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City Security Increases. The Significance of Doctor Terror Suspects.

Aired July 3, 2007 - 17:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Who is this guy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's the coach of someone, right?

(LAUGHTER).

MOOS: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).

Oh, gosh, he's English.

MOOS: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's umm --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it's that skip, Skippy, Skinnard, Louard

MOOS: His nickname that he's known by is something that you ride.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello.

What's his name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so disappointed with myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blair -- Tony.

No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not Tony Blair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not Tony Blair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tony Blair?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

MOOS: No.

This is not Tony Blair.

(LAUGHTER).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it's also like old white men, so, it's --

MOOS: They all look the same, huh?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They all kind of look the same.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Libby --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, "Scooter" --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Libby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Scooter" -- "Scooter" --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's "Scooter" Libby.

MOOS: How do you feel about the president giving --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I think it's an outrage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bush just decided to pull a Nixon on him and pardon him. Yes, gee.

MOOS: Good idea or bad idea?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, come on. In America, nobody,,, you know, money buys verdicts. You know that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a terrible thing. I cannot believe that he did that. Absolutely upset about that, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's that guy. Libby, Skippy Libby -- "Scooter" -- "Scooter" -- "Scooter" Libby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Scooter" Libby.

MOOS: Thank God we got that out.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

MALVEAUX: (LAUGHTER)

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, special anti-terror teams deploying in cities across the country as Americans prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July amid new and increased concerns over terrorism.

Also, Jenna Bush stepping out and taking on a higher profile. We'll give you a rare up close and personal look at a first daughter coming into her own.

And some are calling it "The Bill and Hill Show" -- the Clintons on the campaign trail together again.

Will the former president upstage the woman who wants to be the next president?

Wolf Blitzer is off today.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Heightened terror concerns across the country this afternoon just days after failed attacks in Britain and on the eve of a major American holiday. The Transportation Security Administration is springing into action, deploying specialized teams to beef up security. They are called VIPER teams -- visual intermodal protection and response. They're made up of bomb sniffing dogs, air marshals, transportation inspectors and behavior detection officers. And they are already on duty, patrolling airports and public transportation in eight major cities from coast to coast. The TSA says there is no specific threat against any of those cities and no link between the VIPER development -- deployment, rather -- and U.K. attacks.

VIPER teams on duty in Boston, along with air and water security teams.

Let's bring in our own Boston bureau chief -- Dan, what are you seeing?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, security is the big word today and certainly tomorrow, even as the TSA has deployed those so-called VIPER teams to assist those transit systems in cities like Boston, federal, state and local law enforcement officials here are also tightening security out on the water.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

LOTHIAN: (voice-over): Above the Charles River in Boston, an Air Force fighter jet rehearses a Fourth of July flyover as state police dive teams plunge in below. They're scanning and securing four fireworks barges.

LT. WILLIAM FREEMAN, MASS. STATE POLICE UNIT: All these divers are trained for -- to locate any type of IED -- improvised explosive device that may be placed on this barge that could be activated at any time through a cell phone or radio operated device.

LOTHIAN: They're also sweeping this shallow lagoon and nearby bridges. A half million people are expected to show up here on the 4th, what law enforcement officials call a potentially rich target.

SGT. SCOTT KALIL, MASS. STATE POLICE UNIT: We want to make sure that between the water and the land, we can cut off any type of threat, whatever it may be.

LOTHIAN: In Boston Harbor, more vigilance, too. State police and U.S. Coast Guard units are patrolling around a national gas tanker, a Navy warship, a federal courthouse and Boston's Logan International Airport.

KALIL: There is an increase of security -- land, sea and the air.

LOTHIAN: The Coast Guard says it's ready, even though no additional units from outside the region will be brought in.

COMMANDER BILL KELLY, U.S. COAST GUARD: Coast Guard forces in the greater Boston area are essentially either on duty on call. We are ramping up in that basically everybody is going to be at work.

LOTHIAN: Law enforcement ramping up while reassuring the public.

KEVIN BURKE, MASS. SECRETARY OF SAFETY & PUBLIC SECRETARY: Every precaution is being taken and we should not let events that occurred overseas interfere with our normal activities.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

LOTHIAN: Now officials want to stress that there is no known threat. But they realize that in this current climate, and certainly with such a major holiday, they have to be prepared -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Dan, thanks.

Have a good and safe holiday.

