Skip to main content
U.S. Edition
Search
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview with Carl Bernstein; Bush's Nominee for Surgeon General Facing Opposition; Google's New Map Tools Raise Privacy Concerns; Face-Off: U.S. and Russia; North Korea's Latest Missile Test

Aired June 7, 2007 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Will it help the U.S. and Russia stand down from their missile standoff?

He once wrote homosexuality is unnatural and healthy. Now the president's pick for surgeon general is under fire from gay rights groups.

Can the nation trust his diagnosis?

And he's kept a close eyes on presidents since Watergate. Now he's written a new book on Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Bernstein speaking on Senator Clinton's childhood and marriage.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in the in THE SITUATION ROOM.

BLITZER: A summit shocker in Germany today. After weeks of harsh rhetoric including threats to aim nukes at America's allies, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, today made a stunning offer to President Bush.

Suzanne Malveaux is at the G-8 summit in Germany -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, before President Bush's meeting with President Putin, he said that this missile defense shield system is not an issue to be hyperventilating about.

But then there was something that happened in that meeting that caught both the president and his aides off guard.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

MALVEAUX (voice-over): Emerging from their much anticipated showdown over missile defense, a surprise. Russian leader Vladimir Putin offered a proposal to end his heated standoff with President Bush over U.S. plans to build a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, considered a welcome step to repairing U.S.-Russian relations.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He made some interesting suggestions.

MALVEAUX: The suggestion, to cooperate with the United States in building the missile defense shield, but on Russia's terms.

PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): This will create the necessary grounds for common work.

MALVEAUX: While President Bush envisions putting a radar in the Czech Republic and 10 missile interceptors in Poland to confront potential missile launches from rouge states, Putin sees this set up in his own backyard as a threat to Russia's security.

Instead, Putin wants to use an old Soviet built radar system already based in Azerbaijan, which it shares with that government. This would give Russia some involvement in detecting threats.

After Putin laid out his plan, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley huddled with the president's team.

U.S. secretaries of defense and state will meet with their Russian counterparts to study the plan in the weeks ahead. Putin suggested that if he got his way, he would no longer have to consider aiming his arsenal at Europe.

PUTIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):

This will make it possible for us not to change our stance on targeting our missiles.

MALVEAUX: With the chill thawing now between these two, the talk of cold war was replaced with talk of a summer trip.

BUSH: I told Vladimir we're looking forward to having him up to my folks' place in Maine in the beginning of July.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

MALVEAUX: But Mr. Bush's next stop on this trip is Poland. That is the site where he wants to put those missile interceptors. It is an idea that Putin is dead set against -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux at the G-8 summit in Germany.

Half a world away, yet another surprise. North Korea sent what might be a message to the summit in the form of short range missile tests.

Let's go to our State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee.

She's watching all of this.

What's the North up to -- Zain?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, North Korea just wants some attention. It doesn't like to be neglected.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

VERJEE (voice-over): North Korea's Kim Jong Il is feeling left out. So, as world leaders meet in Germany, he's fired a few short range missiles on his side of the world.

The U.S. reaction?

Measured.

TOM CASEY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We don't view these kinds of actions as helpful and have always called on the North Koreans not to take any steps that would raise tensions or concerns in the region.

VERJEE: This round of missile tests, the U.S. says, has been done before and are not as threatening as the ones North Korea fired last July. Those included a long-range missile that could hit the U.S.

But it's put North Korea back in the headlines.

Joe Cirincione of the Center for American Progress says when North Korea is ignored, they start rattling the chains.

Remember the breakthrough deal in February, when North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear reactor?

Well, it's not happening. North Korea is getting impatient. It says it will only act after it gets its money -- $25 million stuck in a bank in Macau. The U.S. had initially frozen the cash, accusing North Korea of counterfeiting U.S. bills. The U.S. says the cash has been freed, but North Korea can't find a bank that wants to make the transfer.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

VERJEE: North Korea experts say if the money issue isn't resolved, it could lead to more significant tests by North Korea -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And what if they don't shut down that reactor, Zain?

What's next?

