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THE SITUATION ROOM

Murtha's New Iraq Attack; Global Warming Gloom; Yale is Burning: Rage Over Torching of U.S. Flag

Aired April 5, 2007 - 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: Jack Cafferty, thank you so much. A lot of e-mail coming in.
And you're in the SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, sailors seized by Iran. Could it happen to the U.S.? A top Navy commander says, not without a bloody fight. His warning to Iran, in an exclusive interview.

Also, Iraq accountability. An outspoken war critic lashing out at President Bush and threatening dramatic action in response to a White House veto. Democratic Congressman John Murtha will join us here in the SITUATION ROOM.

Plus, a Katrina-like disaster in New York, Washington and other American cities. We'll show you disturbing warnings of deadly consequences from climate change.

Wolf Blitzer's off today, I'm Suzanne Malveaux, and you're in the SITUATION ROOM.

A blunt warning to Iran from a top U.S. Navy commander, in an exclusive interview. He says U.S. sailors won't be seized like those British captives, at least not without a bloody fight. Let's go to CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr for your exclusive report. Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, the head of the U.S. Navy today sent his own message to Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

In an exclusive interview with CNN, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael Mullens, is blunt when asked if U.S. troops could ever be captured by Iranians in the Persian Gulf.

ADM. MIKE MULLENS, CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS: My expectation, is that American sailors are never seized in a situation like that.

STARR: There are 19 U.S. Navy ships patrolling in the Gulf. Even before the British incident, commanders had stepped up security procedures. Now, there is even more caution. If Iranians attempted to capture U.S. Sailors or Marines, Mullens says they will defend themselves.

MULLENS: They have the right to engage, to shoot and they do not have to ask permission.

STARR: The Navy will ask the British for details about the incident. The U.S. Navy has procedures to keep its troops safe when they board cargo ships. A helicopter overhead to keep watch, and a combat ship within shooting range. Mullen will not criticize the British troops. No one yet knows what duress or coercion they may have suffered. But there are rules of conduct for U.S. personnel in captivity.

MULLENS: There's a very clear understanding of the Uniform Code of Military Justice of what you're allowed to say. And it's who you are, what's your social security number is and very limited in terms of any kind of response when you become a prisoner or a hostage.

STARR: Suzanne, Admiral Mullen says this incident is destabilizing, and part of Iran's rhetoric that he says is not moving in the right direction.

Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Barbara, thank you so much for that exclusive report. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, those British Sailors and Marines are being debriefed about their ordeal in Iran. As new details emerge about what they endured. CNN's Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance is in London. Matthew, we are learning new details.

MATTHEW CHANCE, SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. There is a lot of relief in Britain tonight, though, that these 15 British Marines and Sailors have been released, as a gift, as the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called it, from Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHANCE (voice over): A military spokesman at the Marine base where they are now being debriefed issued a short statement on their behalf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It goes without saying, that we're extremely happy to be back home in the UK, and reunited with our loved ones. Touching down this morning at Heathrow this morning, was for all of us, a dream come true. And the welcome home that we have enjoyed today is one none of us will ever forget. The past two weeks have been very difficult. But by staying together as a team, we kept our spirits up.

CHANCE: Just a few hours earlier, their first steps back on British soil. They paused for photographers before taking off from Tehran's Airport, Iranian television grilled them one last time on their experiences of the Islamic Republic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just a thing of relief that I'm about to go home, see my daughter and my family. Obviously, we've had a very pleasant stay under the conditions we were in. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't say anything different than I've said over here, I'll be absolutely completely truthful. I'd definitely promote, Iran, actually. I think there's a lot of ignorance in the UK, really, about Iran and the people.

CHANCE: But for Britain, this was a day of relief tinged with tragedy. In the southern Iraqi city of Basra, at least four British soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb, bringing to six the number of UK troops killed there in a week. Welcoming the release of the captives, the British Prime Minister stopped short of blaming Iran's meddling in Iraq for the British soldiers' deaths. But only just.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: So, I make no allegation in respect of that particular incident, but the general pictures, I've said before, there are elements, at least, of the Iranian regime that are backing, financing, arming, supporting terrorism in Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE: Well, those remarks from the Prime Minister Blair marking a return to the tougher official language being used by Britain towards the Islamic Republic now that the 15 Sailors and Marines are home.

Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Matthew Chance, in London, thanks again.

And right now, a powerful new appeal in the fight over Iraq war funding. Members of the top military brass are stepping in to the battlefield where the president and Congress are in a standoff. Our Brian Todd joining us now.

Brian, you have the latest information on this. Who is it and why are they stepping in?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, the tension, the political fight over war funding is growing, and the joint chiefs of staff are now weighing in. We got a copy of this letter sent this week from the joint chiefs to the Senate Minority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell. They ask the senator to do what he can to expedite the passage of an emergency supplemental bill that would fund the war. One critical passage here, quote, "Without approval of the supplemental funds in April, the Armed Services will be forced to take increasingly disruptive measures in order to sustain combat operations. The impacts on readiness and quality of life could be profound."

We contacted the senator McConnell's office. They do confirm they did receive that letter this week. Top aide to the senator says that he agrees with the that, the tone of that letter. He agrees that Congress should try to expedite the funding for the bill. And he wishes that the House would come back sooner than they are expected to, which, I think is the week after next, to work on a compromise bill. So, the joint chiefs clearly expressing some, at least some anxiety over this. MALVEAUX: And Brian, no doubt, we will probably see the White House using that letter to bolster their own case here to get the money as quickly as possible.

Brian Todd, thank you so much for bringing an update.

Our Carol Costello also monitoring develops from around the world. The wires and video that's coming here in the SITUATION ROOM. What is making news at this moment, Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have an update on a story we've been following for quite some time. In fact, all afternoon, a scary experience for hundreds of passengers aboard a Greek cruise ship. The ship, the Sea Diamond, was safely evacuated today after hitting rocks and taking on water.

This happened near the Aegean Sea island of Santorini. The ship was carrying almost 1200 passengers, most of them from North America. They include some U.S. college groups. Almost 400 crew members were on board. We are happy to report, no injuries reported. The Lewis Helanic (ph) Cruise Line says in a statement on its web site, the ship has now been stabilized, so the situation appears to be under control.

MALVEAUX: Carl, thanks again. Good news. And Jack Cafferty joining us from New York. Jack, what do you have going on?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's an old expression, something along the lines of, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. With that in mind, here's a quote: We couldn't take the old FEMA and simply put some makeup on it. So says David Paulison, who is the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Remember them?

The National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans, he says he wants people to focus on the new FEMA that's had almost two years to make major changes and has become, in his words, one of the premiere emergency management agencies in the nation. If that's true, it means we now have one. Paulison says if another Hurricane Katrina strikes, the agency will be able to register 200,000 victims and inspect 20,000 homes a day. They also have enough food stockpiled to feed a million people for a week. He says the agency has bought satellite equipment to show real time video from disaster scenes and they are filled many staff vacancies and he insists they have taken the politics out of the top assignments.

But he doesn't expect people along the coast to just take him at his word that the federal government will be ready when the next big storm hits. They will have to see FEMA in action. Remember when FEMA was good, it used to be a separate government agency. Since it was folded into the Department of Homeland Security, it's become just as worthless as the rest of that giant government agency is.

So, here's the question: How can FEMA regain the confidence of the public?

E-mail Caffertyfile@cnn.com or go to Cnn.com/caffertyfile. Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Jack, thank you so much.

And up ahead, a Democratic lawmaker, an outspoken war critic, responds to the president's veto threat with a threat of his own.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONGRESSMAN JOHN MURTHA, (D-PA): If he vetoes the bill, we have to do something dramatic, because the public is demanding that there be accountability.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Find out what that something dramatic might be. My interview with Congressman John Murtha is coming up.

Also, a Republican Congressman meeting with Syria's president. As the Democratic house speaker comes under new fire for doing the same.

And large parts of major U.S. cities under water. A dire warning about global warming. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: There is word now of a new offensive under way in Afghanistan involving both U.S. and NATO forces. We're going to go back to CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. You have more news on another story. What are you hearing?