A stunning twist in the investigation of the failed car bombings in London and Glasgow. It turns out that those now in custody have links to the medical profession.

CNN's senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, is in Glasgow -- and, Nic, seven of the eight suspects are either doctors or medical students. One is a lab technician.

What is the link here?

What is the significance?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, four of those doctors worked here at this hospital just outside Glasgow, two of them with the attackers at the airport in Glasgow and the would-be attackers in London, if their bombs had actually succeeded.

One of the doctors picked up was picked up in Australia. He was picked up at the request of British authorities. And he had recently transferred there from a hospital in Liverpool, where another doctor was picked up by -- by the British police. Those two doctors had trained at the same hospital in India. They had studied together. They knew each other in Liverpool. Perhaps that's the connection there. The other doctor picked up in the center of England.

The picture that is emerging here is this was an Al Qaeda plot, a plot perhaps by -- put together by Al Qaeda in Iraq to plant doctors in Britain, to leave them as sleeper cells in different points across the country and to attack at a certain time.

One of the doctors here was Lebanese. Another one was Iraqi. One of the doctors in the south of England a Jordanian of Palestinian descent -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Nic, the fact they're all doctors and have this medical expertise, does that worry or present even more concern to intelligence and security officials, that they have certain skills that perhaps other terrorists wouldn't have and could conduct different kinds of terrorist attacks?

ROBERTSON: Well, certainly terrorism experts here know that Al Qaeda is a sophisticated organization. They've known that. But perhaps that hasn't really been taken on board by the government here, by other professionals. Perhaps administration systems in hospitals haven't been looking out for doctors before.

Britain's health care system here relies extensively on doctors who have trained overseas -- 90,000. Almost 90,000 doctors who have trained overseas come to work here. That's one third of the total workforce of doctors. So that's a huge number of doctors coming here from overseas. And terrorism experts say they know that Al Qaeda is sophisticated. They know that Al Qaeda just isn't made up of poor, uneducated recruits.

Now that message is -- is going to be much more broadly understood by the institutions in the country that help support the intelligence and help support the government -- the institutions -- the professional institutions, medical professions, all those other professions.

It does seem that Al Qaeda looked at a potential easy to get in loophole, if you will, in Britain; that it saw Britain uses a lot of doctors from overseas and saw that as perhaps a loophole -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you so much.

Thanks, Nic.

And up ahead, L.A.'s mayor comes clean after being dogged by rumors about his personal life for months. We'll have new details on the scandal rocking Los Angeles city hall.

Also, a surprising new health update on the man who sparked that international tuberculosis scare -- a major change in his diagnosis.

Plus, Cuba's ailing president finds an unlikely way to stay is in the spotlight. We'll show you how Fidel Castro is getting his message out from his sick bed.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MALVEAUX: Los Angeles city hall rocked by scandal, as new details emerge about a love affair between the mayor and a television news reporter.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is live in Los Angeles -- Ted, what is the mayor saying about this?

How is he responding?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, it has been a few months of speculation here in Los Angeles. And today was the latest chapter of that. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa admitting that he is in a relationship with a television news anchor, a local reporter here for Telemundo, Channel 52.

This is the latest chapter in a saga that has consumed a lot of people in Los Angeles starting in January of this year, when Mayor Villaraigosa stopped wearing his wedding ring. And then last month, he announced that he and his wife of 20 years had filed for a separation. She filed for divorce a couple of days after that announcement. And then today he came clean and said, indeed, there is another woman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D), LOS ANGELES: It's true. I have a relationship with Miss. Salinas. And I take full responsibility for my actions.

I want to stress, however, I don't believe that the details of my personal life are relevant to my job as mayor. And I once again ask the media that they respect the privacy of my children and my family.

I believe that the vast majority of people base their sense of trust on what you do in your public life, whether or not you keep your promises. I said to people when I first was elected that I work as hard as you do from my first day to my last, that I accept responsibility, as I have today, as I have every time it was necessary. I'll continue to do that.

But, as I said, I'll leave the speculation to others. I'm not going to get into every detail of my relationship and nor should I.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: One detail he did get into, the first question out of the box at the press conference, she's not pregnant. A lot of speculation around that.

As far as the reporter, Mirthala Salinas, she has been taken off the political beat. A lot of people think that Antonio Villaraigosa has political ambitions higher than the mayor's office of Los Angeles.

