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U.S. Backs Mahmoud Abbas; Are Feminists Criticizing Hillary Clinton?; Angelina Jolie on Plight of Refugees

Aired June 18, 2007 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.
Happening now -- just days after Hamas militants turned Gaza upside down, the U.S. tries to avoid a Middle East meltdown by backing what's left of the Palestinian authority. But is the Bush administration betting on a losing horse?

She's pulling further ahead of rival Democrats with strong support from women. But is Hillary Clinton suddenly too macho for some feminists?

Also actress and U.N. Ambassador Angelina Jolie on the plight of the world's refugees -- she speaks with our own Anderson Cooper. We're going to show you what she's saying.

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

But we begin tonight with shocking new video said to show a graduation for teens of young suicide bombers, hundreds of recruits, allegedly being deployed to the United States and Europe. Let's turn to CNN's Brian Todd right away. He's watching this developing story. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, if this is anything beyond pure propaganda it's a pretty disturbing piece of videotape. ABC News said obtained this from a Pakistani journalist, who the network says was invited to attend a Taliban graduation ceremony. ABC says this was filmed over a week ago in Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan.

In the video some 300 young recruits, many of them young boys, are according to ABC sent off to conduct suicide missions in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and Germany. ABC identifies their leader as Mansoor Dadullah, whose brother a top Taliban military commander named Mullah Dadullah was killed recently by U.S. forces. The network quotes him as saying "these Americans, Canadians, British and Germans come here to Afghanistan from far-away places. Why shouldn't be go after them?" End quote. Now we asked a former top homeland security official if he believes this is a credible threat.


CLARK KENT ERVIN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: It wouldn't take very many people to carry off a suicide bombing attack. In fact, just one person would do it. One of the striking things to me is that has not yet been done in this country at a time when suicide bombing attacks happen all the time now in Iraq, increasingly in Afghanistan and, of course, for a long time in Israel.


TODD: Now we contacted a current U.S. counterterrorism official who says the tape is, quote, "consistent with the more sophisticated propaganda that these groups have been using." But the official says there is genuine concern when it comes to threats made against the United States from that part of the world. The training camps present a real potential source of operatives deployed against the U.S., said this official.

However, the official said it's a bit of a stretch to conclude from this tape that people have been sent to carry out attacks. The officials said there have been more tapes of this kind of late including ones with multiple languages. The official raised the question of why another language would be used other than for propaganda purposes. Wolf?

BLITZER: They're very disturbing video. I saw it before they put all the gear on their face, some of them were actually showing their faces, which I assume international law enforcement is now taking a very close look at.

TODD: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Brian thanks very much for that.

Trying to avoid a Middle East meltdown, the United States is now betting on Mahmoud Abbas. After the Hamas takeover of Gaza, the Palestinian president has named a new government in the West Bank and the Bush administration is now ready to back it with a lot of dollars. Let's go to our State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee. Zain, tell our viewers what's going on because some critics already suggesting good U.S. dollars are being thrown at that.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Wolf. The U.S. is basically saying that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has made a hard choice, so the U.S. is now awarding him with hard cash.


VERJEE (voice-over): Millions of U.S. dollars stopped after Hamas won Palestinian elections last year will now flow to empty coffers in the West Bank. Unlike Hamas, the government of President Mahmoud Abbas rejects violence and says it will recognize Israel, so Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Abbas' new prime minister, the U.S. is behind him.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: And I told him that the United States would resume full assistance to the Palestinian government and normal government-to-government contacts.

VERJEE: The U.S. will now allow American companies and banks to do business in the West Bank. Help Palestinians deliver basic needs like roads and clean water. Make good on an $86 million pledge to boost President Abbas' security forces and push for negotiations with Israel over a Palestinian state.

RICE: But the Palestinian people also need to know that there is a viable state that is possible.

VERJEE: The U.S. hopes that cash will boost Abbas' own currency among Palestinians and make his rule over the West Bank the better choice, compared to a chaotic and isolated Hamas-run Gaza. Mideast experts say money's not a quick fix.

JON ALTERMAN, CTR. FOR STRATEGIC & INTL STUDIES: We can certainly push the aid out the door. We can certainly show that Hamas can't govern. But actually solving this problem and making the West Bank work is really, really hard.

VERJEE: Critics also say the money is going to leaders known for corruption. The question they ask is -- will the money restore credibility or be squandered away again? Some Arab diplomats tell CNN the biggest obstacle to peace isn't money. They say it's the Israeli occupation.


VERJEE: And, Wolf, obviously all of this is going to be discussed in great detail tomorrow when President Bush, excuse me, meets the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert.

