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THE SITUATION ROOM

Passport Wait Leaves Travellers Stuck; Pakistani Standoff Continues

Aired July 5, 2007 - 17:00   ET

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


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, HOST: And in other hair news, Senator Hillary Clinton found herself in need of a hairdresser during her Iowa campaign swing this week. According to CNN affiliate KIMT, retired stylist Linda Miller came to the rescue.
She spent about a half an hour doing Senator Clinton's hair and makeup and got to know the presidential candidate up close and personal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LINDA MILLER, RETIRED HAIR STYLIST: I was totally prepared not to like her because I have different views and everything I've read and heard about her, I thought I wouldn't like her.

But you know what?

I was enchanted. She's -- she's wonderful. I really liked her.

She said she liked it and then when I went downstairs to help her assistant with the fax machine, she said: "Did Hillary like her hair?"

And I said: "Yes. She said she'd like it, but she didn't say (INAUDIBLE)."

And she said, "No. She'd tell you if she didn't like it."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: And here's one reason Senator Clinton may have liked Miller's work. We are told she didn't charge her a cent -- calling it a campaign contribution.

And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, passport outrage -- a State Department meltdown threatening to derail vacations for thousands of travelers -- the crisis one the government created for itself.

Also, the first lady's high profile mission to Africa -- picture perfect in the news media. But we'll tell you what really goes on behind the scenes.

And stereotypes shot down -- find out who really has the gift of gab, men or women or both.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux sitting in more Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Thousands of people outraged at the State Department. Their summer travel plans now in serious jeopardy all because of new passport rules and a massive backlog of applications -- as many as half a million.

Our CNN State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee, joining us now live -- Zain, how is the State Department coping with this crisis ?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, the State Department is coming under heavy criticism for this big mess up. But it says it's taking solid steps to get passports back to Americans as soon as possible.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

VERJEE: (voice-over): Long lines, short tempers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pay taxes. I deserve better.

VERJEE: All around Robert Hurdon (ph), they're lining up outside to line up inside.

Jacqueline White (ph) from North Carolina wants to visit her father in Indonesia this summer, but may not get her passport on time.

JACQUELINE WHITE: To not see my dad for another year?

It's kind of sad.

VERJEE: For this father and son, a school trip is on the line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I filed in -- on St. Patrick's day, actually, to get it by next Monday and we still haven't gotten it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just telling him that it had better be a darned good trip given how much it costs and how much waiting we've been doing.

VERJEE: Behind the scenes, the backlog is ugly. The State Department says half a million applications held up. They're under the gun to fix it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our goal it to make sure that no one misses their trip. We want to be sure that we get passports in people's hands. And I want people to know that we are doing everything within our power to make sure that we get the backlog down.

VERJEE: Call centers beefed up, more volunteers, new hires, teams of passport experts working overtime, even called out of retirement. And, just this week, about 200 new State Department employees ordered to passport centers in New Orleans and New Hampshire, places with the biggest backlog.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an unprecedented situation. VERJEE: The State Department underestimated the surge of passport applications. After 9/11, new security measures were put in place, requiring passports for travel to Mexico, Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean starting this year. They were so swamped, they had to change rules again. More frustration, confusion, delays so bad that hours before her daughter's holiday flight, this woman drove hundreds of miles to Washington's passport office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, they hung up on us three times and they gave us an appointment, but they didn't give us a number. And I -- I don't think it's working.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

VERJEE: There are an estimated three million passport applications in the system in total right now. The State Department says if you submit a passport application today, it's going to take about 10 weeks for you to get it back. They also say they're aiming to get it down to eight weeks or lower by September -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Well, Zain, what happens to those people who really need it urgently, like now?

VERJEE: Well, the State Department is saying that if there's an emergency travel situation, just keep calling over and over again or e-mail them and just make sure that they know the case. The problem, though, for a lot of the people that we spoke to, Suzanne, when we were down at the passport office is that they are really down to the wire. They're desperate to get their passports to travel either tomorrow, on the weekend or next week. One person even told us that they postponed their travel only to get kicked to the bottom of the pile.

MALVEAUX: Tough, tough going. OK.

Thanks, Zain.

An unfolding crisis in Pakistan. A standoff between the government and Islamic militants holed up in one of the capital's key mosques. In recent hours, there has been gunfire and explosions. But still no end in sight to the standoff.