How this will impact it, or if it will at all -- he was elected in 2005 -- remains to be seen -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, Ted, I notice the mayor making a plea to the media to basically put this to rest.

Do you think that that's going to happen, or is this just too juicy a story for people to let go of?

ROWLANDS: Well, you know, it remains to be seen. But, of course, the media has been speculating about this for a while. And it is because of media reports that he came clean today and finally admitted it. There has been speculation over the next few months. But, you know, you've seen this before with other mayors, especially. Up in San Francisco, Gavin Newsom. We haven't heard a lot about that since he came clean.

Whether or not today's admission will stop the speculation or not remains to be seen.

MALVEAUX: OK.

Thank you so much, Ted.

And presidential candidates often rely on their spouses to bolster their campaigns. But when the spouse used to be president himself, now that's a political one-two punch.

The down side -- he could steal a lot of thunder.

CNN's senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is on the campaign trail with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in Iowa -- Candy, it is always tough to share the stage with Bill Clinton. This must be unbelievable.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is. But I have to tell you, Suzanne, that the fact of the matter is he's really stuck to the script. And that is to say that he gets up there and he talks about her. He says, here is the Hillary Clinton I know. Here's what you did -- here's what she did even before you knew her. She was an advocate for children. She believed in public service. She didn't have an elected office until she became a senator, but was always in public service.

And then he introduces her. And last night, when he did in Des Moines, and he sat down on a stool and was the perfect spouse -- looking at her, laughing when she told a joke, clapping.

Today, when he was in Davenport actually, he's coming to Davenport -- or he was actually -- he's coming to Davenport now -- when he was in Iowa City, he introduced her, talked all about her and then got off the stage and gave the stage to her.

She talks about twice as long as he does, and you know that's hard to do. But, nonetheless, he has really stuck to the script and the role that they see him playing -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: So this is definitely new territory. But it seems, at least at the moment, to be working. This is the first time he's actually out on the campaign trail with his wife.

Why -- why now?

CROWLEY: Well, they wanted this first six months for her to establish herself outside his shadow. As you know, he's been fundraising for her. He's very good at fundraising. He raised a lot of money for her.

But he's stayed off the campaign trail because it was important for the campaign -- they felt it was important for her to get out there and let people know what she stood for, what she was about.

Early on, she didn't even talk about the Clinton administration that much. She would -- she might call it just that, the Clinton administration did this or that. But she was sort of removed from it.

Now she is even embracing the Clinton administration more, saying, you know, when my husband was in office, this, you know, the job rate was this and that.

So they are getting closer. And this, you know, as one staffer said to me, it's not like she can ignore the fact that he is her husband. So they want to put him to good use and they thought that now is the time to bring him out campaigning.

MALVEAUX: Well, the elephant in the room, but you see the two of them dancing here. It may work.

Candy, thank you so much.

CROWLEY: (LAUGHTER).

All right.

MALVEAUX: And coming up, his transatlantic travels panicked hundreds of airline passengers, as word got out about his rare form of tuberculosis. Now doctors have a surprising new diagnosis.

Plus, a first daughter's steps into the spotlight -- Jenna Bush, up close and personal.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: A storm appears to be building over how things are being run at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. It is under review after the Center's director complained about lack of funding and aging focusing equipment.

CNN national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, is following the rift -- and, Susan, what stirred things up down there?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, you know, this new director of the National Hurricane Center has only been on the job for six months. But apparently he's been ruffling some feathers when he echoed NOAA's questions about some of that aging equipment.

Well, guess who came knocking on the director's door?

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

CANDIOTTI: How did you feel when they show up without prior warning?

BILL PROENZA, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Surprised. And I'm sure the whole staff felt surprised.

CANDIOTTI: (voice-over): The new outspoken National Hurricane Center director started his week with a pop inspection by Washington brass. And this memo from his boss: "I have become aware of concerns about the Center's ability to meet its mission."

PROENZA: And I feel very, very certain and comfortable with the fact that we've done everything that we can to deliver our mission to the American people and to be very up front and honest with them, as well. They are the people we work for.

CANDIOTTI: The unscheduled visit comes on the heels of Bill's Proenza's frank comments about a key hurricane satellite called Quick Sat. The Quick Sat satellite is five years beyond its life expectancy, operating on a backup transmitter. If it fails, Proenza says, forecast tracks could be off by up to 16 percent. After Proenza spoke out last month, he got a reprimand from Washington.

