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THE SITUATION ROOM

Bush Urges Senate to Pass Immigration Reform; Is Sudan Helping the U.S. in Iraq?

Aired June 12, 2007 - 19:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Thanks very much, Lou.
Happening now, President Bush tells Senate Republicans now is the time to pass the immigration bill. The one key Republican says it's time for the president to back off. This hour, you'll hear what White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow, has to say about all of this.

A nation accused of genocide may be acting as America's eyes and ears in the war in Iraq. Is Sudan spying on Iraq's insurgents and actually and helping the U.S. in the process?

And it was meant for crucial anti-terror missions. Now a U.S. senator wants to know why a high-priced jet is being used, as what he calls, the FBI director's private taxi. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

Tonight, Senate Republicans are weighing a personal appeal from President Bush to pass comprehensive immigration reform. And to pass it right now.

Mr. Bush went to Capitol Hill today to lobby members of his own party in hopes of reviving one of his top legislative priorities. Our Brian Todd is joining us right now. Is the president making any headway, Brian, based on everything we're seeing with Republican opponents of this bill?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're told the president was firm at times today, even telling fellow Republicans quote, "get it done." But right now, it doesn't look like he has convinced them to move.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice over): Before they met with President Bush, lawmakers from his own party were hostile to his immigration reform bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frankly, I think the president is wrong to push this piece of legislation so hard after we demonstrated the flaws that are in it. He needs to back off.

TODD: After his rare personal appearance on Capitol Hill, it didn't look like the president had impressed his fellow Republicans.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, (R) ALABAMA: There's no way he could have read this entire bill and actually studied it. TODD: Senator Jeff Sessions says the bill was written more in Congress than at the White House. Sessions and other conservatives say the president's bill isn't tough enough on sealing the country's borders, won't cut down enough on illegal immigration. Mr. Bush, for his part, got a subtle dig-in on those Republicans still dug in.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: Some members in there believe that we need to move a comprehensive bill. Some don't. I understand that.

TODD: The president believes the bill ties strong enforcement to a path toward citizenship for illegal immigrants, through a temporary worker program and a strictly regulated visa process. But some Republican opponents predict the legislation may not reach the finish line.

SEN. JIM DEMINT, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: No, I'm not convinced. I don't think there will be a signing ceremony any time soon.

TODD: Democratic senators who fought the president on so many other fronts, but who have sided with him on immigration, couldn't help but gloat.

SEN. HARRY REID, (D) MAJORITY LEADER: I don't have to twist an arm. I don't have to pull anybody into a room to get them to try to agree to something. We've done our job. Eighty percent of the Democrats we've done our job.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (on camera): Now it's up to the president to use whatever political capital he has with Republican Senators to get this through the Senate. He needs about 15 votes that he doesn't have now to cut off the debate and move toward final passage. White House officials are confident they can get those Republicans on board, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's in the Senate. If it were to get through the Senate it would have to go through the House of Representatives. What are the prospects it will pass there?

TODD: Not encouraging. Right now we're told conservatives in the House are even more dug-in. It is expected the president will have a tougher time there.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, watching the story for us.

Three conservative Republican senators are leading the charge against the president and the immigration reform bill. They are Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Coburn declared the bill would undermine the rule of law by benefiting illegal immigrants over the needs of the American people.

A dozen senators of both parties were instrumental in crafting the immigration compromise and then trying to sell it to skeptics. The most prominent include Republicans John McCain and Jon Kyl, both of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mel Martinez of Florida and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Top Democrats include Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, Ken Salazar of Colorado and Dianne Feinstein of California. Even the advocates of the bill acknowledge it's not perfect, but they see it as the best possible chance to pass comprehensive immigration reform. In the end, though, the president and the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, will play a major role in deciding the bill's fate.

And as we just reported, unless the president can persuade some 15 or more Republicans to support the measure, Harry Reid has indicated he won't bring the compromise back to the floor for a vote. Very tough challenge for the president as the White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow, knows very well.

Tony, thanks very much for coming in.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Good to be here, Wolf. Thanks.

BLITZER: The president, yesterday, said I'll see you at the signing ceremony. Is he convinced there is going to be a deal? Because you know the opposition, especially among many Republicans, is fierce.

SNOW: Well, look, there are a lot of people who are opposed, there are also a lot of people who want to improve the bill. Wolf, if you take a look at the major provisions of this legislation, each of the major provisions, has passed with more than 60 votes already. Last week, the bill failed to move forward because Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid wanted to cut off debate before Republicans were ready to cut off debate.

