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Congress' New Bill for Iraq; When Will the Troops Come Home? Tony Blair Stepping Down

Aired May 10, 2007 - 1900   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.
Happening now, any moment right now, Congress will vote on a new bill to partially pay for the war in Iraq, even as the president is pleading for more time. Is there room for compromise tonight?

A slap in the face from Russia's President Vladimir Putin. He's now comparing U.S. foreign policy to that of the Nazis.

And one of "People" magazine's beautiful people turns from Hollywood to the fight against hunger. I'll speak with the actress and now United Nations Special Ambassador Drew Barrymore.

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

On Capitol Hill right now, the House is only minutes away from another in-your-face vote against the president in defiance of his veto threat. Democrats are expected to push through a bill that gives Mr. Bush only part of the Iraq war funding he wants.

Let's go right to our congressional correspondent, Andrea Koppel -- Andrea.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, defying the president's latest pledge to veto yet another war spending bill, House Democrats sought to justify their latest legislative move to send the Pentagon less than half the money it wants.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Forty-three billion dollars over the next few months is a great deal of money. And so, the Defense Department will have what it needs to conduct this war for well beyond two months.

KOPPEL (voice-over): Before the rest of the money, an estimated $53 billion is released, Democrats will require another vote in late July after President Bush reports to Congress on Iraq's progress. A separate bill to force U.S. troops to withdraw in six months failed to pass today. But it succeeded in achieving another goal. Winning support from anti-war Democrats like Congressman Jim McGovern who might have otherwise opposed more troop funding.

REP. JAMES MCGOVERN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Look, I think it's important to keep pressure on the White House. I think it's important to continue to let the president know that we want this war to come to an end. And quite frankly, you know, the president needs to get the message of the last election. The American people want this war to come to an end.

KOPPEL: In an interview with CNN the second-ranking Republican called the Democrats' move act two in a melodrama that is quote, "dumb and dangerous".

REP. ROY BLUNT (R), MINORITY WHIP: Anytime you give an insurgent extremist group a short-term deadline and say the message here is just to create all of the chaos and all the dangers for both Iraqis and Americans in Iraq and you only have to do it for 30 or 40 days, that's a stupid thing for us to do.

KOPPEL: Meanwhile, the Republican leader denied reports some of his members met with President Bush this week because they're considering breaking ranks over the war.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: There are no fishers in our Congress. We had a group of members that went to the White House to talk to the president about the war on terror, to talk about Iraq. It was a very healthy meeting.


KOPPEL: Although the short-term funding bill is expected to pass the House, perhaps within the hour, even Speaker Pelosi conceded that the language in this bill isn't likely to be included in any final bill that makes its way to the president's desk. Senate Democrats, meanwhile, continued their negotiations with Republicans and the White House about including Iraqi progress reports or benchmarks in their bill -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Andrea Koppel on the Hill for us. And we'll get you the role call on that vote as soon as it takes place.

Meanwhile, concerning that private meeting between the president and those Republican House members, it's being described as no holds barred. Some are said to have read the president the riot act. Earlier I spoke with Republican Senator Trent Lott about it, he says his fellow Republicans should zip their loose lips.


SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY WHIP: The thing that concerned me about that is that they went over there and had this frank discussion with the president which could have been very positive, then they came out and started talking about it. You know they broke one of the cardinal rules, in my opinion, if they had kept their mouths shut, their value of speaking candidly would have been worth a lot more.


BLITZER: Lott who is the number two Republican in the Senate says it's not unusual for lawmakers to give a president, candid, unvarnished views. President Bush wants to give the military more time and more room to maneuver. Today, he suggested there is some more room for compromise, but he's also warning he's prepared to play it tough.

Let's go to our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre. Jamie, what's the president offering?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, after sitting down with his national security team here at the Pentagon this morning, President Bush came out and again issued a plea to give the new Iraq strategy more time.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): U.S. troop buildup in Iraq is aimed at buying time for the Baghdad government to foster political reconciliation. President Bush emerged from his Pentagon meeting with Defense Secretary Gates and the Joint Chiefs, asking for much the same thing, more time and a little political reconciliation.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why don't we wait and see what happens. Let's give this plan a chance to work. Let's stop playing politics. You know it's one thing to have a good honest debate about the way forward in Iraq. It's another thing to put our troops right in the middle of that debate.

MCINTYRE: Mr. Bush implored Congress to send him an Iraq war funding bill with no strings attached. And in return, offered to work with both Democrats and Republicans on bipartisan benchmarks to judge success in the months ahead.