VERJEE: Well, then it's going to torpedo the entire deal. It's going to be in jeopardy. State Department officials have said that they're really reluctant to put another deadline on North Korea. North Korea missed the first deadline back in April, but U.S. officials are telling us that they're being patient now, but it's not going to last forever -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Zane Verjee reporting from the State Department.

When it comes to war policies, President Bush already relies on the advice of the military brass and his cabinet. But he wants a war adviser. And today the Senate heard from the president's pick for that job.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

The president has a lot of advisers already -- Barbara.

What's the need for yet another adviser?

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, that's the key question.

A new military man at the White House as a top adviser?

But is he being put there just to be another person to take the blame for Iraq?

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

STARR (voice-over): Lieutenant General Douglas Lute's Senate confirmation hearing quickly became a discussion about his new job as President Bush's day to day national security adviser for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: And he's been nominated for an unenviable position. He'll be responsible for bringing coherence to an incoherent policy.

STARR: Many senators wanted to know who's really in charge now.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL DOUGLAS LUTE, WAR ADVISER NOMINEE: Senator, as I've said, I'll work directly for the president.

STARR: But what about all the other advisers -- General Pace, General Petraeus, Defense Secretary Gates and Secretary of State Rice?

Will Lute, a three star general, outrank them and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley?

LUTE: Steve Hadley remains, in all of his capacities, the national security adviser.

STARR: But a military official close to Lute tells CNN the general will make recommendations directly to President Bush.

SEN. JACK REED (D-RI), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: And the national security adviser of the United States has taken his hands off that and given it to his -- to you?

Is that your understanding?

LUTE: Sir, that's the design, yes.

REED: Well, then, he should be fired because, frankly, if he is not capable of being the individual responsible for those duties and they've passed it on to someone else, then why is he there?

(END VIDEO TAPE)

STARR: Well, you know, Wolf, General Lute is a very savvy, very well-informed general. He knows he's walking into a buzz saw. But experts say the problems with the war in Iraq now are so overwhelming and so complex, it appears that President Bush is really determined to have one man, day to day in charge of that at the White House.

BLITZER: What about General Peter Pace, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff?

Supposedly, he's the guy who's the top military adviser to the president.

STARR: That, Wolf, is the buzz saw. Under law, General Pace, as chairman, is the senior military adviser to the president. It appears General Lute will be the senior military adviser for the war in Afghanistan at the White House sitting really, you know, at the president's side, reporting to him every day on the war, making recommendations, according to top officials.

So how all of this sorts out remains to be seen -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And I'm sure you'll figure it out before the rest of us, Barbara.

Thank you.

Let's take a closer look at the man named by President Bush as his war adviser. Lieutenant General Doug Lute was director of operations for the U.S. military's Central Command. Serving under General John Abizaid, he oversaw combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He's close to General Abizaid, shares his concerns about the ability of Iraqi forces to take over the security role. Lute fought in the first Gulf War with the 2nd Armored Calvary Regiment, which he later commanded.

His waif -- his wife, that is, Jane Hall-Lute -- Holl Lute, that is, serves as the United Nations assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations.

Jack Cafferty is in New York and he's got The Cafferty File -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Isn't this the post they call the war czar?

BLITZER: We used to call it the war czar, but...

CAFFERTY: Why do we not call it that anymore?

BLITZER: Because now the -- we're call him the war adviser.

CAFFERTY: But why did he we change?

BLITZER: Czar?

I don't know. Some people didn't like it.

CAFFERTY: How about war patsy?

How about...

BLITZER: We're not calling him that.

CAFFERTY: How about war fall guy?

BLITZER: He's a very nice general.

CAFFERTY: How about the guy who takes all the blame when things go from bad to worse?

Oh, come on. I mean...

Maybe it's a sign of things to come. The "Washington Post" did a story today about how many of the presidential hopefuls are using Spanish with "varying degrees of fluency while on the campaign trail."

This includes folks like Mitt Romney, Senator Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson -- who is Hispanic. Then there's Newt Gingrich, the hypocrite who once said that anything but English is the language of living in a ghetto. Gingrich gets tutored in Spanish three times a week while considering a run for the White House.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to "The Post," goes to Mexico and reveals his inner Latino, speaking Spanish every chance he gets.