They think it's important to try to offer a series of amendments to try to improve the bill. So the president was not trying to revive the bill. What he's trying to do is continue a process to get the bill completed and concluded. Today he went up to Capitol Hill, he talked to a number of Republican senators and the tone of the conversations was very constructive. Everybody agrees the present system is broke. You've got to fix it. Now the question now is how.

BLITZER: Constructive but listen to Senator Jeff Sessions, he's a conservative Republican from Alabama. After the meeting and he was inside, you were inside as well. This is what he said about the president. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SESSIONS: There's no way he could have read this entire bill and actually studied it. For example, let me tell you, some of the things that are in it and all of which basically contradict the principles of all the supporters, in fact, the bill was written more in Congress than it was by the president. It was senators that wrote the bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He says the president hasn't even read this bill. Has the president read the bill?

SNOW: The president has been through the bill. And Senator -- look. The interesting thing is, the president opened up the meeting, he understands that Senator Sessions is opposed, but he also understands that he and senator sessions are Republicans and they're friends. He said senator, I know you're going to disagree with me on the bill but there's nothing you can do to prevent me from coming down to raise money for you next week in Mobile. So, the fact is, that again, there are going to be some Republicans that are not going to vote for this bill. But there will also be a fair amount who do because they understand that this is the time to act on immigration reform and they also think the general principles, which are secure the borders, make sure you restore the role of law and make citizenship mean something. They like those principles and they are ready to move forward on them.

BLITZER: Can you get 15 Republicans in the Senate to go ahead and support this? Harry Reid says if you don't, it's over.

SNOW: I think you'll find this bill will get voted on in the Senate and is going to pass.

BLITZER: That's what Tony Snow says. You heard it right here. You heard the president say yesterday he'll see us all at the signing ceremony. Let's go to Jack Cafferty in New York. Pretty confident over there at the White House, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, HOST, THE "CAFFERTY FILE": You know what the problem is? The government tried to shove this same bill of goods down our throats in 1986 and they lied to us then about what the legislation they passed then was going to do for all of us. They said they were going to close the boards and enforce the laws against hiring illegals and yada yada yada and they didn't do it. They didn't do any of it.

And now the public doesn't trust the government is telling us the truth again when they come with this giant package of so-called reforms, which in effect, do the same things as the 1986 law did. It's an amnesty bill. And the government doesn't -- and the people don't trust the government at their word -- won't take them at their word. They don't trust that they're going to close the border. They don't trust they're going to punish employers for hiring illegals. The public just isn't buying it. Plus, you've got a lot of these guys are up for reelection next year and we all know how party-oriented they become when it comes to saving their own skins. But he does carry on.

The "New York Times," Wolf, reports the top American military commander in the Middle East took the top guy in the Iraqi government to the woodshed a few days ago. Well, sort of. Admiral William J. Fallen who is in charge of the U.S. central command in the Middle East, told the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al Maliki he wants the Iraqi government to complete a law on the division of oil proceeds by next month.

We got America's top military guy lecturing the head of the Iraqi government on a bill to share the oil proceeds. I don't know what that has to do with military matters. Anyway, Fallen warned al Maliki of growing opposition to the war that is in the U.S. Congress. Never mind that Iraq itself remains mired in a civil war. The Iraqi military and security forces continue to be pretty much worthless. The Iraqi parliament has been talking about taking two months off this summer. The leader of one of the most influential Shiite groups in the Iraqi government being treated for lung cancer. Kurdish leaders are worried about Turkish threats to intervene militarily in northern Iraq. Iran and Syria continue to be part of the problem.

In fact, al Maliki asked during the meeting, what the Americans are doing to persuade Syria to stop the flow of foreign fighters into his country. He was told Condoleezza Rice is working on it. Granted that Nouri al Maliki would have his hands full if he had eight hands, but what about that oil deal, Mr. Prime Minister? Here's the question: when it comes to Iraq, is it really just all about the oil?

E-mail caffertyfile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. Interesting that our top military guy is meeting with the head of the government, Wolf, discussing the oil deal.

BLITZER: And did you notice that Michael Gordon, the military reporter for the "New York Times," is joining Admiral Fallen and was actually allowed in to cover the meeting as it happened. It was on the record and he wrote about it in the front page of the "New York Times" today.

CAFFERTY: But it wasn't until the meeting was over that Fallon gave permission for it to be -- the details to be made public. They're waiting to see how it went first.

BLITZER: Pretty interesting stuff.

CAFFERTY: It is.

BLITZER: All right, Jack, thank you very much.

CAFFERTY: You bet.