Here's what he told CNN's John Zarrella back then.

PROENZA: They wanted me to be quiet about it.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Muzzle you?

PROENZA: Essentially.

CANDIOTTI: Now, one of the Hurricane Center's veteran forecasters is calling Proenza's comments misguided.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quick Sat is another tool that we use to forecast and the forecast will not be degraded if we don't have the Quick Sat.

CANDIOTTI: Senator Mary Landrieu will testify next month about the need to replace Quick Sat. She issued a statement defending Proenza: "It has become clear that this administration is more focused on spinning the punishment of whistle blowers than on correcting the errors of management they bring to light."

(on camera): Do you think you're going to keep your job?

PROENZA: I really don't know. All I know is that I feel very sincere about what I've done.

(END VIDEO TAPE) CANDIOTTI: Bill Proenza says his mission is to save American lives. But now a team from Washington could be forecasting his future -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you very much, Susan Candiotti.

There is good news today for the Atlanta lawyer who traveled overseas while knowingly infected with tuberculosis. Doctors say the strain of his T.B. Does not appear to be as dangerous as they previously believed.

CNN medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, joining us from Atlanta -- Elizabeth, the CDC isolated a man and then it touched off this international health scare.

Did they get this wrong?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Suzanne?

It is a possibility that the CDC's first test was wrong and that he -- that test showed XDR, the test that was done by the CDC in the hospital here in Atlanta. It's possible that that test was wrong and that he didn't ever have XDR. It's also possible that he -- that Andrew Speaker had both XDR and MDR.

The bottom line is that no matter which type of tuberculosis Andrew Speaker had, it is a dangerous disease and a disease that was resistant to at least many of the drugs intended to treat it -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: So should Speaker have been allowed to fly to Europe after all?

COHEN: Absolutely not. Doctor after doctor has said to me no matter what type of tuberculosis someone has, even if it's the tamest kind, they should not be getting on an airplane for eight hours. Patients with tuberculosis are routinely told you should not get in a confined space with lots of people for long periods of time. Certainly, a flight from Atlanta to Paris qualifies as that.

Now, of course, Andrew Speaker says that he was never told not to travel. But doctors who were connected to this case say that they are sure that he was told several times not to get on an airplane.

MALVEAUX: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much.

We're going to be getting a lot more about this story.

CNN's Anderson Cooper sat down with the man at the center of the tuberculosis controversy, Andrew Speaker. Anderson joins us live with that at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

And coming up, failed terror attacks in Britain now being linked to Al Qaeda in Iraq. We're forming the terror trail.

Plus, poor health prompts Cuba's commander-in-chief to take on a new role -- columnist in chief. Fidel Castro speaking out.

But is anyone listening?

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, President Bush has left the door open for a full pardon for former White House aide "Scooter" Libby. This after Mr. Bush commuted Libby's 30-month sentence yesterday. The president told reporters told he is ruling nothing in or out for the future.

Second quarter fundraising numbers are in for two presidential contender. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani pulled in $17 million in campaign funds. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney says he raised $14 million and lent the campaign another $6.5 million.

Environmental officials monitor the progress of a 42,000-gallon oil spill in a flood swollen river in southeast Kansas. Officials say it is within six miles of an Oklahoma lake, which is a water source for Tulsa.

Wolf Blitzer is off today.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

As we told you at the top, stepped-up security across the country as America gets ready to celebrate its independence. The Transportation Security Administration is deploying special anti- terror units, called VIPER teams, in eight major cities.

Let's go now to Chicago, where massive crowds are already gathering for the traditional day early fireworks display.

CNN's Kyung Lah is there live for us -- Kyung, what security measures are authorities taking now?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, the first thing that the Chicago police are doing is trying to put as many uniformed officers among the crowd as possible as a visual deterrent. You can see how big the crowds here already are. We're only expecting it to get bigger as the night wears on.

What the police are also doing is not just putting officers among the crowd here. They're also using a high tech tool to try to keep all of these people safe.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

LAH: (voice-over): In an expected crowd of a million people hovering up above --

SGT. GREG HOFFMAN: We can zoom in and not only see the package itself --

LAH: -- is the watchful eye of Sergeant Greg Hoffman.

HOFFMAN: Multiple eyes are watching.

DEPUTY CHIEF JAMES KEATING: We'll be watching it from every angle.