In Washington, there's a whole group of Democratic House members taking Spanish class twice a week. And, of course, there's President Bush, who, some would argue, speaks better Spanish than he does English. Oh, and have you tried to call any sort of business lately?

You don't get anywhere until you either press one for English or two for Spanish.

So here's the question -- is it inevitable that the United States will become a bilingual country?

E-mail caffertyfile@cnn.com or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile.

I wonder if the war czar speaks Spanish -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I don't know, but we'll do some checking.

CAFFERTY: OK.

BLITZER: Thank you, Jack.

Thanks very much.

Up ahead, President Bush's pick for surgeon general under fire from gay rights groups. Find out what's in his past that some activists find very alarming. Also, a landmark agreement on global warming -- or is it?

We're going to show you what's really in the deal announced at the G-8 summit today and why some say it's simply not enough.

Plus, is Hillary Rodham Clinton qualified to be president?

Would she be a good president?

What makes her tick?

The famed Watergate journalist, Carl Bernstein, has a new book that's out. He'll answer some of those questions and a lot more.

He's going to be here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Stay with us.

We'll be right back.

COMMERCIAL

BLITZER: More on our top story. President Bush joined other G-8 leaders today and forged an agreement to try to fight global warming.

But is that agreement full of hot air?

Let's go back to CNN's Brian Todd.

He's standing by -- is there less to this deal, Brian, than meets the eye?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, experts say that there's actually some substance here and it does put us on the road to getting something done on climate change. But some of the rhetoric from the G-8 leaders, they say, is a bit over the top.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

TODD (voice-over): The leaders call it a huge step forward in the battle against climate change -- their deal at the G-8 summit for industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

But listen to how they qualify it.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We're going to be from a starting point of considering the halving of emissions by 2050, which is a huge thing.

TODD: Considering cutting emissions in half by 2050 -- not actually agreeing to that hard target for cutting them, as the German chancellor and other European leaders had hoped.

Environmentalists, furious that no deal was reached for emissions to be cut to certain levels by a date certain. A top Greenpeace official says the agreement in Germany is clearly not enough to prevent dangerous climate change.

President Bush had always refused to sign up for those hard targets to cut emissions.

Are the Europeans caving?

REGINALD DALE, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: They have agreed to what the United States was proposing, which was basically that in future there will be a global framework for the plan to reduce global warming, but that each country will be able to do it in its own way.

TODD: Experts say Bush has also compromised.

ANDY REVKIN, AUTHOR, "THE NORTH POLE WAS HERE": To actual dates for agreeing to something after the Kyoto Protocol, which is this existing treaty that the United States has rejected, that doesn't involve big developing countries, like China.

TODD: That deal also set hard targets and dates for greenhouse gas cuts, an idea the major powers now seem to concede won't lead to any major deal on global warming.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

TODD: What the major powers are moving towards now, starting with this deal at the G-8 -- negotiations on how each country can cut their own emissions. And China and India are crucial. Experts say they'll ultimately replace the United States as the world's biggest sources of greenhouse gases -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Do these experts actually believe China and India will get on board and cooperate?

TODD: Well, the consensus is they will if, again, no hard targets for emissions, no hard dates are set. That was the non-starter that the Bush team had always rejected, as well.

BLITZER: Brian Todd with that story.

Thank you.

Meanwhile, officials in southern California are sounding the alarm over what could be a looming disaster -- a potential drought this summer.

CNN's Kara Finnstrom is out in Los Angeles.

She's joining us -- Kara, what are the residents being asked to do right now about this potential threat?

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're being asked to take some voluntary measures. Now, for most of the country the never ending sunshine here and all these sprawling green lawns means they see Los Angeles as a type of sunny oasis.

But even the city needs its rain. And right now, it's facing some serious water woes.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

FINNSTROM (voice-over): A record low rainfall on top of a disappointing snow pack and one scorching summer after another.

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D), LOS ANGELES: There is a perfect storm on L.A.'s horizon.

FINNSTROM: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says conditions are ripe to put L.A. in the grip of a dangerous drought.

VILLARAIGOSA: So today I'm asking every Angelino to reduce their water consumption by 10 percent.

