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State of Emergency Declared in Ohio; Bush: Vietnam Offers Grave Warnings About Iraq Pullout

Aired August 22, 2007 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, there's breaking news out of Ohio. A state of emergency in that state. Disaster unfolding after relentless storms unleash some of the worse flooding in almost 100 years. We're watching the story.

Also, President Bush says Vietnam offers grave warnings about pulling out of Iraq too soon.

But might U.S. plans for democracy in Iraq fail?

Our Michael Ware, in Baghdad, got some surprising responses from U.S. military commanders on the ground.

And that mine in Utah trapping six workers, could be their gravesite. The mine owner says it will likely be closed and the miners likely never found.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


But first, the breaking news we're following -- the Midwest floods in Findlay, Ohio.

Right now cars, even homes, are submerged. Residents are trapped. Streets are canals -- impassable. Passable, in fact, only by boat.

It is the city's worst flooding since 1913 and it could get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

Let's go to CNN's Carol Costello.

She is watching this story -- it's your home state, Ohio, Carol. Update our viewers on what we know.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it is just a mess.

My husband's family doesn't live far from Findlay. I've been there many times. It's been raining for days there -- six inches in two days. It's turned the Blanchard River into a raging river. That normally calm little body of water is seven-and-a-half feet above flood stage. The National Weather Service says that hasn't happened for 100 years. Now in some parts of town, nearly every house, business and road is flooded. Some people are still trapped in their homes. One hundred people have been rescued by boat so far.

I know the governor, Governor Strickland, has taken an aerial tour of the area. After he what he saw from the air, he declared a state of emergency in nine Ohio counties. And that's actually a good thing, because that means people can get some help from the government and some help from the National Guard. It has been called out.

It is still raining a little bit there, Wolf.

They're just hoping it stops.

BLITZER: Carol, stand by, because we're going to have more on this story.

But I want to go out to the scene right now. Morgan Greeno is joining us.

She's a senior at the University of Findlay.

Tell our viewers, Morgan, what you're seeing out there.

MORGAN GREENO, CNN I-REPORTER, FINDLAY, OHIO: Well, it started yesterday and about 7:00. We were walking around downtown at the bridge. And you could see the water visibly rising right there. And then at about 9:00, the bridge was just covered.

We went back out at about 1:00, and it was just creeping toward the south end of town. It's just -- it's crazy. And it doesn't make it any better that like people are in the water and it's just dirty. It's a very scary situation.

BLITZER: We see these still photos coming in from CNN I-Report. And I know you've been helping us with this.

But it looks like -- is this part of the campus?

I don't know if you can see -- see what we're reporting now on CNN.

GREENO: Yes, that's actually the courthouse in Findlay.

BLITZER: That's the courthouse.

GREENO: Correct.

BLITZER: So you see this. It looks like a river right outside the courthouse.

What about this current picture that we're seeing?

GREENO: This is Marathon Petroleum's offices on the left hand side. And I know that a lot of their offices were closed this morning.

BLITZER: And this goes on, I take it, for blocks and blocks and blocks?

GREENO: Correct. Correct. And this is what you see -- have been seeing all day. You see the fire truck going down the street, people just standing everywhere, not knowing what else to do but watch.

BLITZER: So what are people doing, trying to cope with this kind of problem, because I assume a lot of basements, a lot of homes have simply been flooded.

GREENO: Correct. Right now it's just a watch and wait. There's nothing we can do. There's nowhere for the water to go. But I did hear recently that the river has crested, but I don't know if that's going to continue with the rain that we're supposed to get tonight.

BLITZER: Because they're saying it could get worse before it eventually starts to dry up a little bit.

GREENO: Correct. Correct.

BLITZER: The rain is there.

You've never seen anything like this before, have you?

GREENO: Oh, no. I've just heard about the 1981 flood and this compares like -- this is, I don't know. It's unbelievable compared to the pictures that I've seen of the 1981 flood.

BLITZER: Well, we've been reporting it's the worst flooding in about 100 years out there in Ohio.

Morgan, good luck to you, at the University of Findlay.

GREENO: Thank you.

BLITZER: and good luck to everyone out there.

We're going to stay on top of this story, get you more information as it comes in. But, clearly, these pictures are very dramatic.

We'll move on to some other news now. President Bush right now doing something he's previously urged others not to do. That would be to make comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam.

In a major speech today, the commander-in-chief became sort of historian-in-chief, saying Vietnam's disturbing deadly lessons prove it will cost the United States dearly if it pulls out of Iraq too quickly.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is joining us -- Barbara, this is controversial material for the president to be raising.