Let's bring in CNN's Tom Foreman -- Tom, what is at stake in this confrontation?

Obviously, a lot at hand.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a lot at stake, Suzanne.

You've hit it right on the head.

Look, Pakistan is the country that matters to us in terms of bordering Afghanistan. And along that border is where Al Qaeda and the Taliban has continued to seek refuge. And there's very much concern that if Pakistan is in trouble, our relationship to the war in Afghanistan may be in trouble. (BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

FOREMAN: (voice-over): A showdown in the capital of Pakistan. Paramilitary forces close in on a mosque. Some suspects are captured, some are killed and some still remain inside.

How did it come to this?

MAHMUD DURRANI, PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: It was a big embarrassment. But the government, in spite of the embarrassment, was trying to lower collateral damage.

FOREMAN: Islamic students were demanding Taliban-style Islamic law in the city, trying to force the issue by, among other things, kidnapping women they accused of being prostitute prostitutes. The government says the leaders are Taliban sympathizers, maybe even directly connected to the Taliban.

How did Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf get into this jam?

TERESITA SCHAEFFER, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Certainly for the past three months, he's been very much weakened by some other developments taking place in Pakistan. And I think this has inhibited his ability to take action.

FOREMAN: The head cleric of the mosque says most of the activists were students from a religious school.

ROBERT TEMPLER, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: For the past several decades, Pakistani governments, and particular military governments, have been very indulgent towards these sorts of madrassas and mosques. The madrassas, and particularly in Karachi, are extremely important to extremism in this country. But it's a very small number of madrassas that are the key extremist ones.

FOREMAN: Madrassas came under international scrutiny in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, amid concerns that they were training children to become militants.

DURRANI: The bad madrassas are few. The government has launched a major campaign to get hold of the bad madrassas. They are trying to reform all of the madrassas with the reason that they should get some modern education, too, besides religion, so that people who come out of madrassas have open minds.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOREMAN: The political pressure around this particular mosque has been growing for a half year, with a lot of pressure on President Musharraf to allow this Islamic law to take place in a very extreme form.

Nonetheless, the United States has also exerted pressure, telling them they've got to bring these Islamic extremists under control because that region is so critical. What we've been told by folks in charge of the Pakistani government is that they will handle this, but they'll handle it their way -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Sure, Tom.

We've heard the president talk about that a lot -- exerting a lot of pressure on that -- that government.

Thanks again.

And all of this is unfolding at what is known as the Red Mosque, long favored by powerful and elite of Islamabad. There are several thousand students housed at adjacent seminaries, one for women and one for men. The brothers who run the complex admit to having past ties with Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. But they deny any ties to terrorism since the 9/11 attacks.

And in Britain, a terror trial is raising new concern about possible plots, including one against a U.S. target and teams of Islamic doctors whose alleged priority is killing, not healing.

CNN's Brian Todd joining us live now -- Brian, what are we learning from the case?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, officials in Britain and the U.S. are cautioning not to read too much into every nugget of information we get over the recent terror plots and the links to doctors. And they say in this particular story, there is no discernible link.

But some chatter on a convicted terrorist's hard drive just divulged in a court case is fraying nerves again in Britain.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

TODD: (voice-over): In a country already on edge over terror plots allegedly involving doctors, a haunting line on an extremist's computer brings more jitters. British officials say the posting from 2005 references doctors talking about car bombs. A report in the London "Daily Telegraph" says one of the messages read: "the first target which will be penetrated is the naval base which gives shelter to the ship Kennedy."

This is thought to be a reference to the now decommissioned U.S. aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy, based in Florida.

British and U.S. officials say there's no evidence this was a credible threat, no evidence of a link to the recent terror plots in Britain and they cannot confirm that the people saying it were doctors.

But the man who owned the computer has just been handed a long prison sentence in Britain for inciting terror attacks using the Internet. Experts say Younis Tsouli was a notorious Web operator linked to Al Qaeda. LAURA MANSFIELD, TERRORISM ANALYST: He actually was one of the first to really get out there and really make extensive use of the Internet. He used it for recruiting. He had a great personality in terms of being able to communicate with the other Jihadists.

TODD: Some experts believe Al Qaeda has recently stepped up efforts to recruit doctors because of their expertise with chemicals, language skills, ability to travel easily. But so far, it's not clear whether Tsouli networked to bring doctors together for any plots. And one analyst lends this perspective.

