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Crackdown in Baghdad has Pushed al Qaeda and insurgents out of the City. Bush vetoes Stem Cell Research. Bloomberg Insists he has no '08 Presidental Aspirations. Secret Service Agents' Training. Interview with Lucy Liu.

Aired June 20, 2007 - 1900   ET


Happening now, fighter jets called in to pound insurgent positions. We have some dramatic new video as U.S. troops go on the offensive in Iraq.

Also, an exclusive look inside the U.S. Secret Service, from ambushes and roadside bombs to deadly concealed weapons. We're on the scene as agents train to meet new threats.

And she's just back from Africa, where a civil war has left millions of people dead and displaced. I'll speak about it with the actress and U.N. ambassador, Lucy Liu.

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

Right now, we have some dramatic new images coming in from Iraq. As U.S. troops on the ground call for air support to target underground arms bunkers. Let's go live, immediately, to our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre.

Jamie, explain to the viewers what's behind these very dramatic images.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, as that U.S.-led security crackdown in Baghdad has pushed al Qaeda and insurgents out of the city, what has happened is the U.S. troops are in hot pursuit. Here, we see something that's going on in the southern part of Iraq, where troops from the Second Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division are looking for al Qaeda, and other insurgents in that area, south of Baghdad.

And what they did is they found large stashes of weapons, and they called in F-16s to drop 500-pound bombs to take out those weapons stock piles. Interestingly enough, they cleared about 230 houses in this operation, detained 50 people, and we're told they destroyed 17 boats that were on the Tigris River that the U.S. military said were being used to transport bomb-making material to Baghdad -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It looks like they are using a lot more air power right now in this new military offensive. Is that true?

MCINTYRE: Well, there's a lot of close air support. Not just warplanes, but also helicopters. We saw some of the video from an Apache helicopter gunship the other day, backing up those troops. In fact, when you count the numbers of troops on the ground, you also have to count the substantial air support they are getting, as well. One of the ways that the U.S. is trying to maximize its advantage over al Qaeda fighters.

BLITZER: How does this operation compare to earlier military operations in Iraq?

MCINTYRE: Well, one of the things we've seen is that the al Qaeda insurgents in particular seem to have some idea that the U.S. was coming, and many times they fled the area, so we're not seeing the kind of fierce house to house fighting in some cases that we've seen in places like Falluja, but the U.S. is still pursuing those people, across Iraq, and that kind of urban warfare could be in the very near future.

BLITZER: Jamie McIntyre is at the Pentagon.

Other news we're following, a showdown over embryonic stem cells. Facing a Democratic Congress and without much public support, President Bush doesn't have a lot of political muscle left, but today he is flexing his fingers and he's picking up his pen.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I made it clear to Congress and to the American people that I will not allow our nation to cross this moral line. Last year, Congress passed a similar bill. I kept my promise by vetoing it. And today, I'm keeping my word again; I am vetoing the bill that Congress has sent.


BLITZER: Let's go straight to our White House correspondent Ed Henry. This is his third veto. Only his third veto since taking office. But I take it they are promising a whole lot more?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. This really is just a prelude to a much broader veto showdown. It's one of the last weapons the president has against Democrats on the Hill as he moves closer and closer to lame duck status. He did not use his veto pen for the first six years of his presidency.

That's because he had a Republican Congress and mostly did what he wanted to do. Now that he is dealing with these Democrats who are flexing their muscles with this new majority, he's going to want to push back. And it's really not just about stem cells.

He could do it on energy. He could do it on a whole host of spending bills, as well. But the problem down the road could be that it could hurt his legacy if he ends up not getting a lot done. It could also hurt Democrats on the Hill as they try to show voters in 2008 that they have gotten things done. This just becomes one veto showdown after another. Neither side may end up getting very much done, Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Henry is watching it at the White House. Thanks.

When it comes to using taxpayer dollars, by the way, the American public appears divided on this issue. Our most recent CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll on the subject shows 53 percent of Americans favor the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. Forty-one percent say they are opposed.

As we said this is President Bush's third veto. It's a tiny, tiny number. President Clinton cast 37 vetoes. The first President Bush used his veto pen 44 times. President Reagan cast 78 vetoes. So, who has the all-time record? That would be former president, the late President Franklin Roosevelt, 635 vetoes.