BLITZER: Coming up, the plain truth about the FBI director's flight plans. Is he following the rules when he uses a multi-million dollar jet?

Plus, Senator Barack Obama trying to kick the habit. Find out what he'd give up to help someone else do the same.

And the U.S. gets some help spying on Iraqi insurgents from a very unlikely source -- the country it accuses of enabling genocide. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Right now some of the FBI director's travel plans are being scrutinized. That's because of a plane that Robert Mueller sometimes flies on, a multi-million dollar aircraft. One U.S. senator is calling it Mueller's -- and I'm quoting now -- "private taxi." Our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Jeanne, this plane, how was it originally, when it appropriated and authorized, supposed to be used?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Congress was told that the $40 million jet was being bought to aid the war on terror. But is that how it's being used? Senator Charles Grassley is asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE (voice-over): The Gulfstream 5, like this one, was supposed to be used for crucial counterterrorism missions, like transporting terror suspects. But about 25 percent of the time, the FBI says, it is transporting the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, on official business. For instance, to speeches, and visits to field offices.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: There was a bait and switch. When I vote for a bill for a plane that's supposed to be used to haul terrorists around, I don't figure I'm voting for a plane for a private taxi for the director.

MESERVE: An FBI spokesman says Mueller's use of the aircraft, with its secure communications gear, is not about convenience. He asks what if the country was hit by terrorists and the FBI director was flying commercially?

JOHN MILLER, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: And the director of the FBI, who was traveling on FBI business, was stuck in some airport when all flights were canceled and couldn't get back and had no secure communications? People would ask, and rightly so, is that responsible when his agency has the tools to move him around in a way that's more effective and operational.

MESERVE: The FBI insists Mueller's use of the aircraft does not interfere with its deployment for counterterror operations, and that Mueller never uses the Gulfstream for personal trips.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: Justice Department officials say Attorney General Alberto Gonzales also uses the FBI's Gulfstream, but we don't know how often. Another reason why Senator Grassley wants a full accounting, Wolf.

BLITZER: Why isn't Grassley satisfied with these answers? I assume the Justice Department was more than happy to provide the explanations.

MESERVE: Well, it hasn't given him all the answers he wants. He wants real specifics, breaking down who is using that plane, and when, and for what purpose. And he raises questions, for instance, like if this is so important for the FBI director to be on this plane, why doesn't he travel on one like it all the time? He doesn't.

BLITZER: OK. We'll stay on top of this story. Thanks, Jeanne, very much.

Meanwhile, it appears many of you are not happy with your lawmakers. The current Congress has earned a lower approval rating than the previous Congress, according to a new "Los Angeles Times"/Bloomberg poll. The polls shows 65 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job. Only 27 percent approve. That's the lowest level in more than a decade. It appears many Americans are frustrated with what Democrats said they would do, versus what they're actually doing and delivering on right now.

One issue in focus, lawmakers' pet projects. Let's go to CNN's Brianna Keilar -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, when Democrats came into power this last election, they promised earmark reform. Now, Republicans and even non-partisan advocate groups say they've fallen short.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR (voice-over): Earmarks, federal money for projects like building highways and even the infamous bridge to nowhere in Alaska, are known as pork by critics, or, in the words of Speaker Nancy Pelosi...

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is legislatively directed spending.

KEILAR: Whatever you call them, they're causing a stir on Capitol Hill. When Democrats took control of Congress, they promised lawmakers would go public with their requests for funding. They delivered on that, but Republicans are lambasting them for putting off that disclosure until it's too late for projects to be challenged on the House floor.

REP. TOM PRICE (R), GEORGIA: They promised us a more transparent process. They promised us a process that was -- had greater accountability. And, in fact, what we are getting is something completely the opposite.

KEILAR: Instead of reviewing the more than 30,000 earmarks in spending bills for the next year right now, the House will wait until August, after initial votes on the bills, but before final congressional approval.

David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was asked about the delay. He said there wasn't time to screen the earmarks, placing blame on the last Republican Congress.

REP. DAVID OBEY (D-WI), HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: So, we had to clean up your mess on the entire domestic budget. And we had to clean up your mess on Iraq before we could move on to our business. We spent the last five months cleaning up your spilled milk.

KEILAR: Obey says the earmarks can still be scrutinized before the spending bills go into effect, but nonpartisan advocacy groups like Public Citizen say it's not enough.

