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Governor Corzine Flown to Hospital; Deadly Attack in Baghdad's Green Zone

Aired April 12, 2007 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.
Happening now, there's some breaking news we're following, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine has just been in a car accident. He's being flown to a hospital. We're going to have details of that.

Also, a deadly attack in the heart of Iraq's capital -- tonight powerful images and disturbing questions about security in Baghdad.

And Don Imus fired from his radio show. What would satisfy critics of his racially charged remarks -- this hour, Imus out of work and done apologizing.

Also, a shocking exposure on the Internet of torture and much worse, allegations involving drug cartels, hostage taking and hit squads that hit Americans uncomfortable close to home.

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

Let's begin with that breaking news out of New Jersey where the governor, Jon Corzine, has been injured in a highway accident. Let's go straight to CNN's Mary Snow. Mary, what do we know so far?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we know that the accident happened within the last hour and a spokesman for New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine saying that the governor's motorcade was involved in an accident. This happened near Atlantic City, New Jersey. And that the governor has been injured.

But a spokesman says the injuries are not life threatening. The reports are that the governor is being medevaced (ph) to a hospital. He had been attending a mayor's conference in Atlantic City earlier today. Again, a spokesman for the governor saying that the injuries are not life threatening -- this accident happening near Atlantic City, New Jersey -- Wolf.

BLITZER: The former U.S. senator from New Jersey, former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs as well. We'll watch this story and bring the latest to our viewers this hour as we get more information.




BLITZER: Terror, a total shock today inside one of the most tightly-guarded places in Baghdad. A suicide bomber struck the cafeteria of Iraq's parliament as lawmakers were eating lunch. At least two of them were among the eight dead. Many, many more were wounded and this, the so-called green zone, supposedly, the most secure part of the Iraqi capital.

CNN's Arwa Damon is in Baghdad -- Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there has been some optimism amongst few Iraqis that things perhaps could be turning for the better, following the security crackdown in the capital, much of that hope overshadowed by the sophistication of today's attacks.



DAMON (voice-over): The panic and chaos painfully evident in these images as the cameraman tries to make this way through the thick smoke and debris, a suicide bomb attack, as formidable in its audacity as it was in effectiveness, striking at the very pillar of Iraq fledgling democracy, the parliament, penetrating the often dubbed fortress Baghdad, the heavily fortified green zone.

Bombers would have had to sneak past U.S. checkpoints, Iraqi security forces and private Western security companies. And avoid detection by bomb sniffing dogs and x-ray machines. The attack took place at the cafeteria right after the day's session came to an end, where members were convening for lunch. The U.S. military points the finger at al Qaeda, known for its sophistication and ability to constantly defy heavy security.

VOICE OF MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, SPOKESMAN, MULTINATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: It's very, very challenging to stop somebody that's willing to give their life to try to take somebody else's life.

DAMON: The insurgency message clear it can infiltrate and strike anywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The news we heard today, in fact it does not shake us or the people in the street, but it makes us laugh. The attack is now in the most critical places, the parliament, which represents the people and it's a violated place.

DAMON: In fact, the second to be violated on Thursday. Earlier, a suicide truck bomber strategically detonated, collapsing one of northern Baghdad's major bridges, sending vehicles toppling into the Tigris River. Divers searched the waters for Iraqi survivor.


DAMON: Iraqis we spoke to following today's attack said that they were simply frustrated and saddened. One woman saying that this was just proof that no one was safe and a clear indication that a government that is powerless to save itself is powerless to save its people -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Arwa Damon in Baghdad for us.

There was an ominous foreshadowing of this attack only three weeks ago. Watch this.




BLITZER: That's the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki- moon, ducking at the shattering explosion as a rocket hit in the so- called green zone. He was holding a news conference with the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. He barely flinched in that incident. Neither was hurt. The event did go on.

Tonight, the White House says it quote, "screwed up", but the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says it may be a lot worse than that. Presidential aides may be lying. At issue, missing White House e-mails sent on a Republican Party account. Many of the messages are related to the controversial firing of federal prosecutors.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: And now, we're learning that off-book communications were being used by these people in the White House, by using Republican political e-mail addresses. And they say they have not been preserved. I don't believe that. I don't believe that. You can't erase e-mails. Not today. They've gone through too many servers. They can't say they've been lost. That's like saying the dog ate my homework.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: We screwed up and we're trying to fix it. We've changed the policy so we can make sure that this doesn't happen again.


