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Chairman of Joint Chiefs: More Troops in Iraq Won't Make a Difference; Is 'Vanity Fair' Unfair?

Aired July 31, 2007 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, more troops, more time won't make a difference in Iraq. That's the surprising statement from the man picked to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Details coming up.

He tried to blow up an airliner with explosives hidden in his sneakers and was sent away for life. Now the shoe bomber is sending messages from prison.

And is "Vanity Fair" unfair?

There's a blistering new profile of Rudy Giuliani's wife. It says she uses a seat on the plane just for her designer handbag. The candidate isn't happy. That story coming up, as well.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


The U.S. troop buildup in Iraq is boosting security, but in the end, it may not necessarily matter how many U.S. troops are deployed. That blunt assessment today from the president's pick for the nation's top military commander.

Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

What's the message coming from his confirmation hearings today -- Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it is a delicate military calculation. Admiral Mike Mullen told Congress that they do need to plan for an eventual drawdown of troops in Iraq, but not just yet.


STARR (voice-over): The man nominated to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff made clear he doesn't think more U.S. troops are the answer to Iraq's problems.

Admiral Michael Mullen says political progress by the Iraqis is a must.

ADM. MIKE MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN NOMINEE: Barring that, no amount of troops in no amount of time will make much of a difference.

STARR: It was exactly what the senators wanted to hear.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: As you put it, no amount of troops can solve their political problems except for them?

MULLEN: Over time, no, sir. I don't believe that they can.

STARR: But Iraqi lawmakers adjourned for a recess without progress on de-Baathification, oil revenue sharing and constitutional reform.

Admiral Mullen did not paint a rosy picture.

MULLEN: I still maintain that if we -- if we aren't making progress in that realm, the prospects for movement in a positive direction are not very good.

STARR: On the security side, there is some improvement. In July, slightly more than 70 U.S. troops died, the lowest level this year.

Commanders are unlikely to keep the surge in place beyond next spring. They don't have the troops to keep it going.

Mullen also cautioned some number of troops could remain in Iraq for years to come, but only if the Iraqis step up to the political plate.


STARR: And, Wolf, during the three hour hearing, Admiral Mullen really stuck to that bottom line. Unless there is political progress in Iraq, he's not ready to say the U.S. or the Iraqi government is winning the war -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A candid assessment from the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assuming he's confirmed by the Senate.

The Pentagon today announced the next major troop rotation for Iraq. Seventeen thousand Marines, 3,000 soldiers will begin deploying at the end of year, replacing combat units due to come home. Some of those headed to Iraq will be on tours scheduled to extend until 2009 -- well into 2009. The Pentagon says that this is a routine move not linked to the president's recent troop increase in Iraq.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are going door-to-door in the Middle East to persuade Arab states to stand up to Iran and to help stabilize Iraq. To seal the deal, they're offering the sale of billions of dollars worth of advanced weaponry.

Let's go live to our State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee -- so, Zain, how is the sales campaign coming along?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, they still have to nail down the specifics of the deal. But, you know, this is a really rare road show. They're going to their allies with a double-barreled message.


VERJEE (voice-over): Working America's Arab allies -- the U.S. says it's on their side against Iran, which the U.S. charges is backing Hamas, Hezbollah and Shia militias in Iraq.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warns Iran is destabilizing the region and is the biggest challenge to U.S. interests. To make its Arab friends feel more secure, the U.S. says it will sell them tens of billions of dollars in arms.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States is determined to assure our allies that we are going to be reliable in helping them to meet their security needs.

VERJEE: Some say selling arms to Iran's neighbors will not contain Iran and could backfire by sparking an arms race.

AFSHIN MOLAVI, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: By dispatching $20 billion worth of arms to the Arab states and the Persian Gulf region, in one respect, the United States may be tilting the balance in favor of hard-liners in Iran, who argue that Iran should pursue a nuclear weapons program.

VERJEE: The deal has triggered outrage on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers say Saudi Arabia is part of the problem.

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: The Saudis are a country that sent us 15 of the 19 bombers on September 11th. They're the country that sends 45 percent of the foreign fighters that are fighting in Iraq.

VERJEE: Saudi Arabia and much of the Arab world is nervous the U.S. will bolt from Iraq and leave them to clean up the mess.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates offered this reassurance.

ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: however it's done, it needs to be done carefully and with a view towards the consequences and the need not to leave Iraq in chaos in a way that will be destabilizing the region.


