Skip to main content
U.S. Edition


Return to Transcripts main page


Bush Vetoes War Spending Bill; Many March in Support of Immigration Reforms

Aired May 1, 2007 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.
Happening now, President Bush slams the White House door on a Iraq withdrawal timetable calling the Democrats' deadline a prescription for chaos. Is it back to square one after the veto?

And angry immigrants fill the streets of American cities demanding reforms. CNN's Lou Dobbs accused them of breathtaking arrogance and takes on the attorney general of California, Jerry Brown, in a border battle showdown. That's coming up this hour.

And it was kept secret for almost four decades. Now an audiotape offers new clues to the killing of college students by the Ohio National Guard.

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

The breaking news tonight, the second veto of the Bush presidency, a defining and polarizing moment in the partisan showdown over Iraq. It comes exactly four years to the day after the president stood on an aircraft carrier and declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq.

Just a short while ago, Mr. Bush went before the American people to explain why he could not agree to the withdrawal timetable attached to the Democrats' war funding bill.

Let's turn to our White House correspondent, Ed Henry. Ed, did the president leave some wiggle room there for a possible compromise?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not really, wolf. This is a dramatic showdown, both sides refusing to budge an inch. Meanwhile, U.S. troops who need that $124 billion are caught in the crossfire.


HENRY (voice-over): After vetoing the war funding bill behind closed doors, President Bush was blunt.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The bill would mandate a rigid and artificial deadline for American troops to begin withdrawing from Iraq. It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing.

HENRY: Mr. Bush was rejecting one final plea from Democrats.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We renew our call to President Bush. There is still time to listen to the American people. There's still time to sign this bill and change course in Iraq.

HENRY: Democrats relish sending the bill to the White House on the anniversary of a day ripe with political symbolism.

HENRY (voice-over): There was no flight suit or "Mission Accomplished" banner in sight Tuesday afternoon as the president huddled with generals at U.S. Central Command in Florida on the fourth anniversary of declaring...

BUSH: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.

HENRY: Four years later, major combat operations continue, and so does the effort to justify the war.

BUSH: Four years ago, we confronted a brutal tyrant who had used weapons of mass destruction, supported terrorists, invaded his neighbors, oppressed his people and tested the resolve and the credibility of the United Nations.

HENRY: The original claims that Saddam Hussein still had WMD at the start of the war are long gone, as are the rosy scenarios about victory.

BUSH: Terrorists and the extremists continue to unleash horrific acts of violence.

HENRY: The president is adamant about trying to claim progress, but still hedges.

BUSH: There has been a decline in sectarian violence, and in some areas of the capital, Iraqis are returning to their neighborhoods with an increased feeling of security.


HENRY: Now, the president has invited congressional leaders from both parties to the White House tomorrow afternoon to try to work this out. The most likely scenario is for the Democrats to ultimately pull out the withdrawal language, that timetable, and instead put in benchmarks for the Iraqi government. But there's been a small group but vocal group of antiwar protesters near me outside the White House gate for the last hour or so shouting "stop the war now." It's those kinds of liberal protesters that are pushing Democrats on the Hill to try to hold firm and not give in -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Henry at the White House.

And only minutes after the president accused Democrats of being irresponsible, they fired right back at him and his veto of the war- spending bill.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: We would hope that the president would have treated it with the respect that bipartisan legislation, supported overwhelmingly by the American people deserved. Instead, the president vetoed the bill outright, and frankly misrepresented what this legislation does. This bill supports the troops.


BLITZER: And coming up, I'll speak about it with Senator John Kerry. We'll talk about whether the Democrats will now take a very controversial next step and actually cut off war funding altogether.

The veto of the Iraq spending bill is only the second of George W. Bush's presidency after the veto on embryonic stem cell research. His predecessor, President Clinton, by the way, used his veto power 37 times, was overridden twice. The first President Bush exercised 44 vetoes, was overridden once, and President Reagan flexed his veto muscle 78 times suffering nine setbacks.

The most vetoes ever, that would be FDR. Franklin Roosevelt used his veto power 635 times. Until tonight's action, you would have to go all the way back to John Quincy Adams back in the 1820's to find a full-term president who pulled the trigger fewer times than George W. Bush. He never used his veto power, by the way.

The bottom line of President Bush's veto tonight, there's no new funding being put into the pipeline for the Iraq mission, at least not now. Let's bring in our own Tom Foreman.