CRAIG HOLMAN, LEGISLATIVE REPRESENTATIVE, PUBLIC CITIZEN: It violates the whole spirit of the reform itself. We really did expect that earmark requests were going to be an open book, so that all of America could sit there and take a look at who is requesting what earmarks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Although lawmakers and the public will have more time to look at, and, if they wish, make some noise over some of the pet projects, only a small group of bipartisan congressional leaders will have the ability to strip earmarks out of the bills. Critics like Public Citizen call it a backroom deal -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brianna, thank you. Brianna Keilar, watching this story.

Still ahead tonight, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the new leader of the pack in our New Hampshire new poll numbers. They show one person making a surprising leap. We're going to tell you what's going on. You're going to want to see this.

And a judge appears in court as the plaintiff. He says the dry cleaners lost his pants. Now he's suing for $54 million. Stay with us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Tonight, our brand new poll on the Republican presidential race in New Hampshire. It chose Mitt Romney as the new frontrunner on the heels of our debate in the lead-off primary state, and with Fred Thompson still waiting in the wings.

Here is our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley -- Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we always talk polls with one simple caveat: Polls are just a snapshot in time. But this picture shows us a whole new landscape.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How are you doing this morning, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fine, thank you.

CROWLEY (voice-over): Look who's moving on up.

ROMNEY: I would appreciate your help. CROWLEY: Mitt Romney, former governor, former business tycoon, former savior of the Olympics is on top in the latest CNN-WMUR poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire.

Twenty-eight percent of Republican primary voters picked Romney, up 11 points from April. Both Rudy Giuliani and John McCain dropped 9 points, down to 20. The not-yet-running Fred Thompson jumped into double digits.

It is Romney's first time at the top of the polls. How did he do that?

For starters, he did this.

ROMNEY: I believe in the people of America. Free American people are the source of this land's great strength.

CROWLEY: Since the end of February, Romney, who has a lot of money and not much national name recognition, has poured more than $700,000 worth of ads into New Hampshire.

ROMNEY: (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good, good.

ROMNEY: Where is your sweetie?

CROWLEY: And he's backed up his air time with an intense ground game. The head of the state's Republican Party says Romney earned his numbers with politics, New Hampshire style.

FERGUS CULLEN, NEW HAMPSHIRE GOP CHAIRMAN: Governor Romney has been running the most traditional campaign here in New Hampshire, with the most town hall meeting style events, talking to likely Republican primary voters.

You know, you reap what you sow, and I think he's seeing the benefits of two years of hard work here.

ROMNEY: I love to be here with some New Hampshirites, even though I'm from Massachusetts...

CROWLEY: The poll shows Romney draws most of his support from New Hampshire Republicans who live closest to Massachusetts, and from conservatives, the base of the party, who support him 2:1 over anyone else.

But despite all that, there are plenty of numbers indicating what goes up can come down.

KEATING HOLLAND, CNN POLLING DIRECTOR: Only about 6 percent of Republican primary voters tell us that they've definitely made their minds up. Most of them say they really don't have any clear idea of who they're going to support.

CROWLEY: And while they found Mitt Romney the most likable of the candidates, Republican primary voters think Rudy Giuliani has the best chance of beating a Democratic nominee. And when asked which candidate is the most believable, they picked John McCain.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: This race is not just very early, it is very unsettled. No one should get comfortable -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Candy, thanks very much.

Let's check in with Carol Costello. She is monitoring stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, Wolf. Hello to all of you.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama has got a tip for people trying to quit smoking. Illinois Democrat was speaking at a campaign pit stop at an L.A. gas station today, when a man in the crowd asked for some help to stop lighting up. Senator Obama had more than some advice. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You still smoke cigarettes?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: I do not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you quit? Because I've (inaudible)...

OBAMA: Nicorette. You want one? Here, try one out.

Now, that's two milligrams, because you know, I only have like three or four a day, but -- three or four cigarettes a day when I was smoking. But if you're a heavier smoker, you may need the four milligrams.

It's not bad, though. It works well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: The company that makes Nicorette is loving that, I'll bet.

Also today, an administrative law judge in D.C. is steaming mad over a pair of pants he says his dry cleaners lost, and he wants them to pay up to the tune of $54 million. Roy Pearson says he's doing this on behalf of everyone who has been inconvenienced by a dry cleaner.

The trial over those misplaced pants got under way today. The attorney for the owners of Custom Cleaners calls the lawsuit ridiculous. Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Carol, thanks very much.

Just ahead, is a nation accused of genocide actually helping the United States by spying on Iraq's insurgents?

And Michael Moore's latest movie, "Sicko," takes on American health care. Now he is in California, trying to change that state's health care system. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Happening now, Harvard, MIT and other top universities around the country are being warned to watch out for foreign spies and potential terrorists. The FBI says they may be trying to steal unclassified research, probably classified research as well. The FBI visited the schools as part of a broad, nationwide program.