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, there is now, as we speak, a NATO and U.S. military operation now under way in southern Afghanistan, against suspected Taliban forces. All of this taking place in the southern province of Helmand in Afghanistan. A little bit earlier today, the joint chiefs of staff, General -- the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Peter Pace, spoke about the operation under way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: The NATO commander on the ground, General Meal (ph) of the United States Army has begun his operations. I do not want to get into the specifics of the operations, but it will unfold very clearly here in the next couple of days what he has begun, but to answer your question specifically, yes, NATO operations have begun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: What we know, Suzanne, is these are helicopter born troops, several hundred of them moving into southern Afghanistan, which for the last several months has been a strong hold of the resurgent Taliban. There are continuing combat operations of course across much of southern and eastern Afghanistan but we are told to expect to see these operations step up, especially in this region over the next several weeks -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And Barbara, does this mean possibly more U.S. troops to Afghanistan?

STARR: Well, not perhaps combat troops. But at the press conference today, there was discussion that there are going to be more U.S. troops going to Afghanistan for training, for training of the Afghan security forces. That has been a fairly successful effort. The Afghan army is an organization that moves out front and engages in a good deal of combat themselves so, they want to step up the training and get more of them out there on the front line, more U.S. troops over the next several months, expected to go to help with that training effort -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Barbara, thanks so much. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon breaking more news for us here right in the SITUATION ROOM.

And Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad today, one day after Democratic House Speaker Pelosi did the same. But Pelosi's mission is now coming under fresh fire.

CNN's Jill Dougherty reports that Pelosi is being slammed over what critics call a bungled effort at diplomacy.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Suzanne, Middle East diplomacy really is a mine field.

(voice-over): House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had barely left Syria when this bomb shell lead editorial appeared in the "Washington Post." Titled "Pratt Fall in Damascus: Nancy Pelosi's Foolish Shuttle Diplomacy," it laid into the speaker for allegedly botching a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, which she delivered to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Pelosi told Assad, Israel was ready to engage in peace talks with Syria. Only one problem, the Post claimed, that wasn't the message the Israeli prime minister gave her.

On its Web site the prime minister's office issued a rare clarification, "What was communicated to the U.S. House Speaker does not contain any change in the policies of Israel," it said, "although Israel is interested in peace with Syria," it went on, "Syria is still a member of the axis of evil." And it must change its ways, including stop supporting terror in Iraq, before there can be peace.

Pelosi's staff fired back at the Post, calling the editorial poisonous. They said the speaker delivered a tough and serious message to the Syrian president that contained all of Israel's demands.

Even before this flareup, President Bush had strongly criticized the trip. Now, the state department has weighed in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: It sends the wrong message to Syria. They exploit these high-level visits for all the PR value that they're worth, and then they don't change their behavior.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

But Pelosi's office says the administration's cold shoulder approach is yielding nothing but more Syrian intransigence. Pelosi thinks it's a good idea to talk with Syria, and she's not the only member of Congress who's traveling to Damascus. Republicans are going there, too. Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Jill Dougherty, thank you so much.

And coming up, he is a Vietnam veteran who says that he has had it with the Iraq war. And he's laying blame firmly on President Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MURTHA: We have to force this accountability onto this administration. They haven't had accountability for six years. They have to have accountability.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: He is pulling no punches with the president. Democratic Congressman John Murtha will join us here in the SITUATION ROOM.

Plus -- restoring rights. We'll have details of a major change for ex-convicts in one state. Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Our Carol Costello is monitoring stories coming into the SITUATION ROOM right now. Carol, what is making news?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: A couple of things to tell you about, Suzanne. Some felons in Florida will be getting their right to vote back. Republican Governor Charlie Crist and the state clemency board approved a rule today that restores voting and other civil rights. The state attorney general strongly objecting. The plan does involve a compromise, however. Murderers and other violent felons will still need a hearing and a review before that right to vote is granted.