SAJJAN GOHEL, ASIA-PACIFIC FOUNDATION: There's a lot of mass hysteria in this, as well. I think after what happened in London and Glasgow, with the attacks being so botched, Al Qaeda may think twice before

They want to recruit doctors again.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

TODD: But recruiting Web masters is another story. Analyst Laura Mansfield says Younis Tsouli is being hailed as a hero now on Jihadist Web sites and she believes someone else with his skills will emerge -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Brian, thank you so much.

And up ahead, pomp and circumstance for the cameras, drama behind the scenes. The first lady in Africa -- we'll show you what went on when the cameras were off.

Also, dozens of people missing after a massive landslide. We'll have the latest on the search for victims.

Plus, forget everything you think you know about men, women and the gift of gab. Details of a surprising new research study.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: In late June, First Lady Laura Bush traveled to several African nations. Her diplomatic mission focused on programs addressing HIV/AIDS, education, clean water and malaria.

I was among the journalists following the first lady and there was as much activity behind the cameras as in front of them.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

MALVEAUX: (voice-over): The first lady's mission to Africa -- to deliver the picture perfect moment of America's good works.

Our mission is to capture it.

It's a highly orchestrated affair. From the moment we leave Washington, we become a part of Mrs. Bush's entourage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) owned by different brotherhoods.

MALVEAUX: And that means no matter where she is, we're not far behind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god.

MALVEAUX: In Senegal, we raced to get into position to set up for Mrs. Bush's first event. Omar (ph), our escort, cuts a path down a one way street into oncoming traffic to make good time, only for us to be refused at the Senegalese president's gate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Claude!

Claude, can we just get out?

Can we go through these gates or this one over here?

CLAUDE: No. We were supposed to go through -- a little further past that gate and around the corner in the back.

MALVEAUX: The most important moment to capture in every country is the greeting. Mrs. Bush's aides herd us into position. We get 10 seconds to get that all important shot. For this one, the first ladies prompt each other to make sure it's just right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we're smiling.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: We're smiling.

Are you smiling?

MALVEAUX: Each event is orchestrated down to the minute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Total participation, I would think, more than eight minutes, but the actual statement would be less.

MALVEAUX: Traveling in Mrs. Bush's motorcade, her aides brief us on what to expect. And then they deliver.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mrs. Bush and her daughter Jenna will proceed this way. They will be picking vegetables right here.

MALVEAUX: There's a lot crammed into each day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on. We need you to hurry, please.

MALVEAUX: The White House advance team is eager to position us for the next show and tell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going to happen is when she goes -- when she arrives at the (INAUDIBLE) she and a few students and a couple of others are going to push this (INAUDIBLE).

MALVEAUX: But things don't always go according to plan. There are constant negotiations going on involving nearly everyone. We, the press, fight for access. The Secret Service try to keep people at bay, as African officials jockey for control.

Before Mrs. Bush arrives anywhere, there are last minute makeovers. At this school, it is down to the wire. For some kids, waiting for the first lady gives way to mischief.

Covering this visit is very much like watching a play. It's a carefully orchestrated collaboration where everyone has a part in creating the picture that says America cares.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

MALVEAUX: And we brought along our own handheld camera for that trip, which allowed us to get some of those behind the scenes shots.

First Lady Laura Bush follows in the tradition of many of her predecessors, taking on diplomatic duties by traveling overseas. But she is not the most world traveled first lady by any means. According to the National First Lady's Library, that record belongs to Hillary Clinton. She logged more than 35 trips abroad during her time in the White House. Prior to Mrs. Clinton, the record belonged to Pat Nixon. Mrs. Nixon most notably accompanied her husband, President Richard Nixon, to China in 1972.

Zain Verjee is monitoring stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Zain, what do you have on tap?

VERJEE: Suzanne, at least two dozen victims accounted for so far after a landslide buried their bus under tons of rock and earth in central Mexico. The bodies, including children, were recovered from the crushed bus. It was traveling on a remote, winding road yesterday morning when a rain soaked mountainside just gave way. Rescue workers hold out very little hope for finding any survivors. Officials say the bus was carrying as many as 60 passengers.

A 19 year-old U.S. sailor is in custody in Japanese on suspicion of attempted murder. His arrest came after two women were stabbed near a naval base south of Tokyo. Police say one victim was seriously hurt and the other was slightly injured. One Japanese news outlet says the unnamed assailant stabbed the woman after an argument. The Navy says it's cooperating with the local police.