FINNSTROM: To help his city avoid disaster, Mayor Villaraigosa is calling on everybody to voluntarily cut their water use, urging steps like shortening showers and watering those plush green lawns a little less.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard to cut back, but it's something you've got to do, I guess.

FINNSTROM: The people of Los Angeles have heard the call to conserve before. But experts like Bill Patzert, a NASA climatologist, stress the extreme heat and dryness of recent summers goes beyond your typical heat wave.

BILL PATZERT, NASA CLIMATOLOGIST: Now I realize that normal is just a cycle on a washing machine. We're no longer living in a normal world. We're living in a warmer world.

FINNSTROM: The city of Los Angeles is also launching three new conservation efforts -- an expanded water recycling program, rebates for high-efficiency washing machines and so-called smart sprinklers that cut the water used to keep lawns green.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FINNSTROM: And once the mayor himself was even talking about shortening his showers to help out here. The big concern isn't really this year. Water officials say they've got enough water to meet the city's needs right now, but if these conditions persist, the concern is what could happen next summer and in the summers after that.

BLITZER: Kara Finnstrom reporting for us from L.A.

Good luck out there, Kara.

Thank you.

Coming up, what if Senator Barack Obama wins the White House?

What can we expect from his presidency?

He's up first in our new series taking a closer look at the top presidential candidates.

Plus, the pope's security.

Are Vatican officials making changes after yesterday's close call?

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

COMMERCIAL

BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

She's joining us -- Carol, what do you have?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lots of things, Wolf.

A lawyer for one of the three people arrested after police found a missing girl in their house says they were protecting her from abuse. The lawyer said the 15-year-old was not kidnapped. She had been missing for a year before she was found yesterday in West Hartford, Connecticut by police investigating the case. Forty-one-year-old Adam Gault and two women in the house have been arrested and charged in her disappearance.

Virginia Tech plans to replace temporary memorials on its campus lawn with 32 engraved stones to honor those killed in a searching rampage by a student back in April. Officials say they're looking for a permanent site on campus for the new stones in memory of each victim.

And the pope was back out in public in Rome a day after a security scare involving his pope mobile. A German man tried to leap onto the pope's special car at St. Peter's Square before security officers swooped in and took him away. Today the pope took part in the Corpus Christi Procession through Rome in a flatbed truck.

It is the smallest of small businesses -- ticket scalping. And some Harvard students have a field day with it. They're actually selling their free tickets to some of the university's graduation events. The hottest ones are for next week's talk by former President Bill Clinton and the commencement the address by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. They're going for as much as 100 bucks apiece. Harvard officials do not approve -- Wolf.

BLITZER: When I gave graduation commencement addresses this is year, no such problem. Nobody was hawking tickets.

COSTELLO: Nobody scalped the tickets?

BLITZER: No, not at all. Thanks very much, Carol, for that.

Coming up, he says Hillary Rodham Clinton has misrepresented her past. Now the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Carl Bernstein, has written a new book about her life. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And he's called homosexuality unnatural and unhealthy. Now gay rights groups are protesting the president's for the nation's top doctor.

Stick around.

You're in the in THE SITUATION ROOM.

COMMERCIAL

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

Happening now, President Bush's job approval rating matching its all time low in a new Associated Press/Ipsos poll. It finds only 32 percent are satisfied with the way the president is doing his job. That's down three points from last month and ties his January number.

Also, the House of Representatives voting to rescind President Bush's 2001 restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, and the president is vowing to veto the measure if it gets to his desk, just as he did a similar bill last year. The House vote fell short of the number needed to override a veto.

And the former cyclone Gonu is poised to strike southeastern Iran as a tropical storm after battering Oman. At least 28 deaths are reported there, along with some two dozen people missing. Search and rescue operations are ongoing.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in the in THE SITUATION ROOM.

He's been paying close attention to American presidents since Watergate. Now, the Pulitzer Prize winner, Carl Bernstein, has written a new book about a presidential candidate.

It's called "A Woman In Charge -- The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton."

I sat down with Carl Bernstein just a short while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about what makes Hillary Clinton tick. And I want to read a passage from the book, page 554: "As Hillary has continued to speak from the protective shell of her own making and packaged herself for the widest possible consumption, she has misrepresented not just facts, but often her essential self."

