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Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's War Of Words With White House; Word That Bush Administration Actually Snubbed Iranian Offer Of Concessions; China Now Can Shoot Down Satellites In Space; Man Spills Mercury On Subway Platform; Charles Rangel Interview; Jon Kyl Interview

Aired January 18, 2007 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jack, thank you.
And 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, the new Iraq War strategy can't work without him, but Iraq's prime minister now seems to be engaged in a harsh war of words with the White House over the war.

China blasts one of its own satellites out of orbit.

Could American satellites be next?

Why this country's eyes and ears in space may suddenly be very vulnerable.

And is a heavy metal mystery tied to terrorism?

Investigators are searching for a man who spilled a vial of mercury inside a Los Angeles subway station and then disappeared. This is video you will see only here on CNN.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


A man who is certainly crucial to the president's plan for Iraq says he's not getting the arms and the equipment he needs from the United States to do his part of the job. And he says that's costing both Iraqi and American lives.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has taken a lot of heat from the Bush administration and now he's firing right back and that's threatening to turn into a full scale war of words with the White House.

Let's go straight to the White House.

Our correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, has more -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it really is an incredible interview to actually watch. Nouri al-Maliki, first and foremost, saying that, look, if he gets the weapons and the kind of equipment he needs, that he has very little use for U.S. forces from three to six months down the line.

He also laps off a question whether or not President Bush needs him more than he needs President Bush.

Now, while the White House denies it's a war of words, this is certainly not the kind of language President Bush wants to hear.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): It was his first interview since President Bush laid out his new strategy to bring calm to Iraq, and it was biting.

Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, the man Mr. Bush is counting on to take the lead in turning things around, turned the tables, blaming the Bush administration for failing to secure the country.

He said: "I believe that our armed forces and arms could be in much better position than it is now and that if that had happened, it would have spared us and people with other foreign forces a lot of losses."

President Bush brushed off Maliki's criticism, focusing instead on his new pledge to Maliki to send more American troops to help secure Baghdad.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We may not be providing it as quickly as he wants, but nevertheless, it's a good sign when the prime minister says just give us the capabilities. And that's precisely what my new strategy and new plan is attempting to do.

MALVEAUX: But his strategy also requires Maliki to step up his military and political responsibilities and administration officials have been warning him, America's patience is wearing thin.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Iraqi government was on borrowed time. Maliki borrowed a familiar phrase from the Bush administration, suggesting the criticism would only embolden the terrorists.

He said: "I believe such statements give a morale boost to the terrorists and push them toward making an extra effort, making them believe they have defeated the American administration. But I can tell you, they haven't defeated the Iraqi government."

White House aides downplayed Maliki's comments, characterizing it as a sign of his independence, meant to show strength to the Iraqi people.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MALVEAUX: And, of course, Wolf, aides privately saying they believe this kind of tough talk from Maliki is really for domestic consumption, for the Iraqi people themselves, and they're trying to focus again on what they say are Maliki's recent actions, that they are heartened by his actions -- the two brigades that the Iraqis have sent to Baghdad, the militia that have been detained, as well as the progress that has been made for an oil deal to share oil among the Iraqi people -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I just want to point out that interview with the president came from our affiliate group BLO (ph). Thanks to them for a good job, as usual.

Thanks to Suzanne.

She's always doing a good job for us.

Suzanne Malveaux at the White House.

The American aide worker killed in yesterday's convoy ambush in Baghdad has now been identified. According to the National Democratic Institute, a group here in Washington, she was Andrea Parhamovich, who last lived in New York before moving to Baghdad to help that group promote democracy in Iraq. Three security people -- a Hungarian, a Croat and an Iraqi -- were also killed in the ambush.

In those heady days after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, did the United States miss a monumental opportunity to head off tensions with Iran?

There is word that the Bush administration actually snubbed an Iranian offer of some concessions.

Let's turn to CNN's Brian Todd.

He's been working this story -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, today, National Intelligence Direction John Negroponte said Iran has been emboldened in the last couple of years to take a more offensive posture in the Middle East. But back in 2003, before Iraq deteriorated, before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in Iran, we're told there was a chance for a valuable partnership in the region.