BLITZER: That meeting at the White House and, Zain, what about the million and half Palestinians who are in Gaza right now, living under Hamas control? What about them?

VERJEE: Well, Secretary Rice, Wolf, said today that the U.S. is not going to turn its back on 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza. So what she did was this -- she announced the U.S. is going to give $40 million to U.N. relief agencies that are working on the ground to help them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Zain Verjee at the State Department. Thanks.

Since seizing control of Gaza, by the way, Hamas leaders have joined calls to free a BBC correspondent kidnapped a Palestinian militant group in March. Alan Johnston joined the BBC back in 1991 and for the past three years has been the only western reporter permanently based in Gaza. Since Johnston's kidnapping, there have been ongoing searches and rallies calling for his release. Johnston's kidnappers are from what's called the Army of Islam. It's described as a small faction influenced by al Qaeda. They released a video yesterday denying that a deal for Johnston's freedom had been reached.

With fresh reinforcements adding new muscle, the U.S. military is moving against al Qaeda in a new offensive outside Baghdad. As the troops hunt gunmen in the so-called "triangle of death", we're going to show you this stunning video from an Apache attack helicopter. It shows the gunship engaging insurgents who had fired on Iraqi forces. Far to the south, though, there was a different target today. CNN's Hala Gorani is in Baghdad -- Hala.

HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there were fierce clashes between coalition forces and Shiite militia; at least 20 people were killed today in gun battles in Amara. That is 230 miles south of Baghdad. Amara is a stronghold of the Mehdi Militia loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- the objective of these raids, according to the U.S. military, to search and seize arms used by Shiite militia.

Now, in other developments four people believed linked to last week's bombing of that Shiite shrine in Samarra were arrested today. That, as well, according to the U.S. military. Iraqi forces raided a building and detained the four reportedly, quote, "without incident". And there were more bombs today across Iraq. Several explosions killed at least 12 Iraqis. Also, an American soldier was killed by an IED in southern Baghdad. Wolf?

BLITZER: Hala Gorani in Baghdad for us. Thanks.

It's not a list any nation would aspire to -- a roster of the world's most unstable countries -- topping this list of failed states, Sudan. But up next, Iraq and then Somalia -- a failed state is defined as one that can no longer provide public services to its citizens or has lost control over its territory. The study by "Foreign Policy Magazine" and the Fund for Peace ranks 177 countries according to a dozen social, economic, political and military benchmarks.

Jack Cafferty is joining us from New York. Not very encouraging, Iraq number two.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Afghanistan's number eight on that list, by the way. Al Gore says when it comes to global warming, time is short. And yet we pay more attention to Paris Hilton than we do to saving our home. The former vice president thinks we only have about 10 years left to start saving planet earth. He says if we leave it to the next generation, it might be too late.

In an exclusive interview with the British newspaper "The Sun" Gore said quote, "The G-8 has been meeting in Germany and the United States is throwing a monkey wrench in the efforts to get a consensus. The planet is in distress. And all the attention is on Paris Hilton. We have to ask ourselves what's going on here" -- unquote.

Gore was in Turkey promoting his live earth rock concert, a series that will be held in cities around the globe, including Istanbul to raise awareness about global warming. Gore says the UK has been among the real leaders in the world when it comes to the climate crisis and he added that he wished the United States had responded as well.

When he was asked, and he always is, if he'll run for president in 2008, Gore says he hasn't ruled it out completely. Although he said he, quote, "does not expect to be a candidate again", unquote. Here's the question -- Al Gore says the planet's in distress and all the attention is on Paris Hilton. Is he right? E-mail or go to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

Coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Hillary Clinton, she's leading the polls with women. So why are some feminists pulling their support?

Also, actress turned activist -- Angelina Jolie -- we're going to find out why she went from Hollywood to refugee camps around the world

And a pedophile ring busted -- a worldwide sting breaks open a very disturbing case.

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


BLITZER: They were pictures that truly shocked the world. U.S. troops tormenting Iraqi prisoners. Now there are new allegations about who knew what and when. Let's go back to Brian Todd. He's watching this story for us. Did the Pentagon brass, the top officials at the Pentagon, know more about what was going on at Abu Ghraib than they earlier suggested?

TODD: Wolf, they may very well have according to what a top investigator told a prominent journalist. It speaks to the tension at the highest levels of the Pentagon during one of its worst crisis of the war.


TODD (voice-over): May 2004, just days after these images of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison were made public, then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress he, himself, had just found out how serious the abuse was.

DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: If the president didn't know and you didn't know and I didn't know. And the -- as a result, somebody just sent it -- a secret report to the president and there they are.

TODD: But a new report claims senior military leaders were given extensive information on the abuse shortly after the first complaints were filed months earlier, in January.

SEYMOUR HERSH, "THE NEW YORKER": Two days later, the E-ring, the top -- the highest level, the fourth floor of the Pentagon where Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, his deputy, are staying, e-mails are flowing back channel. (inaudible) high, most urgent, back channels saying here's what we got boss. Here's what's going on.

TODD: Seymour Hersh of "The New Yorker" says Major General Antonio Taguba, who investigated Abu Ghraib for the Army, told him the accounts to senior military leaders at the time were very graphic. On Rumsfeld's claim that he didn't see the pictures until around the time of their public release in May of 2004, Taguba told Hersh the photographs were available to him if he wanted to see them.

Neither Taguba nor Rumsfeld would speak to us. But Rumsfeld's former spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, says Rumsfeld was advised by legal staff at that time that extracting the photos from the criminal investigative process for viewing could materially affect the ongoing criminal investigation. Taguba told Hersh he was punished for his investigation, which led to convictions of 11 American soldiers, seven of them military policemen. Taguba claims he was intimidated by senior officers, laterally reassigned, made to retire early.

HERSH: That's the real message that was sent is stay out of this. It's not good for your career. And Tony got that message.


TODD: Now, again, Rumsfeld's former spokesman Lawrence Di Rita responds that General Taguba's claim that he was ostracized for his investigation by senior Defense officials including Secretary Rumsfeld, quote, "is just not so". Wolf?

BLITZER: And there are some new allegations about the abuse that was going on that General Taguba now tells Seymour Hersh about, right, Brian?

TODD: That's right. Among several things that we had not heard before were accounts of the abuse of female detainees, which Taguba says he learned during the investigation, but some of those accounts he did not put into his report.

BLITZER: Brian Todd watching this story -- thanks, Brian.

The death of his brother in the September 11th attack has pushed one man toward a political mission he did not necessarily anticipate. Let's go to our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve. She has this story. Jeanne?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Jim Ogonowski's story inspires sympathy, but will it inspire votes?


MESERVE (voice-over): Among the thousands killed on 9/11, John Ogonowski, pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to plow into the World Trade Center.

JIM OGONOWSKI, 9/11 PILOT'S BROTHER: And if John was here today with us, he would tell us to be strong, because he would be strong.

MESERVE: John Ogonowski's death helped propel his brother, Jim, into a race for Congress.

J. OGONOWSKI: And it is part of my history. It's part of the history of this country.

Nice to see you -- I need your help. MESERVE: Jim Ogonowski, a Republican, is often asked about his brother as he campaigns. But he rejects the notion he is exploiting his brother's memory. So does his brother's widow.

MARGARET OGONOWSKI, SISTER-IN-LAW: Wouldn't it be odder to ignore it? I don't think that you can ignore who Jim is and who his brother was and how that impacted all of us.

MESERVE: Jim Ogonowski manages his brother's hay farm when he isn't stumping for votes and talking, not surprisingly, about weaknesses in aviation security, particularly air cargo screening.

J. OGONOWSKI: The global war on terror is not a bumper sticker slogan. It is real.

MESERVE: Since his recent retirement from the Air Force, he is also speaking out on Iraq. Going in was a mistake, he says. But he opposes deadlines for withdrawal.

Massachusetts 5th Congressional District, a mix of old immigrants and new, has sent Democrats to Congress for decades and analysts are skeptical Ogonowski's family story will be enough to elect him.

DAVID KING, KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: This district is blue as blue can be. A Republican has virtually no chance at all, unless there is a perfect alignment of the stars.


MESERVE: Ogonowski's considered a shoo-in for the Republican nomination -- the real contest -- the special election in October. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jeanne Meserve, thank you very much.

Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM -- she's made it her mission to speak out for the world's refugees. We're going to hear from United Nations ambassador and actress, Angelina Jolie.

And he says going from gay to straight is not like flipping a light switch. A Christian conservative leader concedes that homosexuality may actually be genetic and not a lifestyle choice.

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


BLITZER: Carol Costello's monitoring stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM from around the world. Carol, what do you have?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Well let's start in Texas, Wolf. A handful of north Texas towns remain underwater after a night of torrential rains and waterways over their banks. Four people including two little girls 5 and 6 were swept to their deaths by rushing floodwaters. Residents and their pets were driven to the roofs of their homes to await rescue. Up to eight inches of rain fell overnight. Better weather though is forecast for the next two days.