BLITZER: That's the White House deputy press secretary, Dana Perino. Let's bring in our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne, how worried is the White House about all of this?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, if you look at their actions, judged by their actions, they are very worried. You heard Ms. Perino in an extraordinarily rare moment, this White House admitting a mistake here. They have no idea, Wolf, just how much e-mail has been deleted, what was on that e-mail. It is really honestly a big mess here. And what they're trying to do is use these computer forensics experts to see if they can salvage any of this here and the immediate problem, Wolf that they have here is a credibility problem, fairly or unfairly this feeds into the perception that this is a White House that had something to hide -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I know you're also getting new information on the White House search for a so-called war czar to oversee, to coordinate efforts not only in Iraq, but in Afghanistan as well.

MALVEAUX: Well, there's an administration official who is really conveying a definitely -- a sense of urgency here in filling that position. He says that the president has signed off on this. That they have reached out -- at least national security adviser Stephen Hadley reaching out to a handful of people to see if they're interested. They have said no thanks.

So essentially, they want to find somebody that they can present to the president officially. All through this post, they say that person would spend time with the president, with Secretaries Rice, as well as Gates before they were assigned this position. They would answer directly to the president, but as this official quoted, they want this done yesterday. He says we have only one shot at getting this right -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne at the White House. Thanks very much.

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's in New York. He's got "The Cafferty File". Do you want to be war czar, Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: You know they got a lot of people to run that war. I mean they got the Pentagon and the -- what they need is an e-mail czar. They need somebody -- an e-mail czar.

All right, on to other things -- so it ends. Imus is history. And for a lot of reasons that's probably a good thing. What he said was wrong. He knew it was wrong. Everybody knew it was wrong and now he's gone. But also gone is a unique program that engaged its listeners in a national debate on issues that mattered.

Don attracted a guest list to that show, a lineup that was the envy of interview shows everywhere. Nobody was above appearing on "Imus". In fact, everybody wanted to be on "Imus in the Morning". It was a cache of sorts attached to that. And when the nation's leaders came to that show, and come they did, we all learned something.

Imus was a consummate interviewer. A couple of weeks ago I listened to him take apart New York Senator Chuck Schumer for never having visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center right there in Washington, D.C. Don was good.

The racial slurs that led to his firing have reopened the national dialogue about racism. Maybe this time we'll get it right. Here's the question.

Will the firing of Don Imus have any long-term effect? E-mail or go to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jack. We'll get back to you shortly.

Coming up, extending troop tours in Iraq. Would a draft solve the problem?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is sad and it's close to immoral. If we had the children of affluent Americans, those in the Pentagon, the White House and the children of CEOs, this would not happen.


BLITZER: Congressman Charlie Rangel coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Also drug war, online gruesome murder videos posted by gangs.

And Hillary Clinton ranks not at the top, but near the bottom. Find out how why the war in Iraq is hurting her among some liberals.

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


BLITZER: We're going to continue to follow that breaking news we've been reporting on. The governor of New Jersey, Jon Corzine, was in some sort of car accident. He's been rushed to a hospital. Not a life threatening situation. We're trying to get some more information on what exactly happened. We'll bring that to you as soon as we get it.

But we'll move on now to a new test of how the war in Iraq is influencing the Democratic presidential race. The grass roots group,, conducted a presidential straw poll of its members who have a clear anti-war bent.

Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider is joining us with the results -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, Wolf, members voted and there was a winner, but not a clear favorite.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): invited 12 presidential candidates to answer the question, what's the best and fastest way to end the war in Iraq. No Republican accepted. All seven Democrats did. That tells you something about the growing influence of MoveOn in the Democrat Party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've opposed this war from the start.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congress should use its funding authority to force President Bush to end the war.

SCHNEIDER: MoveOn members voted online for who did best -- the winner, Barack Obama. But not by a big margin. Twenty-eight percent of the roughly 43,000 voters, just ahead of John Edwards with 25 percent. Hillary Clinton gamely participated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So although some of your members may be a little surprised to hear me say this, I'm grateful for your work.

SCHNEIDER: She came in fifth with 11 percent. What did Obama say that won over MoveOn members.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On May 1 of this year, we need to begin a phased withdrawal from Iraq with the goal of removing all combat troops by March 31 of next year.