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Perhaps a very delicate move for him to make, Wolf.

You know, the military, for years, has tried to avoid any comparison between Iraq and Vietnam.

As you say, today President Bush changed all of that.


STARR (voice-over): President Bush turned back the clock more than 30 years, invoking the long shadow of the Vietnam War and the U.S. withdrawal to make the case now for U.S. troops to stay in Iraq.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add new to our vocabulary new terms like "boat people," "re-education camps" and "killing fields."

STARR: But the president may be walking into a political minefield.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: By invoking Vietnam, he raised the automatic question, well, if you've learned so much from history, Mr. President, how did you ever get us involved in another quagmire?

STARR: Retired Lieutenant General Daniel Christman fought with the 101st Airborne in South Vietnam as a young officer. He sees some trends perhaps the president would rather not highlight.

LT. GEN. DANIEL CHRISTMAN (RET.), VIETNAM VETERAN: But what hurts him is this -- is the question about have we applied the right tactics and strategy to the fundamental nature of the conflict that's taking place?

And I think in the Vietnam case, if we start to go back there, people realize we totally misjudged the nature of the conflict in Vietnam.

STARR: And as President Bush tries to make the case to stay in Iraq, it may only serve to remind Americans that the military and the administration misjudged what was needed for long-term success.

CHRISTMAN: We clearly had insufficient forces to do it. And, with respect to our own tactics, applied those incompetently.


STARR: You know, Wolf, U.S. troops found themselves fighting an insurgency in Vietnam and now in Iraq, so many years later. And many analysts say one of the similarities there is enemy body counts and individual victories on the battlefield may be irrelevant in both cases -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon on this controversial subject. Thank you.

For the U.S. military in Iraq, it's the deadliest helicopter crash since 2005. Fourteen American troops are dead after their helicopter crashed near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

Officials say apparently it went down from mechanical malfunction, not from enemy fire.

Before today's crash, the Brookings Institution noted 67 U.S. military helicopters went down in Iraq.

Since May of 2003, at least 36 were downed by enemy fire. Blackhawks, in particular, were first deployed back in 1979. They're used for many Army missions. It's been in -- I've been in those Blackhawks, by the way, on several occasions. This is an incident where I was flying one of those Blackhawks in Kuwait on the way to Iraq in March of 2005. There's always, I can personally attest, a lot of worry when you're flying in a Blackhawk, especially over hostile territory.

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty.

He's in New York with The Cafferty File -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, THE CAFFERTY FILE: One other interesting parallel between the wars in Vietnam and Iraq -- nobody in the Bush or Cheney families have served in either one of them.

$15 million -- that's what some people think it will take to convince Americans to support the war in Iraq. A new conservative group called Freedom Watch is launching a $15 million, five week campaign of television, radio and Internet ads aimed at holding on to Congressional support for President Bush's surge policy in Iraq.

Now these ads will feature war veterans. They'll run while Congress waits for that September progress report from General Petraeus in Iraq.

The group is backed by supporters of the president, including former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.

The head of Freedom Watch tells "There was a large vacuum on the conservative side. People decided the time has come to fight back. This is a grassroots campaign aimed at ensuring that Congress continues to fully fund the troops with the ultimate goal of victory in the war on terror."

Anti-war groups are fighting back. They say Freedom Watch is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the White House.

So here's the question -- how far will a $15 million ad campaign go toward changing Americans' minds about the war in Iraq?

E-mail us at or go to -- Wolf. Oh, by the way, the killing fields were in Cambodia under the regime of Pol Pot and they came to an end when the army of South Vietnam invaded after we had left the neighborhood.

BLITZER: I seem to remember that, Jack.


BLITZER: Thanks very much.

You and I, and those of our viewers of a certain age, remember Vietnam and Cambodia quite well.

The owner of that in Utah wracked with emotion. Bob Murray says the mountain trapping those miners may become their gravesite. You're going to hear why he believes that directly from him. Bob Murray -- that's coming up.

Is your money paying for the brutal treatment of toy makers in China?

There are some claims that workers are being abused. We're going to go behind the scenes to take a closer look at what's going on.

And roads look like rivers, people are boating to their homes. Parts of Ohio are awash in a state of emergency. We'll have much more on this developing story in northern Ohio. These images are devastating.

Stick around.



BLITZER: In U.S. troops today, rescue efforts in the Crandall County coal mine -- in all likelihood, they're now saying, will be shutting down soon. Rescue crews got two more shots at finding six miners trapped in the mine since the collapse some 16 days ago.