Duke University says it has reached a settlement with three lacrosse players who were falsely accused of rape. The school announced the deal today, but it did not disclose the terms. The three students were charged with assaulting an escort service dancer at a party 15 months ago. North Carolina's attorney general exonerated them this past April. Durham County Prosecutor Mike Nifong resigned last week and was disbarred on Saturday for his handling of the case.

The city of New York has paid a 27-year-old woman $29,000 to settle her case. It all stems from a topless stroll two years ago. Police arrested her in August of 2005, despite a 1992 state ruling giving women the same rights as men to remove their shirts. The woman, now known as Phoenix Feeley, claims she was mistreated. The city in its settlement does not admit to any wrongdoing.

There's the cost of living and then there's the cost of living. In Moscow, the Russian capital has been named the world's most expensive city to live in for the second year in a row. London is actually second, followed by Seoul, South Korea, Tokyo and then Hong Kong. New York was ranked 15th by the Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Los Angeles was ranked at 42nd. Mercer based its list on several variables, including the cost of housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. That's a look at what's happening now, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Carol. Thanks very much.

Michael Moore's closely guarded new film "Sicko" about the U.S. healthcare system has been leaked onto the Internet. Let's go to our Internet reporter Jacki Schechner. She's watching this. Jacki, how could a tightly held film like this actually get out on the Internet?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, Wolf, the Weinstein Company says they think what could have happened is somebody who got an advanced copy of the DVD uploaded it illegally. They said they are investigating and all the DVDs they sent out are traceable. So they're going to take a closer look at this one.

What happened was the full movie "Sicko" showed up on a file- sharing Web site a few days ago and then over the weekend it turned up on YouTube and MySpace in 14 different parts. The clips were seen a few hundred times before they were finally taken down at the request of the Weinstein Company. Michael Moore, a close -- excuse me, a source close to Michael Moore says that he sees the interest in the film as a good thing, that this is a "call to action" documentary and he's excited about the idea of people being interested in it.

The other thing that he has said is that he is not against piracy as long as the pirates aren't making any money off of it. Now some people obviously interested in seeing this movie ahead of its release date. Other people are saying download the film just to get back at Michael Moore. That if you watch the movie for free online, that's less money in Michael Moore's pocket -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Was the whole film on the Internet or just excerpts?

SCHECHNER: No, actually, the entire film was on the Internet and it was broken down into different chunks, so you could watch the entire film, but you had to watch it in different pieces.

BLITZER: All right. That's not fun to do it like that.

SCHECHNER: Well you could put them all together eventually.

BLITZER: Eventually. All right, thank Jacki very much.

Just ahead, why is one prominent feminist saying Hillary Clinton has taken on a quote, and I'm quoting now, "a mantle of political masculinity"? It appears that at least some feminists have problems with the only woman in the race for president.

And Angelina Jolie on the plight of the worth's refugees -- she sits down for a special interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper and we're going to have excerpts for you. These are the first excerpts released from this interview. Stay tuned for that.



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

Happening now -- international investigators say they've cracked a global pedophile ring. They say they infiltrated an Internet chat room that streamed live video of children being raped; seven other suspects have been identified. Thirty-one children were rescued.

Three Lebanese soldiers are dead in the wake of a fresh push by the Lebanese army on the Islamic militants holed up in a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. Sources on both sides say the Lebanese army appears close to crushing the militant positions on the outskirts of the coastal camp in the northern part of the country.

And Canada -- excuse me -- today introduced a no-fly list of passengers deemed a potential threat to air security. Airlines will be required to check the names of passengers aged 12 or over against the list. Officials say Canadians need protection against terrorism.

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

White House hopeful Rudy Giuliani is finding favor with potential voters in a new poll. Twenty-eight percent of Republicans picked the former New York mayor to be president in a just-released "USA Today"/Gallup poll. Fred Thompson is not officially even in the race came in second with 19 percent, just ahead of Senator John McCain. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton tops rivals Barack Obama and John Edwards among Democrats. But is she in danger of losing ground with at least some feminist voters?

Let's go back to Carol. She's watching this story for us. Carol? COSTELLO: You know, Wolf, this is a little surprising, because you would think that these women who are a lot like Hillary Clinton would rally around her. But while Senator Clinton enjoys a whopping two-to-one level support from women over Barack Obama, she is not winning over some baby-boomer feminists.


COSTELLO: You would think Hillary Clinton would embody a feminist victory, a woman long described by certain conservatives as a feminazi now a viable candidate for the president of the United States. But you'd be wrong.

