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THE SITUATION ROOM
A Top U.S. Commander Makes an Urgent Plea and Issues a Dire Warning. Iraqi Doctor Charged in the U.K. Terror Probe. Possible Assassination Attempt Against Pakistani President Musharraf. Rebellion at the National Hurricane Center. Why is Bernard Kerik Keeping his Distance from Giuliani? Malaria is the Number One Killer for Some African Nations, not AIDs.
Aired July 6, 2007 - 1900 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Kitty.
Happening now, a top U.S. commander in Iraq responding to growing frustration in Washington makes an urgent plea and issues a dire warning.
Also health officials in one state taking dramatic action as concern grows over the safety of Chinese products, now blamed for dozens of deaths. We will talk about it with consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader.
And two presidential candidates, one Democrat, and one Republican, agree with this much. They think President Bush is wrong. I will talk to former Senator Mike Gravel and Congressman Tom Tancredo.
Wolf Blitzer is off today.
I'm Suzanne Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
A blunt warning from a top U.S. commander in Iraq addressing the growing impatience in Washington over the troubled war -- his message, the troop increase needs more time to work or else.
Here's CNN senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, while there's a lot of debate swirling around Washington about whether there should be a change in course in Iraq for U.S. commanders on the ground, it is full speed ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
MCINTYRE (voice-over): Asked what will happen in the so-called surge is cut short, and Major General Rick Lynch will mince no words.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be a mess, Jamie. It would be a mess.
MCINTYRE: Lynch and his counterparts to the north, Major General Benjamin Mixon, are showing a united front in calling for more time to build on successful operations like this one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
MCINTYRE: U.S. paratroopers on the nighttime air assault cleared and destroyed three al Qaeda safe houses near (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
MAJ. GEN. RICK LYNCH, U.S. ARMY: We need these surge forces. They came in for a reason. They are being used for the reason they came in. It's going to take some time to mature the situation. Over time we can turn the area over to Iraq security forces and then we will be ready to do something that looks like a withdrawal. But that's not going to happen any time soon.
MCINTYRE: That's not what many members of Congress want to hear, including a growing number of disenchanted Republicans. And they are not likely to be cheered by the Pentagon's latest quarterly Iraq progress report due out in a week. It will show a mixed bag of small successes, tempered by big problems, especially the lack of Iraqi political reconciliation.
ANTHONY CORDESMAN, CTR. FOR STRATEGIC & INT'L STUDIES: The truth is that September is too soon. An honest assessment of the Iraqi police, of the Iraqi army tells you that if you wish to really make this work, you have to be patient enough to at least test this well into 2008.
MCINTYRE: So what's shaping up is a real disconnect between what's dubbed the Washington clock under which there's growing pressure to come up with a strategy to bring the troops home and the Baghdad clock, which U.S. commanders say will require more time to ensure success. Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Thank you -- Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.
New developments tonight in the U.S. terror investigation -- Scotland Yard said Iraq's Doctor Bilal Abdulla (ph) has been charged in connection with the failed car bombings in London and Glasgow last weekend. He's due to appear in court tomorrow. No charges have been announced yet against seven others arrested in the case, including a member of other doctors.
As CNN's Jill Dougherty explains, questions are being raised about a U.S. connection to the suspects.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): According to the FBI, two suspects in the British car bombings looked into the possibility of working as doctors in the United States, contacting the Philadelphia-based Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. Apparently, however, they did not take the test for med school graduates and never came to the U.S. Muslim physicians in the United States, meanwhile, are condemning the U.K. attacks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I actually was shocked to hear about the plot. I was angry. I was -- I really felt sick feeling inside that physicians, people from my own profession could be guilty -- suspected of being guilty of such heinous acts. I really couldn't believe it.
DOUGHERTY: The number of foreign-born doctors in the U.S. is growing because the country needs them.
(on camera): The United States has a shortage of medical personnel and about a quarter of all physicians working in the United States are international medical graduates, according to the American Medical Association.
(voice-over): In order to work in the U.S., foreign medical professionals must have an H1B (ph) visa, which is meant for highly skilled professionals. The Department of Homeland Security says doctors get the same kind of screening that a computer specialist or lawyer would. Including -- fingerprinting and a face-to-face interview at the U.S. embassy in their home country.
Their names are run through what's called the interagency border inspection system. Crosschecking a number of law enforcement and security databases. If they get a visa, they are checked by customs and border protection and fingerprinted again as they enter the U.S. Homeland security says it is not planning any changes to H1B (ph) visa regulations at this time. Dr. Khalique Zahir of the Islamic Medical Association of North America agrees the checks are thorough.
