yet.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's not done yet. The policy is not done. He's still is talking to people.


MALVEAUX: And Wolf, those who are familiar with the president's deliberations over Iraq say they expect him to wrap up those discussions, those talks on Friday. It is likely on Monday that the White House will put out courtesy calls to members of Congress to brief them on the president's final plan. And then likely Tuesday or Wednesday is when the president will basically give his plan to the American people in the national address -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne, thanks very much.

Of course, we'll have extensive coverage of this entire process.

If more troops are sent to the Iraq, who might actually command those troops in the days ahead? There are fresh calls for change at the top of the military Iraq war command.

Our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, has some details -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, very simply put, the question is, along with a new strategy, should U.S. troops have a new top commander?


MCINTYRE (voice-over): One year ago in an interview with CNN, General George Casey was brimming with confidence that 2006 would be the year Iraq would turn the corner.

GEN. GEORGE CASEY, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL FORCES, IRAQ: I think what you're going to see is a gradual diminution in the levels of violence.

MCINTYRE: But Casey was wrong. Wrong about the violence and wrong about his expectation that as more Iraqi troops stood up, more U.S. troops could come home. Both Casey and fellow four-star-general John Abizaid stubbornly insisted all last year more U.S. troops would not help. Now, with President Bush considering a surge of American troops, the question is, will he replace Casey as the chief proponent of a failed strategy?

General Abizaid is retiring. But Casey, after meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Iraq, said that unlike Abizaid, he would not step aside voluntarily when his tour in Iraq ends later this year.

Casey was thought to be Donald Rumsfeld's pick to be the next Army chief of staff. But now with Rumsfeld gone, Casey may pay a price for overseeing failure in Iraq.

That, his supporters argue, would be an injustice.

KORB: They're looking for a scapegoat, because basically this was the president's strategy that he embraced, which is to turn over security to the Iraqis. And since it hasn't worked as well as the president would like, he's looking for a scapegoat.

MCINTYRE: Sources say the Pentagon is considering a wider shakeup that would eliminate Casey's job once he's gone, leaving a three-star general in charge of U.S. ground forces in Iraq. Overall responsibility for the war would fall to the next U.S. central commander who replaces General John Abizaid.


MCINTYRE: And wolf, a name often mentioned for that new top commander of the Central Commander is Lieutenant General David Petraeus, who as a reputation as an unconventional thinker and literally helped write the book on counterinsurgency warfare as a co- author of the Army's new doctrine -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It sounds like he's got good credentials for that kind of a job, Jamie.

Thank you very much.

Now that Saddam Hussein is dead, what might that mean for the future of Iraq?

Joining us now to talk about that and other issues is John Burns. He's the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for "The New York Times." He's long covered this war. He's joining us from Baghdad.

John, how angry are Americans right now, civilian and military personnel in Iraq, over the way Saddam Hussein was executed?

JOHN BURNS, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, they're angry. They're angry, but more than that, I think they're disappointed. They're really seriously disappointed. That's what they tell us.

They've had to sustain blow after blow after blow, especially in the last year, all hopes confounded. And they had worked very hard in the 72 hours before this ghastly event happened to try and make sure that their part in this was conducted with decorum, with dignity.

They urged the Americans -- the Americans urged the Iraqis to follow suit. In effect, they wanted it delayed, they wanted proper legal procedures to be followed. They didn't want it on the first day of the Eid religious holiday.

Maliki swept all of this aside. In effect, rushed to the gallows. And you could see on General Caldwell's face today, the command spokesman, and in the voice of some very senior American officials here I've spoken to in the last 24 hours, a tremendous chagrin about this. And an acknowledgement, although it's not explicit.

I can tell you that they understand that, although people are shouting Maliki's name in Iraq and across the world, there's a good deal of a problem for the new government here. In the end, it's America that will be held accountable for this, failure or not.

BLITZER: Why did Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister, reject these appeals from high-ranking U.S. officials to hold off, to delay? If you're going to hang him, do it right?