SCHNEIDER: MoveOn members who gathered at house parties to hear the candidates preferred John Edwards and Bill Richardson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably because of their representations and their forcefulness about how they talked about Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would pass a congressional resolution de- authorizing the war based on the War Powers Act.

SCHNEIDER: So what impact will the MoveOn vote have?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The strategy for stopping the president on Iraq is to keep ratcheting up the pressure on the Republicans. And Democratic presidential candidates uniting on getting out of Iraq is a big step forward to doing that.


SCHNEIDER: Usually a straw vote showcases the differences among the candidates. Who's best, who's worst. The MoveOn vote does something different, it showcases the Democrats' basic unity on the Iraq issue -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Bill Schneider reporting for us.

And in the Republican presidential race there's a new poll that underscores that Senator John McCain's campaign is having some problems, in part due to his support for the Iraq war. The "Los Angeles Times"-Bloomberg survey of Republicans shows the former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani leading the pack with 29 percent. Former Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee gets 15 percent, even though he's only thinking about running. McCain comes in third with 12 percent. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney gets 8 percent. That's in the "L.A. Times"-Bloomberg poll.

It appears the outrage was just too great. Just a short while ago, CBS fired Don Imus from his radio show after his rationally charged comments. It comes on the same day that Imus said, quote, "he's done apologizing" or at least "he's apologized enough". That's a direct quote.

Carol Costello is in New York. So what's next for Don Imus and this entire affair, Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Well you'd think it was over, but it's really not, Wolf. You know Imus himself said this morning, if CBS Radio canceled his show that would hurt. That is where most of his audience is, around three million or so and that's where he made his money.


COSTELLO (voice-over): MSNBC wasted no time. Not only has "Imus in the Morning" been canceled, it's already been replaced.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We begin this morning with Imus getting axed.

COSTELLO: But Imus was to live on for just a few more hours on CBS Radio, and took turns bashing NBC for what he called as unethical actions and thinking like a businessman.

DON IMUS: I'm not whining about this. That we wouldn't be here had I not said it. These bastards, they went after me. They got me. They didn't catch me asleep.

COSTELLO: But Al Sharpton wasn't finished with Imus yet. He held a press conference along with the father of one of the Rutgers players right before meeting with CBS to try and convince the network to fire Imus too. But Sharpton wasn't feeling the love, accused of racism himself by a reporter who claims Sharpton had said nasty things about the Duke lacrosse players now cleared of rape charges.

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: What did I say? I said we need to investigate. We need to see -- that's nasty? You said that about Michael Jackson. Did you speak of nasty things about Michael? Did you speak nasty things about O.J. Simpson?

COSTELLO: It's an exchange that exposes how confusing this controversy has become. In "The Kansas City Star", an African American columnist, Jason Whitlock, wrote, thank you Don Imus. We can once again wallow in victimhood and delude ourselves into believing that fixing your hatred is more necessary. The bigots win again.

But for the targets of Imus' racial slur, it's a different story. They appeared on "Oprah", emotional, strong.

C. VIVIAN STRINGER, RUTGERS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: By the cancellation of MSNBC of the Imus show, it shows that we do have a moral fiber.

COSTELLO: And hours later, CBS followed NBC'S lead canceling Imus' radio show, a victorious but somber Al Sharpton meeting with reporters.

SHARPTON: There will be no champagne bottle popping by those of us involved in this. This is not about gloating. It is really unfortunate that we have to revisit these issues as late as 2007.


COSTELLO: And a bit of developing news on this story, Wolf, our New York desk has just confirmed that Imus is meeting right now in the New Jersey governors mansion with members of the Rutgers team. We don't know how long they've been there, but we do know they are meeting right now. Many of the Rutgers team members are from New Jersey. And that's probably why that location was picked. As for Al Sharpton, he is vowing the fight is not over. His next target, he says, is the music industry -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Carol. Thank you. Carol Costello reporting on this story.

And we're watching a developing story, reports the New Jersey governor, Jon Corzine, in a hit and run car accident. We'll get the latest details for you.

Also, should the U.S. bring back the draft? Congressman Charlie Rangel in THE SITUATION ROOM -- find out why he thinks the war would end quickly if the sons and daughters of the rich and the powerful had to serve.