LAH: As the Windy City prepares for it's 3rd of July fireworks, the single largest public gathering of the year here, the Chicago police run through this drill, showing how, with the click of a mouse, its 450 cameras can work to reduce the chance of attacks in a crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Car, 47, this is eight out of 27.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is car 47.

LAH: This man is a responding officer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Report of a suspicious package.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see it on the cameras. We have this package on video, between two blue garbage cans, a black backpack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you could, with your cameras, see if there's any secondary device.

Hey, Danny, you want to go to that location, please?

LAH: Within seconds, officers arrive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not sure what it is yet, but we're going to be cautious about it. This is July 3rd.

It's an eye in the sky. It's an eye in the sky. It's more tools for the arena.

LAH: It's not just the Chicago police. Agencies across the city come together in this even bigger situation room tonight. More cameras will fire up. Thousands of them shared among local, state, and federal agencies, watching the roadways, railways and the airports.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't be everywhere and see everything. However, utilizing some is intelligence tools, we know specifically where to direct our attention.

LAH: And while the concept of cameras everywhere may be uncomfortable to some, even they acknowledge it does bring comfort.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like the concept just off the bat, but I understand for my security it's ultimately for my benefit. I don't like a cop pulling me over when I'm speeding, but when I need him, I'm glad he's there.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LAH (on camera): Police say they do want the people on the ground to actually see these security cameras. There's a blue light that will blink on and off. And the reason why they want them to be visible is they're hoping it will also be a deterrent to perhaps future criminals.

Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Well, Kyung, I used to live in Chicago so I understand, know those crowds. Have a good and safe holiday.

LAH: We'll try.

MALVEAUX: A new twist to one of our top stories, those failed terror attacks on Britain. Now there is word of disturbing links to al Qaeda in Iraq. CNN justice correspondent Kelli Arena has been investigating. Kelli, what do we know now?

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, this latest terror attempt in Britain is different than what we've seen before. Counterterrorism fficials say it does not qualify as a homegrown threat. Instead, it has connections to al Qaeda central.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARENA (on camera): The fear is now a reality. The terror network in Iraq is expanding beyond that battlefield and into the west. Counterterrorism officials tell CNN the group allegedly behind the weekend attacks in the U.K. has connections to al Qaeda in Iraq. And at least one is believed to have been recruited while living in the Middle East. Their connections and methods come as no surprise to intelligence experts.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Iraq is producing another generation of terrorists, trained in urban warfare and this type of weapon, the car bomb is their weapon of choice.

ARENA: At least five of those arrests in the attacks are doctors. Al Qaeda has long had an interest in recruiting medical professionals. Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda's number two is an ophthalmologist.

Counterterrorism experts say doctors offer an expertise in biological and chemical capabilities and have access to radioactive material which could be used in future attacks.

MCLAUGHLIN: This wouldn't kill large numbers of people but it would create a radiation scare and raise the level of terror to new heights.

ARENA: The war in Iraq has allowed al Qaeda and related groups to refine urban warfare tactics and train a whole new generation of terrorists.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ARENA (on camera): Most experts suggest that it's only a matter of time before those terrorists move their activities across the ocean here to the United States. Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Kelli, thank you so much. And of course, we have more details about that. I talked with alleged link to al Qaeda with the spokesman for the Multinational Force in Iraq, Brigadier General Kevin Bergner.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: General Bergner, thank you so much for joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM. I want to start off by talking about the London terror plot. There are now reports that one of the perpetrators, one of those doctors who planned the attack, was trained by al Qaeda, possibly in Iraq. Can you confirm those reports?

GENERAL KEVIN BERGNER, SPOKESMAN, MULTINATIONAL FORCE IRAQ: Suzanne, we're just hearing those reports as well, and there isn't anything that I can share with you this evening on that front. There isn't any information that we've been able to develop here specific to that.

MALVEAUX: Would that be surprising? Is it something you've expected, al Qaeda in Iraq perhaps training and exporting terrorists to other parts of the world?

BERGNER: Well, al Qaeda in Iraq is our central focus here for the Multinational Force, and it has been the main destabilizing factor. It's the most difficult security problem for the government of Iraq and the most intense focus for our operations here in Iraq. And so we have a great understanding of the difficulty it creates.

MALVEAUX: If this is true, does this not pose a problem for the administration? I mean, clearly this is exactly what the Bush administration did not want to see, and that is the terrorists going to Europe, going back home, and facing us after getting training, possible training, from al Qaeda.