TODD (voice-over): Two former U.S. officials and a current Iranian official tell CNN of a brief opportunity between the United States and Iran that could have prevented sectarian violence in Iraq or possibly curbed Iran's nuclear ambitions.

They say it came in the spring of 2003, shortly after Saddam Hussein was driven from power. The officials tell CNN of a written offer to begin talks from Iran's top leaders, who feared they might be next. LARRY WILKERSON, FORMER POWELL CHIEF OF STAFF: This included, at the bottom level, the tactical level, terrorist exchanges. It also included middle level issues such as -- operational issues such as the stability situation in Iraq and also strategic level issues such as their own potential nuclear program.

TODD: Colonel Larry Wilkerson, then chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, says the document came across his desk. CNN obtained a copy from Trita Parsi, a former adviser to a U.S. congressman who also received it.

The unsigned letter does not promise that Iran would work to stabilize Iraq, disarm Hezbollah or curb its nuclear program in exchange for security guarantees, but lays those issues out as talking points.

TRITA PARSI, AUTHOR, "TREACHEROUS TRIANGLE": If the United States, at the time, had chosen to explore these discussions and its negotiations would have been successfully, then most likely, Iraq would not be in the mess that it is today.

TODD: Larry Wilkerson says top State Department officials wanted to engage the Iranians, but when the overture reached the White House...

WILKERSON: It died in the vice president's office with this same mantra that he normally used to kill such things: "We don't talk to evil."


TODD: An aide to Dick Cheney said his office can not confirm the incident, but reiterated Cheney's recent comments that the U.N. has backed up the American position that Iran should not pursue nuclear weapons.

A spokeswoman for Colin Powell says the former secretary believes that at the time, neither he nor other top members of the administration viewed this letter as a great bargain. And a State Department spokesman has said even if Iran presented a conciliatory face at the time, the regime would have continued supporting terrorists and pursuing weapons of mass destruction -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, thank you.

Brian Todd reporting.

China has now knocked one of its own satellites out of orbit with a satellite killing missile. That test last week has some very ominous implications. The United States and some key allies are not happy about what is going on.

Let's go live to our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, China's growing military capabilities now includes the ability to shoot down a satellite in space, and that has enormous implications if the U.S. were to ever go to war with China.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): Low Earth orbit satellites have become indispensable to the U.S. military for communications, for GPS navigation to guide smart bombs and troops and for real time surveillance.

But they are also extremely vulnerable, as a just revealed test of a satellite killing weapon by China ominously demonstrates.

JOHN PIKE, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG: If we, for instance, got into a conflict over Taiwan, one of the first things they'd probably do would be to shoot down all of our low Earth orbit spy satellites, putting out our eyes.

MCINTYRE: According to U.S. government officials, after three misses, China, last Thursday, succeeded in shooting down one of its own aging weather satellites with a medium range ballistic missile fired from the ground.

U.S. censors tracked the satellite as it disappeared from its polar orbit 537 miles above the Earth and was reduced to hundreds of pieces of space debris after impact with a kill vehicle carried by the missile.

The U.S. has lodged a formal diplomatic protest.

QUESTION: And was this a provocative move by China? What's the way to...

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We don't know that, but we -- we are concerned about it and we've made it known.

MCINTYRE: Under a new space policy authorized by President Bush last August, the U.S. asserts a right to freedom of action in space and vows to "deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to U.S. national interests."


MCINTYRE: The Chinese have essentially fired a shot across the bow of the United States, making it clear they feel no constraints against the development of space weapons -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Jamie, at the Pentagon.

Let's go to New York and Jack Cafferty once again for The Cafferty File -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, on Tuesday, two car bombs went off at a Baghdad university, killing 70 people, many of them students. This ill-conceived war is taking a tremendous toll on Iraq's higher education system. Consider this -- students are leaving the universities by the thousands. Enrollment fell by more than half at some colleges in Iraq in just the last year alone. Professors are continually targeted for assassination and intimidation. Since the U.S. invasion, 280 academies have been killed, 3,200 more have fled the country.

Also, since the start of the war, as many as 40 percent of Iraq's professionals have fled the country.

And all of this is happening in a country that used to have one of the top higher educational systems in all of the Middle East. It's very sad.