Plus, crash and rob -- a smashing Easter Day crime.

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


BLITZER: Our Carol Costello is monitoring stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What else do we have, Carol?

COSTELLO: Lots of stuff, Wolf.

Mike Nifong, the district attorney in Durham, North Carolina, now apologizing to three former Duke University lacrosse players whom he charged with rape. North Carolina's attorney general saying yesterday that charges were being dropped. In a statement released just within the last few hours Nifong says he made incorrect judgment and that the students were wrongly accused. The North Carolina Bar has accused Nifong of withholding evidence and lying to the court.

Health officials are warning that tainted pet food is still on sale at some stores. Just hours ago the FDA revealed that in its inspections of about 400 stores nationwide, they found some products affected by last month's pet food recall are still on the shelves. The agency is still investigating the source of that contamination.

And federal health officials are blaming new drug resistance, strains of bacteria known as super bug for a sharp rise in gonorrhea among American men. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported earlier today that gonorrhea is now resistance to all but one class of antibiotics. A top CDC official says doctors are running out of options for treating the disease and new drugs are urgently needed.

Check out this video coming in from one of our affiliates in Alabama. It happened last Sunday at a pharmacy in the town of Chickasaw. Police say it was all part of a so-called smash and grab, a plan to break in and steal narcotics. Apparently they didn't get much of a haul. The police say all of the narcotics at that store are stored in a safe at night. So Wolf, it was all for naught.


BLITZER: Just imagine God forbid if somebody would have been inside that store at the time. All right, thanks, Carol. Very dramatic video.

Just ahead, Congressman Charlie Rangel he's angry over the overburdened U.S. troops. He's pushing a controversial solution.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To take volunteers that have one, two, three four tours, it's a cruel thing to do. And we never hear them making appeals to able-bodied Americans to volunteer and to join in this fight for freedom or whomever.


BLITZER: Charlie Rangel unleashes fire on the president's Iraq policy, presses for a return to the U.S. military draft.

Plus an Internet bombshell that suggests Iraq-like tortures and killings are happening a lot closer to the United States than you might imagine.

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


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, the governor of New Jersey is involved in a serious car accident. Officials say Jon Corzine is hurt, but that his injuries are not considered life threatening. Officials say it happened on the New Jersey Garden State Parkway. We'll have some details coming up.

Paying for civilians caught in the crossfire. Today the U.S. Army said it's paid at least $33 million to Iraqi and Afghan civilians for wrongful deaths and injuries. Some relatives of the dead gave accounts of their loved ones being run over by tanks or killed by stray bullets, among other things. The Army says it doesn't know how many civilians received claims.

And the governor of Kansas has signed a law barring picketing at funerals. This amid outrage over one group's protest at U.S. military burials. The Topeka based West Burrell (ph) Baptist Church says U.S. troops killed in combat die as God's punishment for this country's tolerance of gays.

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

Some more now on the governor of New Jersey, Jon Corzine. Jacki Schechner is watching what's happening. We're getting some information, Jacki, online. JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, Wolf, I just wanted to show you this photograph. This is from CNN affiliate WPVI out of Philadelphia. You can see here one of the cars involved in the crash. And we don't know much more than this is just one of the pictures from the scene turning up online on the Web site of CNN affiliate WPVI. You can see there the emergency workers on the scene and the vehicle or one of the vehicles, we're not sure yet of the details of the accident, but there you can see it on the scene, again from CNN affiliate WPVI -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thank you. We'll stay on top of this story. Once again, Jon Corzine according to reports coming out of the scene, not in any life-threatening situation, but clearly has been injured in this car accident.

Other news we're following -- is the U.S. Army at the breaking point. That question now being raised because the Pentagon has decided to extend combat tours for active duty soldiers to 15 months.

Let's turn to our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's a question the Pentagon has been wrestling with almost since the beginning of the war. How far can you bend the U.S. Army without it breaking.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): No one in the Pentagon disputes that lengthening combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan will put more stress on already war-weary soldiers and their long-suffering families, but critics including many Democrats in Congress fear the breaking point is near.

SEN. JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA: I think there are limits to human endurance. And there are limits to what families can put up with.

MCINTYRE: The Army likes to point to the recruiting and retention numbers which show both the active duty and the National Guard are exceeding goals.