Checking up on an old friend, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez pays a surprise visit to Cuba's Fidel Castro today. He shouted "long live Fidel" upon arriving in Cuba. Castro has not appeared in public in 10 months, since undergoing surgery.

And fears of an all-out civil war. The Palestinian-on- Palestinian bloodshed escalating in Gaza right now. Over two dozen people are dead. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is said to be considering pulling out of the unity government with Hamas. And one senior Palestinian official appealing to other Palestinians that the violence, quote, "will burn all of us."

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

As it fights militant Islamists in Iraq and elsewhere, the U.S. may be getting aid from a very unlikely source. The Bush administration has stepped up the pressure on Sudan over humanitarian abuses, but given its close ties to the Arab world, does Sudan also help the United States as a set of eyes and ears into the Iraq insurgency? Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd once again. Brian, this is a very, very complex and murky relationship.

TODD: It is, Wolf. As one former U.S. intelligence officials says you don't get to pick your partners in counterterrorism. That's why despite Sudan's human rights record, its operatives are counted on by U.S. intelligence to go to places where Americans cannot.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Sudan -- widely condemned for the genocide in its Darfur region.

BUSH: People of Darfur are crying out for help and they deserve it.

TODD: But while President Bush has imposed new sanctions on Sudan, former U.S. intelligence officials say America counts on Sudan's accomplished but notorious spy agency. The former head of the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center says Sudan has been a useful ally in helping track international Jihadists traveling to Iraq. Other former intelligence officials say Sudan has long been a key transit point for those terrorists and is good at gathering intelligence in the region.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The Sudanese bring to the party a capacity to work easily in that environment because they blend in. And in that sense, they bring attributes that the United States doesn't have.

TODD: Contacted by CNN, current U.S. intelligence officials won't comment on their relationship with other countries. Sudan's diplomat in Washington won't comment on a "Los Angeles Times" report that Sudan sends its own spies into that jihadist pipeline into Iraq to gather information. But he does say this about Sudan's intelligence sharing with the United States and Mr. Bush's sanctions.

JOHN UKEC, SUDANESE CHIEF OF MISSION: When the United States slaps us with things like that, this is not conducive. It doesn't help us and it emboldens those who say that, you know, the United States is there to destroy Sudan, there is no reason why we should be, you know, cooperating with them.

TODD: One former U.S. official says that kind of rhetoric influences America's policies on Darfur.

JOHN PRENDERGAST, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: The counter- terrorism cooperation really has thrown in a wrench in it, because people are afraid we'll upset the apple cart if we push harder.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: A spokeswoman for the National Security Council wouldn't comment on that implied threat from the Sudanese diplomat that intelligence cooperation may not continue if the U.S. presses sanctions. NSC officials say they do expect the Sudanese to continue their efforts against terrorism because quote, "it's in their benefit not just ours." Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian, have the Sudanese cooperated with the U.S. in other areas as well?

TODD: Yes. U.S. intelligence officials say Sudan has helped battle terrorists elsewhere in Africa, including in Somalia, and they have played a key role in the region overall since 9/11.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you. Brian Todd watching this for us.

Iraq's insurgents have a new tactic and new targets. Now the third day in a row they've attacked one of the country's bridges, on the main north/south highway out of Baghdad. The campaign began back in March and April when three of Baghdad's 13 Tigris River bridges were bombed, a bridge attack later in April killed 11 people.

In May, twin suicide car bombers hit bridges in a mainly Shiite area of Baghdad, killing at least 23 people. Then on Sunday, three U.S. soldiers were killed when insurgents bomb this had bridge in Babil Province, the first three straight days on attacks on major arteries.

He is a partner in a fight against terrorism. Al Qaeda and the Taliban hiding out in his own backyard. But Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf is facing a very serious political challenge right at home.

And that could have huge implications for the United States, especially since Pakistan is a nuclear power and U.S. officials warn that Islamists extremists would love to get their hands on those bombs. CNN's Tom Foreman takes a closer look. Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he has been called an important ally in the war on terror. But Musharraf is clearly under a lot of pressure now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN (voice-over): America is counting on Pakistan's president in the fight against terror, counting on his army to push against militants near the border with Pakistan.

But protest at home triggered when he suspended the chief justice of the Supreme Court have raised the pressure on Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf recently met with his top military brass and got a statement of support from them. A Pakistani spokesman tells CNN it was a routine meeting and the president has the military's unconditional support.

But even the fact that he had to ask for it could be interpreted as a sign of weakness.