PROF. SUSAN DOUGLAS, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: People feel like Hillary has tried too hard to be more like a man.

COSTELLO: Feminist author Susan Douglas says Hillary Clinton has taken on a mantle of political masculinity, especially when it comes to her stance on the war.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it was time to say enough is enough.

COSTELLO: Some would say tough is an attractive quality post- 9/11, but feminist and filmmaker Nora Ephron says Clinton currently takes the utterly lame testosterone-driven position that we should have gone in with more troops.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I would give anything to marry Walter!

COSTELLO: Ephron's film "Sleepless In Seattle" so captured what women wanted in the '90s didn't always feel that way. She once loved Hillary Clinton so much she once said, "Hillary would have to burn down the White House before I would say anything bad about her.

But to Ephron, and to some other feminists, Clinton has lost her mantle of political feminism. CNN couldn't reach activist Jane Fonda, but quoted in "L.A. Weekly", she goes as far as to say, "It may be a feminist progressive man who would do better in the White House than a ventriloquist for the patriarchy with a skirt and a vagina."

The underlying fear is that Clinton will make the same mistakes as a macho George Bush.

DOUGLAS: Feminism was not about being more like men. It was really about challenging patriarchy and making our society more humane.

COSTELLO: As feminist columnist Anna Quindlen put it, in "Newsweek" magazine, Clinton doesn't quite capture the fantasy of being authoritative and down to earth in equal measure.


COSTELLO: Now, Hillary Clinton's camp told me Hillary enjoys disproportionately strong support among women, and is winning the women's vote decisively. And that is true, but if they are not feminists who are they? Well, they are mote mostly moderates who make less than $50,000 and year and who did not attend college -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Carol. Thank you very much.

So could the criticism of Senator Hillary Clinton by some feminists hurt or help her presidential campaign?

Joining us now to discuss this, and more, Senator Clinton's former press secretary over at the White House, Lisa Caputo, and Arianna Huffington, she is the editor-in-chief of

Thanks very much for coming in.

Lisa, you would think that this would not be a problem for Hillary Clinton to be criticized by some of these feminists. What do you make of this?

LISA CAPUTO, FMR. CLINTON PRESS SECRETARY: Well, Wolf, I think the whole thing is fascinating because we really wouldn't be having this dialogue if she weren't a woman. And I think what is important to note that she has the support behind her of the president of the National Organization for Women, the president of Planned Parenthood, the president of Emily's List, the president of the Feminist Majority.

I think what you see is a combination of both die-hard feminists, as well as a combination of moving to the middle and getting the centrist moderate female voters. So from where I sit, as an observer of this, it certainly seems to me that she does have the disproportionate share of the women's votes, both feminists and moderates.

BLITZER: All right, Arianna, what do you see?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: What I see is that really the women that you quoted, and the women captured in the poll, are looking for a woman who is going to be an agent for change. And Hillary Clinton is perceived as somebody who is going to perpetuate the status quo, and especially when it comes the war.

Even in the last debate where she was the clear winner as far as I was concerned in terms of style, in terms of knowledge. She said that the country is not -- is safer now than it was before 9/11. Now, that is the status quo Republican position. So those who want to see real change, whether in foreign policy, or domestic issues, are concerned that she is actually not going to bring that. And that is more important to them than the fact that she is a woman.

BLITZER: Is it just the war in Iraq that is behind this criticism from these feminists, Lisa, that's driving this criticism from the people that we just heard in Carol's report?

CAPUTO: You know, Wolf, I think it's just so interesting. Oftentimes, women just don't do what other women favors. That is sort of the sad reality of our society. But I think as far as the war goes, she and the Democrats, all of them, have been great proponents of ending the war, and having a withdrawal of troops, and pushing forward and moving our troops out, and ending it versus prolonging it.

So every feminist I know is certainly in support of that position. But you have to do it in a thoughtful and intelligent way. You can't just wield the hammer and withdraw troops. You've got to be orderly about it.

BLITZER: The same question to you, Arianna. Is the war in Iraq behind this criticism?

HUFFINGTON: The war in Iraq is, of course, incredibly important but it's not the only issue, Wolf. We have a country where in the latest AP poll, 75 percent believe we are on the wrong track. This is going to be a change election, and people have quoted and people were captured in this poll want to see a change candidate. I think that is really the overriding issue. And the war is sort of a sub-issue within that.