GEN. JAMES LOVELACE, U.S. ARMY DEP. CHIEF OF STAFF: That's an overall great picture for the health of the force.

MCINTYRE: But there are other more ominous trends. Take the number of West Point graduates who are voting with their feet after their five year commitment is up. Forty-six percent from the class of 2001 decided to get out and 54 percent from the class of 2000. That's up significantly from the average of 10 to 30 percent.

And it amounts to a brain drain of captains, many who have served multiple combat tours and may have burned out.

GEN. GEORGE CASEY, U.S. ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: Clearly it will be something that we'll have to keep a very close eye on. I have watched units being extended for 90 to 120 days. It has not had an adverse effect, on a noticeable effect on a unit.

MCINTYRE: But even strong supporters of the all-volunteer force are worried. Senator John Warner issued a warning about the longer tours saying quote, "We must carefully monitor the possible risks to that system that these extensions may generate."


MCINTYRE (on camera): The Army's long-term solution is to get bigger which it's doing by attracting more volunteers, even though many of them know they'll go directly the to the war zone. One fix not under consideration is any return to the draft. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Jamie, thank you. As Iraqi leaders are attacked right in heart of Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone and U.S. forces are facing longer tours of duty in the war zone, the battle lines are drawn here at home.

Should America seek victory or should America simply withdraw right now?


BLITZER: And joining us now from New York, the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Charlie Rangel.

He's the author of an important new book entitled, "And I Haven't Had A Bad Day Since: From the Streets of Harlem To the Halls of Congress."

Congressman Rangel, thanks for coming in.


BLITZER: I want you to respond to Senator John McCain. He had some strong words against what the Democrats are trying to do in the House and the Senate.

Listen to this.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Democrats who deny our soldiers the means to prevent an American defeat have chosen another road. It may appear to be the easier course of action, but it is a much more reckless one and it does no credit, even if it gives them an advantage in the next election.

BLITZER: He's saying also that what you're trying to do is, in effect, undermine the troops and their ability to win this war in Iraq.

RANGEL: Well, I have the deepest respect for Senator McCain. But like most Americans, I have no idea as to what he's talking about with a victory.

I think he and the president are the only ones that believe that our fighting men and women can make any contribution toward the dispute and the fights that these Arabs have had over 1,000 years.

I would seem to me that some of our neighboring friends in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Jordan would do better than we can at resolving these serious problems.

BLITZER: Bottom line -- you simply want the United States to start withdrawing?

RANGEL: I think the American people already mandated that there's no victory for us there. I don't know what the senator is talking about.

The way I put it, Wolf, if we knew that the enemy was going to surrender tomorrow, to whom would we bring the surrender papers?

And there's not -- no one has the slightest idea what victory means.

BLITZER: Yesterday, the defense secretary, Robert Gates, said he -- he has no choice but to extend the tours of duty for U.S. military personnel, soldiers, Army soldiers, from 12 to 15 months, in Iraq and Afghanistan, given the strain, the enormous strain, that the military is under right now.

What's your reaction?

RANGEL: And it's sad and it's close to immoral. If we had the children of affluent Americans, those from the Pentagon, the White House and the children of CEOs, this would not happen. In the first place, they wouldn't be over there.

But to take the National Guard, the reservists, these people who are catching hell back home on their jobs, with their family, and to take volunteers that have had one, two, three, four tours is a cruel thing to do.

And we never hear them make an appeal to able-bodied Americans to volunteer and to join in this fight for freedom for whomever.

BLITZER: Here's what the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the former chairman, John Warner, of Virginia, said yesterday:

"Having served as secretary of the Navy when the concept of the all volunteer force was being developed and having observed in the ensuing years the extraordinary success of that system in providing for America's security, I feel strongly that we must carefully monitor the possible risks to that system that these extensions may generate."

Some have interpreted that as suggesting he's worried this all volunteer system is broken, it's not necessarily going to work, and it might force us to revive the draft, something you and John Murtha, a handful of others, have been talking about for some time.

RANGEL: It might cause them to think about doing it. But when America believes that the draft is going to put their children in harm's way, we'll be pulling out of Iraq before they support a draft.

BLITZER: The Iraq issue clearly dominated the voting on They had a town hall -- a virtual town hall meeting and a lot of their voters -- a lot of their members voted.