VERJEE: Some U.S. officials say that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, Wolf, have really been undermining the Shia-led government of Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq, as well as supporting Sunni insurgents. Rice and Gates are going to push them to stop it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What's next on their agenda -- Zain?

VERJEE: Well, they're going go from Saudi Arabia to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. And, Wolf, they have another major headache there. They're going try and boost Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and try and jump start a stalled and pretty much dead, for now, peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.

BLITZER: Some call that mission impossible.

Let's see what they can do when they're in the region.

Thanks very much, Zain, for that.

Let's check back with Jack Cafferty.

He's in New York with The Cafferty File once again -- hi, Jack.


U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts released from a main hospital where he was taken after suffering a seizure yesterday.

Good news. Doctors say test results show no cause for concern, diagnosed the seizure as benign, with no apparent damage and no identifiable cause.

But in turns out that Roberts suffered a similar seizure in January of 1993.

Senator Arlen Specter says that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee knew about that seizure two years ago, but didn't think it was significant enough to bring up during Roberts' confirmation hearings.

Say what?

Arlen Specter and his colleagues don't think we, the public, need to know that the man nominated to be chief justice of the United States is prone to seizures.

I wonder how many medical degrees there are on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Consider this. Roberts, like other federal judges who have these jobs for life, are not required to divulge any information about their health or medical conditions -- none whatsoever.

Just this year, FBI files were released that showed when the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist checked into a hospital for treatment of back pain and an addiction to a prescription painkiller, he suffered from hallucinations. One doctor said the then associate justice tried to escape the hospital in his pajamas and imagined that the CIA was plotting against him. But the public didn't do a thing about this.

These Supreme Court justices, arguably, have as much or more influence over all of our lives in America than anyone else in this country.

So with that in mind, here's our question -- should Supreme Court justices be required to disclose their medical conditions?

E-mail your thoughts to or go to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

We're going to be speaking about this, in part, with Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee. That's coming up -- the former chairman.

Also coming up, truth or consequences -- some say the attorney general, Alberto Gonzalez, may have lied to Congress. That's going to be a key question for Allen Specter, as well.

Finally, help for Darfur.

Troops get the green light, but what took so long?

And no love lost between "Vanity Fair," the magazine, and Rudy and Judith Giuliani. Why the magazine and the presidential campaign are now at war.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: After his appearance before a Senate committee, questions have been raised about Alberto Gonzalez and whether or not he's been telling the truth.

Did the embattled attorney general actually commit perjury?

Senator Arlen Specter is the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the former chairman.

He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM with us right now.

Senator Specter, welcome.



SPECTER: Thanks for the invitation.

BLITZER: You've really been investigating carefully.

Based on what you know right now, did the attorney general lie?

SPECTER: He did not tell us the whole story when he denied being involved in the U.S. attorneys' replacements. He was contradicted by three of his top deputies and by documentary evidence, e-mails.

When you come to the question as to whether he leveled with the committee when he said that there was no disagreement within the administration on the terrorist surveillance program, that depends upon the interpretation of a letter which the director of National Intelligence, McConnell, has sent today to Senator Leahy and me, and beyond that, on the interpretation...

BLITZER: Well let...

SPECTER: ...of those facts by...

BLITZER: Let me refer to this letter, because this is a very complex letter and it's -- a lot of it, to average people, would sound like gobbledygook out there. But you've been given secret briefings, classified information -- which obviously you're not going to reveal.

But based on what you've been told and this letter from the director of National Intelligence, does this clarify, on behalf of Alberto Gonzalez, that -- that he didn't lie?

SPECTER: I am not prepared to say until we get Attorney General Gonzalez's letter. I was promised this letter from Admiral McConnell and a letter from deputy -- from Attorney General Gonzalez today at noon.

This one came in mid-afternoon and I've been asked not to comment about it until we have the Gonzalez letter.

But the Gonzalez letter will, in effect, interpret this letter. I can't comment on it, Wolf, without getting into classified information. And that, of course, I will not do.

BLITZER: So at this point, you're not ready to say he lied or didn't lie?

SPECTER: That's right. I'm only prepared to say that there is a question which has been raised by what is in Admiral McConnell's letter and Attorney General Gonzalez is on the verge of providing the information to at least give his side of things.

BLITZER: And you're saying he was supposed to give you that letter by noon. It still hasn't arrived.

If you're not satisfied with that letter, I assume your conclusion will be like other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he did lie?

SPECTER: Well, if he doesn't have a plausible explanation, then he hasn't leveled with the committee, that's right.

BLITZER: And that -- and then what would happen as a result of that?