Story affecting small businesses. A new high-tech way to help drivers avoid gridlock. The California-based company Speed Info has installed 50 solar-powered, wireless radar sensors along major arteries in Washington, D.C. The sensors take readings of average traffic speeds twice a minute. The company says it's a far more accurate picture of road conditions than helicopters or highway patrollers can provide. Speed Info plans to sell the information to customers such as broadcasters. And another story affecting small businesses. If it weren't for immigrants, the population of U.S. cities would shrink. That's the word from the Census Bureau today. It looked at figures from 2000 through last year, and found more and more native-born Americans are moving out of cities. Atlanta added more people than any other metro area.

That's a look at the headlines right now, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Carol Costello, thanks so much for keeping us updated on the very latest.

And of course, coming up, a decorated veteran says U.S. forces cannot win a military victory in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JACK MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: These are the kind of people that are individuals. They are not 140,000 troops. They are 140,000 individuals, whose families are affected by these deployments, and we're caught in a civil war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Democratic Congressman John Murtha joins us in THE SITUATION ROOM, with a blunt message for the White House.

Plus, only four months on the job, and he gets millions, while his company loses billions. Pay package outrage. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now -- the Bush administration makes clear it is very concerned about the crisis in Darfur. The State Department's No. 2 official will head to Sudan next week. John Negroponte will also travel to other parts of Africa, pushing for peace in what the administration calls genocide.

Are the dog biscuits you feed your dog potentially deadly? The FDA is adding another product to the list of pet food products contaminated with a potentially toxic ingredient. The agency says those biscuits are made by an Alabama-based company called Sunshine Mills, and that the company has recalled those products.

And just as Ford bleeds billions of dollars and plans to cut more than 30,000 jobs, the auto maker paid its CEO $28 million in cash and other benefits, for just four months on the job. That's from a Ford filing today with the SEC.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

An international crisis avoided, and the captives are now free. More on our top story -- those Britons who are out of Iran and now back home. Their case is focusing attention on the plight of other people being held.

Michael Ware in Baghdad, thank you so much for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Michael, a lot of attention being paid to the British sailors and marines that were released today, those 15 hostages from Iran. But there are also members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that are in custody of U.S. military inside Iraq. Why is it so important to the Iranian government that they be released? Because, already, President Bush says they will not. There's no quid pro quo here.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, for the Iranian government, these men represent the best of their best. These are Iranian Revolutionary Guards corps, Quds Force officers. This is their front line, their ideological tip of the spear. Think American Green Beret with a dash of CIA paramilitary, and a little bit of Delta Force operator.

Of an entire Revolutionary Guard force of 120,000-odd, there's only 600 or 700 field officers from the Quds Force. So these are their professionals.

Already, their networks would have been cauterized. So whatever information they had would now be stale. But it's vital for the Iranian regime to get these men back at some point, to avoid a loss of face. Just as it was for British Prime Minister Tony Blair to get his marines and sailors back.

And we don't need to focus too much on a quid pro quo for these Quds Force officers. Let's remember that an Iranian diplomat went missing mysteriously off the streets of Baghdad earlier this year, and just as mysteriously, this Iranian diplomat reappeared on the eve of the release of these British sailors and marines.

MALVEAUX: Well, the Iranian government is also asking at least to be able to see these individuals in U.S. custody. How successful, how likely do you think that that's going to be able to happen?

WARE: I think that would be extremely unlikely in all the circumstances, and certainly in the ordinary course of events.

When prisoners are taken from a -- an opposing force, one generally doesn't allow them to -- to, you know, make contact with that opposing force and their commanders. This is where agencies like the Red Cross, for example, come into play, or perhaps intermediaries from third countries or third parties.

So, whether there will be direct face to face contact between these captured operatives and their commanders -- I think that's most unlikely.

MALVEAUX: And Michael, we also heard from Secretary of Defense Gates who said at least there will be no official channels to make that happen. So, Michael Ware, thank you so much from Baghdad.

WARE: Thank you, Suzanne. MALVEAUX: Also in Iraq, a U.S. Army helicopter went down south of Baghdad, injuring four troops. The initial assessment is that it was damaged by small arms fire. That's what a U.S. military official tells CNN. But the official says it is not clear if the gunfire actually brought down the chopper or if the pilot decided to land after realizing it has been targeted.