Education officials in Iraq say they're determined to carry on, but it doesn't sound too hopeful. The legacy of the U.S. invasion of Iraq is likely to include an entire generation of unemployed, uneducated young people with no future and no hope -- the perfect recruiting tool for terrorists and Jihadists.

Doesn't anybody think about any of this stuff before they go to war?

The question is this -- what does the next generation of Iraqis have to look forward to?

E-mail us at or go to

It's pretty bleak over there -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very bleak, indeed. A lot of displaced people, as well; a lot of refugees. We're going to have more on that coming up.

Thank you very much, Jack Cafferty.

Up ahead, he wants to bring back the military draft.

But what does he want to do about the president's plan to send more troops to Iraq?

I'll ask Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York. He's standing by live to join us.

Also, a mercury spill on a subway platform.

Was it an accident or was it a test run for a terror attack?

We're going to show you what happened, video you will see only here on CNN.

Plus, terror's surprising new breeding ground -- turning young Muslims from innocents to extremists. CNN's Christiane Amanpour has our exclusive report.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: An investigation is now underway into a very bizarre incident in a Los Angeles subway station, where a man spilled a vial of mercury on a platform.

Was it an accident or was there something more sinister going on?

Let's turn to CNN's Deborah Feyerick.

she's joining us now live with details -- this is video you've got, Deb.

It's an amazing story, video we're only going to see here on CNN.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, when we first asked the FBI in Los Angeles about the incident, we were told that it was not terror related and that, in fact, they didn't think it was anything at all.

But then, when we kept asking and then showed the tape to other terror experts with decades of experience, they had a very, very different take.


FEYERICK (voice-over): What do these pictures mean, especially in a post-9/11 world, when what appears ordinary may be the key to a future terror attack?

This surveillance video, obtained exclusively by CNN, shows the Pershing Square subway station in Los Angeles late Friday, before Christmas. A man in a brown jacket crouches on the platform and spills a silvery liquid from a small bottle.

An accident?

Maybe. Except the liquid turns out to be mercury, about five fluid ounces.

KEN ROBINSON, TERRORISM EXPERT: It doesn't make sense. The only thing that does make sense is to find him and interrogate him.

FEYERICK (on camera): The fact that it doesn't make sense, is that what bothers you the most?

ROBINSON: Yes, because the -- he's got a heavy metal and he's taking it into a subway. There's no good reason to do that. None.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Ken Robinson, a terrorism expert who worked intelligence in the Pentagon, has analyzed hundreds of al Qaeda tapes for CNN.

(on camera): When you look at this incident, do you think in your mind that this is a dry run for a terror attack?

ROBINSON: I for sure think that it should be treated as if it is. FEYERICK (voice-over): Mercury, found in thermometers, is dangerous when swallowed, but spilling it would have no immediate toxic effect. That's one reason the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, in charge of the investigation, believes the spill was likely an accident. Also, the man who spilled it placed a call moments after from a call box alerting authorities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point, we are relatively confident is it not a credible threat.

FEYERICK: But a 2005 joint FBI and Department of Homeland Security intelligence bulletin warns terrorists may make calls to test police reactions.

In the case of the spilled mercury, according to the HAZMAT cleanup report read to CNN, law enforcement did not respond for a full eight hours.

Pat D'Amuro, now a CNN analyst, was a top FBI counter-terrorism agent. He says it's premature to rule out terrorism.

PAT D'AMURO, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: I'm not saying that in this video these individuals are terrorists, but there's some very strange activity that needs to be identified here.

FEYERICK: The sheriff who oversees the investigation sent out an alert to be on the lookout for a man described as white or Middle Eastern, wanted in connection with a possible act of terror.

Four weeks later, the FBI in Los Angeles sent out its own bulletin, saying the man is still wanted for questioning in connection with unexplained activity.


FEYERICK: Now, a number of people in law enforcement that we spoke with said that this information in this tape should have been much more widely distributed and shared among various law enforcement agencies. We are now told that the sheriff's department is planning on releasing the video to the general media -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much.

Deb Feyerick doing some strong reporting tonight for us.

Appreciate it very much.