BURNS: Well, I'm inclined to say from what we saw of those ghastly scenes in the execution chamber, that the desire for revenge was overwhelming and just got the better of people, like Mr. Maliki, who themselves were victims. You can hardly talk to these Iraqi officials for more than a minute about this without their falling into a long and very searing narrative about the suffering that they went through, the torture, the years of miserable impoverished exile. That was one thing.

The other thing was that they had decided for curious kind of talismanic reasons, as I was told today by one of the officials who attended the execution, that they wanted this done in the year 2006. They wanted the year 2007 to being with a page turned. Now, remember, the countdown to his execution, the turbulent argument to and fro that was going on, even as Saddam went to bed on Friday night, by the way, unaware that within a few hours he would be awoken to be taken to the gallows, that argument was taking place on the night of the 29th, 30th of December. They really couldn't have done it on the morning of Sunday, because the Shiite Eid festival would have begun. So they had to do it, from their perspective, that night.

And as a result, it was done in a rush. It was poorly organized. Now, of course, there's a kind of fight back. We're hearing today they've arrested the fellow with the cell phone, so they say.

And what they're doing is they're trying to, in effect, rewrite the history of what happened because senior officials in Maliki's office have been calling journalists today to say he wasn't dignified, he was very undignified. In the last moments -- you didn't see it on the TV -- he was appealing and pleading for American officials, as well he might, by the way, who had left him and handed him over a few minutes before.

There was a suggestion from one official that he might have been on tranquilizers. Perhaps that's true. I believe it's done in American prisons before executions.

They're very, very concerned about the notion that Saddam, the mass murderer, emerges from this with a certain sort of credit for his dignity and courage and that they, the victim community, all of this emerges as kind of bullying thugs.

BLITZER: We have 10 seconds. Nuri al-Maliki says to "The Wall Street Journal" he hates his job, the prime minister. How much longer do you think he can survive?

BURNS: Well, he may be saying that in anticipation of what he has long anticipated, that the United States will get tougher, that they will finally tire of him, and that some kind of parliamentary coup will be mounted against him. It's not impossible. That could happen and that he could be out fairly quickly.

BLITZER: John Burns doing some excellent reporting, as usual, for us. John Burns of "The New York Times."

Thank you very much. Be careful over there in Baghdad.

Coming up, will Democrats play their ultimate trump card on the war in Iraq? We're going to have a live report from our Brian Todd.

And Christian TV evangelist Pat Robertson is out with a new warning. He talks about a mass killing possibly of millions this new year. Just whom does Robertson say told him that?

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: There are growing calls among many opposed to the war in Iraq for the new Congress to cut funding for the mission. At a news conference by Democratic leaders held earlier today on Capitol Hill, Congressman Rahm Emanuel was interrupted by protesters, including the activist Cindy Sheehan, demanding that Congress obey what they say is the voters' mandate for changes in the war. After attempts to quiet the crowd failed, the lawmakers abruptly ended their news conference.

So will Democrats use the so-called power of the purse to enact the changes many want to see in the war?

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now with this part of the story -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's widely thought that control over the money is the Democrats' best leverage to bring about change in Iraq. But having that leverage and using it without political backlash will be difficult.


TODD (voice-over): Just before one of the deadliest months in Iraq for U.S. troops, millions of American voters told Democratic candidates, we're counting on you to change the course of this war. Now, as the majority in Congress, Democrats seemingly have an important piece of leverage over the president to do that. Leverage backed up by the Constitution.

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: The power of the purse is the Democrats' main lever here. They can't force the president to change policy. All they can do is tell him that he can't spend any money.

TODD: Then why do we hear this from top Democrats?

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: No one is going to cut off funding to the troops that I know of.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: I see no appetite, and certainly I would not support actually restricting funds.

TODD: Comments that earn a scolding from one of the most liberal of Democrats who also ran on an antiwar platform.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: We have to realize it is not credible to simultaneously say that you oppose the war in Iraq and continue to fund it.

TODD: But analysts say for Democrats, it's not that simple.