Tonight, many people are asking if no really means no. We're talking about New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who says he's not running for president. But one day after the Republican mayor's surprising switch to become an Independent many people are wondering if he really is positioning himself for something else. Let's go to New York.

Mary Snow is watching the story. What's the reaction you are picking up, Mary, to Bloomberg's decision to become Independent?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, even though Mayor Bloomberg is insisting he's not a candidate for president, it isn't stopping any speculation that he's testing the waters for 2008.


SNOW (voice-over): Newly freed from his Republican Party ties, many are asking if this is a sign that New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is getting more serious about a run for president as an Independent candidate. But Bloomberg insists he is not in the market for the top job at the White House.

MAYOR MIKE BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: My intention is to be mayor for the next 925 days.

SNOW: Not everyone is buying it.

ED KOCH (D), FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: I have no doubt, but that Mike Bloomberg will run for president.

SNOW: Why does former New York City Mayor Ed Koch believe that? He says he's struck by the intensity of Bloomberg's involvement in issues stretching beyond New York. Bloomberg has been tackling global warming. He's led the nation's mayors in a crackdown on illegal guns and has been outspoken on immigration. On the 2008 race, Bloomberg says the more people running for office, the better. But says many challenges aren't being addressed.

BLOOMBERG: I am particularly upset that the big issues of the time keep getting pushed to the back and we focus on small things that probably only inside the beltway are important.

SNOW: It's that talk of being the Washington outsider that continues fuelling speculation of a presidential run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than ever, Washington is sinking into a swamp of dysfunction.

SNOW: Bloomberg's personal fortune has also fed talk of a possible run. He's estimated to be worth at least $5 billion. But running as a third party candidate creates major hurdles. Take Ross Perot. He was the most popular recent third-party candidate, winning 19 percent of the vote in 1992, but he won no electoral votes and that say some political observers will be a big deciding factor for Bloomberg.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: If he thinks he can do well in the vote, but not win the Electoral College, I don't think he'll spend that kind of money. I think he will go and become a great philanthropist.


SNOW: Now some question if Bloomberg did run, would it be viewed as a betrayal to Rudy Giuliani? In 2001 Giuliani endorsed Bloomberg to succeed him as New York's mayor. Now, today, Giuliani was asked about this, he said he is disappointed that Bloomberg has left the Republican Party -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Why is he saying -- what is he saying today about that decision to switch -- no longer to be a Republican, but now to become Independent?

SNOW: Well, he's saying that it will give him more flexibility as he deals with issues such as taking illegal guns off the streets, and that he says it is not a move to test the waters for 2008.

BLITZER: All right, we'll see. We'll see what's going on. Thank you very much, Mary, for that.

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's in New York. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Well here is some good news. The Army may have to extend the 15-month combat tours of U.S. troops in Iraq again. It wasn't that long ago, remember, when the tours were up from 12 months to 15 months. Now they could go even higher. It is something they are considering if President Bush decides to keep the recent buildup of troops through next spring.

The acting Army secretary, Pete Geren (ph), says they are also looking at other options, things like relying more on the National Guard, Army Reserve and Navy and Air Force personnel, and an Army spokesman adds that extending the combat tours would quote, "be the last option on the list", unquote. But consider this.

General David Petraeus recently predicted that stabilizing Iraq could take another 10 years. Right now, about 156,000 U.S. troops in Iraq -- most soldiers spend 15 months in combat with a guarantee of 12 months then at home. Democrats aren't happy, because it's not in line with the services goal of giving troops the same amount of time home as in combat.

Meanwhile, the State Department says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has now accepted a request from the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad to beef up the economic and political sections of the embassy with more people who speak Arabic. There's an idea.

Currently, there are 10 U.S. diplomats in Baghdad. Ten, including the ambassador who are fluent in written and spoken Arabic -- 10. So, here's the question.

Should Army combat tours be once again extended upward from 15 months? E-mail us at or go to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ten. You know, there's, like, more than 1,000 U.S. diplomats at that huge embassy in Baghdad and only 10 of them actually speak Arabic?

CAFFERTY: Ten. This is, what, four and a half years after we invaded the country. No wonder the guy says it's going to take 10 more years to stabilize the country. We don't have anybody in there who can order lunch.

BLITZER: It's the largest U.S. embassy in the world...


BLITZER: ... getting larger by the day. Thanks very much, Jack, for that.