And still to come, extremists using free speech rights to create the next generation of terrorists. We're going to go to London. CNN's Christiane Amanpour has some very disturbing details.

Also, why a group of ministers is now fighting plans for President Bush's library.

And Charlie Rangel, the congressman from New York -- he's standing by live. We'll talk about his proposals to bring back the military draft, what he wants to see happen in Iraq and a lot more. Charlie Rangel, when we come back, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: President Bush's plan for an increased troop build-up certainly faces lots of backlash on Capitol Hill.

But is this a good time for Democrats to be calling for reinstating the military draft?

Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York is the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

He's also making lots of waves, as he always does.

Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: The Republicans say they don't want it. The Democratic leadership says they don't want it. The military says they don't want it. But you're very stubborn. You're persisting in saying this is a good idea right now, to reinstate the draft, introducing formal legislation to that effect.

Make the case.

RANGEL: I make the case that you cannot be for the war and expect that you've got to take 21,000 troops, people who have already served three or four times in Iraq, and just rotate them, sending them back, putting them in harm's way and now believe that other people's kids from more affluent communities should not make a sacrifice, too.

It seems to me that we should not have a concept that we fight these wars, support the wars, with other people's kids. So if, indeed, it's believed by the people of the United States that our national security is threatened, there's no way in the world that we shouldn't say everybody should be involved in the sacrifice.

The whole idea that -- that volunteers are more patriotic than those that come from more affluent families just doesn't make any sense.

BLITZER: What do you say to those who opposed the war to begin with and say there's a professional army, all volunteers, they're more than enough to get legitimate jobs done?

RANGEL: Well, I don't know, those who opposed the war, then they should be able to persuade the American people that the war really doesn't deserve having our people fighting over there. And so if there's going to be people that oppose it, then they should be opposed to the draft, as well.

But I'/m saying that if it's a time of war, then they should be able to say everyone goes. And the whole idea that the recruiting -- you never heard the president say and make an appeal to the American people to send their able-bodied men and women to join up to fight the war, but they send the recruiters to the areas of the highest unemployment, with the highest bonuses, up to $40,000.

That's not right. It's not equitable and it's un-American.

BLITZER: Let's talk about these first 100 hours that the House of Representatives is in session. You're about to pass the sixth and final issue on Nancy Pelosi, the new speaker's, list of -- list of priorities.

But some of the critics are saying you know what -- the key issue right now facing the American people is Iraq and Iraq was thunderously silent among this initial to-do list.

RANGEL: I don't really think the Congress, and certainly not the House, should manage the war in Iraq. And so therefore to put this and say in 100 hours we've got to find a solution, to me, would not make any sense.

We'll have a resolution disagreeing with the president.

But more importantly than the Congress, I think the American people are so far ahead of us and by the time we get finished with the hearings, the testimony, people under oath, really trying to find out what does a surge mean, why do you got to use -- where are you going to get the 21,000 troops, what are you going to do with them, is there going to be a military victory, a diplomatic victory, and are we just shooting craps saying that we don't know what we're doing because of the mistakes that were made?

No, I think that it's going to take more than 100 hours. But things are changing dramatically. Republicans as well as senators -- in the Senate, as well as in the House, are telling the president we've had enough of the war, let's realign our theories. And he should really not just go public. The president should come on the Hill and talk with us, because he's not only embarrassing himself, but he's embarrassing the country internationally.

BLITZER: Here's a tough political question for you, Charlie Rangel. You never dodged questions before.

Who do you like better for president, your senator, Hillary Clinton, from New York State, or Barack Obama, who is emerging as a formidable rival to her?

RANGEL: I think it's exciting that we're going to have at least those two candidates and others proving who will be the best person. I told Obama, I said, senator, if you don't get involved in this race and test your popularity, your intellect and your ability to lead, you will regret it for the rest of your life.

But I also shared with him that Hillary Clinton is our favorite daughter in the state of New York and we would prefer to have a solid Democratic support for her if she decides to become the candidate.

But I think both of them are exciting for the Democratic Party -- the debate, the discussions. And no matter what happens, we'll be winners.

BLITZER: It sounds like you would like a Clinton-Obama ticket.

RANGEL: Well, we'll see what happens. But, you know, it's a little too early to make those kind of decisions, I think.