You've been looking at the conflicting evidence, the conflicting suggestions when the money actually starts running out, Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, like many things in Washington, this is a gray area. The president is telling Congress to hurry up and pass a war funding bill he can sign. Just how much time is there, though, before troops in the field start to feel the pinch?


FOREMAN (voice-over): Top military brass have been sounding off about what U.S. troops in Iraq could face if a war funding measure does not become law soon.

GEN. PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Potentially you would have troops who are currently serving overseas who would have to be extended because we are committed to not sending troops over there until they are fully trained and equipped for the mission.

FOREMAN: Two weeks ago, the Army told commanders to purchase fewer parts, delay repairs on training equipment, and postpone non- essential travel. This month the Army will also freeze any new hiring to fill civilian jobs, release temporary employees, and sign no new contracts. An Army official says the disruptions will hurt military readiness, but why are belts tightening already? The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service tells Congress the military still has enough cash to last through June, at least.

STEVE KOSIAK, CTR. FOR STRATEGIC & BUDGETARY ASSESSMENTS: The problem is basically they're not sure when they'll get money. If they were confident they would get money in a month or in six weeks, they probably wouldn't have to make any of these kinds of worst-case planning assumptions, but they don't know that for sure.

FOREMAN: If training is cut and troop rotations are delayed, soldiers in Iraq will feel the pinch.

LT. COL. ROBERT MAGINNIS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): If you don't sustain them with replacements and give them enough dwell time, in other words down time in between operational deployments, then you wear them out, it's that simple.


FOREMAN: Wolf, all the military families I've talked to in recent months, this is exactly the kind of talk from Republicans and Democrats that terrifies them, because their kids are in the middle of this right now, but for the next couple of months, at least, the Pentagon can still move funds between branches or even invoke the Feed and Forage Act to prevent the political fight in Washington from affecting the troops in the field in any profound way. In the meantime, General Pace says he will not order a soldier to deploy who is not fully trained and equipped. He says that won't happen -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It will be interesting to see who the public blames for the shortage of funds, whether they blame the president or the Democrats. We'll be doing polling on that coming up in the days and weeks to come -- Tom Foreman reporting.

President Bush says U.S. troops are making progress in Iraq, arguing that an early pullout would turn Iraq into what he calls a cauldron of chaos. CNN's Michael Ware has covered the war in Iraq from the very start. He's in New York right now. I asked him what will be the impact of the president's veto.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nothing will change. Everyone knows that this is just pure political theater. I'm sure even though he's pushing for an immediate withdrawal, must know rationally that that's simply impossible. Whether you were for this war or against it, whether you've supported the way this war has been executed or not, it no longer matters. Iraq is broken, Iran is stronger, al Qaeda is stronger, America's enemies have benefited from this U.S. intervention in Iraq. It's backfired miserably.

Democracy has taken a slide rather than a lurch forward as was the grand design. So there's absolutely no chance in the world that in real terms U.S. forces can withdraw, so all that this politicking does is send a message to America's enemies advertising America's domestic weakness.

BLITZER: Well having said all that, how worried are Iraqis that when the dust settles, the U.S. is simply going to pull out? WARE: Well, ordinary Iraqis don't want the U.S. to leave. They don't like the U.S. forces. They don't like the occupation, but they know that it's the devil or the deep blue sea. At least the U.S. forces, as limited as their powers are, are at least some kind of a hedge against the multitude of warring factions and they know that should America pack up tonight and leave tomorrow morning and be gone with empty bases, the blood would flow.

And obviously the ordinary people, the men and women with their families don't want that. However, there are many parties in Iraq, particularly the major power blocs, the factions within this government would be more than happy to see America leave, no matter what they say publicly because they know once the U.S. forces leaves, there's no one to keep them in check. And as it stands, all the cards are in their hands and their backer's in Tehran.

BLITZER: Michael Ware thanks very much.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He's joining us with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Right after the midterm election last November, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that impeachment is off the table. Remember? Not everybody agrees with that, though, including a lot of people in Pelosi's own state. The California Democratic Party passed a resolution calling for full investigation into abuses of power by President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

This includes using what they call false information to invade Iraq, authorizing torture of prisoners, authorizing wiretaps on U.S. citizens without a warrant, disclosing the name of an undercover CIA operative, suspending habeas corpus for enemy combatants, and using signing statements to ignore or circumvent parts of more than 750 congressional laws. The party calls on Congress to use its subpoena power to investigate these allegations and to take the necessary action, including impeachment.