Today's incident is part of a disturbing pattern. Sixty-one helicopters have gone down in Iraq since May of 2000. About half of them were brought down by hostile fire.

One outspoken Democrat suggests the violence in Iraq is proof that the country is in the middle of a civil war, no matter what the Bush administration says. Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania says the administration should be held accountable for its Iraq policy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: Congressman Murtha, thank you so much for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It seems as if each day, the president is taking a harder and harder stand on his position. Let's take a quick listen to how he described the Iraq war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's not a civil war, it is pure evil. And I believe we have an obligation to protect ourselves from that evil. And so while we're making progress, it also is tough, and so the way to deal with it is to stay on the offense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Do you think that the president makes any more of a convincing case here when he sets up this debate as one of good versus evil?

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Suzanne, I don't know who he's listening to. I don't know who is giving him advice, because, what he's saying, when I think the Congress will have appropriated $1.2 trillion in the last year, and that the oil production is less than pre-war, electricity is less than pre-war, I don't know how he can measure and stay there's progress.

And then -- then he makes the flat-out statement that if he doesn't get money, or the bill isn't passed, that he will extend troops. He's already extended 12 units in Iraq. He already had 70,000 with stop-loss, which means they can't be discharged. And he's preparing to send two units back with less than a year at home. And so he is -- he's blaming the Congress for something that his policy has been responsible for forcing the military to violate their own guidelines.

Now, if he vetoes this Iraq Accountability Act, he's vetoing money that would go to Walter Reed, vetoing money that would go to health care, for post-traumatic stress, money that would go to brain injury. Money that's needed for training and equipment. He's sending units back with inadequate training.

We are saying in the Iraq Accountability Act the president has to be accountable. $1.2 trillion, and he has to be accountable.

MALVEAUX: What do you think of the Senate majority's idea, Harry Reid, when he says, perhaps, if this legislation is vetoed with the timetable for withdrawing troops, then we're going to go ahead and withdraw most of the funds for the Iraq war? Do you think that that's going too far, or do you think that's an appropriate way here to confront the president?

MURTHA: Well, let me just say what the problem that he has. We have 126,000 contractors in Iraq. And we can't even hold them accountable. We don't know who they are. The Iraq inspector general said to me, "You have to help us get accountability."

Now, what am I talking about? I'm talking about some of those contractors are being paid more than the secretary of defense, out of the 126,000. So we cut five percent out of that money. Yes, I think that if he vetoes the bill, we have to do something dramatic, because the public is demanding that there be accountability.

MALVEAUX: The president not only is debating here about the short term in terms of U.S. troops here, but he's also making the case of long term. He says that Americans are going to have to be there for the long term.

Take a listen to this analogy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Well, after World War II, after we had a brutal war with the Japanese and Nazi Germany, our troops stayed behind and helped these societies recover and grow and prosper. And now we're reaping the benefits of helping our former enemies realize the blessings of liberty. Europe is free and at peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Congressman, do you believe that this analogy is actually accurate, that it could apply to the Middle East, as the president is arguing?

MURTHA: Suzanne, my dad served in World War II. His dad served in World War II. We had defeated the opposition. We were fighting against the state.

Here, we are fighting against tribes, we are fighting against -- against -- we're caught in a civil war. Much different situation.

We had completely defeated the opposition after World War II, and we helped them rebuild, as we should have. This is entirely different situation. It's not getting better. It's getting worse. And that's the problem.

MALVEAUX: The president is just asking -- he is asking for time, and even his generals. I want you to hear what General Petraeus is also asking for, as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL FORCES IN IRAQ: I'm not sure that hard and fast deadlines are useful in the sense of providing the enemies out here, you know, just a time to which they have to hang tough and then know that we would be gone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: So, why not give the president a bill here without strings attached, the supplemental war funding, and then revisit the issue, say, six months from now, when the president says perhaps we'll see some progress, that General Petraeus says you will actually have tangible results?

MURTHA: Because we hear that every six months. And there's been no results. There's absolutely no indication to me, in all I've studied and looked at with this war, that there's any -- any results that are positive at all.