KEN RUDIN, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Democrats have the problem of having to balance the fact that their constituency wants the U.S. out of Iraq, and as soon as possible. Balance that with the fear that Democrats have not always been tough enough for some people on issues like national security. TODD: The Democrats don't want to be painted as cutting off money for troops in harm's way. So they're going another route, pressuring the Bush administration to put all of the money for the war into the regular budget, rather than emergency bills where they've been channeling much of the funds and where there's less oversight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an enormously expensive engagement. Somebody's got to keep a tab on this. Somebody's got to ask for justification.

TODD: Will the White House go along?

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We will move toward making expenditures in Iraq and in the war in general, including Afghanistan, as transparent as possible.


TODD: If the White House doesn't do that or doesn't follow other Democratic plans for changing course in Iraq, there's already talk that Democrats will use other leverage, like blocking the president's judicial nominations. When I asked incoming House budget chairman John Spratt if he would go along with moves like that, he said he didn't want to respond to a hypothetical -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting.

Thank you, Brian, for that.

Newly released FBI documents provide some fresh insight into the harsh interrogation tactics used against detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Among the alleged incidents, a bearded detainee whose head was wrapped in Duct tape after he refused to stop reciting the Koran. The report is online and our Jacki Schechner has some details -- Jacki.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, at least 26 FBI employees report or witness harsh techniques by other government agencies or contractors while at Guantanamo Bay. One FBI employee reports that he interviewed a detainee with facial cuts and a black eye. Another one reports that he saw a Marine captain squatting over the Koran. In this report, a detainee says that he was beaten unconscious.

Now, all of these documents were released as part of a Guantanamo Bay inquiry where some 500 FBI personnel who were stationed at Guantanamo Bay since September 11th where interviewed. And the FBI found out that no FBI agent participated in any controversial practices.

Now, these documents were made public as part of a lawsuit by the ACLU. They say that the documents remind us that a thorough and independent investigation is long overdue. The Department of Defense says that the information contained in this report is not new, that these are things that have been thoroughly investigated. And where the allegations were substantiated, Wolf, the appropriate disciplinary action had been taken. BLITZER: Jacki Schechner, thank you.

Meanwhile, the stage is now set for what could be the first showdown between the Bush administration and the new Democrat- controlled Congress. The Justice Department is refusing to turn over documents on CIA detainee policies to the incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy. He says he's disappointed and may subpoena the documents, adding that President Bush's promise to work with the new Congress -- and I'm quoting now -- "may have been only political lip service."

Up ahead, a new Congress with new leadership. Who's the man who will take the reins of power in the Senate? Our exclusive look at Senator Harry Reid when we come back.

And later, did he do it again? The evangelist Pat Robertson makes a new and dire prediction. We're going to tell you what he has to say.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Democrats here in Washington outlining an ambitious agenda when they take control of the Congress tomorrow, and it will be up to one man to try to get that legislation through the U.S. Senate. That would be the incoming majority leader, Harry Reid, who has a sometimes volatile history with President Bush.

Let's turn to our congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. She has an exclusive report -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, just as you said, a lot of the focus has been on the House, of course, since the election, because the first woman speaker will be -- first woman will become speaker. But in order for Democrats to make their agenda law, they are going to have to rely largely on Harry Reid. He will be the next majority leader.

He invited us to his home in Nevada, and you may be surprised about what you learn.


BASH (voice-over): Searchlight, Nevada, a dried-up mining town, a relic of the Wild West. A truck stop 55 miles from Las Vegas. Most of the 800 residents live in trailers.


BASH (on camera): Thank you.

(voice-over): The one house belongs to new Senate majority leader Harry Reid, shaped and scarred in Searchlight.

REID: I'm a pessimist about everything in life. That way I have fewer disappointments.

BASH: In the distance of this vast property, a mine where his father worked. Pinky (ph), young Harry's nickname, would keep dad company.

REID: It was hard to making a living. And the man that my dad worked for a lot of times wouldn't pay him or would give him bad checks that would bounce.

BASH: The memories can hurt.

REID: My parents both drank a lot, and I was always so glad when they were broke because they couldn't afford stuff then.