The California Democrats aren't the only ones talking about it, either. Last week Congressman Dennis Kucinich filed articles of impeachment against Vice President Cheney, and on Sunday Congressman John Murtha suggested impeachment as a way to force the president into accepting the Democrats' wishes on Iraq. As for Speaker Pelosi, we called her office today and she said in terms of impeachment her position remains the same.

So here's the question. When it comes to impeachment, is it up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to decide if it's off the table? E-mail or go to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You're going to get a lot of e-mail, I predict, on this Jack.

CAFFERTY: Probably.

BLITZER: There's no doubt about it. Thank you very much.

Coming up, Lou Dobbs takes on protesters all around the country who marched today.


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: We have a group of people that, because of the proximity to this country, have chosen to break our laws, cross our sovereign border, and today demonstrate as if they had a right to do that.


BLITZER: And Lou also takes on the attorney general of California, Jerry Brown, two very different views on fixing the nation's broken borders. This is a debate you'll see right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Also, John Kerry reacts to the president's veto. He's also here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Plus, Prince Harry gets ready to fight in Iraq. How dangerous of a mission could this be?

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


BLITZER: Now that President Bush has vetoed an Iraq withdrawal timetable, Democrats are scrambling to figure out what to do next. Will they use their most powerful weapon, the power to cut off funding to the troops?


BLITZER: And joining us now from Capitol Hill, Democratic Senator John Kerry. Senator, thanks very much for joining us.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Glad to be with you.

BLITZER: This is the moment that Democrats have an opportunity to try to end this war in Iraq and bring U.S. combat forces home. What's going to happen now?

KERRY: The only thing the Iraqis will respond to is some tough love, leverage, deadlines. They need to compromise. There's nothing our troops can do to make that happen.

BLITZER: What about the power of the purse? Why not simply stop the funding for the war, put a specific hard timeline, get the votes and bring the troops home as a result of that?

KERRY: I don't think it's that simple. I think every one of us has an understanding of the complexity of the region and the dangers in the region. We're not trying to be irresponsible. We're trying to be responsible. And the way you are responsible is by creating a new security arrangement for the Middle East. And even under our plan, we maintain some troops regionally in order to buffer against Iran and continue the process of prosecuting al Qaeda.

The president and the vice president continually take our plan and misstate what it is. It is not a plan for abandonment. It is not a precipitous withdrawal. It is a leveraged effort to get the Iraqis to settle their differences and move forward so our troops can come home.

BLITZER: You had a very, very haunting statement, a comment that you made when you came back from the Vietnam War and testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. You said this. You said, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

You regarded the Vietnam War as a mistake. Was the war in Iraq a mistake?

KERRY: Yes, it was a mistake. It was a mistake to go. It was a mistake on a number of different judgments that they made. And I've said that many times. But the outcome does not have to be the same mistake, if they leverage the kind of security arrangement that I have talked about and others have, and if they secure some level of stability in Iraq through political accommodation.

But they can't do it without a sufficient level of diplomacy. They can't do it without pushing the Iraqis to do what they have proven unwilling to do for almost five years now.

BLITZER: If it was a mistake, though, this war four years ago, how do you morally justify sending young men and women into battle and they are going to die, at least some of them, for what you say is now -- has been a mistake?

KERRY: I think it was a mistake to make the decision to go to Iraq, Wolf. But now that you are in Iraq, you don't want to compound that by making matters worse by not implementing a sensible way to strengthen the region as you depart. So, you know, I am not saying -- and I've said this continually. Every soldier who has decided to serve is a patriot. And they deserve our gratitude for their sense of duty and for the courage with which they've served.

And the way to honor the sacrifice that they have made, despite the mistakes of Rumsfeld, Cheney, the president, the mistakes of Paul Bremer, the mistakes of the military themselves, and they'd tell you that. The way to honor that sacrifice is to get the policy right now.

BLITZER: We've got to leave it there, Senator Kerry. Thanks very much for joining us.

KERRY: Thank you.


BLITZER: And is Senator Joe Biden getting into trouble once again because of something he said? The Democratic presidential candidate had some harsh words for President Bush today over Iraq funding. Abbi, tell our viewers what we're learning.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, Biden was asked what will you do after Bush veto the bills, and his strong response was caught on camera.


SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: I've got (inaudible) we're not filling these new Humvees with (inaudible). Kids are dying, and they don't have to die. The second thing is, we're going to shove it down his throat.


TATTON: The second part there if you missed it was we're going to shove it down his throat. Biden was talking to the man about wanting to fund mine-resistant vehicles or MRAPS. A spokeswoman for Biden's presidential campaign says that the blunt response was quote -- showed that he is, quote, "very serious about this. He's going to do what it takes to get the MRAPS funded" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, Abbi, for that.

Still ahead tonight here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the killings at Kent State, tonight you're going to hear new audiotape that may solve a 37-year-old mystery.

Also, Fidel Castro missing in action for the first time in 40 years, he's a no show at Cuba's May Day parade.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: You're going to want to see this next report -- a once secret tape shedding some new light on one of the darkest episodes of the Vietnam War era, the shootings at Ohio's Kent State University.

Let's go to CNN's Carol Costello. She's watching this story for us. What's on this tape, Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, it's eerie, Wolf. On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fired into a crowd of students protesting the Vietnam War. The mystery -- why? Well a newly discovered tape may provide the answer.


COSTELLO (voice-over): We know what happened in 13 seconds, Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire at Kent State University in Ohio, and when it was over...


COSTELLO: An antiwar anthem was born, mourning the death of four students. That's what we know. What's always been a mystery is why guardsmen opened fire. Did they panic? Or did someone give the order to open fire?


COSTELLO: Today because of newly discovered audiotape, which sounds allegedly recorded before the hail of gunfire, that mystery may be solved.



COSTELLO: Alan Canfora was there. He was holding a flag, the National Guard in front of him. Canfora took a bullet through the wrist. His friend, Jeffrey Miller, 85 feet away, died.

ALAN CANFORA, KENT STATE SHOOTING VICTIM: The last time I saw Jeffrey, he was lying in the back of an ambulance dead with a bullet through his head. I swore and vowed that day that I would work to try to help the American people understand what happened.

COSTELLO: It was Canfora who stumbled upon the audiotape buried in the archives at Yale University. He wants the National Guard to reopen the investigation, but the Guard told us today it has no official statement. In 1970, at Kent State, protests against the Vietnam War were raging, and on May 4, things spiraled out of control. The National Guard opened fire; professors like Dr. Glen Frank were terrified, running into the crowd to get students to leave before anyone else died.

VOICE OF GLEN FRANK, KENT STATE: I am begging you right now, if you don't disperse right now, they're going to move in, and it can only be a slaughter. Would you please listen to me? Jesus Christ, I don't want to be a part of this.

COSTELLO: And it was over. But the mystery of why has lingered for 37 years.

PROF. TODD GITLIN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I think it actually makes stark what the country didn't quite want to face then, even after most of the country had turned against the Vietnam War.

COSTELLO: This newfound tape may help solve the mystery, but it's not likely to cure the pain.


COSTELLO: That audio was recorded by a student who put a microphone on his dorm's window. It has been in the Yale archives ever since, Wolf. Canfora wants that voice on the tape analyzed and matched.

BLITZER: What a story. I remember those days very, very vividly. Thank you very much, Carol, for bringing it to our viewers. Just ahead, anger right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


DOBBS: I mean this is breathtaking arrogance on the part of both the illegal aliens themselves, but most of all their supporters, their advocates...


BLITZER: As angry masses demand immigration reform, Lou Dobbs has a heated debate with the attorney general of California, Jerry Brown. Stand by for that.

And a warrior prince -- we'll take a closer look at how Britain's Prince Harry might be preparing for war in Iraq.

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


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

Happening now, President Bush does something he's only done once before as president, veto a bill. It's the war funding measure with a timetable for pulling U.S. combat troops out of Iraq. The president says the bill would demoralize Iraqis and encourage killers.

Also, did a U.S. military commander buy cigars and hair dye for Saddam Hussein before his hanging? Yes, witnesses say. They testified today in a trial against a lieutenant colonel accused of aiding the enemy. He commanded the facility where Saddam Hussein was held.

And there's new evidence tonight that John McCain's struggling campaign may -- may be on the rebound. He's beating Rudy Giuliani in three critical states in a fresh poll by the American Research Group. The survey says the Republican presidential candidate is ahead in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina.