He has to say it. General Petraeus has to say that. But the point that I'm making is, that all the measurements that we make, 60 percent unemployment, people dislike us, the Iraqis want us out of there, and the American public wants us out -- the American public is fed up with this war.

And the big thing is the individuals who are serving. These are the people who serve that are hurt, that go to Walter Reed, that end up in Bethesda, the ones who are disabled. And I just had a young fellow disabled in my office this morning.

These are the kind of people that are individuals. They're not 140,000 troops, they're 140,000 individuals whose families are affected by these deployments and were caught in a civil war. That's the reason, I say, we can't win it militarily. The secretary of defense said that before a hearing in the committee that I serve on just the other day.

We can't win it militarily. Its got to be a diplomatic -- international diplomatic effort.

MALVEAUX: Congressman Murtha, thank you so much for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Always good to have you.

MURTHA: Nice talking to you, Suzanne.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: Up ahead, what would New York City, Boston, Washington and Miami look like if the worse case of global warming scenarios actually happened?

Mary Snow will show us how some familiar places might look. Here's a hint. They won't look familiar anymore.

Also, they burned the American flag. There is no law against that. So, why are some Yale students facing charges, including arson?

Carol Costello tackles this hot topic.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Some say it's "An Inconvenient Truth" that is more like a frightening nightmare -- American cities partly wiped away by global warming. Imagine freak storms, forceful hurricanes, and fierce floods erasing parts of Miami, New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.

Mary Snow is in New York, she has the story behind this.

And what are the theories behind these scenarios, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, it's pretty sobering, but the theory is based on projects about the impact of global warming. And it looks at the worst of what could happen when it comes to rising sea levels and stronger hurricanes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice over): The threat of global warming melting polar ice caps is well known by now. In the United States, scientists point to milder winters, with things like slowing maple syrup production in the northeast as evidence of climate change. But some say that example could pale in comparison to future risks that are on the scale of destruction New Orleans experienced with Hurricane Katrina.

PHILIP CLAPP, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL TRUST: It's time to stop debating the science and really beginning to protect people that are at risk from this kind of phenomenon.

SNOW: Phil Clap is the president of the National Environmental Trust, a nonpartisan science and policy group. The group has come up with worst-case scenarios of the effects of climate change on cities at risk of rising sea levels and strong storms.

High on the list, New York.

CLAPP: You have most of the areas of the financial district in southern New York -- in the southern end of Manhattan flooded.

SNOW: Clapp says both New York City airports could be under water in the event of a Category 2 hurricane with a sea level rise of about two feet.

In Washington, D.C., if there was a strong storm along the Potomac, the area stretching from the Mall to the White House lawn could be at risk. CLAPP: This is a rather large flooding event for Washington. And there would be a lot of destruction to national monuments and memorials.

SNOW: Miami, especially South Beach, could see severe flooding, and so could Boston's financial and historic areas.

On the West Coast, the worst-case scenario calls for the San Francisco Bay to expand and make Sacramento a bay city.

These models are projected for the later half of the century. Many scientists say stopping all carbon emissions now won't reverse the effects of climate change completely.

GAVIN SCHMIDT, CLIMATE SCIENTIST, NASA GODDARD: The real debate is, we have some global warming that's going to continue regardless of anything we do. But then we have worst-case scenarios, which, if we carry on with our business as usual kind of approach, are really very, very serious.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Now, the vast majority of climate scientists buy into the theory of global warming and sea level rise. But there's no certain agreement about how bad it will or won't be and when or if it will happen -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And Mary, I noticed a lot of these major cities impacted, it projects. But what about the inland areas?

SNOW: The inland areas, well, one major area of concern -- and this will come out tomorrow -- it's expected to come out in a U.N.- backed science panel report -- that the Mississippi River Delta is one of six areas most at risk of rising sea levels.

MALVEAUX: Mary Snow, thank you so much. A fascinating report.

Right now, Yale is burning with red-hot rage. Many on campus are asking if some students committed an act many consider to be anti- American. And if they did, why?

Our Carol Costello in New York, following this story.

What are the students accused of doing here?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are accused of burning the American flag. But here's the thing -- why? If it was a prank, why burn an American flag?