Coming up, a CNN exclusive. In the line of fire. We're going to take you along with the Secret Service as they train to stop assassins.

Also, burning protests. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) under the threat of death again for being honored.

And mission refugees. Lucy Liu and Angelina Jolie with first- hand accounts of life inside the camps.

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


BLITZER: Can the Secret Service keep a step ahead of those who would try to harm the president or the presidential candidates? Our chief national correspondent John King is here. He's got an exclusive inside look into the Secret Service. Part two of your report, John. It's fascinating about the new threats that are out there.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is fascinating. We had a great look, an exclusive look behind the scenes at how the Secret Service trains, unprecedented workload ahead in this presidential campaign coming. Much of what we saw is how they are preparing for that campaign, how they would protect the candidates out on the road. But some of the stuff we saw, Wolf, looks like it's straight out of a James Bond movie.


KING (voice-over): Jim Galvin's fire arms class is a must for new Secret Service recruits.

JAMES GALVIN, WEAPONS SPECIALIST: Gentlemen, you're looking at a 50-caliber Smith and Wesson magnum 500 revolver (ph).

KING: The vintage weapons offer a glimpse at history. And traditional threats to those under Secret Service protection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The weapons system is cocked.

KING: Then comes the cell phone gun and a critical lesson. You don't just see gizmos like this in the movies. This is a working cigarette lighter, and a deadly weapon. This pen also can fire a fatal shot, as can this tiny device built to resemble a tire gauge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a very, very articulate made zip gun.

KING: The challenges of protecting a high value target are dramatically more complicated in a world of fast changing technology, not to mention global terrorism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is probably the most prolific rocket propelled grenade system in the world.


KING: Protective and defensive driving has long been a part of Secret Service training. But now, avoiding IEDs and a terrorist ambush is an added skill set for those who drive the presidential limo. It is training retired agent Terry Samway says is modeled after real-life events.

TERRY SAMWAY, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: So, if there is an IED explosion in Lebanon, attack in Russia that went after a political leader, we send people there and analyze it. Immediately, that is put into the training scenario.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a 1983 Cadillac. It is the last convertible ever to be built by the Secret Service.

KING: Bob Diehl is a Secret Service driving instructor, a 17- year veteran who warns new recruits all the armor doubles the weight of the limos and SUVs.

BOB DIEHL, DRIVING INSTRUCTOR: It's a humbling experience I guess is a way to put it. Especially if you think you can negotiate through curves that you saw out here on our course. They don't react like a standard car does. Everything is a little slower in motion. Obviously, the braking distance is increased and things like that.

KING: Most of those in training now are existing agents, refreshing their skills for presidential campaign duty. But there is also an unusually large class of new recruits preparing for an unprecedented post campaign challenge. The Secret Service believes George W. Bush will be the most challenging former president in history to protect, because his wartime stewardship will make him a high value terrorist target long after he leaves the White House.

SAMWAY: That is why we have the mandate to make sure that whatever they did during their presidency, they are still safe from any of those lingering issues after their presidency.

KING: But before they can protect a president or former president, the new recruits are drilled in the basics, including target practice at 100 yards, and then a sprint to load up and fire again, this time, much more up close and personal.


KING: And one of the interesting things we learned, Wolf, is because of these new threats and the new challenges, whether they be domestic, like having to protect an African American candidate like Barack Obama, or international like the president when he travels overseas, the Secret Service is doing much more work, especially using technology to review intelligence. It does not gather intelligence, but it gets -- consumes intelligence from other agencies, state and local police, the FBI and the CIA and overseas governments when necessary for international trips. All of the agents that we saw and the retired agents we spoke to say that has been the most significant change over the last five or 10 years, how so much more important it has become to gather and then sift through and use computers when you can to look at all that intelligence.

BLITZER: Senator Clinton already gets Secret Service protection because she is the wife of a former president. Now Barack Obama is getting Secret Service protection, but none of the other candidates yet are getting Secret Service protection. Is that right?

KING: Not yet. The Service did not anticipate picking up anyone but Senator Clinton until early next year. Senator Obama's detail began months earlier than anyone anticipated. They do think they will have at least one or two more on both the Democratic and the Republican side by late this year or very early next year. They are going to spend probably twice as much money on that this year. Their budget is $110 million for campaign details. The past record was 65 million.

BLITZER: John, good reporting. Thanks very much.

Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Lucy Liu and Angelina Jolie. From Hollywood to refugee camps around the world. Their first-hand look at this global crisis. That's coming up.

Also, cocaine politics. Rudy Giuliani's advisor busted for allegedly buying coke. Find out why this dangerous drug seems to be making a comeback with the rich and powerful.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Today's world refugee day, so less turn to their plight of refugees around the world including in Africa, where deadly civil war still wracks that continent's third largest country. So, what's being done to address the enormous humanitarian crisis in Congo?

And joining us now in New York, Lucy Liu, the actress, the UNICEF ambassador, as well. Lucy, thanks very much for coming in.

LUCY LIU, ACTRESS: Thank you, Wolf, for having me.

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about some of the numbers that UNICEF is putting out because I'm sure a lot of our viewers have no clue, have no idea what's going on in Congo.

3.8 million people killed between 1998 and 2003 in the civil war; 1,200 people still die each day; half of the deaths are children; and since January alone of this year, 50,000 people have been displaced each month. This is a horrific situation and people hear about this. They see the pictures and they wonder what can they do about it. What advice do you have when you see what's going on? You were just there.

LIU: Well, I think that people should educate themselves as much as possible because this is one of the worst humanitarian crises since the Second World War. And it's not something that people talk about very often because it's been going on for so long. If you go onto UNICEF, their Web site and you can educate yourself on it and you can also donate money, even loose change will make a huge difference for these children.

I met people, women and children who had been raped and who had been so severely violated that one woman had dislocated her leg completely. There are people that have been displaced out of their villages. One woman fled when the militia came in to loot and witnessed a neighbor of hers who was decapitated.

I mean, these are things that are happening every day and the people have so little hope and I know that for children, especially, that they can bounce back so quickly with just a little bit -- it's pretty tremendous how children are so vulnerable yet they have such strength.

BLITZER: How did you get involved, Lucy, in this humanitarian mission because it is taking up a lot of your time right now.

LIU: Well, I have always been such a huge fan of children. I love them so much and UNICEF works globally with children and I've been working with them intensely on a lot of emergency situations and this is one that came up.

So we just jumped on a plane and we got over to the DRC as soon as we could to investigate the situation and unfortunately all of the reports that I read were actually worse on the ground and in person than on paper.

And I'm telling you right now that the situation there is so devastating and the lives there have been so shattered to the point where people have lost hope and I think that we're so privileged in our lives to have running water and electricity and a roof over our heads and if we recognize the small amount that we can contribute to these people it would just make a huge difference. I know that for sure.

BLITZER: I think you're right and I want to thank you, Lucy, for what you're doing. Thanks for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

LIU: Thank you, Wolf. And I'll see you again soon.

Congo, by the way, this is the country from which the fifth largest number of refugees have fled. That would be more than 400,000. By far the largest number, more than four million have fled the two hottest war zones, Afghanistan and Iraq. They are followed by Sudan and Somalia.

The world's 10 million refugees are fanning out around the world. According to the United Nations, the top three safe havens right now are Pakistan, Iran and the United States. One person can make a difference, and today, that person is you. Impact your world by logging onto to learn how you can help right now. Being part of the solution, only a click away.

Just ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM there he goes again. The former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter blasting President Bush, calling his Middle East policy -- and I'm quoting now -- "criminal". We'll have the story, plus, we'll get reaction from the former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Also, cocaine chic. Find out why the rich and powerful, at least some of them are reaching, once again, for this dangerous high.

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


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

Happening now, Queen Elizabeth's knighting of Salmon Rushdie triggering more angry protests by Muslims in Pakistan and Malaysia. It also drew condemnation from Afghanistan Taliban insurgents. The British monarch bestowed knighthood on the author of the novel "Satanic Verses" last week.

French government security officials reportedly are prohibiting the use of Blackberry's in ministries and the presidential palace for fear intelligence agents, including from the U.S., would snoop. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) quoting one official as saying "the risks of interception are real".

And for the first time in 10 years British sensors ban a video game. They say American-produced "Manhunt 2" portrays an unrelenting focus on sadism and killing. The ruling means the game cannot be sold legally anywhere in Britain. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Islamic militants fired rockets into southern Israel today for the first time since Hamas gained control of all of Gaza. Israel answered with air strikes right away, the response, yet more rockets. Sources on both sides say Israeli troops entered Gaza, killing four militants in a gun battle.