BERGNER: Well, Suzanne, the al Qaeda organization has made it very clear that Iraq is their central focus in their efforts. So we have seen al Qaeda send their operatives to Iraq. We have seen them focus on Iraq, in particular, and so is we have a great sense of the challenge they're creating here for the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces, which is what our main purpose and function is as the Multinational Force, is to help the government of Iraq and security forces deal with that threat as it is here in Iraq.

MALVEAUX: I want to talk about another threat that you have actually reported. You've mentioned now the possibility of Hezbollah inside Iraq working with the Iranian Quds Force together in concert here. Today there was a response from the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman. He said this to what you said yesterday in response. "It is another silly and ridiculous scenario brought up by Americans based on a baseless remark of a person. It is a sheer lie, and it is ridiculous." BERGNER: Well, Suzanne, in our questioning of Ali Mussa Daqduq, who is a Lebanese Hezbollah operative and Kais Kaz Ali (ph), who was the head of the special groups here in Iraq, we also were able to examine computers that were captured when we detained these two individuals. We also were able to examine a journal that Ali Mussa Daqduq maintained and we were also able to examine the record of the attacks these special groups conducted, supported by the Iranian Quds force.

So the range of evidence, the range of information that led to the information we've now shared with you an others is the result of both documents, electronic records, as well as the statements of different people, to include Daqduq and Kaz Ali. So there's a range of information that is at the base of the information we've shared with you.

MALVEAUX: Thank you so much for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

BERGNER: Thanks, Suzanne.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: Up ahead -- Fidel Castro remains offstage but certainly not out of sight. Now instead of giving lengthy speeches he's writing editorials. We'll go live to Havana.

And then you've heard about the Mickey Mouse look-alike who preaches hate to children in the Middle East. Well, there is something new to show you. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Cuban President Fidel Castro has long been known for his lengthy, fiery speeches. But now the aging communist leader lets the fire shoot from his pen. Our CNN's Morgan Neill is in Havana. Morgan, is he still reaching the Cuban people?

MORGAN NEILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, it's been almost a year since the last time he made a public appearance, if you can believe it. But, yes, he still is finding a way to get his message across to the Cuban people. He's just not doing it like he did before.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEILL (voice-over): Used to be when Fidel Castro had something to say, it was dynamic and aggressive. Marching at the front of thousands or waving an accusing finger. These days, this had is how the ailing leader communicates, columns in Cuba's state-run newspapers called "Reflections of the Commander in Chief." Last week when U.S. President George Bush made this comment ...

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: One day the Good Lord will take Fidel Castro away. NEILL: Castro answered with this headline - "The Good Lord protected me from Bush," a bit of humor from the leader of the once officially atheist nation.

But Castro's reflections aren't limited to snappy rebuttals. He has written some 24 pieces since late March. Is anyone reading them? This woman looking a bit embarrassed says she is hasn't had time to read the latest. OK. But which have been her favorites.

"Come on, sweetheart," she says. "Not everyone is going to take these things in word for word."

This cook named Fidel just like the president says he hasn't read the latest either.

But which is the most interesting?

He hesitates for a moment. "They're all interesting."

The topics can sometimes seem haphazard, weighty discussions of biofuels, a wandering piece on CIA attempts to kill him, a diatribe against a new British submarine. They certainly show that Castro is following world events but are they a sign he could soon return to power?

Analyst Hal Klepak doesn't see it that way.

HAL KLEPAK, ROYAL MILITARY COLLEGE: My first reaction was is this is just what I would expect from an elder statesman who feels confident that his brother is in charge and that he can relax and sit back and say some of the things that he has wanted to say for a long time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEILL (on camera): As you saw is in the piece there, a lot of Cubans are not reading these things word for word. But eventually they're going to hear about them one way or another. They're read throughout the day on radio and sometimes the evening newscasts will begin with the anchor simply reading in its entirety the entire article. Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: So Neill, what do we make of this? Do we think this is in preparation for some sort of comes back for Fidel Castro?

NEILL: Well, this move, just like about anything we see Fidel Castro do these days, sparks opinion on both sides, some saying this means he's definitely coming back and soon. Others saying this is just a man who hasn't had time in decades to lay out his thoughts in this kind of way, taking advantage of the time he now has. Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Thank you very much. Morgan Neill out of Havana.