And we see other parts of her career in the Senate that make the same point. For example, the fact that she supported a flag-burning bill, which clearly is not a major issue. Just because she wanted in a very calculated, triangulated way moved to the center, as Lisa said. Well, these things are seen as playing the system, rather than wanting to change the system, which is seen as basically not doing right by the large majorities of people.

BLITZER: Well, Lisa, let me pick up on that thought. The political fallout, is this good for Senator Clinton that she is being criticized by some of these feminists that we just heard, including Jane Fonda, because that would make her presumably more attractive to the center?

CAPUTO: Well, look, Wolf, you're always going to have criticism if you're a political candidate and somebody seeking public office. The fact of the matter is during my time in politics, and to date, I have never seen a better organized, organization around women and capturing the women's vote.

I mean, this is right down to the grassroots in the Clinton operation led by Ann Lewis. In fact, about a week ago, they launched a cross-country effort with Billy Jean King, a pronounced feminist. So I would say that this is not surprising to me. But let's remember, Wolf, you have to govern from the middle. We all know that, especially you. You've covered politics for a long time.

I think you're seeing is somebody who is experienced, as Hillary Clinton is, who has a long track record being a realist, and setting the stage for her vision for the future and how she would govern the country.

BLITZER: I'll give Arianna the last word. Go ahead, Arianna.

HUFFINGTON: Well, you know, actually, Lisa summed up the problem with those -- in terms of those who disagree with Hillary Clinton. Governing from the middle often means being wishy-washy, not standing for anything, not being passionate about anything. And the big issues of our time are not in the middle; 70 percent of the American people want us out of Iraq. And 70 percent want universal healthcare. These are not issues in the middle. And I think the women captured in this poll are looking for someone to bring the passion that is necessary to change America.

BLITZER: I'll leave both of you with this quote from Bay Buchanan, a conservative who wrote a book about Hillary Clinton; "The Extreme Makeover of Hillary Rodham Clinton". She wrote this in her book, this, "First and foremost, Hillary is an ardent and radical feminist. Of all the liberal causes of her past this is the one most deeply rooted. She does not just represent radical feminists, she is one of them."

All right, I'll leave our viewers with that thought. Just so that we get Bay Buchanan's concept into this discussion as well.

Ladies, thanks very much for coming in.

CAPUTO: Thanks, Wolf. Nice to be with you.

BLITZER: Lisa Caputo and Arianna Huffington, here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And still ahead tonight, some are asking the question can someone who was gay become straight? One prominent evangelical doesn't like the phrase "ex-gay." And he's diving into the controversial debate, pitting God against science. We're going to have an update on what's going on.

Presidential candidate Mike Gravel stares straight into the camera. Doesn't say a word and wants you to get the point. So what is the point? Jeanne Moos goes looking for that. We're going to tell you what she found. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: His ministry is called Exodus International. And he's been on a mission to help gays and lesbians, and I'm quoting him now, "leave homosexuality". But is this evangelical leader of the ex-gay movement now sending a slightly different message? Let's go to CNN's Mary Snow. She's watching this story for us.

What is this man now saying?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT, Wolf, Allen Chambers is gaining notice for edging closer to the middle in a debate that's often pitted gay rights groups against ex-gay ministries.


SNOW (voice over): It bills itself as the largest evangelical ministry to promote what it calls freedom from homosexuality. Exodus International President Allen Chambers says he has overcome his attraction to men, and is now married with two children. But he is now speaking out against the term "ex-gay". ALLEN CHAMBERS, PRESIDENT, EXODUS INT'L.: For someone to simply think that going from straight to gay is like flipping a light switch, that's something we want to correct at every turn.

SNOW: The shift in language may sound subtle, but it's being welcomed by some long-time critics of the ex-gay movement, which offers therapy for individuals who want to, quote, "recover from homosexuality".

DR. JACK DRESCHER, DISTINGUISHED FELLOW, AMERICAN PSYCH. ASSN.: To say to people before they come in the door, well, you might not change entirely is not usually the way they market these treatments.

SNOW: The American Psychiatric Association does not view homosexuality as a disorder. And, therefore, doesn't see the need for treatment. Ministries like Exodus believe homosexuality is treatable. But unlike many staunch Christian conservatives, the group's president is leaving open the possibility that homosexuality may not be a choice, but be genetic.

CHAMBERS: Certainly we are body, soul and spirit, and a part of being body, I believe is wrapped up in genetics, and biology and things that are inborn.

SNOW: And that is where some Christian groups part ways.

MATT BARBER, CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA: There's no credible evidence to suggest that people are born homosexual. In fact, there's a great deal of evidence that would suggest the exact opposite.