And the show is back on the road on -- in -- rather, the show is back on in Rio de Janeiro. We're talking about the Rio leg of this Saturday's Live Earth Concert scheduled in eight cities in the world. A Brazilian judge today revoked her own injunction blocking the Rio event. Unlike the other concert, this one, planned on Copacabana Beach, will be free and could draw up to one million people. The concert series seeks to raise awareness about global warming.

A spokesperson for Al Gore says the former vice president's son is undergoing treatment after his arrest yesterday in Los Angeles. Twenty-four-year-old Al Gore III was stopped for speeding and was found to have a small quantity of marijuana and several prescription drugs. In an appearance on NBC's "Today Show," his father says that they're treating the situation as a private matter.

Former Vice President Al Gore will appear tonight on CNN's LARRY KING LIVE. That's at 9:00 p.m. Eastern -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Zain.

And coming up, a new clash with Israeli troops. But Hamas is keeping the lid on in Gaza.

Can it clean up its image?

Plus, fireworks, accidents and arguments leaving dozens injured and several dead.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: In the Western U.S. the warnings are simple -- be careful, drink water and keep an eye on loved ones at risk.

It is beyond hot -- it is dangerously hot.

CNN's Chris Lawrence is in Las Vegas, Nevada, where today's forecast is for a near record high -- Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, you can tell this is going to be an extremely dangerous day when at 7:00 in the morning our thermometers were already reading over 91 degrees. The all time record in Las Vegas is 117 degrees. The forecast for today -- 116.

That's why officials have issued an extreme heat warning for parts of Nevada. And there is a danger for heat exhaustion. That is when your body sweats profusely and it gets extremely tired, even disoriented. And the next step past that can be the even more serious heat stroke.

Nationwide, about 175 people a year die from heat related causes and that's why doctors are urging people here to wear hats and wear long-sleeved, light colored clothing and, most especially, to avoid alcohol which, admittedly, here in Las Vegas, is easier said than done.

We saw residents outside in the morning playing tennis and at the Palms Casino resort, actually sunbathing at high noon. Now, granted, they were slapping on the sunscreen, guzzling the water, some people even jumping into the pool, trying to cool down any way they could, which is a good idea, because there is only a mild break expected by this weekend -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Try to stay cool, Chris.

It is 114 degrees there right now. Las Vegas may be scorchingly hot, but the temperatures there are not the hottest ever recorded. In the United States, that distinction goes to Death Valley, California, where the thermometer shot up to 134 degrees Fahrenheit back on July 10, 1913.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the world goes to Libya. The mercury bubbled up to a blistering 136 degrees on September 13, 1922.

This year's Fourth of July holiday is one that some people will never forget, but for all the wrong reasons.

Our CNN's Mary Snow has those details -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, there were accidents and even arguments involving fireworks, resulting in injuries, and at one event, three deaths.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard someone say: "They've been shot. They've been shot."

SNOW: (voice-over): The Fourth of July was over, but Cleveland police say the party at this home went on, with guests shooting off fireworks past midnight. And they say that made a neighbor, an off- duty firefighter, so angry he opened fire on the gathering, killing two men and a woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came out of my house, looked over here and walked over there and then I seen the three kids laying there. Some girl was crying and screaming: "They killed my -- my friend, my friend."

SNOW: Near Tampa, Florida, this arson fire at a fireworks stand could have been more deadly. Six people were inside when police say two men walked in and lit a firework on a table, setting off the entire inventory. A woman and her 5-year-old son were injured. One man is under arrest and charged with arson, and police are looking for a second suspect.

Not far away, on St. Pete Beach, a fireworks malfunction triggered a powerful explosion, so strong that it shattered windows at a nearby motel. Flying glass injured four people there. Eight fireworks employees on the beach were also hurt.

There were similar accidents in Vienna, Virginia, where fireworks flew into a crowd and injured seven people, including five children. And in the nation's capital, where leftover fireworks exploded after the show on the Mall had ended. Two employees of the company that staged the spectacle were injured, one burned so badly he had to be airlifted out.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

SNOW: There was another incident, this one near Detroit. Two brothers, both in their 30s, are in critical condition after they tried to make their own fireworks. Police say the explosion they set off could be felt blocks away -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Mary.