MARVIN WEINBAUM, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SECRETARY: This would naturally lead to the conclusion that there may be some irritation developing here as well between the same corps commanders and the president.

FOREMAN: Yet Musharraf could turn signs of weakness to his advantage when he faces U.S. pressure to do more on combating terrorism.

DEREK CHOLLET, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: The game he plays is to ensure that he's the only act in town and all the other alternatives are so awful that we can only push him so hard.

FOREMAN: Pakistan's prime minister dismisses accusation that Musharraf may not last the year.

SHAUKAT AZIZ, PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: Very sure that he will contest and he will be elected. For another term.

FOREMAN: What role would the military play if there is a leadership transition?

SAMINA AHMED, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: The military in Pakistan is very pragmatic. It's not an ideological military. If they have a change of guard and you have a democratic representative government which has popular support the military will fall in line.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Analysts tell CNN the military will not likely be the first to turn on Musharraf, he is, after all, a former general who has made a point of promoting his friends in the military and letting his enemies retire. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. Tome Foreman, the stakes for the U.S., enormous.

Still ahead in tonight in THE SITUATION ROOM, the man behind "Fahrenheit 9/11" turns his lens to the nation's health care system. Michael Moore is up to something today in California as well. And that could anger some people as his new film entitled "Sicko" suggests that the health industry is driven by greed.

And role reversal, regarding the now dropped Duke rape case, the man who was prosecutor is now a defendant. Stay with us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The filmmaker Michael Moore has taken on the NRA, the Iraq War, lots of other subjects. Now the director of the new documentary "Sicko" is going after health care and he is getting support from nurses. At least a lot of nurses.

CNN's Brooke Anderson is joining us now from Sacramento. What was Moore hoping to accomplish, Brooke, today in California's capital?

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Moore was here today, hoping to bring attention, Wolf, to the U.S. health care industry and the problems he feels plague the current system. He participated in a rally with 1,000 nurses from across the country. He also testified at a legislative briefing supporting a bill proposing universal health care and a elimination of for-profit insurance companies. During his testimony Moore really lashed out at insurance companies. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL MOORE, DIRECTOR, "SICKO": To ask that question, where is the profit here, how is this going to effect our bottom line, how are we going to make money off this sick person? That's -- I mean, this doesn't look good, folks. I mean, it doesn't look good to the rest of the world and it won't look good to the anthropologists who dig us up hundreds of years from now. They'll wonder, what were these people thinking? What were they ...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Moore's visit, of course, in conjunction with the release of his newest film "Sicko" later this month. And if you think the movie is another indictment of the Bush administration, like "Fahrenheit 9/11," that's really not the case. It's equal opportunity bashing of politicians, including Hillary Clinton. The movie takes aim at the health care industry in general. And that, of course, crosses party lines. Wolf?

BLITZER: What does the governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is out there in California, what does he have to say about all of this?

ANDERSON: Governor Schwarzenegger was here today working in the capital. He private meetings on unrelated issues. So we didn't see him, nor did we hear from him on Moore's visit and what was happening today. But Schwarzenegger in the past has vetoed legislation similar to the bill being discussed today, being touted by Moore. Schwarzenegger clearly opposed to government-run health care, socialized medicine. So this bill will probably be met with some resistance from the governor.

BLITZER: Thank you, Brooke. Brooke Anderson watching this story for us in Sacramento. He publicly called several Duke University lacrosse players a bunch of hooligans. But are Mike Nifong's words now coming back to haunt him, big time? The Durham County district attorney's trial got under way today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Savannah Guthrie of Court TV is joining us now with a closer look at this extremely unusual case.

The specific charges against him, that he acted unethical with these Duke lacrosse players.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, COURT TV: Right. And they're pretty explosive allegations against him.

Number one, that he made improper and inflammatory comments in the media leading up to this case. And then secondly, that he failed to turn over exculpatory evidence, potentially evidence that would be favorable to the defendants, DNA evidence. And then finally, that he lied about that both to the court and defense counsel.

These are serious charges.

BLITZER: That's basic -- basic legal practice, if all the evidence that you have, especially the evidence that could hurt the defendant, has to be made available to the defendant's attorneys.

GUTHRIE: It's hard to understand how this happened. This a very experienced prosecutor.

Yes, he was just elected to the district attorney position last year, but he was a rank and file prosecutor for many, many years. And certainly this is something that prosecutors know. It's under our Constitution, the Brady case, you have got to turn over all the evidence to the defense.

BLITZER: Law students learn this in law school. What's his lawyer saying? What's his argument, that it was just a simple error, a simple mistake?