Give me an example or two. CARL BERNSTEIN, AUTHOR, "A WOMAN IN CHARGE": Her own book. Her own book, "Living History," which is supposed to be an autobiographical account of her life, beginning in her childhood, is at variance with the rendition of events by those who were closest to her and around her at the time. Her best friend from childhood, Betsy Evelyn, told me in great length, as you read in the book, about how abusive her father was of her mother, how he humiliated her.

And Hillary, in "Living History", describes an almost idyllic father knows best suburban childhood. It was anything but. Her father was a sour, unfulfilled man, a martinet, beat the kids. She, in fact, in her own book talks about he didn't like to spare the rod. And we don't know the extent to which he beat the children. She says in her book that she thought it was sometimes used excessively and she tried to intervene on behalf of her brother. She doesn't say at all anything...

BLITZER: so how did that impact her as an adult?

BERNSTEIN: I'm not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, but obviously she grew in a house in which her mother was humiliated constantly or continually by her husband. People who came to the house, including Hillary's first boyfriend, Jeff Shields, who I talked to, wondered why Hillary's mother did not leave the marriage.

Her mother, Dorothy Rodham, counseled Hillary, counseled her brother Tony -- people in this family do not get divorced. So one of the...

BLITZER: So that's an example, you're saying, of where she was --

BERNSTEIN: Yes. Again, her book -- and I say that in a footnote, actually, or an endnote to the book, her book is full of omissions, obfuscations. It's not mendacious. It's a self-portrait as she would like to see herself, but it has very little to do with -- with the full reality of her life. And what's so sad about it is she's better than her own book. She's more interesting than her own book. It's a great story.

BLITZER: Let's talk about her marriage. This is what you write on page 117: "Their friends observed a remarkable chemistry. 'She's the only one that gets up in the morning with a dark cloud over her head, and he gets up with the bright sun,' said a photojournalist who followed the Clinton in Arkansas and Washington."

"As the day goes on, he falls into a funk, and she's the one who will refocus him. It's one of those things if you'd never met them, neither of them would have reached the heights that they did."

BERNSTEIN: No question.

BLITZER: That they made each other better.

BERNSTEIN: They made each other whole. She has been the constant of his process since they were in college, in law school together, and he has been the constant of her process, particularly now. He was in the foreground when he was president, and she was the manager. She was the disciplinarian.

Now that role has reversed, but they are linked and complementary in their roles. They each have their areas of expertise, as you know, when you read the book. It talks about how his area of expertise going into the presidency was economics, hers was social policy. That's one reason she got the job of health care.

But they work together as a team, sometimes well and sometimes really badly.

BLITZER: And then you write this: "He wanted in 1989 to end his marriage. Hillary refused. She would fight to keep her marriage and her family together. She had put too much of her own heart and mind and soul into her partnership with Bill to abandon it. She had invested too much."

I don't want you to go through the whole story right now, but how serious was the possibility that the two of them were about to get divorced?

BERNSTEIN: This basic information came from Betsy Wright, Bill Clinton's chief of staff in the gubernatorial years who witnessed his acting out in this affair that he had with a woman named Marilyn Jo Jenkins. Witnessed his exits, coming, going. And finally, Bill told Betsy Wright that he had wanted to leave the marriage, that Hillary, in Betsy Wright's words to me, would not give him a pass.

I talked also to Diane Blaire, Hillary's closest friend of her life, probably, who said that Hillary had come to her around this time in 1989, 1990, and said, "What am I going to do if I'm on my own with Chelsea? I don't know how much money we have."

It's -- and gradually the story was pieced together by Betsy Wright.

BLITZER: But they survived that crisis in their marriage.

BERNSTEIN: Well, again, Bill then decided, according to Betsy Wright, that he wanted to stay in the marriage with Hillary for many reasons, not the least of which was Chelsea, and that he would try to make the marriage work, and that they had had discussions about what those conditions would be to continue in the marriage.

BLITZER: Did she cooperate with you at all in the writing of this book?

BERNSTEIN: She -- not in the writing of the book. Not at all.

BLITZER: Did she give you any interviews?