Against this backdrop, a former U.S. president says the mess in Gaza is at least partially the fault of the United States. Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's watching this story for us. Brian, some unusually strong language from the former president of the United States.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Considering what Jimmy Carter has said about the Middle East and the Bush presidency over the past year, a source may be not so unlikely as we might think. Mr. Carter has launched another broadside at a time when tensions in the region are still very high.


TODD (voice over): A charge you might expect from a Hamas leader with the U.S. throwing its weight and money solidly behind Hamas's rival, Fatah in the bitter Palestinian standoff.

ABDEL AZIZ DWEIK, HAMAS LAWMAKER: The United States put for itself a platform or agenda in order to make this government, the Palestinian government, which has been elected Democratically, to collapse within three to six months.

TODD: What you might not expect, a former American president agreeing. At a conference in Ireland, Jimmy Carter is quoted as saying: "The United States and Israel decided to punish all the people in Palestine and did everything they could to deter a compromise between Hamas and Fatah."

No immediate response from the Israeli government, but Carter went a step further, saying, of the Bush administration siding with Fatah and shunning Hamas in last year's elections, "that action was criminal."

The State Department spokesman said Carter is a private citizen, entitled to his opinions. He said just because the United States refuses aid to Hamas doesn't mean it is punishing all Palestinians. But --

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: As for the idea that we are somehow treating Fatah and Hamas differently, absolutely. Hamas is a terrorist organization. And we are not going to provide aid to a terrorist organization.

TODD: Analysts we spoke to don't believe the Bush administration conspired to split up the Palestinians. They agree with President Carter that isolating Hamas completely has partially fuelled its war with Fatah. Aaron David Miller, a former U.S./Middle East negotiator says Carter should be praised for brokering the Israeli/Egyptian peace treaty. But Miller says it is not appropriate for Carter, 30 years later, to openly side with the Palestinians, as he has been accused of, without understanding Israel's security concerns.

AARON DAVID MILLER, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: He is not anti-Israel and he is not anti-Semetic. He's simply understands one side's needs better than the other. And as a consequence, much of his comments in recent years have not been helpful.


TODD (on camera): We asked President Carter's representative to respond to that particular criticism. Our calls and e-mails were not returned. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd, watching this for us. Thanks, Brian.

For the first time since he formed a new emergency government in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke publicly today, calling Hamas leaders, traitors for what he termed their bloody coup in Gaza.

Abbas is supported now by both the United States and Israel. He called for Hamas to hand back the reins of power in Gaza. So, what happens next? Joining us now, the Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyanu. He's visiting the United States, he is in New York. Prime minister, thanks for coming in.


BLITZER: Before you we to that, I just want your reaction to what we heard from former President Jimmy Carter. He's saying this, on Tuesday, he's saying, "that action was criminal. The United States and Israel decided to punish all the people in Palestine and did everything they could to deter a compromise between Hamas and Fatah."

He's really blaming the Israeli government and the Bush administration for creating, at least in part, the situation -- the awful situation that is unfolding right now. What is your reaction?

NETANYANU: You know, it is hard to react, because it's so bizarre a statement. I mean, you've just given the response of the Palestinian leader Abbas, who is attacking Hamas as a murderous clan.

Hasn't Mr. Carter been following the news? Hasn't he seen how Hamas has turned Gaza into a bastion of barbarism? The savagery they are committing their own Palestinian people? Dropping people from the 14th floor, mutilating, torturing their fellow Palestinians, turning Gaza into an Iranian base of the worst fanaticism on earth? I think, he is placing his criticism in the wrong direction, frankly.

BLITZER: I think he is suggesting that if your government, the Israeli government, and the U.S. and the Europeans had worked to try to build bridges between Hamas and Fatah, and would have provided a lot more assistance early on, this situation need not necessarily have turned into what you are describing right now.

NETANYANU: I think in a peculiar way, our actions meant to bolster the moderates actually worked to bolster the Hamas radicals. When you unilaterally leave territory, you are not helping the moderates, you are actually giving a reward to the radicals, because everybody says, why did Israel leave? Because of terror. Who is doing the terror? Hamas. So our unilateral withdrawal from Gaza led to the Hamas political victory, which now led to Hamas' military victory.