And fireworks injuries are all too common on the Fourth of July. The National Council on Firework Safety estimates that 9,600 people were treated for fireworks related injuries in 2004, the last year for which statistics were available.

And coming up, Hamas defeated its rivals to take control of Gaza.

Now, will it concentrate on taking on Israel or taking on a new image?

We'll show you what's at stake.

Plus, bearing all to save the bulls. We'll show you an unusual animal rights protest.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now -- outrage in Columbia over the kidnapping of Columbians. Hundreds of thousands of people spilled into the streets of major cities today in a mass protest. They demanded immediate liberation of the country's estimated 3,000 kidnap victims.

And new allegations today about botched attempts to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro. A former Cuban spy chief tells Reuters the closest the CIA ever came to killing Castro was in 1963 with the poison pill to be slipped into a chocolate milkshake. He tells the news agency the capsule stuck to the freezer and tore open, never making it to the drink.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

There was a bloody clash in Gaza today between Israeli troops and Hamas gunmen. And Palestinian sources say at least eight Hamas militants were killed. The Israeli military said the troops had entered Gaza to hunt for tunnels and rocket launch sites. Among Palestinians in Gaza, there has been relative quiet since Hamas took a firm grip on power and began demonstrating it. CNN's Cal Perry reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAL PERRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A military takeover June 14th by Hamas. Gunmen ushered in a new era for Gaza and provided Hamas with a great photo opportunity, posing for pictures inside the Fatah presidential compound. The green flags of Hamas waved with pride. Hamas promised law and order and vowed to reserve the Alan Johnston situation, the BBC reporter kidnapped by Palestinian militants believed the members of a little known terror group, Army of Islam.

On Wednesday, Hamas made good on its promise, forcing Johnston's release and parading him in front of the cameras, creating yet another photo opportunity. Even Johnston himself was quick to credit the Hamas takeover for his freedom.

ALAN JOHNSTON, FREED HOSTAGE: The change in Gaza when Hamas took control, that changed the atmosphere completely. Hamas was a huge law and order agenda, and they wanted to stop the kidnapping and the kidnappers were nervous from that point on. It was at that point that they made me make the video in which I was put on this explosive vest.

PERRY: Of course, Palestinian society is in the midst of a power struggle -- politics is everything, and the Fatah Party which is at odds with Hamas, was quick to question their motives.

RIYAD AL-MALKI, PALESTINIAN JUSTICE MINISTER: It's very clear that we do believe that Hamas stands behind his abduction and his release. Hamas used its own proxies to abduct him and to use him as a bargaining card, to gain political gains.

PERRY: Hamas has another potential bargaining card, Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped over a year ago.

GHAZI HAMAD, PALESTINIAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: We are interested now to releasing Gilad Shalit, but also we want to release our Palestinian prisoners because we have 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails.

MARK REGEV, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER SPOKESMAN: Israelis understand the pain of having a hostage, one of our own servicemen is being held hostage by Hamas for more than a year. And just as we hoped for Alan Johnston's safe release, we hope that our own serviceman held for now more than a year will be released shortly, safely back to his family and friends.

PERRY: By engineering Johnston's release, Hamas demonstrates its control of Gaza. Unknown as yet whether it will use this control to offer Israel a deal for the Gilad Shalit's freedom. Cal Perry, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: After last month's brutal factional fighting, Hamas may be cleaning up Gaza. But can it clean up its image as well?

Joining me now is Middle East analyst Professor Fawaz Gerges and - at Sarah Lawrence College. Professor, I want to start off by noting that Johnston was released by Hamas. Does it score any political points with the United States, European allies, or Israel?

PROF. FAWAZ GERGES, SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE: Well, I think Hamas, since its takeover of Gaza about two weeks ago, has exercised a great deal of restraint and control. It has -- it played a pivotal part in the release of the BBC correspondent, it promised to end the state of chaos and lawlessness in Gaza and also it promised to end kidnapping of foreign correspondents and others.

And I think Hamas is trying to project a different image, a positive image, an image that says, we control Gaza. We are willing to deliver if the international community is willing to engage us. I think this is a very important start on the part of Hamas.

MALVEAUX: There's some reports that Hamas is linked to this group that kidnapped Johnston, the Army of Islam. Is this true, to your knowledge? Does there seem to be some sort of show?