GUTHRIE: So far what we're hearing is that number one, in terms of those media comments, that he no intent to prejudice the trial. And secondly, he's going to argue that he thought this DNA evidence eventually would be turned over and that ultimately the raw data was turned over to the defense.

Maybe we'll hear an argument that they don't have to spell it out for the defense, if they send over the raw materials, that's enough. But even that wasn't done into well into the case.

BLITZER: He's been pretty much humiliated the way he behaved. At least a lot of the public thinks so. He could be disbarred though.

GUTHRIE: Yes, that's what's so serious about this. It's not a criminal trial, although it has the feel of that there. There's evidence and witnesses coming on this week. But ultimately, the most severe sanction would be disbarment.

He's got to be hoping for something less. He's still the elected D.A. in that area.

BLITZER: And he still is operating as the D.A. right now, he's going ahead with other cases despite all of this?

GUTHRIE: The office continues. He's obviously not involved in this case anymore, the charges were dropped. But he's still the elected D.A., and presumably would be, but not if he's disbarred.

BLITZER: Savannah Guthrie, thanks for coming in.

GUTHRIE: Nice to see you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And still ahead, Jack Cafferty wants to know if Congress deserves its lowest approval rating in more than a decade.

Also, her husband was poisoned with a radioactive substance and blamed the Kremlin from his death bed. Now the widow of a former KGB agent is speaking out, adding her own accusations. Mary Snow spoke with her. That report coming up. You're going to want to see it.

Hillary Rodham Clinton went online to ask suggestions for a campaign song. Be careful what you ask for. Our Jeanne Moos will take a closer look. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: He was poisoned to death in a shadowy mystery of accusations against the Kremlin. Now Alexander Litvinenko's widow is speaking out about what she feels really happened. Let's go to CNN's Mary Snow, she is watching this in New York. What is the widow saying, Mary? MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the widow is a former KGB spy says she feels responsibility at this point to speak out, to ensure that her husband's death isn't forgotten and that his killer is brought to justice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over: It's a true-to-life tale of spying about intrigue. A former KGB agent and open critic of the Kremlin is poisoned with radio active Polonium traced to tea he drank in London. From his death bed, Alexander Litvinenko dictates to a friend some of his final words, finger Russian President Vladimir Putin.

ALEX GOLDFARB, LITVINENKO FAMILY FRIEND: You may succeed in silencing one man, but the whole of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life.

SNOW: Litvenenko's friend Alex Goldfarb and Litvinenko's widow, Marina, are speaking out in a new book, "Death of a Dissident." They say they aim to keep the pressure on Russian authorities.

Marina Litvinenko doesn't name names, but she says because radio active polonium was used to kill her husband, that means someone high up in Russian government must have been involved.

MARINA LITVINENKO, LITVINENKO'S WIDOW: Only top level person, statesman can make decision to use this.

SNOW: So do you believe that high-level person is Vladimir Putin?

LITVINENKO: Actually, it is just like a game. Polonium is state-made product.

SNOW: Both the Kremlin and Putin have denied any claims of involvement, Britain has accused Andrei Lugovoi, a former Russian security service agent with poisoning Litvinenko. The two men met for tea in a London hotel hours before Litvinenko became ill.

LITVINENKO: I believe Mr. Lugovoi is the man who killed my husband.

SNOW: Lugovoi denies having anything to do with it. Britain is trying to extradite him but Russia has refused. Alex Goldfarb says the evidence clear that it lies in the polonium used to kill the friend he knew as Sasha.

GOLDFARB: I believe it was used because it was so hard to detect. It took the British 23 days to figure out what was there and had Sasha died a few days earlier, it would have never been uncovered and then it would have been an unexplained death and nobody would actually pay attention to this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (on camera): Now I asked Marina Litvinenko, after all that happened at this point, does she feel safe? She says yes, she does. The she continues to live in London with her 13-year-old son and she says she is doing what she can to give her son a normal life. Wolf?

BLITZER: Mary Snow, thank you for that story. Mary is in New York. So is Jack Cafferty. He's got the "Cafferty File." Jack?

CAFFERTY: It's like a Robert Ludlum novel.

BLITZER: Yeah. It's amazing, the mystery, intrigue and the death.

CAFFERTY: Yep.

The question this hour, Wolf, is when it comes to Iraq, is it really all about the oil? Chris in Pennsylvania, "Iraq oil was only an added bonus. The ruthless underlying intent of this war has been to deliberately cause instability in the region, which would give us the excuse we need to attack Iran, which has been the goal all along. To those in the know, this war has only just begun."