But I don't think Mr. Carter is criticizing us on that score. He thinks we should have given Hamas more. In fact, we should have gave it less, a lot less and we should understand that we should cauterize right now, this regime, and keep it isolated. Otherwise, that cancer growth of militant Islam would spread to the West Bank and from there to Jordan and the rest of the region. It is very dangerous.

NETANYANU: If rockets are launched from Gaza into Israel, and if you were the leader of Israel, what would you do? Would you go back and reoccupy Gaza?

NETANYANU: I don't think we want to keep it, and I don't think we want to reoccupy. But I think the important thing is to make sure that people understand that you can't rocket our cities. That's intolerable. They are doing it without any provocation. They are doing it openly, saying that their goal is to wipe us off the map.

And you can just imagine a city or cities in America that are hit from rockets across the border, I mean, people would be screaming bloody murder and demanding that the government take action. I think it will have to take action. Israel cannot sustain for long an Iranian base, a murderous base, as Mr. Abbas correctly called it. That is openly committed to our destruction. I think we will eventually have to take action.

What you see in Gaza is a sneak preview, Wolf, of what happens if we just walk away. It's a sneak preview of what would happen -- what's happened already actually, in Lebanon, when we unilaterally walked away without security arrangements. That became a northern base for Iran, on our northern border. We walked a way from Gaza. That became a southern base of Iran in our southern boarder. If we just walk away from the West Bank, it is curtains for Abbas. Its curtains for -- I think it places Jordan in dire jeopardy and it places Israel in dire jeopardy.

So that's not the path to peace. The path to peace is to get a strong partner, who is committed to our -- coexistence with us. And help them with the economy, help them with their way of life, and get a security component in there that is missing. I'd like to see Jordan take that up.

BLITZER: Benjamin Netanyanu, the former Prime Minister of Israel, thanks very much for coming in.

NETANYANU: Thank you.

BLITZER: Polls in Israel, by the way, show the former Prime Minister would do very well if Israel were to hold new elections right now. He might be elected, the next prime minister of Israel. And I asked Benjamin Netanyanu if he were again to become prime minister, I asked him whether he would deal directly with Mahmoud Abbas, and the Palestinian authority, and his answer was very, very terse, he said he would.

Up ahead tonight, cocaine politics. We're going to find out why the drug is making a certain comeback with power players.

And the Clinton's go Soprano. Jeanne Moos take as most unusual look. Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: The drug indictment of a top adviser to Rudy Giuliani has thrown a wet blanket on the Republican candidate's presidential campaign. It's also shoving cocaine and its abuse back into the political spotlight. Let's turn to CNN's Carol Costello. She is following up on this story.

Carol, is this just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the use of cocaine out there?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I think it is, Wolf. You know, cocaine is considered an '80s thing, that is the thing of the past, but for casual drug users today, it's a drug safer than methamphetamine, and it carries less of a stigma. It is again considered by many as chic, and that attitude can ruin lives.


COSTELLO (voice-over): Thomas Ravenel, millionaire, successful politician, Giuliani operative. Not the way you would expect to be describing an alleged cocaine user. But drug counselors say cocaine use is making a comeback among the high and mighty, allegedly abused by plenty of powerful people, like the mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut.


COSTELLO: Who told his constituency a year ago some of those coke rumors were true.

FABRIZI: Over the course of a number of years, I have abused alcohol and used cocaine occasionally.

COSTELLO: Fabrizi has remained in office, but is not running for another term.

In San Francisco, the city's supervisor publicly suggested Mayor Gavin Newsom may have used cocaine and accused the mayor of artfully dodging questions on the matter. Newsom's office calls the accusations "the sleazy politics of personal destruction." Drug counselors say others, like supermodel Kate Moss, have helped make cocaine chic again, after being caught on camera allegedly using the drug. Moss checked herself into rehab, and though temporarily shunned by her industry, she's now more popular than ever.

TERRY HORTON, PHOENIX HOUSE: Cocaine is a stimulant. And as a stimulant, it has certain effects that give the illusion of enhanced performance.

COSTELLO: And people are again buying into that false notion. If you check out a well-known online classified ad service, there are dozens of entries advertising cocaine parties. There's even a travel blog listing top bars in New York where you can score cocaine.

HORTON: Nearly half of our admissions into our residential program are individuals who have gotten in trouble with cocaine.

COSTELLO: And while that's been a constant at Horton's drug rehab center, the federal government says cocaine use has shot up from 1.5 million in 1995 to 2.4 million in 2005.