BUSH: Time is running out because the longer we wait, the more strain we're going to put on the military.

GEN. RICHARD CODY, ARMY VICE CHIEF OF STAFF: We started this war with an Army that was too small. A Marine Corps that was too small. And the success of deployment is taking a toll on our families and on our soldiers.

MCINTYRE: General Dick Cody is the Army's number two general. He told CNN's Heidi Collins that after six years of war, the U.S. military is feeling the strain.

CODY: And our retention rates right now are holding pretty well. But this plus-up, bear is watching.


MCINTYRE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) The Army today leased its latest recruiting and retention numbers and it shows for the 23rd straight month, the active duty force has met or exceeded its goals. But the Army Reserve is still slightly lagging partly because so many of soldiers are staying on active duty -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And Jamie, what about the critics who say they're beating those goals because they're reducing, they're lowering the requirements in order to get into the U.S. Army. MCINTYRE: Well, the Army says the requirements are as high as ever. Although there are few cases where people for instance who aren't high school graduates can get on certain waivers. But the other thing you have to keep in mind here is they're meeting these goals, even though the goals are much higher because both the Army and Marine Corps are expanding, recruiters have to get more volunteers this year than last.

BLITZER: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.

House Democrats also trying to hold the attorney general's feet to the fire in the uproar over those fired U.S. attorneys. Alberto Gonzales was pummeled with questions today by House judiciary members. Democratic Robert Wexler of Florida shouted at Gonzales for more information about who decided which prosecutors should be fired, including David Iglesias of New Mexico. Listen to this exchange.


REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA: You won't tell the American people who put Mr. Iglesias on the list to be fired. It's a national secret, isn't it?

ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Congressman if I knew the answer to that question I would provide you the answer. I have not spoken with the individuals...

WEXLER: So you don't know who put it on the list, Mr. Iglesias. Why was Mr. Iglesias put on the list by this mystery person?

GONZALES: Well again, I wasn't surprised to see Mr. Iglesias' name recommended to me based upon conversations that I had with the senior senator from New Mexico. He had lost confidence in Mr. Iglesias. Let me just say Mr. Iglesias' story is a great one. It's the American dream. And there are many good things about his performance and I very much admire him as a person.

WEXLER: But you won't tell the American people who put him on the list determining his employment?

GONZALES: I accept responsibility for...

WEXLER: You accept responsibility for making the decision ultimately to accept the determination list. But you will not come forth and tell the American people who put Mr. Iglesias on the list to be fired.


BLITZER: Quite an exchange. Republicans on the panel urged their Democratic colleagues to put the prosecutor controversy behind them, arguing there's no evidence of wrongdoing.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He's in New York with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: What a loser. Isn't he supposed to run that place? Isn't he supposed to know when people are being fired? Who puts them on the -- he's a loser. He's just a loser.

On to other things -- it's getting to the point of being beyond ridiculous. The American public is sick and tired of the war in Iraq. Look at any major public opinion poll -- members of Congress increasingly sick and tired of the war. The Democrats want the president to agree to a deadline, to begin withdrawing our troops. He refuses.

Moderate Republicans in a closed door meeting at the White House told the president apparently in no uncertain terms either there's real progress to report in Iraq within the next few months or you will lose our support. See, it's getting to be election time. They'll all be running for their own political hides soon.

The group told the president he should -- this is the Iraq Study Group headed by Jim Baker, a good friend of the president's father -- that he should seriously consider ending the war. Retired generals are criticizing the president during wartime, that's something almost unheard of in our nation's history. And now a majority of the Iraqi parliament has signed a petition saying they want to decide how long the United States continues to occupy their country.

And yet, none of this seems to be registering with President Bush. He continues to wander around in a state of denial. His definition of what constitutes success in Iraq changes all the time. The latest one is some sort of undefined level of ongoing violence in Iraq will determine when we have succeeded. What? Something is very, very wrong.

Here's the question -- how long will the United States allow President Bush to dictate policy unilaterally on the war in Iraq? E- mail or go to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

Coming up, Drew Barrymore using her star power to feed the hungry.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To listen to children and when you ask what they need, it's this one-cup of food. It's pen and paper, school supplies. It's life altering and it has humbled me to the core.


BLITZER: I'll speak with the actress turned goodwill ambassador about her new cause and what you can do to help.

Plus, should President Bush be charged with high crimes and misdemeanors. A former chief of staff to Colin Powell addresses questions about impeachment and the war in Iraq. And once called President Bush's poodle -- the British Prime Minister Tony Blair announces his exit. Will Washington's ties to London be as friendly when Blair is gone?