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

Anger and frustration across America today, from downtown Chicago to Arizona's state capital, thousands took to the streets demanding more rights for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. At the core of the protest, calls to put them on a road towards citizenship. That's a very controversial road.

Earlier I spoke with CNN's own Lou Dobbs, and California's attorney general, Jerry Brown.


BLITZER: Do you have any problems, Attorney General, with this notion of finding a way, as President Bush says, to create this path towards citizenship for at least some of those 12 million illegal immigrants?

JERRY BROWN, CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: No, not at all. I mean, let's be clear of the context. We're involved in a market system that recognizes three factors in production: labor, capital and land.

We're creating the free trade between Mexico and the United States. We've already done that. We've got trucks coming over now. We've got goods. We've got mutual investments. And it's natural that people push across that border when they can make 10 times the money.

So, I think you're got to get practical. There's not a perfect solution. But I think Bush -- you know, he's moving in the right direction.

You've got to find a way to regularize people. You can't just leave the borders open. And ultimately, instead of throwing a $500 billion down a rat hole in Iraq, we have to spend a significant investment to bring up wages in Mexico.

BLITZER: All right.

BROWN: Because until they come close to our country, you're not going to stop the flow completely.

BLITZER: You want to discuss that, Lou? What do you think?

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Well, I must say, the attorney general sounds like a Reagan supply-sider.

I didn't know, Jerry Brown, that you had converted to an enthusiast of Mr. Market, and don't see a proper role for government. I don't recall when either Congress or the American people decided to give up our borders and to substitute democracy and have in its place a free market that is determinant of our national values, our laws.

I mean, that's mind-boggling, Jerry, coming from you.

BROWN: Well, Lou, I thought you were the free marketer. Look, I understand interposing our political values to control economic impact.

DOBBS: Sure.

BROWN: But I'm just saying, as a matter of group reality, you have one-tenth of the wages in Mexico and you have this huge border. You're not -- and then you see the same thing happening in Europe. You see it happening in Asia.

We have an issue here. And it's not going to fit some theoretically nice formula. We've got to get practical.

BLITZER: And Lou, I want you to listen to what President Bush says, he spoke over the weekend on this issue, because he sounds very much like Jerry Brown.

Listen to this.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we need a system that treats people with dignity and help newcomers assimilate into our society.


BLITZER: All right. Go ahead, Lou. I know you want to respond to what Jerry Brown just said.

DOBBS: Well, to both of them. And it's -- you're right, Wolf.

I mean, Jerry Brown, I know you must be proud that you and George W. Bush see eye to eye on this. The fact of the matter is, I don't see eye to eye with either of you. But then I look upon both the Democratic and the Republican parties in this country as just two wings of the same bird.

When you look at what is happening in this country, we are the principal employers of illegal labor in this country, illegal aliens -- are first, hospitality and leisure, hotels, restaurants, landscaping and construction. In those four primary industries that are the primary employers, illegal employers of illegal aliens, wages have been declining for the past five years.

That represents a clear statement, as you would refer to -- you know, your enthusiasm for markets. It's a clear demonstration that we have a surplus of labor, not a deficit.

Now, the president calls for guest worker programs. We already have plenty of guest worker programs. We have a group of people that, because of the proximity to this country, have chosen to break our laws, cross our sovereign border, and today demonstrate as if they had a right to do that, they had a right to be forgiven for it.

A right to be forgiven and to receive amnesty for using fraudulent documents? I mean, this is breathtaking arrogance on the part of both the illegal aliens themselves, but most of all, their supporters, their advocates, which are really, as you talked about, regularizing. We're really trying -- we're watching the elites in this country, particularly this administration, try to end the nation- state as we know it.

BLITZER: All right. Jerry Brown, I want you to respond. But also to the notion that the illegal immigrants who are here already should be deported.

BROWN: Well, I mean, that's part of a compromise to come up with a program that will put people on a path to citizenship. And it certainly is part of some compromise. That's an element that you can't take off the table.

I just want to say this: There may be increasing supply, because how else do you explain the falling wages? But at the same time, we can't recruit enough nurses, we can't recruit enough policemen, we can't recruit enough scientists and engineers.

The truth of it is that the Western countries are somewhat exhausted from a fertility point of view, and are very dependent on flows of people from other countries not so psychologically situated or inclined.