COSTELLO: No comment from Ravenel on his alleged drug use, but Bridgeport's Mayor Fabrizi called me late this afternoon. He told me he regrets it, and he regrets the loss of his beloved job, that of mayor.

As for the future, well, that's unclear. He's busy now governing and visiting Connecticut schools to teach about the consequences of drugs and alcohol -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Carol Costello, doing some good reporting for us. Carol, thanks very much.

Up ahead, in her fight to help refugees, Angelina Jolie trades the red carpet for a dirt floor. We are going to preview Anderson Cooper's interview with the activist actress.

And later, the Clintons take a page from the "Sopranos" playbook. CNN's Jeanne Moos will take a closer look at Hillary Clinton's "Moost Unusual" campaign ad.

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


BLITZER: Angelina Jolie has traveled to more than 20 countries now on behalf of the United Nations, using her star power to help refugees. In an interview with our own Anderson Cooper, the actress talks about the physical and psychological wounds of people on the run from war.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: In Darfur, the number of internally displaced people has grown dramatically in the last year. You were in a camp. There is a photo of you with a 7-year-old boy, I think, who was tied to a pole. What was that?

ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS/ACTIVIST: It was as shocking as it is to see that picture. I was shocked when I saw that. And my instinct with children of my own, was, how could this children be tied? Somebody let him go and somebody take care of him and somebody -- the reality is, he was -- he was about 3 years old, they said, when the bombs hit, and he was in Darfur. And he disappeared for 48 hours. And before that, he was a very normal little boy.

And now he -- he -- and I did see him do it a bit -- he tries to hurt himself. He does -- I forget the name for it, but he whacks himself into walls and he goes running off and he'll try to hurt himself and others.

And he's -- and after spending about a half an hour with him, I thought maybe they -- maybe they thought that it was from the bombs, but maybe he's just -- there is something different about his mind, you know, maybe he's an autistic child. Maybe -- but I spent a half an hour with him, and he was -- and he was a very normal little kid. He was just really, really scared. Really scared. And to spent half an hour just touch him and pet him, and, you know, and hold him, and look at him, and -- it was -- it's really, it's -- it's a part of conflict that we often don't have the time to also think about. You know, these people that have been through all of this, every refugee, what they have gone through -- the therapy that it would require, the deep, deep internal wound that has happened to these people and what they are going to need -- not just a new house, and, you know, some food aid, but really, what they all need.


BLITZER: You can see the rest of this interview with Angelina Jolie later tonight, here on CNN on a special "AC 360" to mark World Refugee Day. That's tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

One person can make a difference, and today that person is you. Impact your world by logging onto to learn how you can become part of the solution. Impacting your world is now a click away on

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

CAFFERTY: Wolf, the question this hour is, should Army combat tours be once again extended from 15 months? They're talking about making them even longer.

Fran writes from Wisconsin -- "My son is in the active Army now and stationed in Hawaii. He will be deploying to Iraq between Thanksgiving and Christmas. He's already told me he will be there between 15 and 18 months. I think this is unfair."

Todd in Colorado -- "Jack, sadly enough, I believe the combat tours should be extended. I know war is hell and we're asking for an enormous effort and sacrifice of our service people by asking for another three months of their lives. However, we must not give into terrorism. Let their efforts count for something."

Hunter in Florida writes -- "Jack, either we have to go for broke and send everyone over to Iraq to secure the country, like the generals and the experts said we would have to do before we invaded, or everyone has to come home. We can't let lives be lost while politicians are hedging their bets instead of doing what is right."

Doris in Florida -- "Absolutely not. What in the world is wrong with this country? We're asking a very few volunteers to give everything to this war, life and limb, but the average citizen is not even asked to pay an extra dollar toward this war. President Bush should be held accountable. Give our faithful military a rest. In fact, bring them all home."

Chris in Naples, Florida writes -- "Army combat troops should not be extended. These troops are already overstretched. They should not be penalized for the administration's lack of organization over four years ago."

Stanley in Hartford, Connecticut -- "Sign'em up, use'em up, burn'em up, toss'em out. Never before in the history of this country."

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." Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jack, very much. See you back here tomorrow.

Let's see what's coming up right at the top of the hour. Paula Zahn is coming up. We will get to her momentarily.