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


BLITZER: Former top Bush administration official during the run- up to the war in Iraq is furious over the way things have turned out. And he's using some very strong language against the White House.

Our Brian Todd is watching the story. Very tough talk here. What's it all about, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is the first Republican official, the first former member of the Bush administration to publicly discuss the idea of impeachment. Just as significant, this man was closely involved in much of the diplomatic maneuvering before the war.


TODD (voice-over): He was instrumental in preparing Colin Powell's case for war at the United Nations. Now, Powell's former top aide, Colonel Larry Wilkerson, has turned on the administration. Telling CNN he and his boss were lied to and that a case for impeaching President Bush and Vice President Cheney could at the very least be investigated.

COL. LARRY WILKERSON, FORMER POWELL CHIEF OF STATT: There's a building body of evidence that this leadership team, principally Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, but the president, who ultimately bears responsibility, too, have done things that would make a reasonable, separate and equal body of government consider impeachment.


TODD: Wilkerson, Powell's chief of staff at the State Department until Powell left the administration in 2005, said he's not calling for impeachment outright, but when I asked him what so-called high crimes for possible impeachment he would investigate...

WILKERSON: I would start my investigation into the detainee abuse issue, which constitutes I think a defilement of everything America stands for and has done irreparable damage to our reputation and thus to our power around the world. If that doesn't rate a high crime definition, I don't know what does. And I would also look closely at how we got into this war, particularly at the cooking of the books on intelligence.

TODD: Contacted by CNN, a White House spokeswoman responded, quote, "We appreciate everyone's right to free speech. Every American has a right to free speech but not a right to a different set of facts. (END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Aides to Vice President Cheney and Colin Powell said they would not comment on Wilkerson's remarks. We have not heard back yet from Donald Rumsfeld's office -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, why is Larry Wilkerson talking about impeachment now?

TODD: Well he says he's had time now in his life as an academic to research these issues, to study the context for impeachment proceedings and the history of how it's been used. But there's clearly some ill feeling here over how all of this was handled before the war. Wilkerson says he's had many sleepless nights over this. He also says he typed up a letter of resignation when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in 2004 and he still regrets that he waited until the following year to leave.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us -- thanks, Brian.

One of President Bush's staunchest allies took the ultimate political hit today for his support of the war in Iraq. The British Prime Minister Tony Blair made the widely expected announcement he'll step down after a decade in office. Mr. Blair says he'll hand in his resignation as prime minister and the Labour Party late next month.

Our chief national correspondent John King is here. How significant is Mr. Blair's exit for the U.S., John?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For starters, Wolf, it leaves President Bush as an increasingly lonely voice on the world stage. Think back to the beginning of the Gulf War. The prime minister of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar stood with Mr. Bush, voted out of office. The prime minister of Italy, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), stood with Mr. Bush, voted out of office. And now, Tony Blair.



KING (voice-over): He has for a decade now been a friendly and familiar face. We came to know him as a friend of Bill, a prime minister who in his first month in office, May 1997, made clear Washington would have no closer ally.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Britain does not meet and choose between being strong in Europe or being close to the United States of America.

KING: This friendship was a natural. Two charismatic baby boomers with governing philosophies almost always in sync.

BLAIR: Perhaps more than any other American president people really feel that President Clinton both understands, knows, and people, they can also feel his willing them to do well.


BUSH: Good job, thank you.

KING: This bond was more of a surprise.

BUSH: We both use Colgate toothpaste.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wonder how you knew that, George...

KING: But especially after 9/11, the Bush/Blair partnership was built on a shared belief that a muscular world view is critical with fighting Islamic extremism.

BLAIR: And I say to you we stand side by side with you now, without hesitation.


KING: Turning from Afghanistan to Iraq would prove costly. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) parody as Mr. Bush's lap dog and poodle are images Mr. Blair won't miss as he yields the stage and U.S./British relations take a new turn.

RICHARD HAASS, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: He associated himself with a historical mistake in Iraq and I think that's more than anything else going to color his legacy.


KING: It's not that the president and prime minister, Wolf, didn't have their differences. Mr. Blair thought the president needed to do a lot more in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, thought he was way too timid in dealing with global climate change, wanted him to engage directly with Iran, but one thing this president, President Bush likes about Tony Blair, those differences almost always aired in private.

BLITZER: And what about the new prime minister, what do we expect from him?