BASH: Then, prostitution was Searchlight's biggest industry. Reid learned to swim at one of the 13 brothels, remembers the owner giving kids $5 for Christmas.

REID: That's what it cost for the men to go with the girls, is five bucks.

BASH (on camera): I won't ask how you used the $5.

REID: Well, I bought things out of the catalogue.

BASH (voice-over): School ended in eighth grade, so Reid hitchhiked 42 miles for high school, went to college with a collection from the locals.

REID: Even though I was raised here, my mother always was able to instill in me that I was as good as anybody else.

That's part of it there, that old wood (ph) there.

BASH: A trailer has now replaced the four-room home with no running water where Reid and his three brothers grew up.

To tour Searchlight is to find scars, like where his 58-year-old father shot himself to death.

REID: This house right here, that last room is a bedroom. That's where he killed himself.


BASH: The senator from Nevada fights for Sin City but doesn't gamble or drink. A square-looking guy who listens to hip songs on his iPod.

(on camera): Cowboy Junkies.

REID: You know the Cowboy Junkies?

BASH (voice-over): And how does he keep up with music? Get this...

(on camera): Did I read that you're a "People" magazine reader?

REID: Yes. I love "People" magazine.

BASH (voice-over): Harry Reid sums himself up this way...

REID: Isn't Kris Kristofferson -- his song, "He's a walking contradiction?"


BASH: And another thing, many people don't realize about Harry Reid is that he's a Mormon. He and his Jewish-born wife converted shortly after they got married. That was right out of high school.

Reid says he understands that his religion is quite controversial. But he says that he hopes more people learn about that religion, about Mormonism. And Wolf, he actually will be the highest ranking Mormon in U.S. political history.

BLITZER: I think we all learned something from that report. Dana, good work. Thank you very much for that.

Up next, a dire and deadly prediction for the coming year. Evangelist Pat Robertson says the lord told him so, but does his track record on predictions make his claims credible?

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Shocking prediction from religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, a mass killing that could kill millions of Americans.

Let's turn to our Mary Snow. She has the details -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this latest vision from Pat Robertson is just the latest in a series of predictions and proclamations that have drawn attention to Robertson and at times made him a lightning rod for controversy.


SNOW (voice-over): Television evangelist Pat Robertson says with confidence the message came to him straight from God: Evil people will come after the U.S. in the second half of 2007.

PAT ROBERTSON, "THE 700 CLUB": I'm not saying necessarily nuclear. The lord didn't say nuclear, but I do believe it will be something like that that will be mass killing, possibly millions of people.

SNOW: Robertson regularly shares his predictions on his program, "The 700 Club." Last spring, he said God warned him there would be coastal storms, perhaps even a tsunami in the U.S. In 2004, Robertson said God told him President Bush would be re-elected in a blowout. Actually, Mr. Bush won 51 percent of the vote that year. One religion writer says at the same time Robertson is drawing attention, he's widening the distance between himself and evangelicals.

JEFFREY SHELER, AUTHOR, "BELIEVERS": The eyes roll and people are really embarrassed by it. He is certainly not speaking for the evangelical mainstream when he says things of this nature

SNOW: Robertson often injects himself into controversial debates. In 2005, he chastised a Pennsylvania town for rejecting the teachings of intelligent design and choosing to only teach the theory of evolution.

ROBERTSON: I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover, if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city.

SNOW: Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network claims it has an audience of one million viewers. Experts say he's targeting a small group of evangelicals who believe in prophecies, but some suggest that he sparks controversy in an attempt to broaden his base.

Last January, Robertson created a furor suggesting former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke as punishment from God for removing Israeli settlers from Gaza. Robertson later apologized.

SHELER: I think he's willing to take his licks. He certainly knows that he has a penchant for doing this. He's had to apologize in the past, and yet he continues.

SNOW: Robertson also apologized after calling for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in 2005.


SNOW: And in his latest statement, Robertson says that God told him that the policies of the Israeli administration are "toxic" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary, thanks for that.

Mary Snow in New York.

That's it for us. Let's go to Lou Dobbs in New York.



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