DOBBS: But, Jerry, may I ask...

BROWN: And if we're going to be -- if we're going to be a competitive country, we have to tap into the best that we can find. And I think instead of saying no to immigration, we need to regularize it. This illegal stuff is very bad because it does undermine respect for the law.

DOBBS: Absolutely.

BROWN: And that's intolerable. I agree with that. But I just think that when you have 12 million here, if you want to raise the wages and block all immigration, California agriculture is going to have to move to Mexico.

BLITZER: All right.

BROWN: That's really what you're advocating. And maybe that's going to be inevitable. But I think we have to just be realistic about what's possible and what isn't.

DOBBS: I could -- I think "realism" is a word that's always interesting, particularly involved in politics and public policy. But Jerry, I agree with you. We have got to stop illegal immigration.

But at the same time, I think it becomes dangerous for you to -- you know, for us to confuse things. There's a lot of obfuscation going on in the mainstream media in both political parties, and the enthusiasts and advocates for illegal immigration and open borders.

I would like to see more immigration, lawful immigration, if that is indeed what this country requires. But I would also like to see the United States government make a determination through public policy decisions and choices about who those people will be who enter this country.

Sixty percent of the people entering this country illegally are uneducated. They are not the best and the brightest of the world. And that is a sham. The fact is, we are marginalizing, through permitting illegal immigration, the segment of our society that can at least can afford to be marginalized. And we cannot continue to take on this burden.

BLITZER: Lou Dobbs and Jerry Brown, a good discussion. Thanks very much for joining us, to both of you.


BLITZER: And still ahead tonight, Fidel Castro does something he has not done in some 40 years. We will tell you what that is. And he's third in line to the British throne, and soon off to Iraq. That would be Prince Harry. How might he be getting ready right now? Stay with us, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: May Day is a workers' holiday in much of the world. And there were huge rallies today from the West Bank to Turkey, Moscow, Pakistan, lots of places in between.

The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, is using this May Day to make a dramatic move, nationalizing his country's last private oil fields. CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now live.

What is the likely impact, Brian, from this decision?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, analysts say expect the prices to go up, or at least not come down. American drivers now seem to be partially at the mercy of a man who doesn't like their government and who is leveraging his resources.


TODD (voice-over): At a May Day rally, America's biggest antagonist in the hemisphere tells the world he's taking his oil fields back. Hugo Chavez is snatching much of Venezuela's oil-rich Orinoco region for his government to run, taking most of its control from several U.S. and European oil companies.

ROGER NORIEGA, FMR. ASST. SECY. OF STATE: That's the sort of long-range vision that he has, is putting these resources at the disposal of a revolutionary state that will turn around and use those resources to promote leftist, indeed anti-American causes in Latin America.

TODD: Just how high big are the Orinoco reserves?

GUSTAVO CORONEL, FMR. VENEZUELAN OIL OFFICIAL: The reserves there are similar to the total reserves of Saudi Arabia, geopolitically it's a very important area for Venezuela and for Latin America and for the United States as a major consumer.

TODD: But analysts say it's a huge risk for Chavez. They say he has already run Venezuela's national oil company into the ground. He needs the expertise from the major oil companies to get this heavy crude pumped out, shipped out, refined, expertise he may not get now that he has forced them to give up their shares.

It all means bad news for drivers in North America.

PHIL FLYNN, ALARON TRADING CORP.: It means that gasoline prices are going to be higher, it is as simple as that. And they've already gone higher because of Mr. Chavez and his nationalization plans.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD: Analysts say future gas prices here will depend on how much refined oil Venezuela can produce now that Chavez will run much of those reserves. And they say the track record is not good, production has fallen dramatically since Chavez took office -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Brian Todd, for that.

From Hugo Chavez to another man who likes to antagonize the U.S., that would be Fidel Castro. Today Cuba's Castro did something he has not done in some 40 years. CNN's Morgan Neill is in Havana -- Morgan.

MORGAN NEILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, today Cuba celebrated International Workers' Day with a massive march through Havana's Plaza de la Revolucion. But even as hundreds of thousands of Cubans made their way through, it was hard not to focus on who was not there.


NEILL (voice-over): It's Workers' Day, and the party is everywhere, the communist party, that is, but the president didn't show. Nine months since he last appeared in public, and little more than week since these photos emerged, many had expected to see Fidel Castro this May 1st. But the closest they got was this. And this editorial on the evils of ethanol, his latest crusade.