Peter writes, "Oil, oil, how cynical can you be? We're there because we believe in freedom, justice and democracy. That's why we have Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as our two main allies in the Middle East."

Alex in New York, "Of course Iraq is all about oil. We want to deplete the cheap oil wells in the Middle East before we anger the environmentalists and start extracting the huge oil reserves in the Gulf and under our own feet."

Randy in Kent, Ohio. "Asking if Iraq is all about the oil is like asking McDonald's if it's all about the hamburgers. Of course it is."

Suane in McComb, Mississippi. "Hi, Jack. It's not just about oil. It's about grease, too. You grease my palm here, I'll grease your palm over there."

Jim in Florida. "It is not all about the oil. It is all about the oil companies. Name the four or five companies that will share Iraq's oil for the next 30 years and you'll find the exact cause of the Iraq War."

Cordell in Louisville, Kentucky. "It took you four years to finally ask this question?"

And Ed in Texas. "Jack, does Dolly Parton sleep on her back? Of course it's about the oil."

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

BLITZER: I'm going to watch those video clips. Jack, thanks very much.

Let's check in with Paula to see what's coming up right at the top of the hour. Paula?

PAULA ZAHN, CNN HOST: Your viewers aren't too subtle, Wolf, when it comes to the Dolly Parton reference.

BLITZER: No, they are blunt.

ZAHN: Coming up at the top of the hour, we'll be talking about how the president fared on Capitol Hill today when it came to the issue of immigration.

We will also be sounding the alarm on a story about a new street drug. Your kids could be doing it, young teens may be doing it all over the country. It is very cheap. It is very addictive and deadly. It's called cheese heroin.

A catchy little marketing phrase to sell it and we're bringing it all out in the open coming up at the top of the hour. Plus we'll be talking about Hillary Clinton and the authors of a brand new book out with the look at her legislative career so far in the Senate.

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

Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, speaking of Hillary Clinton, what about her presidential hopes for a song? Our Jeanne Moos has a very surprising and amusing look at the candidates for her campaign. I think you're going to want to see this. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here is a look at some of the "Hot Shots" coming in from our friends over at the Associated Press, pictures likely to be in your papers tomorrow.

In Gaza City, Palestinian militants from Hamas take cover during a gun battle with Fatah militants. In Kabul, Afghanistan, a boy washes his face after working in an iron smith workshop. In London, archaeologist displays a rare 17th century jug found during excavations at the Tower of London.

And in Seoul, South Korea, amusement park employees take part during a water pistol fight during a festival. Some of this hour's "Hot Shots", pictures often worth a thousand words.

"Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow." That song helped to elect Hillary Clinton's husband to the White House. Now she is looking for a presidential campaign theme of her own. And Jeanne Moos reports Senator Clinton is soliciting ideas in a "Moost Unusual" way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every presidential candidate needs a campaign song.

But Hillary Clinton went online, seeking suggestions. Now look who is advising her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, young America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I was your campaign manager, and aren't you glad I'm not?

MOOS: It all started a few weeks ago when Hillary asked folks to vote on her website. The campaign chose songs like this one sung by "Smashmouth."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not what you want to do, is it?

MOOS: People on YouTube aren't just doing write ins. They're doing sing ins.

(MUSIC)

MOOS: And they are playing off the videos Hillary did for the contest.

(MUSIC)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I won't sing it in public unless I win.

MOOS: You know a campaign song is questionable when the guy performing it has to clarify with a disclaimer, I like Mrs. Clinton. Now that's something you can bop to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like for you to consider as your campaign song, "Cancer in my Backyard." Now I know that that's an unfortunate title. Perhaps we can call it, I don't know, "Go, Hillary, Go."

MOOS: He showed her how to go all right. It helps if the lyrics fit the campaign.

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see what I did there? That was a "Star Trek" reference. And there is nothing young people think is as cool as "Star Trek."

MOOS (on camera): But the bad thing about asking feedback.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about "You're So Vain"? That would be probably the best one for you.

MOOS: That YouTubers like to bite the hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is "American Idol" you're running for.

MOOS: That feeds them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want a president, not a pop star.

MOOS (voice-over): But Hillary was self deprecating.

CLINTON: I'm so gratified that all of you thought this was such a wonderful idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is ridiculous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Insulting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disappointing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you freaking kidding me?

CLINTON: So keep voting.

MOOS: Though maybe not for this one.

(MUSIC)

MOOS: And maybe this guy was thinking about Bill, not Hillary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to try to be a good boy, but it just ain't going to be that easy.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: That's it for us. Let's go to Paula in New York. Paula?

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