KING: That's a big question mark. Unabashedly pro-American, as you noted earlier in the program, vacations on Cape Cod. He loves the United States, but he is said by friends to be much cooler toward President Bush. They met recently for the first time. Gordon Brown (ph) says it was a good meeting, a productive meeting. He looks forward to getting to know the president, but is already beginning to disengage from Iraq, look for that to continue. And some think that he will be under extraordinary pressure from within the Labour Party to be more public in the differences, over global warming, perhaps over debt relief in third world countries, so a giant question mark and a lot of pressure on Tony Blair's successor.

BLITZER: And you look pretty young in that interview when...


BLITZER: I guess we all aged a little bit.


BLITZER: John, thanks very much. John King's going to have a lot more on Tony Blair's exit, the impact on the United States tonight on "ANDERSON COOPER 360" that airs at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

And up ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore is one of the president's fiercest critics, so why is the Bush administration now investigating him?

And tens of thousands of youngsters fill a stadium in Brazil to hear a message from Pope Benedict. What was his advice?

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Our Carol Costello is monitoring some other stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Carol, what do you have?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: A couple of things to tell you, Wolf.

The maker of the drug OxyContin and three of its current or former top executives have pleaded guilty to misleading the public about the risk of addiction. Purdue Pharma and the executives will collectively pay more than $630 million in fines. OxyContin, as you know, can be highly addictive. The federal government has singled it out as one of the nation's most abused prescription drug.

On the wide screen in just the past two hours, a greeting by tens of thousand us of young Catholics for Pope Benedict XVI. The pontiff entered the stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to cheers and waving pennants. Young people from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Honduras, and Mexico are there. The Pope told them to lead pure lives and turn their backs on the sexual freedom for which Brazil is famous.

There's a huge wildfire burning right now in Santa Catalina Island, Wolf. This is an island 20 miles off the coast of southern California. You can see this. In fact, witnesses say there's an eerie glow over the entire island. This is a long narrow island, 75 miles long about.

And as I said 150 acres are burning. A school and the hospital on the island were voluntarily evacuated. They're having to bring firefighting tools in from the mainland in California by boat and by helicopter, trying to put this thing out. We're going to keep our eye on this, Wolf, and as I get more information, I'll pass it along.

BLITZER: All right, Carol. Thanks very much. Calmer winds, by the way, and a smattering of rain help firefighters battling hundreds of wildfires in Georgia and Florida, but they still have a big job ahead. In southeast Georgia two boys were arrested for starting separate grass fires. One of them was near Waycross where the state's largest recorded wildfire started back on April 16. That blaze has burned 167 square miles of forest and swampland.

In rural north Florida, fire in Bradford County (ph) has burned more than 1,800 acres, threatening flames, temporarily drove hundreds of people from their homes and seemingly untouched trees collapsed because their roots burned underground. Winds from subtropical Storm Andrea are spending smoke sweeping down into south Florida. Several highways are closed, including Alligator Alley.

And just ahead, one of "People" magazine's beautiful people joins the fight against world hunger.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is the most worthy cause that I've ever been involved in, in my life.


BLITZER: The actress and now the United Nations ambassador, Drew Barrymore joins us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. That's coming up next.

And Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, rips American foreign policy in the thinly veiled comparison, get this, to Nazi Germany, what is he talking about? We'll tell you.

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


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

Happening now, following a warm reception from troops in Iraq, Dick Cheney gets welcomed in the United Arab Emirates. It's his current stop on a Middle East tour.

Long after Hurricane Katrina, some homeowners may finally be getting paid for damage to their homes. State Farm Insurance says it will reopen and possibly pay claims to 350 policyholders in Louisiana whose homes were torn apart by Hurricanes Katrina or Rita.

And the State Department says Condoleezza Rice is putting in a good word for Paul Wolfowitz. The World Bank president under fire for helping to promote his girlfriend. Rice is said to have made calls to foreign ministers in Europe and elsewhere.

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

Drew Barrymore and the newly appointed World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheron (ph) are on a mission. This week, the actress was named ambassador against hunger for the United Nations World Food Program.

Thanks very much for coming in. Really important work. There are so many causes out there, Drew.


BLITZER: What drew you, if you'll forgive the pun, to this particular cause?

DREW BARRYMORE, ACTRESS: Well I was reading an article in "The New York Times" and about school feeding programs. And I work in documentary now, which is a form of film that I'm comfortable in, but it's a via (ph) where I can learn about the world -- other cultures, what's important.

The last documentary I did was about voting. And I went and called the U.N. and said if you have a chance or there's an opportunity where I could go to Africa and bring my crew and start filming, it would be wonderful.