DR. KHALIQUE ZAHIR, ISLAMIC MED. ASSN. OF NORTH AMERICA: It's very difficult already for many foreign medical doctors to immigrate to this country and to get the training that they need. It's become significantly different since 9/11. Other than the basic background that they do, I don't know what more needs to be done.
DOUGHERTY: Dr. Zahir says the U.K. attack should not reflect on Muslim physicians in the U.S. Terrorism is contrary to Islam, he says, and contrary to Islamic medical ethics.
Jill Dougherty, CNN, Washington.
MALVEAUX: And there's evidence of what appears to be another attempt to assassinate Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf and it is raising new concern about a nuclear armed nation that is also a key U.S. ally in the fight against al Qaeda.
Our CNN's Brian Todd joining us live now. Brian, what can you tell us about this latest incident against Pervez Musharraf?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Suzanne, Pakistani officials are downplaying what happened outside a military air strip near Islamabad today but we are getting indications this incident may have been more serious than they are letting on.
TODD (voice-over): A U.S. official with knowledge of the situation tells CNN, this is evidence of a possible assassination attempt against Pakistan's president, anti-aircraft and machine guns with expended rounds nearby, recovered near the runway where Pervez Musharraf's plane took off. But Pakistani officials won't go that far.
MAHMUD DURRANI, PAKISTANI AMB. TO U.S.: Maybe it was a message they were trying to give, but the president was safe and his aircraft was not attacked. That's the main thing.
TODD: Still Musharraf has escaped at least two other attempts on his life -- bombings targeting his motorcade. He's also fighting on his own turf against Islamic militants like the deadly standoff at the Red Mosque (ph). He's dealing with upheaval over his removal of the Supreme Court's chief justice. And the question persists, is this key U.S. ally presiding over imminent catastrophe in the war on terror?
DEREK CHOLLET, CTR. FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: We seem to be careening from crisis to crisis and we're only one event away from it being a major challenge for the United States and that would have Implications both for the stability of South Asia as well as our fight against al Qaeda.
TODD: One major worry -- Musharraf's authority over a nuclear weapons arsenal. A U.S. official tells CNN the Pakistani military has firm control of the arsenal and no matter who is head of state, those weapons will be safeguarded. One analyst finds no comfort in that.
FRANK GAFFNEY, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY: If in fact the military is at best penetrated by and at worst actively engaged with Islamic fascists, that's a very worrying thing right now, let alone what happens if Musharraf finally does get killed.
TODD: But the Pakistani ambassador bluntly dismissed that fear.
DURRANI: I hate to use this word but this is crap. This is crap. Pakistani military is not infiltrated by extremists. If you look at the leadership of the military, I can count all three stars, the two stars, not a single one who would have that kind of extremist tendencies.
TODD: But there is also concern over who comes after Musharraf. Analysts tell us he's not groomed a successor but the Pakistani ambassador says a system is in place for legislators to choose a successor and then for elections to be held -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: But Brian, even the democratic process has had a rather spotty record in Pakistan.
TODD: It sure does. For nearly 30 years they have not had a scheduled democratic transition of power. They have had military dictators and even one prime minister took power. They did so after their predecessors were either tossed out of office for corruption or other reasons or if they died while in office. But a senior State Department official told us today there's not a crisis going on now and they believe things are finally on track for a legitimate political transition.
MALVEAUX: We shall see. Brian Todd, thank you so much.
And coming up -- the growing storm inside the National Hurricane Center -- top forecasters are joining a mutiny against the director.
And the dirty secrets about food and other products from China -- tonight new concerns about toothpaste.
Plus -- two lesser-known presidential candidates get worked up about their top issues and about Bush administration policy. Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo and Democratic former Senator Mike Gravel ahead in THE SITUATION ROOM.
MALVEAUX: Gale force winds are blowing at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Many staffers there hope that the winds of change are blowing their way, now that they have released a petition calling for the ouster of their embattled boss.
Our CNN's John Zarrella is in Miami. John, what is going on?
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, with the heart of hurricane season less than a month away from beginning, there is a gathering storm here at the National Hurricane Center behind me. And it is unclear how the man at the center of the storm, center director Bill Proenza, is going to survive.
ZARRELLA (voice-over): A day after half of his staff called for his resignation, the director of the National Hurricane Center, Bill Proenza, said he was leaving that door open.
BILL PROENZA, NAT'L HURRICANE CENTER DIRECTOR: I work for the American people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So are you telling me you're not resigning?
PROENZA: Well, whatever is in their best interest, I will do. And if it involves me moving on, I will do so. When the time comes, I will do it smoothly and I will do it gently.