SNOW: That is at the heart of a heated debate that's pit God against science when it comes to controversial therapy to so-called convert gays.


SNOW: Now, it's controversial because some who have gone through that therapy say it is psychologically harmful -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary Snow watching this for us. Thanks, Mary.

Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM: She brings her celebrity to bear on behalf of refugees victimized around the world. We're going to have a preview of Angelina Jolie's special interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper. You're going to want to stick around to see this.

And later -- he doesn't speak. So what is this presidential candidate trying to do? And what is he trying to tell us in this most unusual video? Jeanne Moos looking for answers. Stay with us. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Wednesday is World Refugee Day and one high-profile Hollywood celebrity who is very active about the plight of so many refugees is talking to CNN. Angelina Jolie sat down with CNN's Anderson Cooper.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "AC 360": When was it that you knew, this is it; this is going to be a primary focus for me?

ANGELINA JOLIE, U.N. COMMISSION ON REFUGEES: The first time I went to a refugee camp.

COOPER: Which camp was that?

JOLIE: Well, my first trip I went to Sierra Leone and then I went to Tanzania. It was two different -- but it was all on one very, long extended few weeks. And kind of came back with the realization of having met these different groups of people and --

COOPER: Was there a moment in that camp in Sierra Leone, where you said, this is it, this is for me?

JOLIE: In Sierra Leone it was the realization that there was really -- real horrors in the world and real -- and a kind of cruelty and violence that I -- that I really did not know existed. And I did not know people could suffer like that.

And Sierra Leone was where so many people had systematically had their arms and legs cut off and even three-year-old kids with no arms and legs, because they were hatched it off. Or friends that had to cut off other friends' hands and legs, and they were traumatized.

It was -- really to this day, the most brutal situation that I've ever seen. It wasn't as much a thought to work with refugees. It was, I felt so -- I felt so unaware. And I felt so naive to the real atrocities happening across -- across the globe. And that I knew that I needed to, as a woman, as a human being, just had a responsibility to educate myself with these things, and not let them go by unnoticed, personally.

I just I knew I need that. And to never again be confronted with a situation like that and think, my God, how did I not know this was happening? And then just the more I've gotten to know refugees and refugee families, and even those people that had lost their -- their limbs, they had a strength and a -- and a spirit that I have never seen anywhere else, than when I meet a refugee. They have something extraordinary.

COOPER: They've been victimized but they are not necessarily victims.

JOLIE: They are not victims at all. They don't live as victims. They certainly know there's been an injustice. And they are very smart people. And I think that's something that people often don't connect with a refugee.

They think of them as a desperate group. But they are, in fact -- my son was a refugee -- they are, in fact, some of the smartest, I'm sure the most resilient people in the world. And they -- and also many of them, before they became refugees, most all of them live lives like ours.


BLITZER: Please be sure to watch Anderson's entire interview with Angelina Jolie. That will air Wednesday night 10:00 p.m. Eastern on "Anderson Cooper 360."

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File."


JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: Al Gore says, The planet is in distress and all the attention is on Paris Hilton." Is he right?

Truman in St. Joseph, Michigan: "Unfortunately, Jack, he's absolutely correct. And so, if you can't beat'em, join'em. If Gore was smart, instead of complaining, he would aggressively recruit Paris to be his spokesperson in the fight against global warming. Imagine the public service announcement in which Paris is all sweaty, in a very skimpy thong, being fanned by her adoring admirers, which she exclaims in her famous inane Valley accent, 'Global warming, that's hot!' "

Gregory in Massachusetts: "Al Gore's concern for Paris Hilton getting more attention than global warming is surpassed only by his concern that Paris Hilton is getting more attention than Al Gore.

John in Mississippi: "Al Gore is right about global warming, when the GOP finally realizes it, they'll say they saw it first. The liberals have done nothing about it, and they'll have a hearing to impeach President Gore."

Dennis in Colorado, "Come on, Jack, for over six years every time we turn on the TV we see and hear President Bush giving a speech on world conditions. After that, we all need a break. So we watch clips on Paris Hilton just to get a more intelligent perspective on things."

Mike in Ohio, "It just goes to show what's more important to us. Oh, boy, are we lost? Maybe the media are to blame, also? Yeah, they are."

Eric in Maine writes, "I'll defend a little bit the attention Hilton is getting, there is an important issue related to her cause: Americans have strong negative feelings about the wealthy and the privileged being held to a lesser standard than everyone else and therefore being treated leniently."

Keith in Arkansas, "Jack, Gore doesn't have to remind us the sky is falling. We all know we'll get that from you."

And Chris writes from Tulsa, Oklahoma, "Who is Al Gore?"

If you didn't see your e-mail here you can go to We post more of them online, along with video clips of "The Cafferty File." BLITZER: Very popular feature. I love those. Our viewers are very, very creative. Don't you agree?

CAFFERTY: You show collections of those to your house guests when they come over for dinner, don't you?

BLITZER: Yes, they do. They all come over. We have coffee and we watch the video clips. Very exciting time.

CAFFERTY: Yeah, it's good. You have an exciting life.

BLITZER: See you tomorrow, Jack. Thank you.

Let's see what's coming up right at the top of the hour, that means Paula is standing by.

Hi, Paula.


We have a lot more politics coming up at the top of the hour.

Is Fred Thompson really as conservative as Ronald Reagan? We have been digging into his record. You might be surprised by what we dug up.

Plus, the raw emotion and dramatic ending to one woman's long fight to keep her home. And the real cost of a mortgage meltdown. All that coming at you in about seven minutes from now, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, Paula. We'll see you in a few minutes.

Up ahead, here, in THE SITUATION ROOM. Take a look very closely, very closely. You'll see what one presidential candidate is trying to do to catch your attention, by saying absolutely nothing at all. Don't blink! Jeanne Moos has this most unusual story. That's coming up next.


BLITZER: Here's a look at some of this hour's "Hot Shots," pictures coming in from our friends from the Associated Press.

In Bulgaria oil workers protested at the nation's capital, demanding increase in the monthly salaries.

And in shanghai, a worker construction tightens a nut at the construction site for what will be China's tallest building.

In Manila, a stock trader covers his hears while a violinist plays behind him.

And in the Black Sea, a flips in the air, with help from some friends.

Some of this hour's "Hot Shots," pictures often worth a thousand words. It's the stare down that has a lot of people watching and wondering. CNN's Jeanne Moos has this most unusual look at White House hopeful, Mike Gravel.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): You could never mistake this for one of those negative campaign ads.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Caught red-handed again.

MOOS: The only thing Mike Gravel gets caught doing is staring; and staring, for a minute and 12 seconds without ever saying a word.

(On camera): Do you like when he stares at you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not particularly. But my husband does that all the time so I'm used to that.

MOOS (voice over): And then after all that staring, this Democratic presidential candidate picks up a rock and tosses it into the lake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow! You've got me. Throwing a rock in the water? I don't get it. I don't get that.

MOOS: He's not alone. Jon Stewart ran the video twice.

JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW: Here it is, your moment of Zen.

MOOS: Gravel has been more zany than Zen during the debates.

MIKE GRAVEL (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some of these people frighten me. Who the hell are we going to nuke?

MOOS: Lob rocks, not nukes.

And in another cryptic video the former senator gathers wood to build a fire which the viewer then gets to watch close up for the next seven minutes.

GRAVEL: I don't even view them as spots. I view them as metaphors.

MOOS: Metaphors created by these two ardent technology instructors. The senator was just taking direction.

GRAVEL: He comes up to me and he whispers at me, look into the camera and look serious.

STEWART: Starts with him staring into the camera.

GRAVEL: The good actors don't talk. You read their faces. You read into them.

MOOS: Once you've read and re-read the face. (On camera): Enough of the staring but what is with the rock? What is that all about?

(Voice over): The ripple effect of Gravel's political message, perhaps? Don't expect answers from creators Matt Mayes and Guston Saunder Klausner (ph).

MATT MAYES, CO-CREATOR, GRAVEL VIDEO: I don't think it's obscure, at all. I think it's really simple.

MOOS: They just put the videos on YouTube and let folks debate the meaning. We're searching for clues as if were "The Sopranos" finale.

Who is that woman walking behind gravel? What is the meaning of the fog horn?

GRAVEL: And if some talking heads don't have enough artistry in their hearts to understand what these kids were doing, that's their problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, somebody find out the answer to what that means. I want to know now!

MAYES: It is its own point.

MOOS: Or maybe this is where Tony Soprano is sleeping with the fishes. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: I feel I should just stare after that. Let me stare for a second.

Now you get the point. That's it. That's all the time we have.

We're here in THE SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern, and back for another hour at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Tomorrow we'll take you inside the world of the Secret Service. Protecting the president and those that want to replace him. We'll show you how they do it. John King will have a special report on that.

Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up next, "Paula Zahn Now" -- Paula.

ZAHN: Hey, Wolf, don't ever do that stare thing again, all right?

BLITZER: All right.

ZAHN: It's kind of creepy. It didn't even go for a minute and a half.


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