That was a year-and-a-half ago. I have made numerous trips to Africa. And, most importantly, I've gone into these schools, numerous schools -- at least 10, to be specific. And to learn from what these children are teaching me is extraordinary.

BLITZER: It's been so rewarding for you, too.

I want you to look at some of the pictures. Look behind you and tell us what you're seeing. Now, this was a recent trip. Where was this, in Kenya?

BARRYMORE: That was in Kenya.

That's in a school in Kabira, which is the largest slum in Africa, a million people -- a beautiful school called Stara. And these children -- their incentive to go to school is to get one cup of food a day. And what that one cup enables them is to have the concentration to learn, which, in turn, will not only change their lives, but the future of our world.

BLITZER: As we look at these pictures, I want to just bring facts out there from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.

Hunger and poverty claim 25,000 lives every single day. Every five seconds a child dies because she or he is hungry. And get this -- 820 million people in developing countries alone are hungry, one in four lives in sub-Saharan Africa.

Drew, when you saw this unfold when you were in Africa, what was going through your mind?

These are -- it's one thing to see these statistics but when you see these little kids, it must be so awful.

BARRYMORE: Well, the individual, you know, cost is $0.18 a day, $21 a year. BLITZER: To save a life?

BARRYMORE: To put the children through school and to have a meal. And a lot of these children share the meal with the rest of their family, who, in turn, have some who have HIV, who can't take the medicine without the food.

Food is the root to this tree, with so many branches. And there is doable numbers in order to change this and turn this around, which is why we're here in Washington.

BLITZER: And, Josette, I want to talk a little bit about that. You're the executive director of the World Food Program right now.

Just assure everyone that the money people give to this worthy cause, that it actually goes to where it's supposed to go. Because I remember in '94, I remember all the food in Somalia, people were starving and then the war lords came in and they grabbed all those containers. You remember that.

What -- what's been done to make sure that the food is going to those kids, those starving people who really need it?

JOSETTE SHEERAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: Well, Wolf, the World Food Program is not only the world's largest humanitarian organization, it's the world's most efficient. We only spend seven percent of our budget on overhead. Ninety-three percent goes to food. We have the toughest monitoring conditions in the world, and assessment conditions, about where the food is delivered.

Plus, we're out there in deep field. The cost/benefit return is huge. This cup is from northern Uganda. It takes $21 a year to fill it for a child. This can sustain them and their life ...

BLITZER: For a year?

SHEERAN: For a year. This is what they get -- one cup full a year of porridge in here. But the difference that it makes is everything.

Also, for girls in school, we give one little bag of food -- it costs a penny a day -- to take home. And the numbers of girls going to school changes dramatically with that little bag of food. Their fathers are telling them go to school, get the bag of food.

But we have people out in the field. We monitor and ensure that it's delivered. We have tightened this up and it is an extremely effective of monitoring.

BLITZER: That's reassuring.


BLITZER: Good to know.

Now, you're here in Washington, Drew? BARRYMORE: Yes.

BLITZER: Tell us why you've come to Washington, because you were up on Capitol Hill today.

BARRYMORE: We came to lobby for the McGovern-Dole Bill.

BLITZER: Tell us what that is.

BARRYMORE: It's a bill that will raise, hopefully -- right they're at about $100 million and we're hoping to make that a consistent and permanent thing over the next five years that would increase every year in its number.

And what it means is stability for these kids in these schools with the food. And I think that's the most important part, is that you just want these children to have the little opportunity that they do, and to not have that be taken away from them.

SHEERAN: Well, we -- we feed 20 million children a year in school.

BLITZER: The World Food Program?

SHEERAN: And -- 20 million in school, the World Food Program a year. And if we can make this stable and consistent, these schools graduate -- 28 countries have graduated from the school feeding program and now sustain it through their own countries. Countries like Jordan this year, now the government has taken over the school feeding program.

So we feel this is something, once we start, the idea can take hold and it can be rooted within the country itself.

BLITZER: Now, a lot of people are out there watching this, Drew, right now.

What -- what do -- what can they do to help? You say $0.18 a day can save the life of a kid in Africa who is starving.


BLITZER: How do -- how do our viewers help you and Josette and everybody else involved with this?

BARRYMORE: They can donate to the WFP, which really is ...

BLITZER: There's a Web site they can go to.

BARRYMORE: You recognize the name. They're the ones who are out there giving the food around the world internationally. And what's so great about this bill is that it is America donating internationally.