ZARRELLA: Like a gathering storm, the conditions inside the National Hurricane Center have deteriorated rapidly. Twenty-three staff members, including four senior hurricane forecasters, signed a petition Thursday saying the center needs a new director as quickly as possible.
They charge Proenza has lobbied for the wrong priorities. He does not ask for their input, and to do their jobs effectively, they need teamwork and a sense of family.
JAMES FRANKLIN, SENIOR HURRICANE FORECASTER: He's destroying that. He's destroying that. He's divided the staff and it's hard to know how we are going to be able to come together with him here.
ZARRELLA: The problems began for Proenza when he publicly criticized his Washington bosses at NOAA, the parent agency, for spending money on NOAA's 200th anniversary and taking money away from hurricane research. Then he said little was being done to replace an aging satellite, critical, he claims, to forecasting. Proenza makes no apologies.
PROENZA: But when I'm asked, I have got to answer honestly and sincerely. And I feel that it is part of my responsibilities, I work for the American people.
ZARRELLA: This past Monday investigators came from Washington to evaluate what was going on at the center and what needed to be done.
ZARRELLA: That team of investigators is supposed to issue its report on July 20, but we have been told now by a government source that the same team of investigators will now be back in Miami on Monday to continue the investigation. Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Thanks, John -- John Zarrella in Miami.
And most people who do everything they could to help a friend who is running for president. But one man, who calls himself a friend to Rudy Giuliani, says he will stay away from him. A scandal-plagued associate who suggests he's a drag to Giuliani's candidacy.
Our CNN's Mary Snow is in New York. Mary, we understand former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik is at the center of the fire.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is, Suzanne. And he's talking about his fall from grace, his new project, and whether he thinks he will damage Rudy Giuliani's bid to seek the Republican presidential nomination.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I -- state your name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I Bernard Kerik...
SNOW (voice-over): Rudy Giuliani and Bernard Kerik on better terms.
BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NY POLICE COMMISSIONER: And that's the actual swearing-in ceremony becoming the police commissioner, probably sort of the pinnacle of my career.
SNOW: After the pinnacle came the downfall for Bernard Kerik. He's estranged from his former boss and friend Rudy Giuliani, who rose to national recognition after September 11. Kerik was sent to Iraq to train the police force there, which led to him being nominated to become homeland security director in 2004.
That's when the trouble started. He withdrew the nomination citing immigration status over a nanny as the reason why. But that was overshadowed by reports of questionable business dealings. Giuliani continues to face questions about his judgment for recommending Kerik for the job.
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Recommending him? It was a mistake. I made a mistake.
SNOW: Now Kerik is the subject of a federal investigation related to alleged tax evasion and eavesdropping. Last year he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in gifts as a city official.
KERIK: I don't think I will come between him and the presidency, but I understand the distance. It has to happen.
SNOW: Kerik says the distance is a new reality.
KERIK: It does bother me at times. You know I'm not going to say it doesn't. But it -- you know, but I understand it. You know sometimes I sit back and think about it and it hurts and it's painful.
SNOW: The unraveling of Kerik's past led to damaging claims, including one that he was having an affair in an apartment near ground zero that was supposed to be for rescue workers. I asked him about that.
KERIK: I don't want to regurgitate all of the you know allegations and accusations. The only thing I will say is the apartment was not for rescue workers at ground zero. That's all I will say and leave it at that.
SNOW: But some city officials disagree saying the apartments were donated for rescue workers at ground zero to use to get rest from their work. When asked again, Kerik said he would not talk about it anymore. Kerik has been watching the presidential race from the sideline saying he supports his former boss.
KERIK: You know if I say anything good about him, it's an issue. If I say anything bad about him, it's an issue. If he -- you know and the same with me, so the best thing to do is keep our distance.
SNOW (on camera): You mention it is an issue if you say anything about him, so my question to you is why now are you talking?
KERIK: You know, well for one thing this article came out.
SNOW (voice-over): The article is a profile in "Best Life" magazine detailing Kerik's security work for the Jordanian government as well as his job to reform prisons there. It's part of his push forward to a new life but can't seem to completely leave his past. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SNOW: And Kerik now waits for the outcome of the federal investigation. His lawyer says he rejected a plea offer earlier this year because he wasn't going to plead guilty to something he didn't do. And that he's ready to address any charges that are brought. We did contact the Giuliani camp. They declined comment -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: So Mary, if he's waiting for the outcome of a federal investigation, why is he talking now?
SNOW: Well you know he told me that he knew that this story was going to come out in the magazine about his projects in Jordan and it was going to come out whether or not he talked at all so he decided to step forward and talk about it.
MALVEAUX: OK. Mary, thank you so much.
And up ahead tonight in THE SITUATION ROOM -- are products from China safe? And what can the U.S. government do to protect you? I will ask consumer advocate Ralph Nader.
Plus, the preventable disease taking more lives in Africa than AIDS. Find out what the U.S. is doing about it.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
MALVEAUX: While the AIDS epidemic takes center stage in the world's focus to eradicate disease in Africa it is actually malaria, which is the number one killer for some African nations. This treatable disease takes the lives of more than one million people each year on that continent.
Twice as many people are dying from it than a generation ago. But stopping its spread may be simple. On my trip with the first lady to Africa, Mrs. Bush promoted Americans' efforts to stamp out the disease.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): In Africa, malaria kills one child every 30 seconds. Malaria is a highly preventable and treatable disease. Eradicated in the United States 50 years ago, but still ravaging Africa today. The United States is leading the international effort to stop it.
LAURA Bush, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: This five-year program has one goal -- eliminating malaria in Africa.
MALVEAUX: First Lady Laura Bush traveled to Zambia, a country where 40 percent of its people have malaria.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The toll of malaria is even more tragic because the disease itself is highly treatable and preventable.
MALVEAUX: Two years ago her husband, President Bush, launched the malaria initiative. A five-year, $1.2 billion program to combat the disease in 15 of the hardest-hit African nations. Zambia is one of them.
L. BUSH: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
MALVEAUX: The first lady and house advocates are promoting a simple solution to stop the spread -- by provided insecticide treated bed nets to families to protect them from the mosquitoes that carry the disease.
L. BUSH: Through this ambient (ph) partnership 500,000 mosquito nets will be distributed to the country's most vulnerable households before the next malaria season in November.
MALVEAUX: The campaign to provide and distribute $10 bed nets has become a cause celeb (ph). Compared to other charitable works, this one is relatively non-controversial and produces quick, tangible results.
MALVEAUX: "American Idol" finalist Melinda Doolittle joined the first lady to promote the campaign.
MELINDA DOOLITTLE, "AMERICAN IDOL" FINALIST: In America you kind of get detached just seeing what is really going on in the world today, you know, and malaria is such a devastating disease and I would not have even really known that had I not been able to experience things like this firsthand.
MALVEAUX: The anti-malaria campaign also promotes expanding spraying people's homes with insecticide...
MALVEAUX: ... and providing anti-malaria drugs to pregnant woman and those living with the disease.
MALVEAUX: Now, we are already seeing some tangible results. The Zanzibar Islands off the East Coast of Tanzania report that malaria cases during the first nine months of last year dropped by a stunning 87 percent. But historians warn that there are big problems at work that undermine the progress in fighting malaria, mainly civil wars, unstable governments and massive migration of refugees. Now if you want to help in the fight against malaria, go to malarianomore.org., $10 buys a bed net, delivers it and educates a family on its proper use.
And just ahead -- a presidential candidate sends a strong message to Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, Mr. Secretary of Homeland Security, do your job. Do what you were elected to do, Mr. President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo -- find out where he says the Bush administration fails when it comes to border protection.
Plus, Ralph Nader on the scare over Chinese products -- find out what he says the U.S. has to do to protect American consumers.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
MALVEAUX: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now -- a grim milestone in the Afghanistan conflict -- according to the "Los Angeles Times," new independent tallies show that U.S. and NATO forces killed more civilians than insurgents did in the first half of the year. The toll is blamed for a growing disillusionment among the Afghan people.
A federal appeals court throws out a lawsuit challenging the Bush administration's domestic spying program. The panel ruled the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups did not have the legal right to sue. It's a technicality but still a victory for the White House.
And at Burger King, you can still have it your way, but you won't get some extra transfat. Burger King is dropping its use of transfat cooking oils at its U.S. restaurants.
Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Health officials in Massachusetts are warning the public they are against using any toothpaste made in China. Some brands have been found to contain a toxic chemical used in antifreeze.
And officials in Panama blame the Chinese toothpaste for 83 deaths in that country. That is just the latest example of what some call China's appalling product standards. Especially when it comes to food. CNN's John Vaus has more from Beijing. John, what are they saying?
JOHN VAUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, critics say the bottom line comes down to this. If it comes from China and the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
VAUSE (voice-over): So could you eat pork from pigs force-fed wastewater? Drink milk from cows given so many antibiotics it's impossible to make yogurt from their milk?
How about a serving of lard made from sewage?
Because all of that and more has been on China's menu in recent months. Zhou Qin is a dissident writer who has researched this country's appalling food standards.
"The threat is so much more serious than people could ever imagine," he told me.
He says many farmers and producers are continually finding new and dangerous ways to cut costs.
"China has low labor costs but you can work out how low the price should be. Businessmen should know something is wrong if the product is cheaper than it should be."
Last week, the U.S. banned four types the fish and shrimp from China because inspectors found traces of cancer-causing chemicals and antibiotics, including malactite (ph) green, which helps fish survive in polluted overcrowded fisheries. It's still being used despite being banned here five years ago. While in the U.S., it was banned 24 years ago.
SALLY GREENBERG, CONSUMER'S UNION: We have no real sense of the regulatory infrastructure in China, which probably is about 100 years behind where we are in the United States.
VAUSE: It's not just food. Consumer alerts have been issued for products from toxic toothpaste to lead-painted toys. So far this year, 60 percent of all recalled consumer products in the U.S. have come from China.
The government here blames media hype. "Consumers shouldn't be scared of Chinese products," he says. "They should have a reputation of being good quality, cheap, and safe."
VAUSE (on camera): Well one out of three isn't bad. No one ever said Chinese goods weren't cheap.
MALVEAUX: And John, the controversy just continues to grow. There is new fallout.
A Utah company that makes nutritional supplements says it will now label its products China-free. Officials with Foods for Health International say, they want consumers to know none of the ingredients they use come from China.
For more on the growing concern over the safety of Chinese products, I spoke with Consumer Advocate and former presidential candidate, Ralph Nader.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
You've heard the reports coming from Massachusetts, from Utah, here. If you're a consumer you're going to the supermarket and want to buy a tube of toothpaste, what should you look for? What do you need to know?
RALPH NADER, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You look for the company that produces it and the closer the food is that's produced to where you consume it, the more you're going to be able to rely it especially since the producers, these farmer and market producers are going to have to face up directly.
They are not seven, eight, 10,000 miles away. The goods are flooding in from China. And a lot of them are coming from tremendously contaminated and toxified areas in the eastern part of China, farm-fed fish, for example, lead contaminated toys, you've got tires, up to a million tires are defective in terms of spread -- tread separation on the highways.
So it has got to be President Bush. He has got to start paying attention. Defending Americans here at home. Not being bogged down in the quagmire in Iraq. That's one of the prices of the Iraq War.
And Congress has got to beef up the inspections and the budgets of the Food and Drug Administration. You know the Food and Drug Administration's budget is one-third of an aircraft carrier. It's one third. It's $1.5 billion to defend 300 million American consumers and all the food and all the drugs produced here and pouring in from abroad. We've got to become more community self-reliant in our country. Got to produce more of what we consume so we can keep an eye out on it.
MALVEAUX: So Mr. Nader, if you are in the supermarket ...
MALVEAUX: ... do you need to look at a product and see -- does it have to be China-free? Are you looking for specific ingredients here? What do consumers need to do?
NADER: I'm looking for the enforcement of the 2002 country of origin law that Congress passed was obstructed by these big giant U.S. food processors that are bringing in all kinds of additives and all kinds of food from apple juice to sweeteners from China. We've got a law on the books that is not being enforced for fruits and vegetables so people can go into the supermarket and see the country of origin. It's been on the books for five years. Neither President Bush nor the members of Congress with a very few exception are saying let's enforce it.
MALVEAUX: Are there any products that can be trusted for China? Can China be trusted to put out safe products, do you feel?
NADER: Well certainly the ones that aren't vulnerable to environmental poisons and contamination that by the Chinese government's own admission is swarming all over china. That means textiles, hardware, electronics, things like that. But even toys have been coming in with lead-based coating and that's not safe for children. But when it comes to things you drink, things you eat, thinks you take in terms of medicines, all kind of additives. Watch out. The safeguards are not there. No matter what the Chinese say. No matter what the bureaucrats in Washington say.
You've got to all yell out to the Congress where the change can start. Start yelling out to your senators and representatives and demand that the country of origin labeling is on those products in your supermarket.
MALVEAUX: And how do you respond to the consumers who say look, we can't afford some of these American-made products here. Obviously the China products are much cheaper.
NADER: Well, in some cases they are cheaper but they are also more hazardous. And in other cases they are not cheaper.
For example for a $1.50 a day workers in Vietnam and Indonesia are building these Nike shoes. You see a real cheap Nike shoe around.
What happens is they import these cheaply produced products but the retailers and importers are making huge profits and soaking up that difference. They are not passing it on to the consumer in all too many instances.
Besides, can't we produce our own apple juice? Eighty percent of toys are coming in from China. Huge imports of apple juice coming in from china. If you saw where those apples are grown, there is tremendous air and water pollution.
Chemical residues, contamination, illegal pesticide by U.S. standards. It's only going to get worse unless we wake up. Yell at Congress, demand the law be enforced, beef up the customs inspectors. I don't think on percent of the imports in this country are being inspected by the U.S. government. That's a disgrace. Far too much money is going into more and more mass weapon systems. We don't need that kind of huge weapon systems with no more Soviet Union. We need to defend the health and safety of the American people here at home.
MALVEAUX: Mr. Nader, thank you so much for your views here on THE SITUATION ROOM.
NADER: You're welcome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And up ahead tonight, a Republican says someone needs to do the job the current president is not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Are you saying you have no faith in this president and this White House to actually secure the boarder?
TOM TANCREDO, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: None whatsoever. None.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo. He wants the administration to act on illegal immigration. And he suggests that he is not above kneeling in front of the White House and begging.
And a girl, not even old enough to drink, allegedly gets drunk and leads police on a high-speed chase. Find out how it ended.
MALVEAUX: Now that the most recent chance for immigration reform has died an ugly death. Some wonder if there will be another plan. Joining me to talk about that is Republican presidential candidate Congressman Tom Tancredo. Thank you so much for joining us here in the SITUATION ROOM.
I want to start off here obviously, this is the centerpiece of your campaign, but you still have a system here. You've got 12 million illegal immigrants, a system you say is broken. President Bush says he is not authoring (ph) any more legislation, secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff, says the same thing. So, what is your plan B here?
REP. TOM TANCREDO, (R-CO) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Try to get them to do their job. I know it's going to be tough, but that's exactly what plan B is. You know, it's true that that died a, I think, glorious death in the Senate. I was -- I couldn't tell you how happy I was to see that happen. But it did not solve the problem. It simply didn't exacerbate it, because it died. But now we still have the problem that you described.
So, what are we going to do about it? Well, on Tuesday, we're going to announce something ourselves, that we can do a little bit in terms of legislation. But primarily it is this: Mr. President, Mr. Secretary of Homeland Security, do your job. Do what you were elected to do, Mr. President. And do what you were hired to do, Mr. Secretary. Secure those borders, go after the people who are here illegally, especially people who are hiring people who are here illegally.
If you do those two things, we will have this problem solved. They don't want to solve it. That's the problem, and it's been the problem. And we won't get it solved until there's a new president. Because no matter how much in terms of legislation we pass, if you don't have a president whose willing to actually enforce the law, you're not going to solve the problem.
MALVEAUX: Now, Congressman, you made a direct appeal rather, to the president and the secretary of homeland security, but with all due respect, I spoke with Congressman Duncan Hunter who did exactly the same thing. He told me just a few days ago, I want you to take a listen to what he said to me, and how the president responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER, (R-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I informed him the other day there was only 13 miles. He expressed surprise at that. I told him I would get the exact square -- the exact footage back to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: So he says not only was the president not aware of the border-security situation and the fencing, but he also says he did not get any assurances from the president that he was going to improve border security. So what does your appeal today accomplish?
TANCREDO: Well, what can I do but continue to ask? What other -- you know, until I am elected president or somebody is elected who actually will do the job, what are we going to do? How -- are you going on your knees to the White House and stand out -- kneel out in front of the gate with your hands folded, begging the president to enforce the law?
MALVEAUX: Well, are you saying -- are you saying ...
TANCREDO: I mean, how many alternatives do we have?
MALVEAUX: Are you saying you have no faith in this president, in this White House to actually secure the borders?
TANCREDO: None whatsoever.
MALVEAUX: So ...
TANCREDO: None whatsoever.
MALVEAUX: Zain Verjee is monitoring stories incoming into the SITUATION ROOM right now. Zain, what are you looking at this hour?
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, the driver of the car in this police video has been charged with driving under the influence, trying to allude police and speeding. All of that after leading Orange County, Alabama on a high-speed chase.
Now what makes this case unusual, is the driver was an 11-year- old girl. Police say she told them she was on her way to pick up her sister at a concert. The young driver is from Florida and was vacationing with her family.
The name of a mildly retarded man who spent nearly a decade on Virginia's death row for a murder he did not commit has been cleared. Earl Washington Jr. was originally pardoned in 2002 after DNA evidence implicated another man in the 1982 rape and murder of a 19-year-old woman. The Governor Timothy Cane's absolute pardon today declares Washington's innocence. China believes it has one for the record books. A city in western China recently opened a new four-story free public rest room. This is a porcelain palace. Look at this, Suzanne. It features an Egyptian facade, music, and more than 1,000 toilets. Officials are fairly confident and they are preparing to submit an application to the Guinness Book of World Records.
The AK-47 is 60. More than 100 million of the world's most popular assault rifles have been manufactured since production began in 1947. It's 87-year-old Russian designer, Mikhail Kalashnikov, was honored today after a ceremony in Moscow marking the 60-year milestone of his invention.
Kalashnikov says he doesn't lose sleep over the bloodshed rendered over the rifle that bears his name. It's the politicians, he says, who are to blame for failing to come to an agreement and resorting to violence.
MALVEUAX: And up ahead a Democratic presidential candidate fires back at the military brass.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE GRAVEL, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm saying that they are sucking up to the White House, pure and simple. And what I want is when I'm president, I want generals that will speak their mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Former Senator Mike Gravel rejects a commander's claim that a quick pullout from Iraq would be a mess. And he also has harsh words for President Bush.
MALVEAUX: Now, Iraq withdrawal, politics and the presidential race.
Joining us now in the SITUATION ROOM, presidential candidate and former Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska. Thank you for joining us here.
MIKE GRAVEL, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Suzanne, thank you.
MALVEAUX: We really appreciate that.
I want to start off by talking about Iraq. Obviously, you have stated a very strong position to get U.S. troops out now. I want to play for you a top commander and what he said from Baghdad, earlier this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAJ. GEN. RICK LYNCH, CMDR., MULTI-NATL. DIVISION CTR.: If those surge forces go away, that capability goes away. And Iraqi security forces aren't ready yet to do that. So now what you're going to find if you did that, you'd find the enemy regaining ground, re- establishing sanctuary, building more IEDs, carrying those IEDs in Baghdad. And the violence would escalate. It would be a mess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Senator, he says it would be a mess. There are a lot of generals, commanders on the ground who are saying it's not a good idea here to pull out those U.S. troops now.
Does his opinion have any weight in persuading you?
GRAVEL: Not in the slightest. In fact, he's dead wrong.
He's assuming that it's all going to turn bad. The reason why it's bad is because we have troops there and generals like this that are trying to -- here, stop and think. He's saying that the Iraqis, their security forces, they're never going to be ready. They're just never going to be ready. These people have been around a lot longer than we have. We should get our troops out and you will find, that Iran will help us end the civil war and so will Saudi Arabia.
Stop and think, Americans forget that Iran helped us get rid of the Taliban in Afghanistan initially and were rewarded by George Bush calling them the axis of evil. No, these military, they're generals, and I tell you what, I'm very distressed over the fact, and there will be some changes when I become president. I'm distressed over the fact that we got a bunch of yes generals out there sucking up to the White House. What we need is some independent generals and I know some, that say we should get out.
Just as much as this person is saying we should stay there. I've got generals will that say that we should get out and they got three and four stars.
MALVEAUX: Clearly the president is saying that this is a policy, these guys are in line with the commander in chief here. Are you saying that they just don't -- that they're lying to the American people?
GRAVEL: I'm saying that they are sucking up to the White House, pure and simple. And what I want, is when I'm president, I want generals that will speak their mind. He's actually carrying the tone and the words of George Bush. And it's real simple. Here, stop and think of this, Suzanne, 80 percent of the people in Iraq want us out of there. Who the heck are we to say we're going to stay there because some general thinks it's OK?
MALVEAUX: Let's talk about what reports have shown out of the London terror plot, just recently. They have shown that some of these doctors, these suspected terrorists, were trained by al Qaeda inside of Iraq. And that what is happening is, you have al Qaeda inside that country training and exporting terrorists with the capability to go to Europe, to go to the United States. How do you argue to pull out U.S. troops now when you literally have that country becoming a breeding ground for terrorists?
GRAVEL: Well, stop and think, Suzanne. We made it a breeding ground. The al Qaeda was not there until we went there.
And, so, when you say it's a breeding ground, they're already breeding and we got all our troops there. So what is the answer ...
MALVEAUX: So how do you stop the breeding? How do you stop it?
GRAVEL: Well, you stop the breeding by turning around and getting our combat troops out of there. And we can go after al Qaeda.
In fact, you'll be very surprised that you'll find the insurgents on the Suni and Shiite side they will be killing the al Qaeda people. Because these al Qaeda's are foreigners and they do not discriminate against who they kill as long as they can create havoc inside of Iraq.
So you want to solve this problem? Turn around, get American troops out. Bring in the efforts of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Russia, Japan, China. They'll all come in and help stabilize the area. But you can't do that until we get our troops out of there and get that general home.
MALVEAUX: Now, you have been very critical of your own party. You have said that you're not convinced that the Democrats are going to get the president's seat here, because they have not dealt strong enough in pulling out troops when it comes to Iraq.
Have you seen any leadership from the Democratic presidential candidates so far?
GRAVEL: None at all. Stop and think. They could turn around -- they're in the Senate right now. They got the power. I don't have any power. Had I been there, I would have filibustered the resolution back in 2002. But I'm not there, they are there.
They could take command and show some leadership and we could end this -- our involvement in the war by Labor Day and have all American troops home by Christmas. We could do that, if we had some leadership in the Congress.
I've given them a plan. A piece of legislation, to introduce. And the tactics to employ to create a confrontation between the executive and the Congress. And to let the people weigh in, and you'll see what will happen.
MALVEAUX: Very quickly, I want you to give us a report card, some grades, on the Democratic leadership. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. What kind of job do you think she's doing? A through F?
GRAVEL: A through F? A C minus. MALVEAUX: C minus.
GRAVEL: On the war. On the war.
MALVEAUX: On the war specifically. And what about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid?
GRAVEL: C minus. And an F for the four senators in the Senate who could influence Pelosi and Reid to bring forth the tactics to end our involvement by Labor Day. They get an F.
MALVEAUX: Who are those?
GRAVEL: That would be Hillary Clinton, Senator Clinton. And Senator Obama and Senator Biden and Senator Dodd.
MALVEAUX: Thank you so much. Senator Gravel, appreciate your time here on the SITUATION ROOM.
And many critics of the Iraq war are quick to compare it with Vietnam. Now there is new ammunition for the debate over whether those conflicts are indeed alike. Our own Tom Foreman here with us now. Tom, tell us about this provocative new comparison between Iraq and Vietnam.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Talk about throwing gasoline on the barbecue. That's exactly what this is.
In 1967, a secret memo was prepared by the CIA. It laid out the problems the United States could face if Vietnam turned into a failure. If "Foreign Policy" magazine this month, two analysts from a liberal think tank took that memo and they simply replaced a few words. For instance, Iraq was substituted for Vietnam. Here's an example.
"The failure of American policy in Iraq would have repercussions worldwide; it cannot be thought of merely as a local or even as a regional event."
The co-author of this study, Kurk Campbell told me that many, if not most of the dire consequences that the CIA predicted would happen in Vietnam did not happen. Southeast Asia didn't collapse into communism. The Russians and Chinese did not emerge global victors. He sees the results of failure in Iraq very differently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURT CAMPBELL, CTR. FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: In Vietnam, essentially, we fought to exhaustion. We fought until we were really no longer able to fight, either domestically or on the ground. And we withdrew.
I don't think we have that option in Iraq. And my worry is because we are going to be engaged in a long-term struggle that's going to need military force, we don't have the option to fight to exhaustion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Campbell says the next president, whoever it may be, must husband American military power and not spend it all in the streets of Iraq right now.
MALVEAUX: So, Tom, in the end, they do not see Vietnam and Iraq as one in the same thing, do they?
FOREMAN: They kind of want have their cake and eat it too. First of all, the reason you do this, is because you want to create an impression that somehow there are similar things. And that Iraq is somehow hopeless and that is must go a certain way. That is their point of view here.
I know a lot of you out there disagree with that. But the point they make is they say, unlike Vietnam where they felt there was breathing room afterwards to rebuild, they feel like in the global environment we face these days, maybe we won't have that time if Iraq doesn't work out well.
It's their point of view, as a lot of people will disagree. But they make it well.
MALVEAUX: Very interesting debate. And of course, you can see the rest of the interview when Tom hosts "This Week at War," that is Saturday at 7:00 eastern and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. eastern.
Up ahead a trapped bus. The Isley Brothers and the running of the bulls. Hot shot next, stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
MALVEAUX: Here's a look at some of the Hot Shots coming in from our friends at the Associated Press. Pictures likely to be in your newspaper, tomorrow.
In China, firemen rescue passengers rescue passengers from a bus trapped in water after a heavy rainfall.
Also in China, NBA star Yao Ming coaches a girl during a basketball clinic for Special Olympics athletes.
And in New Orleans, Jasper Isely, of the Isley Brothers, plays a guitar behind his head during a performance at the Essence Music Festival.
And in Pamplona, Spain, revelers enjoy water thrown from a balcony during the San Fermin Fiestas.
And that's this hour's Hot Shots, pictures worth a thousand words. Thanks for joining us. Be sure to join Wolf this Sunday at 11:00 eastern for Late Edition, in the last word in Sunday talk. Among his guests, Senator Richard Lugar, who has broken ranks with President Bush on Iraq and Senators Arlen Specter and Patrick Leahy.
I'm Suzanne Malveaux, in for Wolf Blitzer. He will be back on Monday. Up next, the "Glen Beck" special "We The People."
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