SPECTER: Well, I'll tell you, Wolf, what I'm interested in doing is finding out what the facts are. I think Ruth Marcus in her column today in "The Washington Post" had it right -- the Judiciary Committee is not in the business of making perjury prosecutions. We're in the business of finding out the facts and legislating.

Right now we're facing a very serious situation on a terrorist threat.

BLITZER: Here's the...

SPECTER: Let me...

BLITZER: Go ahead.

SPECTER: ...make a point here.

The director of National Intelligence wants the Foreign Intelligence Security Act modified and that's what we ought to be focusing on right now, is how to protect America.

We can take care of Gonzalez later.

BLITZER: Here is an exchange that the vice president, Dick Cheney, had today with our own Larry King. The interview is going to air on "LARRY

KING LIVE" at 9:00.

Your name came up and I want you to listen to this.



DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president is one who has to evaluate the individuals who serve for him. He has confidence in Al and that's good enough for me.

LARRY KING, HOST: How about Arlen Specter?

Do you respect him?


KING: He thinks he should leave.

CHENEY: I disagree with Arlen from time to time, and I disagree with him on that issue.


BLITZER: All right. First of all, do you think Alberto Gonzalez should leave?

SPECTER: I think the Department of Justice would be a lot better off without him. It's dysfunctional. But I'm not going tell him what to do.

BLITZER: All right. So I -- you don't dispute what Larry King was saying?

SPECTER: Well, what did he say?

BLITZER: He said basically he thinks he should leave. He thinks that...

SPECTER: Well, I...

BLITZER: Arlen Specter thinks that Alberto Gonzalez should leave.

SPECTER: I think the important functions of the department are not being carried out under him.

BLITZER: So -- so you agree with that.

So what do you say to the vice president?

SPECTER: Well, I say I'm honored to disagree with him from time to time.

BLITZER: There are issues you can agree with and disagree.

Now, what about Karl Rove?

Because in the same interview, the vice president says you know what?

If members of the Senate Judiciary Committee want to question Karl Rove about the firing of those federal prosecutors, we've given them an offer. He says that you can have an interview with Karl Rove, but not in public, not under oath and no transcript. Those are the conditions, take them or leave them.

Are those acceptable to you?

SPECTER: I will take them in order to move the process forward. The one condition I will not agree to is that if we are dissatisfied with what we find and think at some point later, depending on what happens, we have to issue a subpoena and exercise our forceful oversight rights, I'm not prepared to give that up. I don't like the (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: Because they want you to give that up.

SPECTER: Well, I'm not prepared to give up Congressional power. I don't think I have the authority to do that.

BLITZER: And you don't care if there's no transcript?

SPECTER: I do care, but I don't want to go to court for two years. Right now we've got a Department of Justice which is not protecting us on investigating terrorism from -- on violent crime. And I think if you get Chairman Conyers and Chairman Leahy and Senator Schumer and me and some others in the room with these witnesses, we'll find stuff out.

So I'll take their terms to get the matter moving forward.

The important thing is to finish the investigation and get this department functioning.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts.


BLITZER: He had a seizure yesterday. He fell, hurt himself. You knew when you were chairman of the Judiciary Committee that he had a history of a seizure back in '93. That's the one you were told about.

What responsibility does the Senate Judiciary Committee have to make this kind of information about a nominee for chief justice of the United States, to make that information available to the American public?

SPECTER: Well, we try to make available to the people all of the matters which we think bear upon his competency and his qualifications.

BLITZER: And his health is not important?

SPECTER: Well, his health is very important. But it was an incident, an isolated incident in 1993, 12 years before he is up. He's a man who is 50-years-old. It happened when he was 37. And he's got a dossier which is -- which is very big. And we looked at all the factors and decided which ones we thought we ought to be questioning him about.

First of all, we don't...

BLITZER: But from now on down the road, do you think that there should be a different standard, that the American public should get information about nominees to the Supreme Court's health?

SPECTER: Well, I think they should if they're relevant and if they're material and have some bearing about what's going on.

For example, if there is some question as to his ability to serve or if there's something at risk on the guy, then I would say so. But Roberts had a long dossier and a long record and a long file. And after the fact, I mean today it looks very important. But when you look at a guy who's 50, who had an incident -- a fleeting incident -- at the age of 37, 13 years before, we were focusing on a lot of other more important factors.

BLITZER: You've got a lot going on, Senator Specter.

SPECTER: We sure do.

BLITZER: Thanks for coming in.

Appreciate it very much.

SPECTER: It's nice to be with you, Wolf.