In any case, three young, apparently smart young men, are in big trouble.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO (voice over): An American flag burning. It's an image that gets many Americans' blood boiling. So when New Haven police pulled an Old Glory in flames from this house in New Haven, Connecticut, it was an attention grabber.

This man who owns the place is angry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They endangered all the lives that lived in the building, and maybe in the buildings next to it.

COSTELLO: The alleged culprits? Yale freshman Farhad Anklesaria, from Britain, and Nikolaos Angelopoulos, from Greece, and 23-year-old senior Hyder Akbar, a U.S. citizen, born in Pakistan, with strong ties to Afghanistan.

In fact, Akbar (ph) worked for U.S. forces as a translator in Afghanistan. His father, who is Afghan, worked with President Hamid Karzai. The young man even wrote a book called "Come Back to Afghanistan" so Americans could understand what that country is about.

The question now is why he and his friends allegedly burned an American flag hanging from somebody else's front porch. Their former attorney wouldn't comment on that, but said, "All three of these gentlemen are clearly happy to be in the United States and happy to be attending Yale..."

Now, keep in mind, the act of burning a flag is not illegal. But prosecutors say this case goes well beyond that, charging all three with nine counts a piece, including reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and arson.

The Yale students spent the night in jail, appearing in court the next morning. Reporters from the "New Haven Register" said they seemed confused.

MARY E. O'LEARY, "NEW HAVEN REGISTER": They came in, they were shackled. They had leg irons and handcuffs, and according to the reporter that was there, they looked dazed.

COSTELLO: All three have been released on bond but have not yet entered a plea. As to whether they'll get to back to school, Yale is not commenting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: Now, the young men have a new attorney who told The Associated Press late this afternoon, Mr. Akbar loves the United States, it was just a foolish college prank. And if that is the case, Suzanne, it's really foolish, because if convicted, Akbar and his buddies could spend up to 20 years behind bars.

MALVEAUX: Wow. Thanks so much.

Carol Costello.

Up ahead, are Americans ready to kiss and make up with FEMA? Jack Cafferty has your answers to the question: How can FEMA regain the confidence of the public?

That's next. Also, all dressed up, but at least for awhile, they had no place to go. But now that those captive British sailors are free, Tom Foreman asks, what's with the suits? The fashion statement is just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

MALVEAUX: And now we are going back to Jack Cafferty.

Jack, what do you have for us?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Lou's shows are always interesting.

MALVEAUX: They always are.

CAFFERTY: They are.

The question this hour is: How can FEMA regain the confidence of the public? They are out beating themselves on the chest, saying they are the new and improved FEMA, and they made all these changes and everything is going to be great from now on.

Jeff writes from some town in New York I can't pronounce, Canandaigua, I think, "FEMA could go a long way regaining the trust of the American people by going back to New Orleans and actually finishing the job it never completed under its last director and interim management. But of course it's much easier to simply promise to do a better job in the future than to go back and fix past mistakes."

Page, Bloomington, Indiana, "There's really only one way FEMA can regain the confidence of the American people. It's inevitable another major disaster will occur in the not-too-distant future. When it happens, FEMA must step up and handle all of its responsibilities. No excuses, no passing the blame on the local governments."

Paul, Mclean, Virginia, "When FEMA resurrects my sister, Dorothy Lee, who drowned in the floodwaters of New Orleans, and tests the new hurricane pumps to show they really do work and will keep the city free of floodwaters, then I'll be respectful of that bunch of lying, thieving, bloodsucking murderers."

Rick in New Orleans, "A year ago, my neighbor was delivered a FEMA trailer that he didn't want, he didn't need. For 12 months he begged and pleaded with FEMA to take the trailer back, take it off his property so he could work on repairs and someone who needed the trailer could maybe use it. Finally, three weeks ago, FEMA picked up the trailer."

"Last week, I got home from work. The trailer was back. FEMA claimed a problem with the paperwork, so they could take the trailer away until the paperwork problem was resolved."

This apparently is the new and improved FEMA. Randy in Lake Lotawana, Missouri, "If FEMA is to restore confidence in its operation, it's necessary to fix New Orleans. This is an American shame, and FEMA won't be right until New Orleans is right."

And Darren in Trenton, Michigan, suggests euthanizing the Department of Homeland Security.

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to cnn.com/caffertyfile, where we post more of them, along with video clips of "The Cafferty File" -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Jack. A lot of frustration and anger, still. Thank you so much, Jack.

Google's newest innovation lets you plot anything, including photos and video, on their popular maps and share it all with the rest of the world.

So, let's bring in our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner.

Jacki, what is the story now with all the Google maps?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, Suzanne, starting today, you are going to be able to create your very own interactive online map of just about anything. You can map out the tennis courts in Arlington, Virginia, or the 2004 presidential election results.

See, people have been using Google maps creatively online for years, to map everything from airport parking, to local crime. They are called Google Mashups, and Google says there's about 35,000 of them out there right now. But now with their new tools, they are letting the average computer user make their own online interactive map.

So, let's say you take a trip down old Route 66. You can put photos online of exactly where you stayed in a wigwam and share it with others. If you make this a public map, then it becomes part of a searchable user-generated database. Pretty cool stuff.

So, Google, which mapped out its own headquarters, the Googleplex, online, says that they expect people to use this in a positive way. But we asked them about the security and safety measures, and being able to map out anything at any time. And they say that they will remove maps, Suzanne, if they violate the law or violate their terms of service.

MALVEAUX: Because I assume they could map and try to figure out where you live or something like that.

SCHECHNER: There are maps out there like that, and there is a safety and security concern. But they say they're going to get on it and people can report things, yes.

MALVEAUX: OK.

Jacki, thank you so much.

And up next, what should you wear when you've just been set free from two weeks of captivity? Many are eying the clothes of those British sailors and marines freed by Iran. We'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: They were held in captivity for weeks, and two nations were locked in a standoff as the world watched. But you might not think that people would be watching what those 15 captives were wearing.

CNN's Tom Foreman joins me.

And you definitely were watching, and it caught the attention of a lot of other people. Why?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How could you miss it? I mean, it was just the oddest thing in the world to see this.

Now that these Brits are home, safe and sound, it is finally safe to ask -- what was with those suits?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN (voice over): This morning, as they left Iran, the captives were again wearing that clothing given to them by the Iranians. Similar to what is normally worn by many government officials there.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Have a good luck, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, sir.

FOREMAN: Fashion consultants give the suits low marks.

MICHAEL CLEMENTS, "WASHINGTON LIFE" MAGAZINE: They looked a bit baggy. And I think probably the tailor, just like the negotiators, were working under a tight deadline. So they didn't have very much time to work.

FOREMAN: But the clothing and the elaborate sendoff may have suited the Iranians just fine.

LT. FELIX CARMAN, BRITISH ROYAL MARINES: My name is Lieutenant Felix Carman...

FOREMAN: Making it look like the Brits were not so much prisoners as honored guests, and demonstrating that troops from a powerful nation could be forced to abandon their uniforms.

CLEMENTS: I think that just as the British government and the Iranian government came together in diplomacy to get these, you know, men and women back home, it seems as if they made a diplomatic compromise on the fashion, as well. FOREMAN: The Iranian media say the prisoners also were given vases, handy crafts and pistachios, laid out in gift bags that matched their suits.

In the end, foreign affairs analysts say all this let Iranian leaders have their cake and eat it, too, showing their military resolve to the Western world by capturing the Brits, then displaying their diplomatic savvy by setting them free, a grand piece of political theater, complete with costumes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: The troops changed back in to their uniforms during the flight home. No word on whether or not they'll get to keep those suits.

Later tonight, however, on "ANDERSON COOPER 360," a closer look at a more serious question on many people's minds -- are troops in captivity expected to hold their tongues or speak to their captors and go along with whatever they have planned?

MALVEAUX: And Tom, real quick, was this a violation of international law to force them to wear those suits?

FOREMAN: Under law, they in fact have to provide clothing to these people. Not clear what kind. This is a different world. This was clearly a media play.

We'll see what it adds up to in the future.

MALVEAUX: Tom Foreman, thanks so much.

And now we're joined by Lou Dobbs.

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