GERGES: No, Suzanne. Based on everything we know, the so- called, the ultra-militant group, the so-called Islamic Army that kidnapped Johnston, is not part of the Hamas leadership. In fact, in the last few weeks, the situation was extremely volatile between this particular tiny faction and Hamas. And the Hamas leadership made it very clear that unless Johnston was released it was going to take military actions against this Islamic Army.

I think I would argue that the role that Hamas played in the release of Johnston is part of a new image, part of a new message that Hamas is trying to send to the international community. We are the power to be reckoned with. We must be taken seriously. We are willing to deliver on many fronts if the international community is willing to engage us. We are the power that matters in Gaza.

MALVEAUX: How sincere would Hamas be in projecting that image beyond the image, if you will? I mean, they could have released Johnston 114 days earlier, could they have not?

GERGES: Suzanne, of course, we are all speculating on the intentions and the strategies of Hamas. But let me make some points very clear -- Hamas is not a monolith. There are some major differences between the military wing of Hamas and various political elements within Hamas. Ismail Haniya, the prime minister that was sacked by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is considered a highly moderate and compromising political leader as opposed Khalid Meshal, the overall political leaders in Damascus.

And this is really what we need to address here, that if we look at Hamas as a highly complex social movement, I would argue, based on my interviews with the rank and file of Hamas, that Hamas is willing to make a historic compromise.

The challenge facing the international community, particularly the United States and Israel, are they willing to engage the moderate and the mainstream political elements within Hamas? This is really the critical question.

MALVEAUX: And surely, professor, another critical question -- is Hamas willing to recognize Israel as part of that image change, if you will? What do you think?

GERGES: Well, I think, Suzanne, I mean, this is really the challenge facing Hamas. And I agree 100 percent. And this is why I believe that engagement, rather than exclusion, is the way to go. Let's engage Hamas and see whether Hamas is willing to really make a historic compromise. And I think, as you know, the Bush administration and Israel and even the international community after last year's elections, they took the decision and boycotted Hamas. And look where we are today.

MALVEAUX: Final question.

GERGES: Yes.

MALVEAUX: If I could, professor. Do you think that Hamas should still be on the U.S. terror list? State Department terror list?

GERGES: This is why it's part of engaging Hamas. I believe that the rank and file and the political leadership of Hamas is willing to basically take a different journey, a journey out of violence and arms struggle into political compromise. And this is why both sides must make compromises, engagement, again, engagement, not exclusion is the way to go.

MALVEAUX: Thank you. Professor Gerges, appreciate it very much.

In THE SITUATION ROOM, up ahead, Barack Obama says, our children are being bamboozled and hoodwinked. When we come back, we'll put his comments in context.

Also -- you've heard of the running of the bulls. Well, I bet you haven't heard of the people in Pamplona, Spain who run in the nude. We'll show you, sort of, and tell you why here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has dipped into the controversy over talk shows and politics.

During a speech on education in Philadelphia today, the senator from Illinois, Obama, touched on the impact of education, on the economy and the U.S. standing in the world. He said quote, "When we are not educating our children, we are not educating the next generation of citizens."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) IL: It's part of the reason why our young people aren't necessarily involved in politics or when they are, they end up watching the wrong talk shows. They watch the wrong cable shows. They get bamboozled and hoodwinked. We need to raise a new generation of citizens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Obama's remarks were a diversion from his prepared text. In our ongoing what if series, THE SITUATION ROOM has been looking at the presidential candidate and how each might perform as the winner. Today's CNN special correspondent Frank Sesno considers a John McCain presidency.

FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, it's not exactly "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" because he's been here for more than two decades, but John McCain wants to be seen as the principled and very independent-minded presidential prospect.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): What if the man from the Straight-Talk Express road it all the way to the White House? It would be the culmination of a long and difficult ride, he'd be the oldest person ever elected to office. He's even called himself ...

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm older than dirt, more scars than Frankenstein.

SESNO: Referring to his bout with skin cancer is. He'd be the first Vietnam vet, POW president, a truly unique perspective.

And maybe why he said long ago he'd close Guantanamo and move the prisoners to U.S.

He likes to think of himself as a maverick. Plenty of his colleagues would agree. They say he's difficult, mercurial. But he's been in Washington a long time and has also been criticized for compromising too much.

This father of seven used to be a boxer. So what if a boxer were president? Good skills to have. He'd find himself in a ring with an assertive Congress, an impatient public, and a heavyweight challenge called the war in Iraq.