Thank you.

BLITZER: Arlen Specter is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Always good have him in THE SITUATION ROOM.

He was sent away for life. But six years after he tried to blow up an airliner by lighting explosives in his sneakers, the shoe bomber is sending messages from prison.

And cell phone freedom -- federal authorities vote to open up the airwaves to give you more choice on cell phones and wireless devices. We'll have details right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Help may be on the way for the Darfur region of Sudan, where more than 200,000 people have died and two million people have been displaced in years of savagery that's been going on there. The U.N. Security Council has now approved a new peacekeeping force.

Let's go to our senior United Nations correspondent, Richard Roth.

It's about time something's coming out of the Security Council -- Richard.


But can the cavalry arrive too late?

Does that ever happen?

Years after what the U.S. says is a genocide there, the U.N. Security Council approved unanimously, a short time ago, a resolution which pours in thousands of troops -- a combined 26,000 military and civilian police to join with thousands of African Union forces to try to keep the peace on the ground in Darfur, where many say the Sudanese government has been sanctioning attacks on black Africans in Darfur.

The resolution was watered down several times to get Sudan to comply. The U.N. has no standing army. The U.N. was never going to go in on its own. But it may be enough for some groups at this point.

But the resolution will probably put those troops in by the end of the year once they get enough countries to join in -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And let's hope they can save at least some lives over there.

Thanks very much, Richard, for that.

Some residents of the Philippines got a rude awakening this morning when a volcano exploded, shooting ash miles into the air.

Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton -- Abbi, the images are coming in to CNN online.

What are we seeing? ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, these are from fields and villages in the Central Philippines. And the residents were recording these images at 9:00 a.m. This morning and sending them in to CNN through I-Report.

This is from Philip Bartilet. He owns the local Internet cafe, which came in useful to send to us. He watched this plume of ash rising up into the air. Some estimates going three miles up. He said people were fearful that the wind would change and that the ash would come toward their village.

From Sharleen Evasco here. She said -- she described a kind of low rumbling that accompanied this. Other people talked about it sounding like an earthquake. She stepped outside her house. This is a view from right outside her house, where she said people are used to volcanic activity, but this sent kids and old people off running in a panic.

Local authorities were handing out masks. They've been telling people not to go within two-and-a-half miles of Mount Bulusan because it continues to be at risk of and still ahead explosions.

As ever, like the residents here did, send your photos in to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Abbi, for that.

Just ahead, dozens of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, at the Naval base in Cuba, are in line to be transferred out. But at least one of them says he prefers to call that base his home. We'll tell you what's going on.

And America's arms deals in the Middle East -- will they backfire?

There's new competition in the arms business.

Stick around.



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

Happening now, the U.S. military says an American helicopter was forced to land after coming under fire from the ground earlier today in Eastern Baghdad. It says the crew of the AA64 Apache helicopter, similar to this one, was successfully evacuated by another aircraft.

The House today overwhelmingly passed an ethics bill aimed at shining more light on its members. Under the measure, lawmakers must disclose more details about bids to fund pet projects and fundraising assistance from lobbyists. Some groups call the package the most significant Congressional reform in years. And an attorney says cases of wine seemed to generate some special interest from the federal agents searching the Alaska home of Republican Senator Ted Stevens. The FBI and the IRS raided Stevens' home yesterday as part of a public corruption investigation.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


Britain's "Daily Mirror" has published what it says are letters and images from the so-called shoe bomber. Reid -- Richard Reid tried to blow up a U.S. airliner with explosives hidden in his sneakers. He was subdued by passengers and crew members and is serving a life sentence right now in Colorado.

Our CNN homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve reports -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Richard Reid described himself as a soldier, not a terrorist. Now he is a prisoner.


MESERVE (voice-over): Splashed across the front page of London's "Daily Mirror," a photo of Richard Reid. It is not clear if it was taken recently inside the super max prison in Florence, Colorado, where the so-called shoe bomber is serving a 110-year sentence.

Though it seems almost certain Reid will live out his life there, in letters quoted by "The Mirror" he writes: "I had a couple of good dreams about my situation changing for the better in the not so distant future, so this is a blessing from Allah. I place my trust in Allah, that he will bring that into fruition, and ask him to give me patience until the time when that occurs."

If Reid had succeeded in igniting his shoes, the result would have been something like this, and nearly 200 people would have died.

Reid doesn't mention that in the letter excepts, but acknowledges being harsh with his father.

"I'm like that with pretty much everyone," he writes. He then asks his father for money. "If you are able to send me something, even a little, I'd appreciate that."