The results sort of surprising. Obama came in with 28 percent; Edwards, 25 percent; Kucinich, 17 percent; Bill Richardson, 12 percent. Look at this, Hillary Clinton, the candidate you favor, only 11 percent. And a lot of people are interpreting that as a result of her support -- initial support for the war and her refusal, in effect, to apologize for that vote ever since.

What's your interpretation?

RANGEL: I think you're right in interpretation. But I can't see for the life of me -- if we had an opportunity to elect a qualified, superior candidate, assuming people felt that way, what the devil would an apology have to do with anything?

I voted against the war and I didn't sleep that night thinking the president might have known something, that maybe the country was in more danger. I didn't know that all of the things that he said was untrue.

But suppose I did and I could be more angry in saying that he misled me and I want the troops to come out?

I think that's Senator Clinton's position and I don't see how an apology can help us to get out any sooner.

BLITZER: Congressman Rangel, thanks very much for coming in.

Let me remind our viewers, the book is entitled "And I Haven't Had A Bad Day Since: From the Streets of Harlem To the Halls of Congress."

Thank you very much for coming in from the streets of New York to THE SITUATION ROOM.

RANGEL: You're terrific, Wolf.


BLITZER: The Department of Defense will spend $4 billion, yes billion, on recruiting this year. Now the U.S. Army's hoping to raise its profile among potential recruits by stepping into the world of online video gaming.

Let's turn once again to Jacki Schechner. Why is the U.S. Army going online with these video games, Jacki?

SCHECHNER: Well, because 17 to 24-year-old meals like to play these video games and that is the Army's target demographic.

See, the Army already has its own popular online game called "America's Army", you're watching a clip from that game now and it has some 8 million registered users online.

But now the Army is spending an estimated $2 million to expand its brand into an online gaming league. It's called the Global Gaming League, and it has some 9.2 million players a month. Eighty percent of those are young meals.

This league acts like any other league. A bowling league, a softball league. Players get together online and play military-themed video games. A spokesperson for the strategic marketing partner of the Army says that this is not a recruiting tool, they were very specific about that, but they said that players will have the opportunity to opt in to more information about the Army. Wolf?

BLITZER: It's amazing that we spend $4 billion a year on advertising to encourage young men and women to enlist, volunteer in the U.S. military, $4 billion a year. It's hard to believe. Although those commercials during the Super Bowl or Final Four, those are pretty expensive, I guess when you add it all up it gets to that number.

We're going to have more on this story, by the way, coming up tomorrow here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

I want to go back to Carol Costello, she is getting more information now on that accident, looks like a serious accident involving the governor of New Jersey.

What are we picking up, Carol?

COSTELLO: It was a serious accident. These picture are from our affiliate in Philadelphia, WPVI.

Take a look at this. The governor was traveling in a two car motorcade. That SUV you see by the side of the road all busted up with the windows broken out. You can see the debris lying around on the ground outside of that vehicle. The governor, according to WPVI was inside that car. As we have reported, his injuries aren't life- threatening. We believe he broke his leg.

He was air lifted to a hospital, Cooper University Hospital in Camden to be exact. This accident happened on the Garden State Parkway near Atlantic City. As we get more information, then of course we'll pass it along to you. Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: We wish only the best for Governor Corzine.

COSTELLO: Actually we're seeing here, Wolf, you see the helicopter at the hospital right now.

BLITZER: We don't know who the individual being wheeled in right now is, it could be the governor or it could be somebody else, right, Carol.

COSTELLO: It could be somebody else because more than one person was hurt in this accident. And we still don't know how exactly the accident occurred, who caused it. Actually we're just getting word, the voice was in my ear, that was the trooper who was injured in this accident on that stretcher. You saw at the Cooper University Hospital in Camden.

BLITZER: All right, Carol, stay on top of this. We'll get some more information for our viewers. Once again the governor of New Jersey in a serious car accident in New Jersey.

Still ahead tonight -- an online shocker. Startling images and allegations from torture to beheading. You're going to be surprised to find out where it's playing out. And Don Imus is missing more than his radio job after being fired by CBS and NBC, a matter of appearances, that's coming up.


BLITZER: First of all, we want to warn you some of the images in our next report may be quite disturbing. Horrifying hostage videos making the rounds of the Internet. Scenes of slaughter eerily familiar yet very different from what we have become used to. CNN's Harris Whitbeck has our report. Harris?