Now, last week we told you about the death of Farfour, a Mickey Mouse look-alike on a Hamas children's television show in Gaza. The TV of show promotes Hamas' ideology and urges Palestinian children to fight the State of Israel. Now video of Farfur's final appearance has popped up online. Let's bring in Abbi Tatton. Abbi, how did this all go down?

ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, this is a kids' character that has gotten international attention and condemnation for teaching violence against Israelis to Palestinian children. In one episode, the character Farfur is seen mimicking shooting Israelis with an assault rifle.

The Palestinian Information Ministry had condemned the show. Now the character Farfour is gone, killed off. But look at the way he went, beaten to death by an actor portraying an Israeli who was trying to buy his land.

The video was taken from a Hamas-run TV station, posted on YouTube by Palestinian Media Watch, a pro-Israel monitoring groups that tends to highlight extreme views in Palestinian media.

The young presenter goes on to tell the audience that Farfur died a martyr. Well, he might be gone, but that's not necessarily the end of it. The TV station telling CNN that they're looking at creating another cartoon character that would follow the same political line as Farfur. Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Abbi Tatton, thank you very much. Very interesting.

And up ahead -- the remaking of Jenna Bush. The president's daughter grew up largely out of the spotlight. Now she is coming into her own with a new book and a new mission.

And later -- if you could ask the presidential candidates whatever you wanted, what would it be? CNN's Jeanne Moos shares some "Moost Unusual" questions you won't hear in the next big debate. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: The first family's twin daughter Jenna and Barbara Bush have been largely spared the glare of the media spotlight in recent years, but that is just about to change. Jenna Bush is cutting a much higher public profile with her work with UNICEF. She also has a book coming out in the fall. And I got a rare chance to see her up close and personal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX (voice-over): Jenna Bush is stepping out. The 25-year- old captured the international spotlight when she traveled to Africa with her mother, the first lady. It's a tease for a new role she'll soon play as goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: She will have a higher profile. It's been really fun for me to have this opportunity to be here with her.

MALVEAUX: At first glance, Jenna seems shy in front of the cameras, saying little and nodding in agreement with her mother. She's now embracing her first-daughter duties, which includes a lot of standing around with other first daughters. Occasionally is she's caught looking bored, but Jenna comes to life when she's with children.

She's engaging, affectionate and disarming. For many she befriended, she generated downright excitement. These images are a far cry from the infamous picture of her snubbing the press and her days of party girl.

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a great time for Jenna to step out into the public. Because if you think of what her peers are doing right now, non of them are faring as well as she is. You have got Lindsay Lohan who is of a similar age, she is in rehab, you've got Paris Hilton who just got out of prison and who is partying in Hawaii right now.

MALVEAUX: Since leaving the White House, Jenna has been teaching at a charter school in Washington, DC. She also worked in Panama for nine months, documenting children's stories for UNICEF. She has got a book coming out in the fall, that focuses on a 17-year-old she befriended.

L. BUSH: The girl she wrote about, her parents are dead. She's an AIDS orphan. And she contracted AIDS at birth from her parents. So it's just a story about her amazing courage and inspiration. She inspired Jenna.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX (on camera): The first lady also told me that it was Jenna's twin sister Barbara who inspired her to get involved in this relief work. Barbara had volunteered in South Africa before taking a job at a New York museum.

T.J. Holmes is monitoring stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now. T.J., what are you following?

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: We'll start in Kentucky, Suzanne. Prosecutors in Louisville say they will seek the death penalty if a former soldier is convicted of rape and murder which occurs during his service in Iraq. Steven Green is the name. You see his picture there. He was discharged from the Army in May of 2006 and was indicted in November. He is being tried in civilian court because the charges came after his discharge. Green is accused of raping a 14 year old Iraqi girl and killing her and her family. Four other current soldiers are also charged.

An Iranian news agency said a mortar shell struck a Tehran gas station but it failed to explode. This latest incident came days after Iran's government imposed strict gasoline rationing. That move triggered angry and sometimes violent protests. One Iranian report last week said 19 petrol stations were set on fire in Tehran.

President Hugo Chavez says if health care costs don't come down, he will nationalize Venezuela's privately owned hospital and clinics. Under the two-tiered health system, wealthier insured parents can afford faster, better treatment at private hospitals. Chavez has expanded the system adding new clinics and refurbishing hospitals. He also has sent thousands of doctors to live in poor neighborhoods to provide free care.