MESERVE: Reid may be tucked away in prison, but six and a half years after he was subdued by suspicious passengers and flight attendants we still have to take off our shoes every time we fly. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Jeanne, thanks very much.

The United States controls most of the arms market in the Middle East especially now that it's revealed another $63 billion in new weapons deals are about to go toward the region, but could America's rivals also move in to try to make a killing as well? CNN's Phil Black takes a closer look.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In recent history arms trading in the Middle East has been dominated by Western countries. An exclusive party with Britain and France playing small parts and the united states being the dominant client, but things may be changing.

ANDREW BROOKES, INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES: It's the U.S.'s game to lose and the way it's going, it's going lose it.

BLACK: The International Institute of Strategic Studies predicts the new winner in the region will be Russia. It says Russian arms sales to the Middle East are booming because Washington refuses to trade with countries like Iran and Syria, a position that could prove counterproductive to Western foreign policy.

BROOKES: Once Iran gets the latest Russian technology and Russian assistance, it will be more powerful in the region, even a more of a threat to U.S. and Western interests.

BLACK: Andrew Brookes says there's another potential problem for the west caused by Russia's growing success in the arms business. The money Russia makes goes back into advancing its own military forces.

(on camera): But looking further ahead, the Institute of Strategic Studies says another world power looks set to eclipse all competitors in the arms market. It predicts that in around 20 years China will be selling the world's best fighter jets, missiles, even a space program and its preferred customers will be countries with rich oil reserves.

(voice-over): The fear is if China arms some Middle Eastern states it could block access to the region's oil wells.

BROOKES: It will be supplying all these people who have the oil and their supplies and the west will suddenly wake up and think what happened there? So we have to be very careful that in being slightly precious about who we sell arms to, we don't become so precious that actually all the guys with the oil have sold it to China because China has -- I can't overemphasize how good they're going to be.

BLACK: That analysis is long term, but it points to the possibility of a very different balance of power in an historically volatile region. Phil Black, CNN, London.


BLITZER: And as we noted, Secretary of State Rice, the defense secretary, Bob Gates, they're in the Middle East right now. They're in Saudi Arabia, in fact, at this moment. They're selling arms, selling Arab allies on the need to step up to Iran among other subjects.

Joining us now our world affairs analyst, the former defense secretary, William Cohen. He's chairman and CEO of the Cohen Group here in Washington. At issue is a $20 billion or so Saudi arms deal that the Bush administration is pushing right now, the vice president tells our own Larry King in an interview that will air later tonight this, is a good deal for America even though the Saudis themselves, including King Abdullah, opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq even though there are elements of the Saudi strategy right now that seem to be undermining the government of Nouri al Maliki.

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, first of all, the Saudis remain an ally of the United States. Secondly, most of the countries- you talk about this being a $20 billion arms package to the Saudis. This goes to all of the Gulf States. The total of the package remains to be determined but there's UAE, there's Qatar, there is Bahrain, Kuwait and others who are going to be part of this package, and the issue really is are we going to help them modernize their forces so they can be a force to contend with an expansionist Iran, with Iran trying to spread its Shia and revolutionary zeal?

That's the real issue for us. as the previous piece just pointed out, do we really want to see the Russians or the Chinese with no qualms about selling weapons to that region, take over as a major ...

BLITZER: So what you're saying this, is a good idea for the U.S.?

COHEN: I think it's an important idea. The countries are worried about Iran in order to help them prepare for their defense capabilities, we should be the country supplying it. So it will be interoperable with our own forces. Israel is not more secure having a Saudi Arabia or other countries armed with their missiles and posing a potential threat if they come under attack.

BLITZER: A lot of Americans, they are worried about what's going on inside Saudi Arabia. They remember 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia and they're worried these weapons could get into the wrong hands.

COHEN: Well, most of the weapons are major weapons systems. I don't know that al Qaeda, by the way, al Qaeda has the Saudi royal family in its gun sights as well. So they're targets for assassination and takeover. I don't know that al Qaeda has any sophisticated aircraft, they are going to be using the kind of weapons that the United States is considering selling to them so I don't think that's the kind of threat that we should be concerned about.

The Saudis and the other countries who are building their weapons capability are really designed to take on, if they have to, an Iran or some other major country that might pose a threat to them. But not the small arms that might pose a threat to our forces in the ground. That's not what is in this packages I understand it.