BLITZER: Never too early for us, though, in the media.

Thanks, Charlie Rangel, from New York State.

Thanks very much for coming in.

He's now the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

We're going to talk about taxes the next time you come in, Congressman.

RANGEL: I look forward to it.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

And coming up, the delicate balance between free speech and terror concerns. We'll talk about it with our own Christiane Amanpour. She has a new CNN special investigation that you're going to want to see. Christiane from London, coming up.

Also, coming up in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour, how race could impact Senator Barack Obama as he decides whether to run for president.

Stay with us. 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.

Happening now, the Pentagon releasing details of new rules for trying terror detainees. Officials say it includes the presumption of innocence and the right of appeal, but it also allows controversial hearsay evidence and coerced testimony.

Also, House Democrats on the verge of going six for six. Lawmakers are nearing a vote on a bill that would recoup billions of dollars in fees, taxes and royalties from the oil companies. The final item in the House Democrats' agenda for their first 100 legislative hours.

And "Consumer Reports" now withdrawing a warning about infant car seats that left parents frightened and manufacturers outraged. The magazine had reported that most rear-facing seats failed disastrously in crash tests at 38 miles an hour. It turns out those tests represented crashes at 70 miles an hour. A huge difference.

"Consumer Reports" says it will retest the car seats.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A growing number of Republican rebels are breaking ranks with the president over the planned troop buildup in Iraq. But Senator John Kyl of Arizona is one Republican who remains firmly behind the president.

Senator Kyl is joining us now from Capitol Hill.

Is that true what I just said, Senator, you stand firmly behind the president?

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: Yes, I do, Wolf. I think everybody said that the president needed to announce a new strategy. He's done that. It seems to me we ought to give it a chance to work.

BLITZER: Senator Sam Brownback, not necessarily a flame thrower or a rebel, the Republican senator from Kansas, says something very different.

Listen to this.


SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: At the present time, the United States seems to care more about a peaceful Iraq than Iraqis do. If that is the case, it is difficult to understand why more U.S. troops would make a difference.


BLITZER: What do you say to your friend and colleague from Kansas?

KYL: I would ask him to give the president's strategy a chance to succeed. I haven't -- and with all due respect to Sam Brownback, who's a great friend of mine and a good man, none of the president's critics have proposed an alternative that would work. They have a lot of different ideas about how to leave, to leave in six months, to start now and phase it in, to leave within a year.

A lot of different plans to leave. No other plan to win. And I would suggest that if they really be that we can't win, or that we've already lost, the we ought to be getting out today.

The president doesn't believe that. He believes that we can prevail. And what do we mean by win? He's said it many times, leaving Iraq a state that can defend itself, that's at peace, and that will help us in the war against the terrorists.

BLITZER: So much of the president's initiative, this new plan, depends on cooperation, full cooperation from the Iraqi government, led by its prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki. But he's now in a war of words, if you will, with the president and the White House and the secretary of state. He's insisting the Bush administration, the United States, after all its done, is not doing enough to help the Iraqi military and is actually standing in the way of progress. Can you trust this guy?

KYL: Well, in the past, he has not been as helpful as we had thought he should be. Obviously he's got some political problems that he has to deal with. We don't know he's past the laws he should pass either for political considerations. But this time, he's come with a plan and said he will back it up.

For example, when Iraqi soldiers in the past would pick up some of these killers and put them in jail, the politicians would intervene and the next day they'd be out of jail. He says that's not going to happen anymore.

When we put a curfew and a series of measures like blockades and checkpoints to gain control of Sadr City, we were actually gaining control, and then the politicians in Iraq said to us, would you eliminate those things? They're really causing us a lot of political problems. Our people don't like to wait three hours in line.

Now what he's saying is he understands those are the kind of things that are absolutely necessary after we have won the territory to continue to hold it, and to keep it held. Therefore, he's willing to make that commitment.

We'll see if it happens. But we'll be able to judge that as time goes on.

BLITZER: It won't take very long.

But listen to this slap he gave to the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. He said this -- he said, "(Statements like Rice's) give morale boosts for the terrorists and push them toward making an extra effort and making them believe they have defeated the American administration."