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, recent postings from Mexico on some user-generated Web pages are disturbing many here, particularly some in law enforcement.

The most recent video posted on YouTube last week seems to indicate that Mexican drug cartels are taking at least some cues from Middle Eastern terrorist groups.


WHITBECK (voice over): It looks like a video from Iraq -- a hostage bound, interrogated, tortured by his captors, who remain off camera. But the language is not Arabic. It is Spanish.

The country is not Iraq. It is Mexico.

And along with the threats scribbled on this hostage's body is a big "Z" which stands for the Zetas, the name of one of Mexico's many drug cartel hit squads. The victim allegedly a member of the Zetas. His captors apparently from a rival gang, seven of whose members were recently killed.

"Are you responsible for killing our people?" the interrogator asks. "Yes," he answers.

Soon after, the beheading takes place. As shocking as its content is the way the video was made public. It was put on YouTube, the U.S.-based Web site that allows anonymous users to post home videos. And while YouTube removed the posting after a few hours when it became aware of it, it is only the most recent posting on a variety of sites in what Internet security experts in Mexico say is a trend among the Mexican drug cartels.

GABRIEL CAMPOLI, INTERNET CRIME EXPERT (through translator): It is a message to society, a way of saying that the government's efforts to combat drug trafficking have failed and that the cartels are alive and well.

WHITBECK: Here's another Mexican video that made the rounds on the Internet. The singer is Valentin Elizalde, who is said to have quite a following among drug traffickers. Over images of victims of the drug cartel battles, he sings what's known in Mexico as a narco ballad, "I am singing this song to my enemies" is the lyric.

Several months later, Elizalde himself wound up dead, shot 20 times. And pictures of his autopsy appeared on another Web posting.

Federal prosecutors in Mexico have seen many of these videos, and the chat room messages that they trigger. They say they are investigating them for clues that might lead to their authors.

But experts say Mexican law enforcement is ill-equipped to track criminals in cyberspace.

CAMPOLI (through translator): The problem is one of legislation. Mexican law does not allow the police to dig very deeply into the identities of people in danger. What we really need is a special prosecutor for Internet crime.

WHITBECK (on camera): The Web may be a powerful medium for transmitting drug traffickers' messages, but if properly investigated, it could also be a treasure trove of clues about their whereabouts and identities.

(voice over): In fact, at the end of that beheading video, a message scrolls on the screen that serves as both a clue for police and a warning to a rival drug lord. Citing the drug lord by name, the message says, "You're next."


WHITBECK: While police here say they're investigating the latest Internet posting, the fact that the Web offers so much anonymity leads some analysts to believe that that investigation will be, at the very least, difficult to carry out. Wolf?

BLITZER: Harris Whitbeck doing some serious reporting for us in Mexico. Harris is in Mexico City. Thank you.

According to media reports approximately 500 people have been killed this year in the Mexican drug wars. Up ahead Don Imus is gone. Jack Cafferty wants to know if his firing will have any long-term effects as Americans grapple once again with the issue of race.

And when Imus started appearing without his trademark hat, should we have known he could soon be without a job? Jeanne Moos takes a closer look at that. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Check back with Jack Cafferty in New York. Hi, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Wolf, the question is will the firing of Don Imus have any long-term effect?

Jeff writes from Florida. "Most of America thinks Imus' comment was inappropriate and outrageous. Amen. My problem is the self anointed spokesmen, Jackson and Sharpton, who in their own right are as caustic and racist as they come. Does anybody remember the Jackson remark about Jewish people in New York? And how about Sharpton's involvement in the Tawana Brawley scandal? Where 's the outrage?"

Don in Virginia. "It will have no long term effect unless they also go after BET and MTV on their sexually explicit music videos and clean up the language of the rappers' music. Maybe they should be pay-per-view stations."

George in San Francisco. "Nothing is going to change as long as you can still tune into an HBO comedy special and hear black comics use the N word 54 times in 44 minutes. I counted. Everybody has to become accountable if we are going to become a nation of citizens who truly respect each other."

Andrew writes, "Don Imus has been making remarks like the one about the Rutgers basketball team for years. The only reason MSNBC and CBS fired him was because the sponsors backed out. If those two networks were so interested in doing the right thing, they should have done it a long time ago."

Ken in California writes, "Yes, Jack, ironically, Imus' firing will be the coffin nail in the death of hateful rap and hip hop lyrics. I've been waiting for this for 20 years."