BLITZER: Here is a statement. I will play it for you, Anthony Weiner, U.S. congressman, a Democrat from New York, made earlier. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ANTHONY WEINER, (D) NY: They are a country that sends 70 percent of the suicide bombers on extremist Web sites around the world are Saudi citizens and they're the funders of all 50 percent of all international terrorism. They're not a nation that should be rewarded with a $20 billion, a $10 billion, or a $5 billion arms deal with this country.


BLITZER: I assume this is going to be somewhat of a flap up on Capitol Hill.

COHEN: I assume it will be somewhat contentious, but the notion that this is giving the Saudis something, we're talking about selling equipment that will help them prepare for their own defense. We're not giving them anything. They're buying it and they can buy it from us, they can buy it from the French, the British, the Russians, the Chinese or other country, potentially. So the real issue is are we going continue to solidify our own influence or have it undermined by other countries quite willing to move in and take over the position that we had to date.

BLITZER: Secretary Cohen, thanks for coming in.

COHEN: Pleasure.

BLITZER: The U.S. detention camp for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, among human rights groups it's notorious, it's criticized for harsh conditions, but one inmate views his alternatives as even worse. CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now with more. Brian, what's this all about?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, one detainee who the government no longer considers a threat is now incredibly fighting to be kept behind bars.


TODD (voice-over): Ahmed Belbacha would rather stay in Guantanamo Bay than be sent home. He's making an emergency appeal to the U.S. government to keep him locked away in a cell described by his lawyer.

ZACHARY KATZNELSON, AHMED BELBACHA'S ATTORNEY: He said to me, my cell is like a grave and he lives in an all-steel cell, it's about six feet by 10 feet, about the size of somebody's bathroom.

TODD: Why does Belbacha believe that's a better alternative than being sent back to his native Algeria?

KATZNELSON: Now that he's been in Guantanamo that the Algerian government in turn may come after him.

TODD: With the stigma of Guantanamo, his attorney says, Belbacha believes the Algerian government will torture him if he returns. The Algerian embassy won't comment on the case. A Pentagon official stressed no detainee will be sent to a nation where it's believed they'll be tortured. Belbacha actually used to work as an accountant for the Algerian government and says that Islamic radicals threatened his life back in 1999.

KATZNELSON: He fears that Islamic extremists in Algeria will target him because of his past relationship with the government.

TODD: He claims he fled to England to get away from him. Made his way to Pakistan to attend religious school and then after 9/11, Pakistani locals seeking bounty money from U.S. forces turned him in.


TODD: Belbacha's lawyer says he was never with any terrorist group, but he was still accused of being an enemy combatant and taken to the U.S. base in Kandahar, then to Guantanamo in 2002. The Pentagon denies his attorney's claim that he was beaten when he was first in U.S. custody. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian, where does the case now stand in the courts?

TODD: A U.S. District Court judge in Washington has just ruled that she does not have the jurisdiction to consider his motion to have his transfer stopped. The Bush administration agrees with her ruling. His attorneys now have it at the U.S. Court of Appeals and they say they will go all of the way to the Supreme Court if they lose this round.

BLITZER: Where would he eventually go if they were to shut down a Guantanamo?

TODD: Well, he once applied for asylum in Britain. His attorney says that he wants to give that another shot. When he applied there before that case fell through because he was already essentially either in custody by the U.S. or he was about to be in custody at that time, but he does want to eventually go back to Great Britain.

BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much. Brian Todd watching that story for us.

Up next, caught in the immigration crossfire. His name is Juan. He scored extremely high in the SAT, but the government is about to kick him out of the country. Why? Brianna Keilar is standing by with Juan's dramatic story.

Also, it's the story of the tiara, the handbag and the former mayor's wife. Did "Vanity Fair" do a hatchet job on Rudy Giuliani's wife. Carol Costello takes a closer. All that coming up right here on THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: A group of Florida teenagers now on Capitol Hill to meet with immigration officials. They're there trying to fight to keep their friend from being deported. CNN's Brianna Keilar is following the story for us. Brianna, what's going on?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Gomez family, parents Julio and Lilliana and their two sons Alejandro and Juan were granted a six-month visa. The problem is that was all the way back in 1990 when the boys were toddlers and last week immigration officials caught up with the family.

Well, enter the friends of Juan Gomez who is now 18 years old. They launched an online campaign and now they're here in Washington raising awareness of their friend's plight on Capitol Hill.


SCOTT ELFENBEIN, FRIEND: He's my best friend. I've known him for seven years and they're trying to send him back to a country he doesn't even know. So, you know, after the shock settled and I got in touch with the rest of my friends we realized that this is not a kid that this country can afford to let go.