So I think the goodwill and those two things coming together is an extraordinary thing. And you can lobby to your congressman and senator to help pass this through, because it's one small portion, but it's an extraordinary portion. And it can make a huge difference in stability over the next five years.

BLITZER: So you're an ambassador right now, Drew?


BLITZER: I mean how does that feel?

And what -- do I have to call you Madam Ambassador?

BARRYMORE: I don't take the term lightly. And what I love about the World Food Program is that I've worked with them now for almost a couple of years and I've been in the field with them numerous times. And it is only now that I've been bestowed such an extraordinary honor and responsibility.

This is a group that is in the field doing the work. And they're not about the glamour. They're about the reality and the making it happen and the doing it.

And I'm so honored to be a part of them. And now I just look to see what more I can do in the future.

BLITZER: All right, we ...

SHEERAN: She earned this title by winning the hearts of these children out in the field.

BLITZER: Were you with her, Josette?

SHEERAN: We -- no, but I have seen her there and we're planning our next trip together.


BLITZER: When are you leaving?

SHEERAN: We're taking of going to Darfur.

BLITZER: When are you going?

SHEERAN: Yes. Well, I just got back from Darfur. But I think this is where we've decided it would be most important to go next.

BLITZER: Do you want to go to Sudan and see what's going on?

BARRYMORE: Yes, I do. I spent time a lot of time in Kenya, all over the country. And now we're talking about going to Sudan and Darfur. And it'll be about where is necessary next. There's so much need and I just think it's amazing for me to have this opportunity and to have found a place that is so prestigious and so -- such doers that I can be a part of and continue to learn and then share that awareness. It's the best opportunity.

BLITZER: And as much as you're helping these kids in this really worthy cause, you're benefiting yourself?

BARRYMORE: Well, I'm learning so much about the world and what the priorities are of the people that I'm encountering.

BLITZER: So this has really changed you?

BARRYMORE: It's changed me fundamentally as a human being. To listen to children and when you ask what they need, it's this one cup of food, it's pen and paper, school supplies. It's -- it's life altering. And it has humbled me to the core. And I want to do nothing ...

BLITZER: When these...

BARRYMORE: ... but everything I can.

BLITZER: When these stars, Josette, get involved -- whether George Clooney or Angelina Jolie or Drew Barrymore -- it really raises the profile and helps you enormously, doesn't it?

SHEERAN: Well, what's so beautiful to see about Drew is she's using her status in the world to help the people that are the least powerless in the world, or the most powerless in the world. And so these children are often victims of their circumstances.

And her voice can really help them connect to people who want to make a difference.

Eighteen cents a day is so powerful, almost anyone in America can do that and help.

I also want to thank the American people. Food for Peace was started by Senator Kennedy. This was the beginning of all of this. And it's changing people's lives.

In Darfur, we feed two million people a day. I was just there. We've cut acute malnutrition in half ...

BLITZER: Give us the Web site.

SHEERAN: ... through the Food Program.

BLITZER: What's the -- where -- the Web site address is?


BLITZER: .org? It's on the screen right now.


BLITZER: There you see it right now.

Drew, we're out of time.

But look into the camera, speak to the American people right now.

Tell them something from your heart.

BARRYMORE: Well, I just want to thank you for having us on your show, first of all. And I look forward to the future and the opportunity that the World Food Program has given me to change the lives of people who are so worthy and so deserving of the opportunities of their own future.

So I encourage you to give money to this program and to support this bill because it is the most -- the most worthy cause that I've ever been involved in my life.

BLITZER: Drew Barrymore, thanks for your good work and thanks for coming in.

BARRYMORE: Thank you.

BLITZER: Josette, an old friend of ours here at CNN, thanks to you, as well.

SHEERAN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks to both of you for your important work.


BLITZER: And still ahead tonight, U.S.-Russia relations in trouble. Why is Vladimir Putin using references to Nazi Germany as he attacks U.S. foreign policy?

And Michael Moore's new film, controversial, and it's not even out yet. It's got a new target. But he's also become a target of a new government investigation. We'll tell you what's going on. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Here's a shocking story. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, comparing America to Nazis. His stunning comments came as his nation recalled its World War II victory. Our senior international correspondent, Matthew chance, is in Moscow. Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this was pointed criticism from the Russian President Vladimir Putin, apparently directed towards the United States at a speech marking Victory Day meant to commemorate the defeat of Nazi Germany. Vladimir Putin said that the world today faced threats just like those before the Second World War.