McCain favors continued deployment to take the fight to terrorists, he says, before they bring it to us. But it might get really personal. His youngest son Jimmy is a Marine who could be deployed to Iraq this fall.

If McCain wins, another issue will hit close to home -- immigration. This border state senator helped right the bill to provide a pathway to citizen for illegal immigrants. Many in his own party derided that as amnesty, just as they ravaged his finance reform.

MCCAIN: I'm going to give you a little straight talk.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESNO (on camera): He calls it all straight talk. What if he wins? It's likely he'll continue to play the outsider. Maybe hang on to that bus. Keep the engine running. He has got a long road ahead and he is still trying to rally the base. On his Web site recently, you could click on this item to read a friendly op-ed, "Courage at a Cost. Why McCain deserves conservatives' respect. Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Frank.

The city that never sleeps apparently wants to at least take a nap. New York enacting some tough new laws cracking down on some of the loudest sounds of the city. CNN's Richard Roth explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Independence Day fireworks over New York, interesting timing since this week the city ignited a major crackdown on noise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New York is very noisy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You live in the city. It's to be expected.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's good idea to have noise regulations.

ROTH: Those annoying construction sites are among the targets. Sound muffling gear on jackhammers and sound barriers are now required.

(on camera): Does this noise affect your hearing, though? Do you think for later in life?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it ain't affected mine yet. It just made me buy a house and take care of my kids.

ROTH (voice-over): Bars and clubs will have to keep it down or face fines. Music can't be audible 15 feet from the front. But it's the ban on this famous ice cream truck jingle that probably shocks long-time New Yorkers the most.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terrible.

ROTH: The city came down hard on Mr. Softee. No music while parked.

(on camera): How does that jingle go?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dadadadadadadehdehdehdadehdadehdadehdadehda.

ROTH: New York City did not want to do a lot of talking about its new anti-noise regulations. The city declined to provide an official for an on-camera interview for what I needed -- soundbites.

(voice-over): It's a complaint-base the system to this call center, although there will be some noise code responders on the streets. Who else has to be worried? If Lucy the Beagle barks for 10 minutes straight, her owner could be fined up to $175.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a bit too extreme.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are they going to prove the dog barked for 10 minutes? Somebody going to take out stop watch? The cop is going to have to be there with a stop watch? There he barks again!

ROTH: No noise should be good news for soundproofing professionals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. I actually did hear about it. I was hoping it doesn't make it too quiet because it will hurt business.

ROTH: Richard Roth, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: And up ahead -- the running of the nudes. Find out why thousands of people in Spain are stripping down.

Plus -- why some iPhone users are intentionally breaking their new gadgets. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: The annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain starts this Saturday, but some animal activists say it is cruel to the bulls.

They gathered in Pamplona in protest and stripped down, running of the nudes. Here's CNN's Al Goodman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They nearly bared all, trying to save the bulls. A protest just before the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona. Especially against the bullfights where the bulls fight and die.

FLEUR D'LSNEY, BRITISH PROTESTER: People's minds are changing already, and they're beginning to realize how barbaric and old- fashioned this sport is. It's not a sport. It's vile. Vile. And people are beginning to realize that.

GOODMAN: But several thousand runners test their luck every year against the half-ton bulls, running through Old Town Pamplona to the bullring. A centuries-old ritual made famous worldwide by author Ernest Hemingway.

But he didn't write about this: semi-nude protest for the bulls? Or topless for the bulls? Even a bull love fest.

JULIA HARSMANN, AUSTRIAN PROTESTER: We're coming from Austria because we want to demonstrate against bullfighting. And that's a very good way to do it because the people are more impressed of the nudes than of the bulls. And we try to make it as a yearly event here in Pamplona.

GOODMAN: Demonstrators from far and wide.

MICHAEL BRAZELM, PETA: We're showing people that this is definitely an alternative to animal cruelty. This is much more entertaining. And we're hoping people will change their minds and open their hearts.

GOODMAN: But Pamplona residents have seen this before. But year after year, it hasn't affected the actual running of the bulls, which will start on schedule this Saturday. Al Goodman, CNN, Madrid.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: And it's been nearly a week since the iPhone was released to the public, but some who bought the iPhone aren't exactly treating their new purchase with care. Let's bring in our Jackie Schechner. Jacqui, why are some people intentionally breaking their new iPhones? I don't get it.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, after all the buildup and anticipation, real technophiles want to know exactly what's inside.