KEILAR: Juan's friends say he scored 1410 with the SAT without studying for it and he told me he graduated in the top three percent of his senior class last year. That makes him a poster child for the Dream Act, immigration legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for high school graduates who are in the U.S. illegally because their parents brought them here as kids. Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is trying to revive the Dream act in Congress. She's also asked President Bush to intervene on behalf of Juan and his older brother Alejandro and also Florida Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart has filed separate legislation to stay the deportation of the young men, but it may not be enough. Congress recesses for a month after this week, and the system probably won't work fast enough to keep Juan and Alejandro from being deported. Wolf?

BLITZER: Where are the Gomez brothers right now, Brianna?

KEILAR: Wolf, they're being detained in Florida as are their parents and while Immigration and Customs Enforcement won't tell us exactly when they're being deported it does appear to be imminent.

BLITZER: Brianna Keilar reporting on this story. Thanks, Brianna, very much.

Lou Dobbs is here in Washington getting ready for his show that begins right at the top of the hour. I don't know if you heard Brianna's report. Should there be an exception in a case like this, an exceptionally bright, young kid who spent almost his whole life here and about to be deported with his family because they're here illegally.

LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: No, I think in this case it's clear there should be an exception made because you have a situation where somebody has been 15, as much as 18 years who has been exemplary and through no fault of his or in other cases her responsibility. There's no question that there should be an exception made. The issue here is what is going to be the policy of the United States? The immigration policy is a disaster. It's because our border security is a disaster. Our port security is a disaster and this town which I'm visiting today. Your hometown here, the nation's capital is a disaster.

It is functioning at best on three out of eight cylinders. It is being -- whoever has a hold of the steering wheel of this operation you've got going here in the nation's capital, Wolf, I think should get either drug or alcohol testing because it's a mess.

BLITZER: Why have you come? Tell our viewers what brings you to Washington today.

DOBBS: Two Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean have now been in prison for more than -- actually, been in solitary confinement in the case of Ignacio Ramos for more than six months.

The Congress decided, the subcommittee, the Foreign Affairs Committee decided to hold hearings on the reasons for the prosecution, the outrageous and unjust prosecution to quote Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Congressman Walter Jones, Congressman Ted Poe, Congressman Ed Royce and a rising number of congressmen who were saying we've got to have justice in this country and this Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton in Texas did everything they could to disrupt justice and to serve the interest of an illegal drug cartel rather than the interests of the American citizens. These Border Patrol agents, we're here to cover that hearing. It's going to be fascinating the facts that are coming to light.

BLITZER: Lou, here in Washington, coming up at the top of the hour. Thanks, Lou.

DOBBS: Good to be with you, wolf. Despite the environment.

BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now as well. Carol, tell our viewers what you have.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Couple of things, Wolf. New rules approved today by the Federal Communications Commission could give consumer more choices for cell phones and wireless devices. The FCC has given the go-ahead for a new airwaves auction next year. It's expected to raise as much as $15 billion. It includes a so-called open access provision that would allow customers to use whatever phone and software they want on about a third of the network being auctioned. In other words, it will be good news for consumers.

In Phoenix, Arizona, hundreds gather to mourn two TV journalists who died Friday when their helicopter collided with another TV chopper. The memorial for the KTVX pilot reporter Scott Bowerbank and photographer Jim Cox was held with a church with a capacity of 750. An overflow site was set up with another church a quarter mile away. A service for the two men aboard the second chopper will be held on Thursday.

More than 12,000 people have been forced to evacuate the Canary Islands by wildfires that have already scorched more than 86,000 acres. Strong winds and temperatures of more than 100 degrees have not helped matters. Spain's environment minister calls the situation very alarming. A disgruntled forest ranger has confessed to starting one of the fires. It is, by the way, the height of the tourist season on the Canary Islands. Those are the headlines right now, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Carol. Stand by because you're going to be coming back in a moment. Carol's got a fascinating story. Rudy Giuliani's campaign calls a new profile of the presidential candidate's wife a hatchet job. "Vanity Fair," though, is sticking by its story. We're going to go inside the magazine's pages.

And Jack Cafferty's question of the hour is still open. Should Supreme Court justices be required to disclose their medical conditions? We're taking your e-mails. We're going show you what's going on. All of that coming up in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: The cover story of the latest issue of "Vanity Fair" is raising the hackles of Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, not to mention his campaign. It's a less than flattering profile, to say the least of Judith Nathan Giuliani, the former New York City mayor's wife. Let's go back to Carol Costello. She's watching the story. The fallout from this article, I assume that's what everybody is watching right now.