Also coming up, if you didn't like how "The Sopranos" ended, maybe you will like the Clintons' version. Hillary Clinton's novel way to announce her campaign theme song is a hit on the Internet. That story, a lot more, coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's take a closer look at some of the hot shots coming in from our friends over at the Associated Press, pictures likely to be in your hometown newspapers tomorrow. We'll start off in Baquba, in Iraq. Soldiers use a smoke grenade for concealment during an operation to defeat al Qaeda and secure the city.

In India, people ride motorcycles through a flooded street after a heavy rainfall.

In the Dominican Republic, a chicken runs through the streets of Haina, which is considered to be one of the most polluted towns in the world.

In France, a Tiger helicopter performs a backward roll during the Paris air show. Some of this hour's hot shots, pictures often worth a thousand words.

If you are on the Vegas Strip, there's a story you might want to watch. Let's check in with Carol Costello to see what's going on out there -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Yes, it's happening right now, Wolf. If you are near the Vegas Strip, you see a huge plume of black smoke. It is a tire fire. Here, you are looking at live pictures. There are no reports of injuries, but our local affiliate KTNV reports the fire can be seen all the way across the valley. KTNV also says the tires were used to block off streets during the Las Vegas Grand Prix, and firefighters are figuring out how to put this thing out, because as you know, it takes gallons and gallons and gallons of water, and sometimes these things burn for years.

A deadly incident in Austin, Texas, as up to 30,000 people gathered for Juneteenth celebration. An angry crowd beat a man to death last night after the car he was riding in hit and injured a young girl. The driver had stopped to check on the girl when a group of men attacked him. Police say the passenger got out to try to help the driver, when up to 20 men beat him to death. The child's injuries were not life-threatening.

And on the wide screen, more action from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano. Lava is oozing from a new location, about eight miles from Kilauea's summit. Researchers began looking for a new lava breakout point after hundreds of small earthquakes were recorded on Sunday. The quakes were an indication that underground lava was shifting beneath the surface. When (inaudible) arrived, the lava was moving sluggishly. Four hours later, lava had stopped flowing altogether. The area, though, closed to the public for safety reasons. Back to you.

BLITZER: Carol, thanks very much for that.

By now, a lot of you have seen the Hillary Clinton video that spoofs "The Sopranos" finale. But let's get a closer look from CNN's Jeanne Moos, with the "Moost Unusual" look.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Meet Bill and Hillary Soprano.

Talk about a hit. The Clintons' "Sopranos" spoof made for almost the same front page in rival tabloids. "The Daily News" rated it at four bullet holes.

The Clinton spoof almost got better reviews than the "Sopranos" finale.

Haven't we seen this guy somewhere? He's the one giving Bill and Hillary the evil eye.

Wasn't like a paid kind of gig? VINCENT CURATOLA, ACTOR: No, absolutely not, no.

MOOS: Was out of the goodness of your heart.

CURATOLA: I'm $100,000 a day. I don't (inaudible).

MOOS: Johnny Sack, real name Vincent Curatola, was a New York mob boss on "The Sopranos." He died on "The Sopranos," but survived the Clinton spoof, a spoof designed to announce the winner of Hillary's campaign song contest.

Just as rabid fans analyzed every frame of "The Sopranos" finale, we decided to analyze every line of the Clinton spoof.

EDIE FALCO, ACTRESS: What looks good tonight?



SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: We have some great choices.

I ordered for the table.

B. CLINTON: No onion rings?

MOOS: And then, there were the parallel parallel parking scenes.

FALCO: Med's coming separately.

H. CLINTON: Where's Chelsea?

B. CLINTON: Parallel parking.

MOOS: They shot the spoof with the diner still open for business.

CURATOLA: I want to say it was about three takes each angle. They were really prepared. Hillary and Bill knew they were acting, and they came in actor ready.

MOOS: As for the ending, the announcement of the winning campaign song...

H. CLINTON: Ready?

MOOS: You had to go to Hillary's Web site to hear Celine Dion's "You and I" got the most votes, though many online comments were cruel. "Who could listen to Celine Dion for 500 days? Kill me! Kill me now."

But the real killer -- the song was originally performed by Canadian Celine Dion for Air Canada.

One poster commented -- "Leave it to Hillary to outsource even her own theme song."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, America, jet up here.

MOOS: And if Hillary wants to become president, she better not accidentally play the French version of "You and I."

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


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


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