Now for most new iPhone foreign owners, the goal is to take it apart without breaking it. But this duo took a different course, took a hammer to their iPhone, they posted the video on YouTube, they said they wanted to be the first to open it no matter what it took. In return, they've gotten some 376,000 views and a slew of angry comments.

Other iPhone owners are putting other information regarding their iPhone online. They want to be able to modify the gadget, everything from being able to plug in new earphones to finding a way to circumvent AT&T, the iPhone's sole service provider.

Now, there are some reports of returns or trade-ins, but the blog Endgadget (ph), a Web magazine, says the iPhone has sold out in most cities around the country. Neither AT&T nor Apple is releasing numbers yet. Apple would only say today, Suzanne, that the response to the iPhone has been, quote, "incredible".

MALVEAUX: And I don't suppose they get a refund for that, huh? Once you break, I ...

SCHNECHER: No. I would imagine that's not covered under warranty.

MALVEAUX: OK. All right. Thanks, Jacki.

And up next -- sex talk. Who's chattier, men or women? Our Jeanne Moos tell you who really has the gift of gab. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Here's a look at some of the "Hot Shots" coming up for our friends at the Associated Press, pictures likely to be in your newspaper tomorrow.

In Calcutta, India, workers take shelter from rain inside concrete sewage pipes.

In Gaza, Palestinian children run away from Israeli tanks during fighting between Hamas and Israeli troops.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, Papuan protesters in traditional dresses dance during a rally demanded an independence referendum.

And in Brookfield, Illinois, two newborn tiger cubs pose for a photo at the zoo. And that's this hour's "Hot Shots", pictures worth a thousand words.

Who do you think talks more, men or women? Our CNN's Jeanne Moos followed up on a new study that got a "Moost Unusual" result.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yak yak yak.

(on camera): Who do you think talks more? Men or women?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, women, definitely. Are you kidding me? It's like no contest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women.

MOOS: Why do you think that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I'm married.

MOOS (voice-over): So is the author of the new study in the journal "Science" entitled "Are Women Really More Talkative than Men"?

(on camera): Were you surprised?

PROFESSOR MATTHIAS MEHL, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA: I was surprised.

MOOS (voice-over): Psychology Professor Matthias Mehl at the University of Arizona says almost 400 male and female college students wore a voice recorder like this one that sampled sound for several days, picking up casual conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like they're really nice.

MOOS: When researchers extrapolated the number of words spoken per day, it was almost the same for men and women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow, 16,000. Woo!

MOOS: Actually, men spoke about 500 words a day less, but the researchers called that statistically insignificant.

MEHL: One person the most talkative participant who happened to be male used 47,000 words a day.

MOOS (on camera): Wow. He never shut up.

(voice-over): And here you thought men only used their mouths to eat and drink and talk to the TV.

VINCE VAUGHN, ACTOR: This talking is really starting to drain me and now I'm going to have to watch the highlights later to see what I just ...

JENNIFER ANISTON, ACTRESS: Look, Gary, just take a shower, OK?

MOOS: And now we find out men gab just as much as women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got to put you off now. Hold on.

MOOS: Who talks more? Men or women?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I certainly do in my family.

MOOS: If this sounds like the opposite of what you've heard before, maybe you're thinking of "The Female Brain." That book quoted statistics showing women spoke 20,000 words versus a mere 7,000 for men.

But the author now says her numbers were not based on reliable data.

(on camera): Do you think you talk a lot?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely.

MOOS: Do you think you talk a lot?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

MOOS: Do you talk a lot?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trust her.

MOOS: Most folks we talked to didn't trust the new study.

How many words a day do you think she is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, definitely 55,422.

MOOS: Her nickname is FM because she talks all the time like a radio.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you can't fight with him, he just switches off.

MOOS: Do you think you talk a lot?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think so but a lot of men think I do.

MOOS: I took her 10 words to say yes. Stereotyping starts young. Who do you think talks more? You or your mom?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mom.

MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: I bet you they're not talking about the same thing but I will keep talking. We're here every weekday afternoon from 4:00 to 6:00 Eastern and we're back on the air at 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.

Kitty Pilgrim is in for Lou tonight. Kitty?

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