He was referring to some criticism she leveled against some of the Iraqi policies.

KYL: Well, and I know there's been some of the back and forth. Usually they end up saying, "Well, I was quoted out of context," and so on.

I think to some extent, remember, these are political people over there that have their own political problems. And I know he is frustrated that maybe we didn't send enough equipment there as quickly as he wanted it, but there are some good reasons why we didn't do that.

You're going to have a back and forth. They are -- they are their own government. And they're going to be a partner here.

They're engaged. That's the important point. Maliki's now really deeply engaged in this. And we're going to find out soon enough whether he's able to back up his new commitment with the kind of actions that we've wanted to see.

So, again, I do think we need to give this plan a chance to succeed.

BLITZER: Senator Kyl, as you know, for almost two years the administration has been saying they need to do these warrantless wiretaps against suspected terrorists without going through the FISA court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court. But now they reversed course yesterday and said, yes, they're going to do it through FISA.

Do you feel that they're pulling the rug out from guys like you, who were supportive of them for the past two years on this sensitive issue?

KYL: No, I don't. First of all, I don't think we know the full story here, Wolf. And we may not be able to talk about a lot of it on camera.

Part of it depends upon whether there's been a new protocol worked out. And there's something to suggest that that's happened within the FISA procedures. And if that's so, perhaps it's something that satisfies the administration's requirements while still enabling it all to be done within the FISA process itself.

So, until I understand exactly what they have decided to do, and on what basis, I'm not going to be critical of it, for sure.

BLITZER: Our CNN contributor, Bill Bennett, wants you to run for president and challenge the other senator from -- from Arizona, John McCain.

What say you?

KYL: Well, I'm not going to do that, of course. It's flattering that Bill would be talking about this, but I can assure that I will not be running for president of the United States.

I just got re-elected to a great job by my constituents in Arizona. And being in the Senate, working on these problems, talking to you, there's a lot to that. I enjoy that and I'm going to continue to do that.

BLITZER: We enjoy talking to you, too, Senator.

KYL: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

John Kyl of Arizona.

Carol's following a developing story.

Carol, what have you got?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, a big fire in Escondido, California. Escondido, between Los Angeles and San Diego.

A huge fire. Lots of fire coming from the roof of a four-complex condominium project. This is currently under construction, but take a look at the flames and the smoke.

Firefighters are very concerned that the structure may just simply collapse. As far as we know, there have been no injuries reported so far. But as you can see, it's going to take a while for firefighters to put this down.

Once again, this fire in Escondido, California

Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's a pretty amazing picture there. We'll follow it, together with you.

Carol, thank you.

And still ahead, fighting crime with your camera phone. We're going to look at an ambitious goal for one city.

Plus, we'll have details of a petition against plans for the George W. Bush Presidential Library. You might be surprised at who's behind it.

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


BLITZER: Let's check back with Carol for a closer look at some other stories making news -- Carol.


BLITZER: Can a camera phone help fight crime? That's what New York City major Michael Bloomberg is now hoping. In his annual State of the City Address, Bloomberg says he wants New Yorkers to send in their digital pictures when they report crimes to 911 call centers.

Our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, has this story -- Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, Mayor Bloomberg calls this revolutionary, providing 911 call centers with technology to receive New Yorkers' digital images from their cameras and cameraphones in the case of an emergency. We have already seen how powerful these eyewitness images can be.

CNN received multiple videos of this scene last fall when Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle'' plane crashed into a Manhattan building. Now, police are hoping sending in images to their operators will become standard practice.

More and more police departments are embracing new media. In December, in Hamilton, Ontario, a man was arrested after police investigated a murder -- posted this surveillance video on YouTube. And back in New York City, police used online photos of this subway flasher to make an arrest.

New York City officials say of their new program, they hope it won't be too costly because a lot of the technology is already in place. They hope to have it up and running in the next two years -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, Abbi, for that.

Lou Dobbs is joining us from Miami to give us a preview of what's coming up.

It looks like you're down in the southern fun of Florida, Lou.

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Absolutely, Wolf. Thank you. Here in Miami, Florida.

Coming up at the top of the hour, we'll be reporting on the absolute refusal of the Bush White House and federal prosecutors to give consideration to two former Border Patrol agents sent to prison for shooting a Mexican drug smuggler. An illegal alien smuggler given immunity by the U.S. Justice Department.