COSTELLO: Oh, I mean on both sides there is -- shall we say, stress. The Giuliani camp, however is really upset with this article. It paints a very ugly picture of Judith Giuliani and even hints at cracks in the Giuliani marriage.


COSTELLO (voice-over): If you're Judith Giuliani it isn't good from the start. "Vanity Fair's" front cover reads, "Terror Alert, Judi Giuliani." And it goes downhill from there. It's got the Giuliani camp crying hatchet job.

MICHAEL MCKEON, GIULIANI SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER: There are so many inaccuracies and so many innuendoes in that story that are just so vile that it really isn't even worth going into.

COSTELLO: But "Vanity Fair's" Judy Bachrach stands by her story and every last unflattering detail.

JUDY BACHRACH, "VANITY FAIR": When the Giuliani people say "Vanity Fair" or I do a hatchet job they have to consider the source. They are the kings of hatchets and they try to muzzle the press at every opportunity.

COSTELLO: But Bachrach says she prevailed, writing "Giuliani's Princess Bride," noting the tiara Giuliani wore on her wedding day and quoting an unnamed former Giuliani aide who said "queen is her goal," Giuliani at a campaign event Tuesday stood up for his wife.

RUDY GIULIANI, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the article is very incorrect article. It has enormous numbers of inaccuracies in it and one of the terrible prices that, unfortunately, families pay in a situation like this is they get castigated and attacked.

COSTELLO: But Bachrach says she tried to interview Judith Giuliani and was denied. Through others she determined Mrs. Giuliani is an opportunist who went after a famous, married man with children, then Mayor Rudy Giuliani and proffered her business card and then flaunted their affair by appearing at New York City functions while then mayor Rudy Giuliani was still married and is now enjoying the fame and wealth he brings her, charging Judith employs a full-time assistant to style her hair, wears designer clothes and even when she's flying insists on an entire plane seat for her Baby Louis, her pricey designer bag.


COSTELLO: That would be a Louis Vuitton bag. As for whether any of this will hurt the Giuliani campaign, I asked Mayor Giuliani's spokesperson that question. His response, it will have zero effect, but do expect to see Judith Giuliani defending herself and she will do that in some public forum and that probably will happen very soon, Wolf.

BLITZER: Why does Judy Bachrach say it was important for her to write this article?

COSTELLO: Well, she says the woman a man marries says a lot about the choices he makes in life and that certainly matters in a presidential candidate.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for that, Carol Costello with that story.

Up next, after the chief justice of the United States suffers a seizure, Jack Cafferty is wondering whether Supreme Court justices should be required to disclose their medical conditions. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Check back with Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File." Jack?

CAFFERTY: Wolf, the question is should Supreme Court justices be required to disclose their medical conditions?

Polly in Arizona write, "Considering Supreme Court justices keep their posts for life, we should know about anything that might impair their judgment, including alcoholism, drug abuse and debt. It's time they had a retirement date and were tested for dementia in extreme old age if they're still on the bench."

Dan in Des Moines writes, "Jack, the feds require all employers to hire new employees without asking about health or disability issues as long as they state they can do the job requirements. Why should judges be treated differently? Should they be in violation of the ADA?" That's the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Vicki in Illinois writes, "Roberts' past experiences with seizures should have been revealed and been a consideration before he was confirmed to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. It's not like his medical condition involved an arm or a leg. It involved abnormal electrical responses in his brain. The brain he would be using to decide the most important legal issues affecting our country. Even the side effects of the controlling medications may affect his health and his ability to perform at a high level."

Mike in Michigan, "How many of us have to divulge all of our health information to get the jobs we're in? If it doesn't involve doing hazardous work I don't think for that position, they should have to give up that kind of information. How many people would apply for the job if they had to do so?"

Mike in Detroit. "The Supreme Court justices should not only have to report their health status, they should also have a mandatory biannual checkup. As you stated, for people who have such influence over our lives, I'd feel more assured to know that my laws aren't being voted on by an Alzheimer-stricken bipolar affected psycho who thinks the CIA is after him."

Sam in Arizona. "Roberts' seizures are no big deal and it's no business of the public. Examinations show his epilepsy can be cured by correcting his posture. He needs to stop walking with a 90 degree lean to the right."

If you didn't see your e-mail here you can go to We post more of them online along with video clips of same. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thank you, Jack. See you back here in one hour. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. LOU DOBBS TONIGHT from Washington starts right now. Wolf?