Manolito (ph), whose son hitched a ride through much of the march, said he hadn't felt the leader's absence.

"No, it's like he's always here with us," he said. "He's inside all of us."

Maria, who got up before dawn for the march, says she wants the president to recover quickly, says it's more important that he take care of himself.


NEILL: More and more Cubans say they don't expect to see their president at these events. In their unguarded moments, they say it really doesn't make that much difference in their day-to-day lives if he returns at all -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Morgan Neill in Havana for us, thank you. Our man in Havana.

There was another man on Cubans' minds today, protesters today held up pictures of Luis Posada. He has been accused by Cuba of terrorism, the protesters upset, he's currently free on bond pending trial on immigration charges here in the United States.

Up ahead, he will be a warrior prince, but as Britain decides to send Prince Harry off to Iraq, will he also be, God forbid, a royal target? Richard Quest is here in THE SITUATION ROOM live, he is standing by.

Four years after he stood in front of a banner reading "Mission Accomplished," those words have come back to haunt President Bush. Our Jeanne Moos makes it her mission to show us how. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: For the first time in a quarter century, a British royal is heading off to war. British military officials deciding to send Prince Harry to Iraq, despite serious concern he'll be a tempting targets for insurgents. Our Richard Quest is here in THE SITUATION ROOM today.

I guess this must have been a pretty difficult decision, Richard, for the British.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They haven't really come to a final decision. The head off the military has basically said he will be going to Iraq. But, Wolf, the detail is where you're going to find the devil, and that's no exception here. He wants to go to Iraq, he wants to go in a fighting capacity. Of course he says the military are basically saying that might not be possible. He's going to go to Iraq, but they're not committing to what role he is actually going to play.

BLITZER: He's going potentially to Iraq, the queen is coming here.

QUEST: Yes. I'm not sure there's too much of a connection between the two events, except for the fact that in some cases the queen is coming over here to perhaps celebrate what was perhaps the first occupation in the New World. Her majesty arrives later this week. It is her first visit here for 15 or 16 years. She's going to Jamestown, which was the original settlement, some 13 years before those Mayflower pilgrims arrived, the Jamestown settlement got under way.

BLITZER: Stand by for a minute. Your old friend, Jack Cafferty, he's always in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Jack, if you're there, say hi to Richard Quest.

CAFFERTY: Hello, Richard, nice to see you. Yes. The best thing about my change of assignment is it got you and I apart. And we no longer have to endure each other.


QUEST: You know, I'm just constantly amazed at the curmudgeon- ness of you, Jack. No doubt you're going to have a bash at her majesty, the queen.

CAFFERTY: No doubt. Why wouldn't we? You know, at least they have the sense to perhaps keep their royalty out of harm's way if they do send him at all. I think it's to be -- they're to be commended -- and I don't compliment the royal family on many things, but they're to be commended to have their offspring serve in this war, unlike some children of some other leaders I can think of. QUEST: Now, forgive me, Wolf, but I have got to take Jack to (INAUDIBLE) on this. Harry has said he wants to go. The risk, of course, though, is whether or not he becomes a primary target for insurgents. And though you may scoff, but -- and in doing so, does he become -- and his platoon become a target for those insurgents?

CAFFERTY: Why are you yelling at me?

QUEST: Well, because you have that effect on me.


BLITZER: Because you're far away, he's in New York. He's 200 miles away. He can barely hear us.

All right. Jack, tell Richard, first of all, what your question this hour was and what our viewers think.

CAFFERTY: Well, the question has to do with impeachment of the president of the United States. And after the midterm elections, the newly elected speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi, decreed to all of us commoners that impeachment was off the table. We decided to ask if it's really up to her at the end of the day.

Charles writes from Bozeman, Montana: "Jack, we the unwashed masses, by way of our House of Representatives, can decide. Let's make the call."

Joanna, San Juan Capistrano: "If Pelosi continues to keep impeachment off the table, she may find herself looking for a new job come next election."

Chris in Lexington, Nebraska: "Pelosi had better take it off the table, and put it on the House floor."

Rick in Toronto: "Impeachment would be a waste of time. You need 67 votes to convict in the Senate, and absent some serious smoking gun, that ain't never going to happen." That was Rick's grammar, not mine.