Just a look at a few things we're working on right now. I'll hand it back over to you now, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, T.J.

Up next -- questions for the candidates. As CNN and YouTube prepare from the next big debate, we'll share some questions that probably won't make the cut. You're in the NEWSROOM. SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Comedian Robin Williams gets serious with CNN's Larry King. He just spoke with Larry about some problems facing well-known celebrities and serious problems he's had with addiction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBIN WILLIAMS, COMEDIAN: I think Britney just needs to stay away from a razor for a while. If you're going to go Brazilian, you don't go commando and you don't get out of a limousine like you're sliding into third. Next thing you know everything is in a witness protection program. People come out of that going what are you doing?

Lindsay, initially when she was going to get out she was going to have a birthday party sponsored by a vodka company. Not wise in rehab. It's like taking the child just out - the little hypoglycemic child to Krispy Kreme.

It takes some time. A little quiet time. And I think that will be good for her and for all of them. Rehab is just the beginning, having been through it.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: You went through it.

WILLIAMS: Went through it. Yeah.

KING: What were you addicted to?

WILLIAMS: I had a little problem with alcohol. It wasn't a problem. Everybody had it.

KING: It was ...

WILLIAMS: I was an alcoholic. I was a drunk.

KING: You were a drunk.

WILLIAMS: That's nice of you to say that.

KING: You said it first.

WILLIAMS: You wake up in a field with a road flare nicely placed. What's your name? Eh-eh-eh. Shhh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: You can watch that full interview tonight on CNN's LARRY KING LIVE. That's at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

If you've ever wanted to ask a presidential candidate your own questions, now is your chance. CNN and YouTube are soliciting video questions from the public. They will be used for a groundbreaking presidential debate later this month. Some of the more than 350 debate questions submitted so far are, well, kind of "Moost Unusual." Here is CNN's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Move over moderators, wait until you see who wants to grill the presidential candidates at the next debate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Greetings, I am Bjorn Svensen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is ...

MOOS: Oh, they have questions all right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About aliens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next question her is for old John Edwards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think you're cute?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going for it.

MOOS: These YouTubers are whispering. They're leering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, Hillary.

MOOS: They're whining.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you answer my question?

MOOS: CNN and YouTube are asking you to submit videotaped questions, questions each candidate will watch on a monitor built into his or her podium.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know what you think is, I don't know, the greatest invention you've heard of.

MOOS: Toothpicks and visual aides are encouraged. This guy waved around a Social Security statement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But seeing that Social Security is going to be extinct in the near future, why am I still getting these?

MOOS: That's the kind of serious questions CNN honchos will probably will choose to include, the ones we're highlighting are what you probably won't see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN will never use that.

MOOS (on camera): There's no such thing as a dress code among those submitting questions for this debate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I call myself the anonymous American. Will you right then and there sign an executive order beginning the withdrawal of troops from Iraq?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you plan to deal with illegal immigration?

MOOS (voice-over): This guy tried a little show and tell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Science.

MOOS: Demonstrating how little money goes to science compared to weapons research. Some are questions candidates don't normally get asked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they have donated blood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In God we trust. What do those words mean to you?

MOOS: And then there was the do ask and do tell teddy bear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd lake to keep my name and hometown anonymous because I'm in the military and I am gay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am a middle of the road -- I am a register - I am a Democrat. Do you fail the terrorists will come here? Oh, my God, there is one here right now. HHH, stop, please.

MOOS (on camera): My question to you candidates -- do you regret agreeing to do this debate yet?

(voice-over): Even a real cat submitted a question. How can you protect my food in the future? What, with the contaminated pet food scare.

A pair of comedians had question for John Edwards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think you're better looking than Barack Obama? Shirts off. We're going to count abs. We're going to have an ab counting contest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want anybody taking off their shirts.

MOOS: Especially not female candidates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take that, CNN.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN. New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: Well, you can catch all of that CNN-YouTube debate on July 23rd in Charleston, South Carolina. You still have time to submit your questions through YouTube.

We're here every weekday afternoon from 4:00 to 6:00 Eastern and we're back on the air 7:00 p.m. Eastern, just one hour from now. Until then, I'm Suzanne Malveaux in for Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. LOU DOBBS TONIGHT starts right now with Kitty Pilgrim for Lou. Kitty?

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