Alfred writes, "Satellite radio will benefit handsomely. That's the long term effect. Let's start a pool now on how many days go by before XM or Sirius announce that he is joining Stern on satellite radio? The winner gets an autographed by Karl Rove print-out of all 5 million missing White House e-mails, once we find them, that's it."

And Hugh writes, "You changed your question from earlier. Please have my response to question three tonight changed by your staff, reworded at the beginning. It's still relevant."

If you haven't seen your e-mail here, go to We post more of them online along with video clips of "The Cafferty File." Wolf?

BLITZER: They watch every little thing. Our viewers. Can't get anything by them.

CAFFERTY: They pay close attention.

BLITZER: Pay enormous attention. Thanks, Jack, very much.

Let's go to Paula in New York to see what's coming up at the top of the hour. Paula?

PAULA ZAHN, CNN HOST: Wolf, thanks.

We have a very special hour ahead. Not only will we have the latest on tonight's breaking news, CBS of course yanking Don Imus off the radio permanently. But we are also going to look at what that means for free speech in America. What's OK to say out loud and what's not OK and will the firing of Imus have a chilling effect, and not just on talk radio hosts.

We're going to bring that all "Out in the Open" tonight, coming up at the top of the hour. That's about six minutes from now, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll be watching.

ZAHN: Please join us then.

BLITZER: Thank you, Paula. Thank you very much.

Up ahead -- the New Jersey governor in a car accident rushed to the hospital. We're following that still unfolding story.

Also fired from MSNBC, from CBS, but why is Don Imus not wearing his hat anymore. That's a question that Jeanne Moos is looking into.


BLITZER: Our Carol Costello is monitoring stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM. What else is going on, Carol?

COSTELLO: Well, I have a little update now on a story that we have been following. This is according to the "New Jersey Star- Ledger." The governor of New Jersey, Jon Corzine is now in surgery, and he is under anesthesia. He has a badly broken leg. The State Senate president is in charge until Corzine is alert and can govern again.

Corzine was injured after a nasty accident on the Garden State Parkway. His two car motorcade involved in some kind of crash. A state trooper also seriously hurt. Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Carol, very much.

On a very, very different note, he's worn it for many years, but it appears that Don Imus couldn't pull something out of his hat to save his job. Our Jeanne Moos has a look at this most unusual story.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You know it's a cherished fashion accessory when the I-man won't wear it in the rain. Waits to put it on until he gets inside.

Used to be you would see Imus wearing cowboy hat or a black cowboy hat. But now he has stopped wearing his hat during public appearances. Now, don't think folks haven't noticed. Speculators on the Web wonder whether he is worried the good old country boy symbol might make him seem too redneck.

Or maybe Imus may have forsaken his hat because it takes away his chagrined demeanor in what one e-mailer called "his apology phase." (MUSIC)

MOOS: This YouTube duo, Rhett (ph) and Link (ph) crooned about Imus' cowboy hat.


MOOS: Even serious Imus critics can't resist at taking pot shots at the hat.

For instance, the pastor of the church attended by members of the Rutgers basketball team.

REV. DEFOREST SOARIES, PASTOR, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH: It is time for Mr. Imus to leave that job, go back home, take off his cowboy hat and be unemployed.

MOOS: And this "Washington Post" columnist got done right aggressive, writing, "If I had a daughter on that team, I'd want to slap that cowboy hat right off Imus' unkempt head."

The hat is a target for detractors who call Imus "this fossil in a cowboy hat," "prune with a cowboy hat"

"I think he dresses up that way because he used to be the cowboy in the Village People."

Now there's a guy who knows how to wear a cowboy hat.

And even though Imus is not wearing his hat much lately, cartoonists keep drawing it in. Sometimes, almost all you see is hat. Don Imus, shown actual size among girls basketball sneakers.

More than one cartoonist has transformed the cowboy hat into a dunce hat, into a Klan hat. For Imus these days are anything but gay. They won't be listening to Imus on CBS MSNBC. He may end up back at the ranch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Imus, any regrets about being fired?

MOOS: Where at least he won't have to go around hat in hand. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: That's it for us. Tonight, remember, we're here in THE SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Back for another hour at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Until tomorrow, thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Up next, PAULA ZAHN NOW. Paula?


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