Julie in Illinois: "I think Nancy Pelosi is ignoring the will of the American people, and that's no better George Bush doing it."

Joeann in Mill Valley, California: "Impeachment is crawling up the leg, peeking over the top of the table and contemplating who to sit next to."

Marge in Wisconsin: "Jack, you know damn well if Speaker Pelosi even hinted she was in favor of impeachment, the whole right-wing crowd would be screaming that she just wanted to get rid of Bush and Cheney so she could be the president. She's in a no-win position when it comes to impeachment."

And Herman in Pennsylvania writes: "Impeachment in America nowadays seems to depend more on who is under the table." One of the better letters we've gotten recently. (LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: If you didn't see you e-mail here, you can go to, we post more of them online, along with video clips of same.

BLITZER: Jack, say goodbye to Richard.

CAFFERTY: Richard, nice to see you, as always. Give my regards to the royal family.

QUEST: Don't worry, if you impeach, why do you think her majesty is coming over? She's standing and ready to take over.

BLITZER: Well, Richard will be covering Queen Elizabeth's visit here to the United States. He will be in THE SITUATION ROOM with those special reports, Jack. Thanks very much.

Let's find out what's coming up right at the top of the hour. That means Paula is standing by -- Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST, "PAULA ZAHN NOW": Wolf, you probably forget that Jack Cafferty and I spent an awful lot of time with Mr. Quest during our morning days.

BLITZER: That's why I reunited them.

ZAHN: And that is very good. And we got used to his volume and his sense of enthusiasm, I might add.

Coming up at the top of the hour, more reaction to tonight's breaking news, the president vetoes a deadline for U.S. troops to get out of Iraq, but we're devoting most of our hour to the issue that brought tens of thousands of people into the streets today, is immigration reform possible anymore? And is there one word for illegal Mexican immigrants that is so offensive it should be banned? We're bringing that controversy "Out in the Open" tonight, coming up at the top of the hour -- Wolf. We hope you'll stay tuned.

BLITZER: We will. Thank you, Paula. Thanks, very much.

And just ahead, "mission backfired," Jeanne Moos on the political P.R. stunt that keeps coming back to bite. Stay with us, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: This is what happens when words indeed come back to haunt you. Our Jeanne Moos has this "Moost Unusual" story.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He screamed in on a jet, looking every inch the commander-in-chief. Four years later, "Mission Accomplished" seems to have become "mission backfired."

Every antiwar Tom, Dick and Harry seems to be mocking the president with his own words.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE ACTOR: I have new "stratergery" to accomplish the mission.

MOOS: From the amateur to the professional filmmaker.

BUSH: The United States and our allies...


BUSH: ... have prevailed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's back, "Mission Accomplished," mission impossible to somebody. Please tell me the mission that we're on.

MOOS: Two words, five syllables, to Bush administration critics they have come to mean the opposite of what they say, contradicting reality. And though the president's spokesman points out that the White House didn't hang the banner...

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You know that the "Mission Accomplished" banner was put up by members of the USS Abraham Lincoln...

MOOS: It won't go away, except when a Bush critic thought he'd stumbled on evidence that the operators at the White House Web site had erased the banner. .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That you can't see anymore.

MOOS: Oops, turns out it was just the angle of the shot, no conspiracy.

(on camera): One Web site is even holding a contest, asking folks to re-title the "Mission Accomplished" banner. You type in your own suggestion and see how it looks.

(voice-over): Filmmaker Michael Moore was probably the biggest name to turn "Mission Accomplished" into an insult in "Fahrenheit 9/11."


MOOS: Simply by adding lyrics to the footage and juxtaposing jarring images.

BUSH: The United States and our allies have prevailed.

MOOS: Now, that has become a TV spot.

BUSH: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE ACTOR: Four years later, there's no end in sight.

MOOS: A spot put out by a group supporting troop withdrawal legislation.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE ACTOR: Tell George Bush, sign the bill.

MOOS: A bill the Democrats conveniently sent to the White House on the anniversary of "Mission Accomplished." The White House says the president said in that speech that difficult work remained.

SNOW: That single episode has been more widely mischaracterized than just about any aspect of the war.

MOOS: But critics can't get enough of using "Mission Accomplished" to accomplish their mission.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, New York.


BLITZER: Let's go to Paula in New York.


CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNNAvantGo Ad Info About Us Preferences
© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines