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THE SITUATION ROOM

Speaker Has Proof he would not be Dangerous to other Flight Passengers. Putin Accuses U.S. of Imperialism. Head of IAEA Worried About New Crazies who want to Bomb Iran. Clinton's Strong Network in New Hampshire. Kevorkian Freed. Interview with Ricardo Alarcon.

Aired June 1, 2007 - 1900   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.
Happening now, the twists keep coming, the man with that rare tuberculosis says he has proof he was not told he would be a danger to passengers before he got on those planes and now his actual wedding is also being questioned.

And my exclusive interview with the third most powerful man in Cuba. He has a surprising update on Fidel Castro's condition and talks about shocking claims that President Bush ordered Castro's assassination.

And the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency criticizing what he's calling, and I'm quoting now, "new crazies who say let's go and bomb Iran. But was Mohamed el Baradei talking about the vice president, Dick Cheney. We'll ask the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.

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

Regret, remorse and an emotional apology from the man at the center of that international tuberculosis scare, but Andrew Speaker insists health officials told him he was not a risk to others before he boarded a flight to Paris, and he says he has proof to back that up.

CNN's Mary Snow is following all the latest developments from New York. Mary, what proof does Speaker say he really has?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Andrew Speaker says he has a tape recording that will back up his story of why he believed it was OK for him to travel overseas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): In an interview with ABC News, Andrew Speaker appeared contrite, even apologized for boarding crowded planes knowing he had a potentially deadly form of tuberculosis.

ANDREW SPEAKER, TUBERCULOSIS PATIENT: I never meant to hurt their families or them, and I just hope they can find a way to forgive me for putting them in harm because I didn't mean to.

SNOW: Speaker disputes accounts by health officials who met with him before his wedding overseas.

DR. ERIC BENNING, FULTON CO., GA HEALTH DEPT: We did tell him in no uncertain terms that he should not travel and we told him the reasons why.

SNOW: In the ABC interview in his Denver hospital room Speaker insisted he had proof to the contrary, tape recordings in which health officials told him he was not a risk.

SPEAKER: My father said, OK now are you saying you prefer him not to go on the trip because he's a risk to anybody or are you simply saying that to cover yourself? And they said well we have to tell you that to cover ourselves but he's not a risk.

SNOW: Another point of contention is what happened when the Centers for Disease Control contacted Speaker in Rome and told him to turn himself over to Italian health authorities. The CDC advised him not to get on a commercial jet and says it was working on options.

VOICE OF DR. JULIE GERBERDING, CDC DIRECTOR: They are really looking for every single viable option that would possibly have allowed the patient to return to the United States and do that in a way that did not pose a risk to other people.

SNOW: Speaker was forceful in disputing that claim.

SPEAKER: That is a complete lie.

SNOW: Speaker says he was told the CDC couldn't provide a way out of Italy and he says he defied the orders to stay in Italy because he feared he would die if he didn't get to Denver for treatment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Now also in that ABC interview Speaker says maybe it wasn't the best decision to leave Europe on a commercial flight -- Wolf.

BLITZER: There are also some new questions about his marriage in Greece. What are we hearing?

SNOW: Well you know the couple went to the island of Santorini in Greece and now the mayor of Santorini is saying that they did not have the proper paperwork so in effect the wedding never took place. Don't have any word on that from Andrew Speaker, but this is coming from the mayor in Santorini, Greece.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to have more on this story coming up later this hour -- Mary Snow reporting from New York.

Other important news we're watching -- frosty relations and heated rhetoric, Russia's president taking a new swipe at the Bush administration using words like imperialism and arms race -- the White House reacting tonight.

Let's go straight to our White House correspondent Ed Henry. What's the response to the president, Vladimir Putin, who has been making all sorts of allegations against the U.S.?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well as you know, Wolf, President Putin is really agitated about these U.S. plans, head of the G-8 summit to set up these missile defense systems in Eastern Europe. The U.S. insists that's only aimed at defensive moves, aimed at Iran, not at Russia, but nevertheless, you're right.

President Putin firing away accusing the U.S. of imperialism saying they want world dominance. What the White House is trying to do, you know yesterday a State Department official fired back, accused Putin of backsliding on democratic reforms, crushing dissent, but today the White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley trying to be a little bit more diplomatic and saying what they want to do at the G-8 summit is calm everything down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We, of course, talked to the Russians about that specific reference and they told us that they were not making any comparison between the United States and the third Reich. Obviously the kind of public controversy that provokes is not particularly constructive for U.S./Russia relations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: To say the least. Obviously the White House given the problems in Iraq, elsewhere around the world, the last thing they want right now is to have a new Cold War, and what he was referring to there, of course, is that in other comments Putin allegedly compared the U.S. to the third Reich. Putin's staff insisting he was taken out of context, but nevertheless, Wolf, this has gotten ugly fast.

BLITZER: He's pretty diplomatic in public, but I assume behind the scenes officials including the president must be furious.

HENRY: Absolutely. I mean if you look at this six years ago the president famously saying that he had looked into Vladimir Putin's eyes and seen into his soul, very embarrassing now six years later for the White House to be locked in this tit for tat and you can bet the White House is in fact furious about it but they have no other choice than to try to mend these relations.

That's why the president has already taken the extraordinary step, even before the G-8 summit, of saying he's going to have a second mini summit just with President Putin at Kennebunkport, July 1, first time he's ever opened up the family compound in Maine to another world leader -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Henry at the White House, we're watching perhaps echoes of the Cold War. Thank you very much.

Stinging remarks tonight from the world's nuclear watchdog -- the question, were they meant for the vice president, Dick Cheney? Our State Department correspondent Zain Verjee put that question to the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice -- Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's the U.S. versus Mohamed el Baradei, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE (voice-over): Sparring over Iran, a dire warning from the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed el Baradei, who says he's worried about new crazies who say let's go and bomb Iran. In an interview with the BBC he was asked who those new crazies were. He says he wasn't talking about President Bush but about, quote, "those who have extreme views and say the only solution is to impose force." Within the U.S. administration, Vice President Cheney has been most direct about stopping Iran from going nuclear saying on board an aircraft carrier in the Gulf last month...

RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we'll stand with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region.

VERJEE: So I asked Secretary of State Rice about el Baradei's remarks. Do you think he's talking about the United States in general or Vice President Dick Cheney in particular?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I have -- I have no idea. You can ask him who he is talking about.

VERJEE: But can you assure us that Vice President Cheney does not want to use military action on Iran to deal with this nuclear policy?

RICE: The president of the United States has made very clear what our policy is. That policy is supported by all of the members of his cabinet and by the vice president of the United States.

VERJEE: She said that policy was diplomacy and demanded the IAEA get on board.

RICE: We aren't going to get to that favorable diplomatic outcome if we muddy the message towards the Iranians. I expect them to hear it loud and clear from the IAEA and from its director.

VERJEE: The U.S. wants the world to send Iran one message. Suspend enriching uranium, the key ingredient which can be used to make a nuclear bomb. The spat started about two weeks ago when el Baradei said Iran should be allowed to keep enriching uranium before formal negotiations could start with the U.S. and its allies. The U.S. was outraged and dispatched its envoy to the IAEA in Vienna to protest strongly.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: El Baradei says he wakes up every morning and sees hundreds of Iraqis dying. He says he doesn't want to see the same thing happen with an attack on Iran -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Zain Verjee reporting for us. She's traveling with the secretary of state in Europe.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He's in New York. Hi, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, in case you folks at home have had your television sets on mute for the last couple of hours CNN will be bringing two presidential debates your way in the coming days. On Sunday night eight Democratic candidates square off in New Hampshire, and then on Tuesday 10 Republicans will meet on the same stage. What will they discuss?

Well, the war in Iraq likely will be topic "A." In a recent CBS News/"New York Times" poll, 37 percent of Democratic primary voters said that war in Iraq is the country's most important problem. Republican primary voters also said the Iraq war is the top issue but just 21 percent of them said so.

Eleven percent of Republican voters said immigration is the most important issue facing this country. We've got some other stuff on our minds as well though, things like health care and gas prices and, of course, our national security, and perhaps two hours each will not be enough time, so here's the question this hour.

If you were moderating either of those CNN debates, what would you ask the candidates? E-mail your thoughts to CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and, Wolf, since you will be moderating perhaps you'll pick up an idea or two here from our viewers.

BLITZER: I would love to get some good ideas from our viewers and they have excellent ideas, our viewers. Did we mention that they were without commercial interruption, those two hours?

CAFFERTY: No and we didn't mention also that after they are done they will go into that file marked part of the best political team on television.

BLITZER: And you're part of that as well, Jack. Thank you very much. John King is also part of it. We're going to be going to New Hampshire in a moment to be speaking with him about what we can expect in this debate.

Also, my exclusive interview with the third most powerful man in Cuba -- we're going to hear what he has to say about the health of Fidel Castro.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that in a way he practically, practically you can say that he has fully recovered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Fully recovered. The Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon also speaks bluntly to President Bush and Cuban exiles here in the United States.

Plus, eHarmony, a popular dating Web site is being sued. We're going to tell you why.

And the man known as Dr. Death walks out of prison. Will Jack Kevorkian's practice of doctor-assisted suicides resume?

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: New Hampshire steps into the political spotlight with the Democratic presidential debate Sunday. Hillary Clinton is considered the front-runner there, and a large group of hard-core supporters in New Hampshire is doing its best to see that she stays in that position.

John King is joining us now to tell us a little bit more about who these people are -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, for 17 years now Bill and Hillary Clinton have rewarded and nurtured the loyalty of the close-knit group of supporters who helped him when he first ran for president here back in 1992, visit to the White House during the Clinton presidency, notes, phone calls, private lunches whenever he passes through the state of New Hampshire. It is an effort that he says is critically important to him personally and something he hopes pays off now that there's another Clinton campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING (voice-over): From the outside it looks like any other New Hampshire middle class home. But inside it is a shrine to a president who too many in these parts remains the stuff of legend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He treated us -- I guess I could say like family from the start.

KING: Anita Freedman is a friend of Bill from way back and didn't hesitate when the phone rang several months ago.

ANITA FREEDMAN, BILL CLINTON SUPPORTER: And the voice at the other end said hi, Anita, this is Hillary Clinton.

KING: Then the former president joined in.

FREEDMAN: We must have talked for half an hour about campaigning and how to help her and what -- you know, what, if anything, they wanted me to do and stuff like that.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: We want Bill!

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: We want Bill! We want Bill! We want Bill!

KING: It's a safe bet you won't hear Hillary Clinton borrow this old line.

B. CLINTON: What do you think of our real slogan, buy one, get one free.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

KING: But nowhere is the Bill factor more of an issue than New Hampshire. Anita Freedman one of the many Clinton 1992 veterans doing all they can for the other Clinton now. Most insist their support wasn't automatic, that Mrs. Clinton earned it through her work as first as first lady and now a senator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because she's his wife is not reason enough, right?

FREEDMAN: No, she's got to -- I mean no because there are plenty of dumb wives running around.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Terry Schumaker is another long time friend of Bill turned friend of Hill, one of the people who deals with the skepticism and doubts of younger New Hampshire Democrats who weren't involved back in 1992 or 1996.

TERRY SCHUMAKER, FORMER CLINTON NH CO-CHAIR: The questions that are asked the most often are can she win. Is she polarizing? Is she ambitious, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) shrill person that we've heard about in the media and, of course, I say, no she isn't but now the genius of the New Hampshire primary is that people are getting to find that out on their own.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: And it is worth remembering what that 1992 Clinton organization lived and fought through, a big public controversy over the then Arkansas's governor's Vietnam draft status, then public allegations of marital infidelity. To those who say 1992 was a long time ago and that those activists aren't as plugged in anymore they counter back by saying they have got a little more fight left -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, John. Thanks very much. John is already up in New Hampshire. Don't forget we're gearing up for our big debate there in New Hampshire -- CNN, WMUR and "The New Hampshire Union Leader" are co-sponsoring back-to-back debates. The Democratic candidates square off Sunday. The Republicans go head-to-head Tuesday.

Both start at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Here's a little sneak peak by the way. We're putting the finishing touches on our stage right now which is actually a top hockey rink over at the arena at Saint Anselm's College, which is just outside Manchester. I'll be very close to the candidates, walking alongside the podiums.

Both debates, by the way, are for two hours without commercial interruption, Sunday night 7:00 p.m. Eastern, Tuesday night, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Meanwhile, as we move ahead to the race to be the next president, we're learning a little bit more now about some of the presidents from the past. Nancy Reagan is offering some insight into the relationship between Ronald Reagan and his former Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush. She spoke with CNN's Larry King.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, "LARRY KING LIVE": He's often positive about George H.W. Bush rather, but they didn't have, it could not be called a personal relationship, did they?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not really.

L. KING: Cordial?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They had lunch every week and they met, of course, many times during the week. Well you know George had his own schedule so that we really didn't see him very often. They came over to the house, the house.

KING: The House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The House -- some to have dinner, but most of the time George was one way and Ronnie was another.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: In that interview Nancy Reagan also spoke extensively about those recently revealed Ronald Reagan diaries. Nancy Reagan said her husband loved to write, and it certainly comes through in this new book.

Still ahead tonight in THE SITUATION ROOM, Fidel Castro, is he on the way to a full recovery? I'll ask the head of the Cuban National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon. He joins us for an exclusive interview from Havana.

Plus the first day of the hurricane season, that would be today, and we already have a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico, and it's barreling toward Florida. We're going to tell you when it's expected to hit.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack Kevorkian is enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of freedom again. The longtime assisted suicide advocate was released from prison earlier today.

CNN's Brianna Keilar is joining us now with a closer look for what's ahead for this man who was once dubbed Dr. Death. Brianna, how is he doing, Dr. Kevorkian? BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well he's 79 now, Wolf. He's more frail than when he entered prison, but Jack Kevorkian still believes people have the right to die though he has said he will not conduct any more assisted suicides.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR (voice-over): After more than eight years in prison, Jack Kevorkian walked out of a maximum-security prison in Michigan today.

JACK KEVORKIAN, ASSISTED SUICIDE ADVOCATE: Feels wonderful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Looking good.

KEVORKIAN: One of the high points in life.

KEILAR: Despite Kevorkian's promise to a parole board that he will not conduct assisted suicides, Geoffrey Fieger, the attorney who represented Kevorkian in several cases but no longer is his lawyer, believes Kevorkian will return to his practice once his two-year probation ends.

GEOFFREY FIEGER, FORMER KEVORKIAN ATTORNEY: He's absolutely committed to his patients, and I know Jack Kevorkian. He is not going to let the opposition forces beat him. He just isn't going to let them do it.

KEILAR: Kevorkian claims he was present at more than 130 deaths since 1990. In many cases he set up his death machine so a patient could push a button and begin a fatal IV drip.

KEVORKIAN: My intent is not to kill, is to do my duty as a physician, and they often have disagreeable outcomes when you do your duty.

KEILAR: But in 1998 Kevorkian administered the drugs to Thomas Youk, a Michigan man who was physically unable to do it to himself. Kevorkian also videotaped the death. The footage appeared on CBS News' "60 Minutes". It was also shown to the jury that would find him guilty of second-degree murder and illegal delivery of a controlled substance.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Unlike Thomas Youk, many who sought out Kevorkian's services were not terminally ill. Some advocates of physician assisted suicide say Kevorkian hurt rather than helped their cause but even so the 79-year-old Kevorkian says he will work to change those physician-assisted suicide laws -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Brianna. Thank you. And Jack Kevorkian is going to be a guest. He's going to be a guest on "LARRY KING LIVE" Monday night 9:00 p.m. Eastern. I think a lot of you are going to want to see that interview, Kevorkian and Larry King.

Just ahead, Fidel Castro, human rights and the embargo, a CNN exclusive from Havana.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only place in Cuba where very gross violations of human rights are taking place is at the Guantanamo Bay area.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Ricardo Alarcon, the head of the Cuban National Assembly, I'll ask him some tough questions. This is an important interview I hope you're going to want to see.

Also, a major security breach involving the new U.S. embassy in Iraq -- hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on that embassy -- our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton standing by to show us the situation online.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Happening now, in Tripoli, Lebanon, a day of especially ferocious fighting between the Lebanese army and Islamic militants -- this fresh wave of violence began two weeks ago. Two Lebanese soldiers were killed today, 10 others were wounded. We're watching this story for you.

A stretch of Florida's west coast now under a tropical storm warning -- Tropical Storm Barry formed in the Gulf Coast today, and it is forecast to hit Florida around 1:00 p.m. tomorrow. Today's the first day, by the way, of the Atlantic hurricane season, and we're also watching this storm.

And two U.S. pilots and four Brazilian air traffic controllers are under indictment for Brazil's worst ever air disaster. A hundred and fifty-four people died when their jetliner collided with an executive jet and plunged into the Amazon rain forest last year, the Americans (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the executive jet which landed safely.

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

Now a CNN exclusive -- the Cuban president, Fidel Castro, is temporarily out of power and largely out of sight but still causing an international uproar this week alleging that President Bush ordered him assassinated. Does he have any proof? And what's the real state of Castro's health?

And joining us now from Havana, Cuba, the president of the Cuban National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon who is often described as the third most powerful man in Cuba after Fidel and Raul Castro. President Alarcon thanks very much for spending a few moments with us. It's been almost a year now since President Fidel Castro became ill. Do you expect we're going to be seeing him any time soon? RICARDO ALARCON, PRES., CUBAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: Well, President Castro is recovering. He has to relinquish, provisionally, certain obligations to the first vice president. But everything went down here very smoothly, as -- as -- as was supposed to be, according to our law and our constitution. Everything is fine, except a lot of rain at this moment.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: A lot of rain right now.

But what exactly is wrong? Because I'm still confused.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: I'm still confused about his illness, his ailment. What's wrong with President Castro?

ALARCON: Well, he describe the problem as a very delicate surgery, that he's had to have several, not just one surgery. But it was a very risky situation. Now it's not anymore. The -- the worst moments are behind him at this moment.

BLITZER: So, you expect that he will make a full recovery?

ALARCON: I think that, in a way, he practically -- practically, we can say that he has fully recovered. But he has to continue a very strict regime of exercising, rehabilitation. And then he's reading a lot and writing, also.

BLITZER: Last Tuesday, he was quoted as saying something extremely provocative involving the U.S. president. He said this.

He was quoted as saying: "I'm not the first, nor will I be the last that Bush has ordered to be killed."

Is there any evidence that you have that President Bush has ordered the assassination of President Fidel Castro?

ALARCON: We have a long history of assassination attempts against him. There's a full record of investigation...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Yes, but that's -- but that's way back in the '60s.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: But what about now? I mean, he's making an allegation against President Bush.

(CROSSTALK)

ALARCON: Well, ask Mr. Posada Carriles, who is right now in Miami, enjoying freedom and security and living there, after having been -- his last exploit, remember, was in the year 2000, already with Mr. Bush in the White House, in Panama, when he organized a big thing at the Panamanian University. A lot of C-4 explosives were found with him.

He was condemned by a Panamanian tribunal because of endangering Panamanian security. And -- but now he's free. He has not been...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: So, is that the evidence that you have?

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Is that the proof that you say you have, that President Bush, this current U.S. president, not earlier presidents, tried to assassinate President Castro?

(CROSSTALK)

ALARCON: Well, President Bush is very good in the business of killing people.

You just watch CNN every day, and you will see how many Iraqis, how many innocent peoples are losing their life now. Then, we cannot -- I refer to the most notorious case. If you have a president that pardon and protect a terrorist that has been famously involved in attempts against my president's life, how should I do that -- this man may be plotting the same things at this moment, enjoying American protection, President Bush protection.

BLITZER: All right, let's move on and get your reaction to what the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, said today. She was in Madrid, Spain, meeting with the Spanish foreign minister. And she leveled this charge against your government.

(CROSSTALK)

ALARCON: Yes.

BLITZER: Listen to what Condoleezza Rice said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There must be a democratic transition in Cuba. That is owed to the Cuban people. People who are struggling for a democratic future need to know that they are supported by those of us who are lucky enough to be free.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right.

President Alarcon, what do you say to Secretary Rice, who just said that earlier today?

ALARCON: I wish that, some day, there will be a democratic transition in the United States, that there will be a regime change in your country, a change from war to peace, a change for arrogance and this kind of interfering in everybody's affairs, and looking back a little bit at home, and solving, facing these real problems that Americans have.

We eliminated T.B., for example, a generation ago. And you -- we are entering now hurricane season exactly today. Let's answer those problems that the Americans have.

I don't want to interfere in the U.S. affairs.

BLITZER: All right.

ALARCON: But I do believe that, some day, you will have enjoy having a different kind of government in your country; a transition will take place there.

BLITZER: All right. Well, there are elections, free elections, in the United States.

I want to read to you what Human Rights Watch, an international human rights organization, which is not averse to criticizing allegations of U.S. human rights abuses, what it said in its most recent report about Cuba.

It says this. It says: "Cuba remains the one country in Latin America that represses nearly all forms of political dissent. President Fidel Castro, during his 47 years in power, has shown no willingness to consider even minor reforms. Cubans are systematically denied basic rights to free expression, association, assembly, privacy, movement, and due process of law."

That's from Human Rights Watch. What do you say in response to a charge like that?

ALARCON: Well, these people have a different view than ours from -- about political process, about democracy, and -- and so on.

But have you read the last report by Amnesty International that was issued this week? They also criticize us, but also cite very strong things regarding the United States and many other countries around the world.

How to single out Cuba, when, in Cuba, according to Amnesty International, there are a few dozen individuals that were sentenced by a tribunal, according to our laws, for working with the U.S. government to undermine our country?

But, in the U.S., according to Amnesty International, in the last year, more than 70 people have been killed in your prisons. But nobody single out the U.S. for -- to be criticized. And the -- the only place in Cuba where very gross violations of human rights are taking place is at the Guantanamo Bay area, the only part of Cuba that it is not under our effective jurisdiction.

BLITZER: But -- but this -- the Amnesty International report, the Human Rights Watch, the International Committee For the Red Cross, you acknowledge, they have been very critical of your government for allegations of human rights abuses, the lack of a democracy and freedoms within Cuba?

ALARCON: Because they are not objective, Wolf. They -- they are part of a campaign against my country.

Here, we don't say that we are perfect. But, please, who are criticizing us? Who are attacking us? Are they really entitled to give lessons to us? Please.

BLITZER: President Alarcon, a critical moment in the relationship, in the history between the United States and Cuba, I wonder if you want to use this moment to deliver a message to the Cuban exiles who live in Florida right now, because everyone, especially this community, is watching what's happening right now very, very closely.

What's your message to the Cuban exiles in Florida?

ALARCON: I think that a message came recently from Florida.

The last Florida International University opinion poll that they took among Cuban Americans show that the -- the majority of Cubans living in the U.S. would like to have a rapprochement with their country of origin, better relations, the end of the embargo, the end of the travel ban.

And we share those views with them. I think that the day will come -- we are getting closer to that day -- when the current restrictions, the current problems that create obstacles in the communication between the Cubans living there and the Cubans in Cuba will be over, and we will continue striving for that day to come sooner.

BLITZER: Our time is up, President Alarcon. But it was kind of you to spend a few moments with us from Havana.

Ricardo Alarcon is the president of the Cuban National Assembly.

Thanks very much.

ALARCON: Thank you to you, Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And still ahead tonight here in THE SITUATION ROOM: It's supposed to be one of the most secure buildings in the world, hundreds of millions of dollars. So, what are the plans for the new U.S. Embassy in Iraq doing on the Internet?

Plus: details of one of the most popular Internet matchmaking sites slapped with a lawsuit. Find out who says they are being discriminated.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're watching a U.S. military strike that was launched against a target in Africa.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's on the phone.

Barbara, what are we learning?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, CNN has now confirmed that a U.S. Navy destroyer offshore off of Somalia earlier today launched a strike against a suspected al Qaeda targeted.

That destroyer, using its five-inch guns, went after this target in northern Somalia. There are -- there is no information at this point about the results of the attack, but sources are confirming, the target was a suspected al Qaeda terrorist in Africa said to be involved in those 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And -- and, so, they were looking for the actual terrorists who organized or plotted that attack on those U.S. embassies?

STARR: Yes.

Wolf, for some years now, the U.S. has long believed that the major players in that attack have been hiding out in Somalia. As you know, that's a country racked by violence, with no real functioning central government. And it has become an al Qaeda safe haven.

People may recall, back in January, there were a number of U.S. military airstrikes against suspected al Qaeda training camps in southern Somalia, where they believed these people were hiding. They believed at that time that they did not get them, but, somehow, they kept tracking. And, earlier today, another target appeared, another opportunity, and they launched that attack, but no results yet about whether they were able to kill the person they were looking for -- Wolf.

BLITZER: They were trying to kill one person, and one of these big shells from the destroyer was...

STARR: Well...

BLITZER: ... targeting that individual, because, normally, under that kind of situation, wouldn't they use some sort of Hellfire missile from one of those drones or some more sophisticated kind of a device?

STARR: Well, you know, that's a very interesting question, and we're trying to look into that.

It's a remote area. It's not clear whether there was a Predator drone nearby enough, if there was even one at the time in the Horn of Africa. It's not clear whether there were any aircraft overhead, like, last time, perhaps, F-15s, F-16s, Naval aircraft, that could have dropped more precision bombs.

It is very unusual, to the best of our understanding, for a Navy destroyer to use a five-inch gun against a target like that, what appears to be a single person perhaps moving in a convoy, not in a fixed location. This is something we just simply don't see. So, it hasn't quite sorted out yet why the U.S. military chose that particular weapon. It simply may have been the only thing they had on hand at the time -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Because, usually, that's designed for a much bigger target than one individual.

All right, I'm going to let you go back and check this information.

Thanks, Barbara, very much.

We're watching this story, the breaking news, the U.S. launching a strike against a target, a suspected al Qaeda target, in Somalia, in Africa, right now, a target suspected of being involved in the bombings of those U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.

We will stay on top of this story for you.

The State Department, meanwhile, is facing a significant -- at least it's being described as a significant security breach involving its $592 million embassy compound that is under construction in Baghdad right now. Architectural plans for the embassy were actually posted online.

Let's bring in Abbi Tatton. She is watching this.

Who actually posted this information online? Because this is very sensitive. This is going to be the largest U.S. embassy in the world. Thousands of Americans will be working there. And it's obviously in a very, very dangerous part of the world.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, it's actually the architectural firm that's tasked with designing this high-security compound in Baghdad, posted on their Web site, alongside plans for a marina in the United States, a church in Texas -- there it is -- Baghdad U.S. Embassy compound master plan.

These are computer-generated images of plans. We're showing just a couple of innocuous ones. That's the pool house there. But the images included a diagram of the overall compound. This is not online anymore. It was all taken down, after the State Department contacted that firm.

A spokesperson for the parent company of the architectural firm told the Associated Press that the plans online were purely conceptual. A State Department spokesman says: "We work very hard to ensure the safety and security of our employees overseas. This kind of information out in the public domain detracts from that effort" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you. We will watch this story unfold, as well. Obviously, someone was irresponsible with those embassy plans.

We're watching a lot of news unfolding.

Right now, we're going to get back that breaking news that's following -- just getting word that, off the coast of Somalia, the U.S. has launched a strike against a suspected al Qaeda target. Barbara Starr is checking with her sources. We will get back to her. And we will have more information right after this.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The company behind one of the Internet's most popular matchmaking Web sites is facing a lawsuit, alleging it discriminates against gays and lesbians.

CNN entertainment correspondent Sibila Vargas is in Los Angeles with details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you surf the Net or watch TV, you have probably run into those feel- good videos for the popular dating Web site eHarmony.com.

They feature couples who have found love, sometimes marriage, by using the pay feature of the site that matches people responding to a 436-question application. But, if you're gay, don't bother applying.

Linda Carlson, a lesbian suing eHarmony, tried to join last February. Her attorney is Todd Schneider.

TODD SCHNEIDER, ATTORNEY FOR LINDA CARLSON: One of the boxes they ask you to fill in says, "I am a" -- colon -- and your choices from the pull-down list are man seeking woman or woman seeking man. If you fail to put anything into that box and hit submit, you get an error message.

VARGAS: That hetero-only policy led a competitor that features same-sex couples to poke fun at eHarmony by showing a gay man trying to appear straight to get on eHarmony.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, still gay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARGAS: While most dating sites let you pick someone to contact, eHarmony itself picks your matches, your heterosexual matches, with a goal of marriage.

Those 436 or so questions, they are based on years of data and research on heterosexuals devised in part by eHarmony's founder, Dr. Neil Clark Warren; eHarmony says it's worthless to gays seeking matches.

GREG WALDORF, CEO, EHARMONY.COM, INC.: The service that we offer today is one that we can deliver with confidence. I could not offer a service today to the plaintiff with any sense that it's going to work, because -- because we have done no research to help her to get what she wants.

VARGAS: But while eHarmony isn't for gays, they say they welcome all faiths.

WALDORF: If you just go to our home page, you can literally see photos of thousands of people from all different faiths, all different religions.

VARGAS (on camera): And why didn't the plaintiff, Linda Carlson, choose one of the many matchmaking sites for gays? Her attorney says it's back eHarmony is better at making matches. It's estimated that 13 million people have signed up for membership on the popular matchmaking site.

Sibila Vargas, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And let's go back to Jack Cafferty in New York for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour is: If you were moderating either of the upcoming CNN debates, what would you ask the candidates?

Jackie writes from Pennsylvania: "I would like to ask the candidates what they would do to ensure that the sense of arrogance and entitlement of the current administration does not permeate their own."

Herman in California: "Jack, although it's rarely mentioned, with all the other problems we face, I would ask the candidates, how are we going to pay off the enormous national debt we have accumulated because of our madness?"

Bill in The Villages in Florida: "I would hammer the candidates on border security. Security starts at the border. Our elected officials are only concerned with their job security. I haven't heard anything yet that relates to our national security." Jacquelyn in Chicago: "I would ask each candidate to describe what actions on the part of a president, a vice president, or an attorney general would be grounds for impeachment."

Larry in New Hampshire: "What will you do to make me, an American citizen, feel like I'm the one being represented by our elected officials?"

Chuck in Louisiana: "As a Vietnam vet who has been a wayward husband forgiven by a beautiful wife, I appreciate Hillary. My question is, will she make Bill secretary of state? I can't imagine a better man for the job."

And J. in Hershey, Pennsylvania: "For the Democrats: How can Americans trust your judgment, when you agreed to do a debate that conflicts with the airing of one of the final two episodes of 'The Sopranos'?"

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile. We post more of them there, along with video clips of "The Cafferty File" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Doesn't "The Sopranos" on HBO start at 9:00 p.m. Eastern?

CAFFERTY: I have no idea what time...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Yes, because our debate goes from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Eastern. It's two hours. I want J. out there -- where is that, in Sarasota?

(CROSSTALK)

CAFFERTY: Who is this guy? I mean, come on, J. Get with the program. You made me out to not -- what the hell is going on here. I try to keep that from the viewers.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: As someone who watches "The Sopranos," I know what time "The Sopranos" starts.

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: Our debate is 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Sunday night and Tuesday night.

Jack...

CAFFERTY: Nice how you used that e-mail to work in an extra plug. I like that.

BLITZER: I always take advantage of that.

(CROSSTALK)

Jack, have a great weekend.

CAFFERTY: You, too, Wolf.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Let's find out what's coming up right at the top of the hour on "PAULA ZAHN NOW" -- Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Wolf, I didn't quite get that. What time is the debate on Sunday night?

BLITZER: Seven p.m., 7:00 p.m. Eastern, Eastern.

ZAHN: Oh, thank you.

BLITZER: Four p.m. Pacific.

ZAHN: I was doing that for Jack's benefit.

BLITZER: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

ZAHN: Coming up at the top of the hour: How bad is the air you're breathing inside airline passenger cabins? What can you catch? We're going to have the results of a CNN investigation. And we are going to have much more on an outrageous reality TV show where the prize winner was supposed to get a kidney.

You're not going to believe what other people who are very desperate are doing to get much-needed life-saving transplants. We're going to bring it all out in the open.

Of course, we will also have the latest on this T.B. case that is centered in Denver tonight.

BLITZER: Thank you, Paula, for that.

Paula is coming up at the top of the hour.

Still ahead here: amateur video. We are going to find out why some people are hoping to see proof of an urban legend.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: So, is the Loch Ness monster back? There's new video that may or may not show the legendary creature. And it's bound to add some momentum, though, to a movement to have Loch Ness officially recognized as one of the wonders of the world.

Here's CNN's Tim Lister.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TIM LISTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Could this be new evidence that a monster is hiding in the deep waters of a Scottish loch? Amateur video shot last weekend at Loch Ness shows a shadow moving across its surface, not exactly conclusive, but the tourist who captured these images said he saw a jet-black thing about 50 meters long moving fast across the lake.

It's just the latest of several thousand reported sightings since a Dr. Wilson captured this famous image back in 1934 and then started a phenomenon that's turned into an industry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Look.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What's going on? I don't believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LISTER: A well-known car company even built an ad campaign around Nessie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Oh, my.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LISTER: Loch Ness is now so famous, that its promoters want the United Nations to declare these dark, forbidding waters a world heritage site, like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Acropolis of Ancient Greece, and the Great Wall of China.

GRAHAM AMBROSE, CHAIRMAN, DESTINATION LOCH NESS: It's almost an iconic tourism destination. But there's no question that it needs to be protected. It needs to be developed. It needs to be taken forward.

And we believe, as I say, that, by going for world heritage status, that will enhance the area and everything that it -- it has to -- to offer.

LISTER: And help sustain a legend, or a myth, that surely deserves global recognition, if only for its persistence.

Tim Lister, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And that's it for us. Thanks very much for joining us.

Remember, we're here weekday afternoons from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern. We're back for another hour at 7:00 p.m. Eastern weekdays. Sunday, you can catch a special edition of "LATE EDITION." We will be live from New Hampshire -- among my guests, Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of the Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

And I will see you Sunday night, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, for the Democratic presidential debates.

Until then, thanks for joining us.

Let's go to Paula in New York -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thanks, Wolf. Appreciate it.

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