CHANCE (voice over): Amid the pomp of Russia's annual Victory Day parade, a stinging Cold War-style attack on the United States. The U.S. wasn't mentioned by name, but in a speech to commemorate defeat of Nazi Germany, Russian President Vladimir Putin made what analysts say was a blunt reference to current U.S. foreign policy.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): These new threats, just as under the Third Reich, share the same contempt for human life and the same aspiration to establish an exclusive dictate over the world.

CHANCE: The Kremlin has been a vocal critic of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. It's also resisted stronger U.N. sanctions Washington wants imposed on Iran over its controversial nuclear program, developed in part with Russia's help.

More recently, tensions before the former Cold War enemies have been inflamed by U.S. plans to install elements of a missile defense system in eastern Europe. Analysts say a resurgent Kremlin, fueled by vast oil wealth, seems determined to voice ever-stronger anti-U.S. criticism.

And the choice of venue for the latest attack was symbolic. The defeat of Nazi Germany is commemorated with a nationalistic passion here. Annual parades through Red Square in Moscow, where Russia remembers its own painful sacrifice -- 27 million lives lost. It seems under Vladimir Putin they've become a venue for political point- scoring as well.


CHANCE (on camera): While relations between Russia and the United States remain complicated on so many issues. U.S. officials say that the relations between the former Cold War enemies is still at least on speaking terms. U.S. officials emphasizing that there is still a friendship between the two leaders of the two countries, President Bush and Vladimir Putin.

Back to you, Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Matthew, thanks. Matthew Chance in Moscow.

The filmmaker Michael Moore is ruffling feathers once again. This time, it's the government he's ticked off. This time, it could cost him millions. CNN's Carol Costello joining us once again with the story. What has he done now, Carol?

COSTELLO: Well, Wolf, oddly enough, he might have violated the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. It centers around Moore's new documentary. A documentary that has not even been released yet.


COSTELLO (voice over): Michael Moore is in trouble with the feds. This time over his latest documentary, "Sicko". It takes what Moore calls a hard look at U.S. health care by flying sick rescue workers of 9/11 to Castro's Cuba for medical treatment.

The Treasury Department called Moore's trip to Cuba a possible trade embargo violation. It is now conduction a "civil investigation for possible unlicensed transactions..."

It is illegal for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba without permission or purchase anything from Cuba, including medical care. If found guilty, Moore could be fined up to $1 million per violation.

(on camera): You do think that this whole thing was politically motivated?

JOANNE DOROSHOW, "SICKO" COORDINATING PRODUCER: Well, I think the timing of it suggests that there were politics behind this, certainly.

COSTELLO (voice over): Moore is a frequent target of conservatives.

Fred Thompson, a Republican who may run for president, wrote about "Sicko" for "The National Review Online," saying, "I defend his right to do what he does, but Moore's talent for clever falsehoods has been too well documented."

Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" is usually the proof they offer. The enormously popular documentary painted President Bush as a buffoon in the days after 9/11.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I hit every shot good, people would say I wasn't working.

COSTELLO: And "Fahrenheit" was anti-Iraq War. The documentary so inflammatory, Senator John McCain brought it up at the Republican National convention in 2004 as he made the case for the war.

JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Certainly not a disingenuous filmmaker who would have us believe that Saddam's Iraq was an oasis of peace, when in fact -- when in fact it was a place of indescribable cruelty.

COSTELLO: Moore, who was there, seemed to tip his hat. And then he laughed.

We called the Treasury Department for comment. It would only say it "... issues hundreds of letters each year asking for additional information when possible sanctions violations have occurred."


COSTELLO (on camera): And Moore says as a precaution he has locked up "Sicko," his new documentary at a safe house outside of the United States. He's afraid the U.S. government will confiscate it. Wolf, it's said to be released to the general public in June.

BLITZER: Carol Costello reporting for us. Thank you, Carol.

Under U.S. law, by the way, Americans are licensed to travel to Cuba with the Treasury Department and three general categories. Journalists must be regularly employed by a news organization and they must be traveling for journalistic activities. Government officials must be traveling on official government business. And travel for professional research must of an academic, noncommercial nature.

Still ahead here tonight in THE SITUATION ROOM, Jack Cafferty is asking this question -- how long will the U.S. allow President Bush to have his way on the Iraq War?

And he's been off the war and mostly out of sight. But there's been a Don Imus sighting. Jeanne Moos standing by with that.


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty. He's standing by for "The Cafferty File." Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the question this hour we asked is, how long will the United States allow President Bush to dictate policy unilaterally on the war in Iraq?