BERNSTEIN: No, she did not. And she was good in the beginning about telling their friends, if you want to talk to him, it's all right with me, if you want to.

And she had told me, as had Bill Clinton, that she would talk to me for the book. And then in the end, after, oh, five, six times in which people working with her said she would talk to me, she said no.

And this gets back to something basic. The Clintons, but especially Hillary, Hillary has never wanted anyone else to tell her story except herself.

She is very much a camouflaged woman. She's hidden behind that camouflage.

Her own biography as she sees it and has written it is far from what really is a full account. And I think as we got closer to a full account here, she decided she -- the last thing she wanted was to have anything to do with it.

BLITZER: Because her people don't like this book, as you know. They've been saying all sorts of nasty things. That specifically, it's a good yawn, they say.

BERNSTEIN: Well, what's so interesting, they said that before there was a book. They said that before they had a book and before they read it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And I checked just a little while ago with a spokesman for Senator Clinton to get their reaction to the new Carl Bernstein book. This is what I was told. Let me read it to you.

"I think that as you saw firsthand on Sunday night at the debate, Americans are interested in Senator Clinton's plan for improving health care, lowering gas prices, and bringing our troops home from Iraq. Not this author's personal agenda to take old stories and rehash for cash."

"His publisher could have saved the millions of dollars they spent on the book and relied instead on a free library card. If you're having trouble falling asleep and you can't get your hands on any Ambien, this book ought to do the trick."

The Clinton people clearly don't like Carl Bernstein's new book.

My conversation with him earlier today.

Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the beginning of a new "What If..." series by our own Frank Sesno, as he looks at what the various candidates might do if they're elected president. The subject of today's story? Senator Barack Obama.

Also, an update on the controversy over Google's close-up look at your neighborhoods. Is Google doing enough to make sure it's not invading your privacy?

Abbi Tatton is standing by with the answer. Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: President Bush's nominee for surgeon general of the United States is facing harsh opposition from gay rights groups. There's serious questions about his stance on homosexuality.

Let's go back to CNN's Mary Snow. She's watching all of this.

What's the complaint, Mary, that these groups are making about Dr. James Holsinger

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, their complaint is that he has an anti-homosexual ideology. And they say it clashes with public policy and science.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice over): The president's pick for surgeon general is part of what one gay rights group calls a hostile crusade against homosexuals. Critics accuse Dr. James Holsinger of being biased against homosexuals, and they vow to block his nomination.

MATT FOREMAN, NATIONAL GAY & LESBIAN TASK FORCE: The surgeon general is the doctor for all Americans, not just for heterosexual Americans who believe a certain kind of doctrine.

SNOW: A 1991 report Holsinger prepared for the United Methodist Church is drawing fire. In it, Holsinger concludes that homosexuality is both unnatural and unhealthy. He compares male and female reproductive organs as "pipe fittings" and determines, "When the complementarity of the sexes is breached, injuries and diseases may occur."

It was an insulting piece of propaganda in which he used his medical license to give it some substance. He's never repudiated that.

SNOW: Holsinger's office referred all calls to the Department of Health and Human Services. The HHS is quoted as telling the AP that Holsinger based the paper on available scientific data from the 1980s and was not reflective of his thinking.

The White House is defending him, saying he dedicates his life to public service and, "On number occasions, he has taken up the banner for underrepresented populations, and he will continue to be a strong advocate for these groups and all Americans."

Holsinger's supporters include Kentucky governor Ernie Fletcher, who cites his work to reduce obesity is one of his qualifications for the job of surgeon general.

But critics cite his religious ideology, including a 2004 vote to expel a lesbian from the clergy in the United Methodist Church, as why he shouldn't be surgeon general. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Now, again, Dr. Holsinger's office referred all calls to the HHS. We've contacted the HHS several times today, but they have not yet gotten back to us with a statement -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What does it look like based on your reporting, Mary? Is he going to be confirmed?

SNOW: It's hard to say right now. And there is no date set for the confirmation hearings. But today, Senator Barack Obama came out with a statement saying that he has serious reservations, and this comes because of these reports.

BLITZER: Mary Snow watching this story.

Thank you.

Google's new map tools allow you to zoom in so close, it's like standing on the street, but some images may raise privacy concerns. We've been watching this story this week.