We'll have the latest.

And the Bush administration and corporate elites are building a large new bureaucracy to create North American union comprised of the United States, Canada and Mexico, all the while denying it and doing so without constitutional authority.

We'll have that report.

And corporate America has launched a new assault against working men and women struggling to survive the war on the middle class. Working Americans' access to affordable healthcare is at risk.

We'll have that report.

And among our guests here tonight, Senator John Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who wants to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine, and Governor Charlie Crist of the state of Florida.

Please join us for all of that, all the days news, and more, at 6:00 p.m. Eastern at the top of the hour.

Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Lou, what do you make of this Chinese move to destroy one of its own satellites out in space? I know you know a lot about this subject. A lot of people here in Washington very worried about this.

DOBBS: Well, the fact is, there is no treaty, there is no bilateral or multilateral treaty in which communist China participates. And the adventurism of communist China in all things military, but now military in space, is the basis for that concern. And this administration and the U.S. government are only now beginning to focus on the challenges being presented by China.

BLITZER: A lot of other satellites could be vulnerable in a scenario like that

DOBBS: Exactly.

BLITZER: Lou, we'll be watching your program from Miami coming up at the top of the hour.

Thank you.

And still to come here in THE SITUATION ROOM, CNN's Christiane Amanpour joins us with a preview of her special investigations unit report, "The War Within." She'll show us some surprising new breeding ground for terror.

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


BLITZER: This weekend is the premier of CNN's "Special Investigations Unit," our new program. Our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, will look at the new breeding ground for extremism in England, where terrorism has already taken a stunning toll.

Christiane has a preview now from London -- Christiane.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, just like so many Britons and so many people around the world, we were shocked when the suicide bombers blew up trains and buses back in the summer of 2005. And we wanted to see what was going on inside the Islamic community in England.

It's a big community, 1.6 million, and a small minority of them who are extremists espoused the most shocking, the most radical beliefs and ideology. And we followed them, but we also followed some of the others. But first we went to the extremists to hear what they had to say.


ANJEM CHOUDARY, ISLAMIC EXTREMIST: One day you will conquer Rome!. One day -- one day, you will conquer the White House!

AMANPOUR (voice over): Anjem Choudary is the public face of Islamic extremism in Britain. His group, Al Muhajiroun, disbanded before the British government could outlaw it under its new antiterrorism rules. But that hasn't shut Choudary up.

CHOUDARY: Whoever insults Islam also (INAUDIBLE) the Prophet Mohammed. Whoever insults Islam deserve capital punishment.

AMANPOUR: That was Choudary's inflammatory rhetoric just days after Pope Benedict's controversial speech about Islam.

CHOUDARY: Pope benedict, you will pay!

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Pope Benedict, you will pay! CHOUDARY: The Mujahedeen are on their way!

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: The Mujahedeen are on their way!

AMANPOUR: Outside Westminster Cathedral, British Catholics looked on in disbelief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can stand outside our church and abuse us and abuse our religion and abuse people that we hold dear with absolute impunity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The simple question to the Christians is, do you condemn what the pope said?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't condemn...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you condemn the pope?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he said...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you condemn the pope?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If any of us was to amble up to, you know, the mosque at Regents Park and (INAUDIBLE) Allah or Mohammed, or what have you, the best case scenario you'd be taken away by the police for inciting racial hatred. The worst case scenario, attacked by a bunch of thugs wearing tea towels on their heads.

CHOUDARY: Democracy, hypocrisy!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democracy, hypocrisy!

AMANPOUR: Even away from the bully pulpit, Choudary, who is a lawyer, not a cleric, continues to advocate extremist views, like calling for Sharia, Islamic law, for Britain.

CHOUDARY: All of the world belongs to (INAUDIBLE). And we will live according to the Sharia law. This is fundamental belief of the Muslims. You know, if I was to go to the jungle tomorrow, I'm not going to live like animals.

AMANPOUR: Anjem, basically a lot of what you're saying is, it's my way or the highway. I mean, how does that kind of logic fit into a democratic state like the one we live in now? Like the one you live in? You live here by choice.