Bruce in Illinois writes, "Jack, the American people will let Chairman - I mean, President Bush dictate our war policy until the draft is reinstituted and until television journalists find a way to send back pictures of the gaping chest wounds, body parts and coffins of American soldiers. If it bleeds it needs to leave. And more people in more communities need to see their children conscripted into this bloodbath. That recipe got us out of Vietnam and it will get us out of Iraq, too."

Marguerite in Spring, Texas. "How do we stop him? If someone believes the sun is the moon and the moon is the sun and he happens to be the same person who is given the power to decide which is which, how do you stop him?"

Kirk in Metter, Georgia. "We voted for change in Congress when we elected Democrats the majority party. But as the U.S. can plainly see, the Democrats are the same as the Republicans. They say anything to get votes, but never hold true to their word and act. So the U.S. will tolerate Bush's policy as long as he's in office. And then we'll tolerate the next jackass' policy because we're a lazy nation who has a lot to say but no willpower to do."

Bruce in Wanaque, New Jersey. "Jack, the answer is so simple. Bush will get the message when enough Republican incumbents in Congress find out for sure that they're going to lose their seats in the next election if they don't turn on him and straighten him out."

Nancy, in Houlton, Maine, "Until either the people get off their apathetic butts and do something about it, start protesting like we did back in the seventies, or the high and mighty morality groups in this country discover that Bush may be having an affair with a White House aide. And that will give them a really good reason to impeach him."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to We post more of them online. Along with video clips of the "The Cafferty File." Wolf?

BLITZER: Jack, thank you for that. Let's check in with Paula to see what's coming up right at the top of the hour. Paula?

PAULA ZAHN, CNN HOST: Thanks, Wolf. Appreciate it. We'll be, of course, touching on tonight's breaking news, the congressional showdown over the Iraq War. Is the president's support crumbling even among this own party members? We're also bringing a culture clash "Out in the Open." The people of a Midwestern City face a very tough question, how much should they have to bend to make some new immigrants feel at home? The debate over their assimilation coming up at the top of the hour. Hope to see you then, Wolf.

BLITZER: You'll see me. Thanks, Paula, for that.

Up next, here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Imus emerges, the fired radio host comes out for a personal cause. Jeanne Moos with the story. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Former shock jock Don Imus goes mum until now. Our Jeanne Moos has this "Moost Unusual" story.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The hat is back. Don Imus hadn't been wearing it much in public while he was busy apologizing. But Imus and his hat resurfaced at a book signing event for his wife's book.

The crowd here in Madison, Connecticut was Imus-friendly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said, we miss you terribly. Life just isn't the same without you. He was beamed. He just beamed.

MOOS: He wasn't beaming much on camera. Maybe he was trying not to overshadow his life. Listen to the awkward silence that ensued when a reporter asked ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How does it feel to get back out in the public eye again?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some mixed feelings?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, thank you.

MOOS: The shock jock was shockingly silent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No cameras inside the event.

MOOS: As his wife spoke about her book, Imus paced nearby, and later, he signed a couple of autographs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I carpooled with Don Imus in college. What does carpool mean? That's how it felt. He was on my radio.

MOOS: Imus doesn't carpool. Though he did arrive in a car big enough to have a pool.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One good thing about Imus being off the news in the morning, we get to sleep a little later because we used to religiously wake up at 6:00 in the morning to tune him in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no idea what to do with my husband in the morning. And everybody that is there is like oh, when are you coming back? Come back.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he said, we're working on it.

MOOS (on camera): They're also working on a $120 million breach of contract lawsuit against CBS Radio for firing him.

(voice-over): As for Imus' old show ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pop on that station so it's a letdown. So it's a lonely feeling in the car.

MOOS: Instead of this:

ANNOUNCER: "Imus in the Morning."

MOOS: Cable viewers are getting a series of replacements.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to "Morning Joe."

MOOS: Barely know the name of their own show. To think that just a little over a month ago, Imus was still the star of his show, being kidded by comedian and supporter Bill Mahr.



MAHER: Bad Don, Bad. Go in the corner for two weeks.

MOOS: But when Imus is cornered.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How does it feel to get back out in the public eye again?

MOOS: Even his silences are scathing. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN "Breaking News."

BLITZER: The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives have just passed a war funding bill that funds the war through the end of July. The president already has threatened to veto this if it goes through the Senate. Unlikely to go through the Senate. We're watching this story for you.

But clearly, the Democratic majority in the House defying the president on Iraq once again. Paula will have a lot more on this story coming up. Let's go to Paula. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT

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