Let's go back to Abbi Tatton.

Abbi, people have had a week to look at this latest development. What are you seeing, what are you hearing?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, Wolf, there's so much buzz around this new tool that there are even Web sites dedicated to collecting the most outlandish images online now.

These are from streetviewer.com. This is set up by a San Francisco software engineer. There on his site there's a guy climbing a wall in San Francisco for whatever reason, somebody getting a parking ticket. And this image apparently has captured the Google van that was going around and recording these images breaking the speed limit.

But as people comb through all these tens of thousands of images that are now online in Google Maps, the question remains how close -- about how close these maps can get.

And we talked to one privacy advocate who said these images may not be illegal, but that it is irresponsible. Suggested blurring out some of the faces.

A spokesman for Google Maps says they've received very few takedown requests. And they act quickly to remove objectionable imagery.

The tool is now available in five cities, and looking at these images that we found online, you might want to go and look at what was happening on your street the day that the Google van passed by -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Abbi, thanks very much. (WEATHER REPORT)

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Jack Cafferty and your e-mail. His question this hour: Is it inevitable that the United States will become a bilingual country?

And coming up in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour, a new lawsuit over a major box office hit. That would be Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat". Find out why a New York man is now suing.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're beginning a new series of reports today, taking a hypothetical look at what we could likely expect from each of the presidential candidates if he or she captures the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And joining us now, our special correspondent, Frank Sesno, for this week's "What If..." segment -- Frank.

FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, love these "What Ifs", but the ultimate "What If..." is, what if one of these guys who is running for president -- and you've been talking to them over the last several days -- actually wins? So that's what we'll start doing now, taking a look at that with some of these leading candidates.

Let's start with Barack Obama. OK? This week, Barack Obama.

How credible is he? We took some states here that really matter.

First, New Hampshire. Right now in New Hampshire he's running third, 15 percent.

In the South, South Carolina, he's doing fairly well there, but also in third position, 18 percent support.

And finally, the really hot tamale here, California. In California, he's second in a most recent poll, at 28 percent.

So the question is an entirely credible one.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO (voice over): What if Barack Obama actually wins? He would be an unprecedented president, the first African-American multiethnic civil rights lawyer, community-organizing commander in chief.

Confidantes say his staff would reflect that. Also the fact that he likes and taught constitutional law. There will be plenty of lawyers, predicts one who is already working with him. He would be his own director of diversity. As he told "60 Minutes," his life experience gives him the capacity to bring diverse people together.

His father is from Africa. He's been there. And he lived in Indonesia.

So what if he wins? Well, it's safe to say his policy toward poor and developing countries would be very different.

He'd be the first president with a fist lady who describes her childhood as just a typical south side little black girl. Going to the circus once a year was a big deal, until she went to Princeton and Harvard Law.

They'd be the first in a long time with little kids in the White House. They're just five and eight now. And they told him if he wins, they want a dog.

That's a no-brainer. All presidents have dogs because they needs friends.

What if he keeps his promises? He says he'd reform health care. Says his plan would cover everyone.

He'd roll back the Bush tax cut to do it. It sounds like a tax increase.

He says he's get out of Iraq, though it's not clear what he'd leave behind.

His lack of experience is his biggest weakness.

It's said Barack Obama is focused and competitive in politics, basketball, Scrabble, poker.

What if there were poker night at the White House? Place your bets.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO: No one placing bets just yet, I don't think, except the Barack for President campaign.

But what's really fascinating, and the big "What If..." here is, what if this perspective were to be in the White House? A look at the map and his background really I think drives the point home.

He was born in Hawaii, his father was from Kenya, his mother from Kansas. He went to school in Los Angeles, went to school in Indonesia, went to college in New York, went to law school in Boston. Moved out to make his home in Chicago, now lives in Washington, and he'd like to move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

BLITZER: That's a unique perspective he would bring to the White House. SESNO: I think it's a really unique perspective. And it's very much about the globalization 21st century, where we're seeing ourselves right now. And it's unlike anything that's ever been even close to that office.

And I mentioned in the piece his attitude toward the developing world. He spent a lot of time in Africa.