Do you not believe in democracy?

CHOUDARY: No, I don't at all. We believe that people must live according to the Sharia.


AMANPOUR: And a lot of these extremist views are being espoused in mosques around England. But the thing is, these people are now being challenged. They're being challenged by the majority of British Muslims who are the moderates in the mainstream.

There's an interesting debate that you'll see later on in this program where this Anjem Choudary goes and says some similar things to a group of Muslims who tell him, "This is not an ideology, sir, this is a mental illness."

And we did find and we sought out the other side of this story, the other voices, those who are fed up with the religion being hijacked by extremists and those who advocate violence and jihad and who want to bring it back to the sensible center. And it's incredibly hopeful and optimistic, because individuals all over, in all sorts of walks of life, are now being to realize it's now or never on this very serious issue -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So this group, Christiane, the one -- the man we just heard from and his followers, what you discovered represent what you're saying is a small percentage of the Muslims in Britain?

AMANPOUR: It is a small percentage. Nonetheless, as we've seen here, that part of that small percentage did create devastation and murder on the subway transit system a year ago. But it is a small percentage.

But they are being radicalized. As you know, like in so many parts of the world, the Iraq war has added fuel to the radical fires. And in order to try to stop more impressionable disaffected Muslim youth from going in that direction, the moderates who we found, the mainstream artists, preachers, all sorts of members of the community, are beginning to stand up now, to be counted and to try to stop this.

And that's what we found important, because that side of the story basically almost never gets told.

BLITZER: Christiane Amanpour doing some important reporting for us, as she always does.

Christiane, thanks.

And you can see Christiane's full report, "The War Within," this weekend, 8:00 p.m. Eastern. It's the kickoff of our new series, "CNN Special Investigations Unit."

It airs Saturday and Sunday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Your going to want to see this.

Up next, Jack Cafferty wants to know, what does the next generation of Iraqis have to look forward to?

Jack with your e-mail when we come back.


BLITZER: Let's go back to Jack Cafferty in New York. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack. CAFFERTY: Wolf, the war in Iraq is taking a tremendous toll on that country's higher education system. Students are leaving the universities by the thousands, professors targeted for assassinations, and professionals just fleeing the country.

So the question we asked is: What does the next generation of Iraqis have to look forward to?

Apparently not much, according to your e-mail.

Blair in Virginia Beach, Virginia, "Doesn't anyone remember the crippling of a nation caused the rise of Adolph Hitler? I can only imagine a radical dictator like Hitler or Mussolini taking advantage of the readily available nuclear weapons of today's age. I think if we abandon Iraq's young people to a future as bleak as the Germans was after the Treaty of Versailles, that we'll be looking at another world war."

Rosemary in Groton, Connecticut, "They, like us, are looking forward to 2009 and life without mad cowboy disease. They may be able to look forward to the rebirth of diplomacy as the preferred method of solving problems instead of war and terrorism."

Steve in Wisconsin, "They could look forward to endless pain. And in time, they will forget the reasons behind that pain and only remember who inflicted it: the United States. In order to bring stability to themselves, in order to bring a sense of closure, they'll turn their anger toward this country."

"I hate to say this, but I really don't blame them. They'll be furious and completely justified in that emotion. I fear for both sides."

Rubin writes from Clifton, New Jersey, "The next generation of Iraqis will hate America, will rush to get tourist and student visas, will overstay them forever, and take their revenge courtesy of the usual patsies, you and me."

And David in Toronto simply writes, "Getting even."

If you didn't' see your e-mail here, you can go to, where you can read more of them online.

Wolf, that report of Christiane's, I'm looking forward to that. It's about time the moderate Muslims wised up to what's being done to their religion. I'm anxious to see what she's found out.

BLITZER: It's going to be a special hour of television this weekend, Saturday and Sunday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, "The War Within." We're starting our "Special Investigations Unit" program.

Thanks, Jack, very much for that.

Remember, tomorrow we have an exclusive joint interview with the former president Jimmy Carter and the former vice president Walter Mondale. We'll be talking to them about Iraq, Iran, President Carter's controversial new book.

That interview tomorrow.

In the meantime, let's go to Lou. He's in Miami.


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