You know, he and his wife actually had HIV tests in Africa to kind of set an example. That's a remarkable kind of on-the-ground experience, that if you play "What If..." would have to have tremendous implications in foreign policy in the conduct of America's image around the world.

BLITZER: When he showed up in Kenya, he was received like a rock star there, because that's the homeland of his dad.

All right. Thanks very much.

Frank Sesno.

You're going to continue these "What If..." segments on a weekly basis.

SESNO: We will. And we'll look at other candidates. Next week, Rudy Giuliani.

BLITZER: We'll look forward to that.

SESNO: OK.

BLITZER: Thanks, Frank.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Frank's going to be doing the major candidates in his "What If..." weekly segments for us right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Jack Cafferty is wondering, is it inevitable that the United States will become a bilingual country?

Jack and your e-mail when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's take a closer look at some of the "Hot Shots" coming in from our friends over at The Associated Press, pictures likely to be in your hometown newspapers tomorrow.

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Senator John Kerry talks with Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates before commencement ceremonies at Harvard University.

In Nairobi, Kenya, a police dog attacks a man running away from gun battles erupted in a slum, leaving at least 10 people dead.

In Belarus, a soldier negotiates an obstacle course during a qualification test.

And in Elmont, New York, the Preakness stakes winner Kirland (ph) grimaces as he's coaxed back into the stable after a workout.

Some of this hour's "Hot Shots," pictures often worth a thousand words.

Jack Cafferty is in New York.

You like those "Hot Shots," don't you, Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. But it looked like they were being a little harsh with that race horse. Is he not going to race anymore?

BLITZER: He'll race.

CAFFERTY: His good days are ahead, however. You know, after you win one of those Triple Crown races, it eventually is all good for those guys.

The question this hour: Is it inevitable that the United States will become a bilingual country?

Some of you have very strong feelings about this, some of you don't seem to think it's a big deal.

John writes from Riverside, California, "English should be the official language. To be able to speak and write other languages is admirable, but it's not required to become a U.S. citizen. All official documents, and that includes voting ballots, should be in English only."

Paul writes from Jerseyville, Illinois, "If the past, current and future illegal aliens all get citizenship, Spanish will become the official language of the United States."

Bill writes, "The U.S. is going to become a bilingual nation, and there's nothing wrong with that. Some of the most successful nations, like Canada, Switzerland, India, et cetera, speak more than one language. Anyone who says bilingualism is an impediment is a bigot."

Tony in Louisville, Kentucky, "This is not the United States anymore, Jack. Find another name for it. Our country has been sold out."

"The people have been sold down the river to other countries, and we've being invaded by illegals. And nobody in Washington cares. They're all traitors and should be charged accordingly."

Chuck, Macon, Missouri, "It already is bilingual. Everybody knows that money is the official language in Washington, D.C. The rest of us are just stuck with English for now."

Mike writes from Carolina Beach, North Carolina, "Jack, it's too late. America is already a bilingual nation. Where have you been?" "You just reported yourself that you can't get anywhere on the telephone without pressing one for English and two for Spanish. The reality of it is staring you right square in the eyes."

Stephen writes from Wylie, Texas, "Jack, I'm a public school teacher. We already are bilingual. You remember when English was required to be spoken in our classroom? Not anymore. Our daily announcements in school are now done in English and Spanish."

Jordan in Flushing, New York, "To an American, the only thing scarier than terrorism is being forced to learn something."

Robert writes, "Si."

And Puddy in Bakersville, "North Carolina, "Hey, Jack, we're bipartisan, bisexual, bipolar. Let's be bilingual or else we'll be biased. Goodnight."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to cnn.com/caffertyfile, where we post more of them online, along with video clips of the same.

Bilingual. Do you speak a second language?

BLITZER: I speak English my best. I dabble in a few other languages, not very well.

But let me ask you this question, Jack.

You noticed that the presidential candidates, some of them hate the idea of making English the official language of the United States. But others love that idea.

CAFFERTY: Yes, but, you k now, I think it's probably all about pandering for votes. The politicians don't have an honest position about anything. I'm convinced of that.

It's all a veiled agenda for something else.

BLITZER: Jack, see you in an hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Let's go to Lou in New York.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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