CNN's Carol Costello is back here.

You spoke with the mine owner, Bob Murray, just a little while ago. Really, a heart wrenching interview you had.

Tell our viewers what he said.

COSTELLO: Oh, he's very emotional.

I talked with him on the phone earlier this afternoon. And you're right, just a few hours ago, I talked to him on camera.

The Crandall Canyon Mine will likely become those six miners' final resting place. There is very little hope now.

Bob Murray, who, frankly, does not look well, told me in tears he did everything he could and he'll stay in Utah to attend another funeral.


COSTELLO: You said that the mine will be closed down?

BOB MURRAY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MURRAY ENERGY CORPORATION: Yes, Carol. I -- the day after I helped rescue the trapped miners on Thursday, August 16th, I told the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration that we would be sending them the paperwork to seal that mine and that it would not be reopened.

COSTELLO: The day the rescue workers died, tell me about that.

MURRAY: Carol, when the seismic activity happened, I was one of the first underground, and I had my hands on all of the bodies, dead and alive, three-and-a-half miles under where we pulled them out.

It -- it traumatized me for a couple of days. I've got a job to do.

Carol, they're the heroes. They went in there and risked their lives to save these trapped miners.

COSTELLO: I want to stop you for a second, because you were inside that mine and you participated in that rescue effort of those brave men.

Tell me more about that.

What exactly did you do personally?

MURRAY: I sat on top with the coal file and mining machine where the men were trapped, gave some orders, looked after the ventilation because the oxygen was dipping, looked carefully at the administration of everybody. And I touched every one of them but one before they were pulled out of there.

I assessed their injuries. I wrote them down and -- so we could get them outside quickly, and their names. And I was one of the last to come out.

But this is not about me. This is about those nine heroes and their families. Dale Black, whose funeral I attended yesterday, one of the best mining men that Utah will ever see, one of our foremen.

I've got to go to Mr. Kimber's wake tonight. Little babies, four and five. They gave their lives. They gave their lives. And so did those guys that went in there to rescue them, too.

But three or four days ago, we had a report, in conjunction with the Mine Safety and Health Administration -- we had the best experts in the country come out and give us their opinion -- can we continue the rescue efforts underground?

And the answer was no. And I have said to the families of the trapped miners -- and I met with them every three hours in the beginning, and virtually every day since -- or somebody of my staff has lately, because I haven't been doing as well as I should with them -- that there was only one way to rescue these miners, and that was through the mine.

I've said that from day one, August 6th. We can drill holes down, Carol. And we can keep them alive, but we can't rescue them from the surface, unless we come in with some kind of new technology now.

We're not going to risk anymore lives to recovery of dead miners. If we find somebody alive, we'll look at what we do at that point.

And I'll be right here, Carol, as I have been to the end. It's my responsibility totally.

COSTELLO: Mr. Murray, I see what emotional distress you're in.

I mean how are you coping?

MURRAY: I'm doing fine, Carol.

I'm doing fine.


COSTELLO: I kept asking him that question because a lot of people have been worried about his health. In fact, he had to take a couple days away from the cameras just to rest up. You heard him say he was traumatized by finding those dead rescue workers inside the mine.

But, you know, Wolf, it's pretty clear that he thinks those six trapped miners are now dead and there's very little hope. He's going to stay. He's going to attend the funerals of the dead rescue workers.

And then from there, who knows?

He already told me that those who worked at the Crandall Canyon Mine have been transferred to another mine he owns in Utah, where they're working now.

BLITZER: Yesterday here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we heard from the spokesman from the families, from the families of those six miners. And he said they still believe they could be alive.

COSTELLO: You know, I think that they're trying to communicate with one another. But I think Bob Murray is an old school guy and he's not really good at imparting information in maybe in an effective way, that maybe newfangled people would understand. I mean -- and he even admits that, you know, he's tried, but maybe he hasn't done a good enough job at that. But there's very little hope now.

BLITZER: Our heart goes out to those families.

Carol, thank you very much.


BLITZER: And still ahead here, a stunning claim. Your money could be causing the abuse of Chinese toy makers. We're going to go behind the scenes. This is a story you're going to want to see.

And Senator Hillary Clinton fires off another missile involving Iraq. It's a fresh criticism of a major player in the war. She wants that person out. She wants him out now.

Stick around.



BLITZER: In stories from around the world, 300,000 more toys recalled today. Once again, they're made in China. Among the toys, about a quarter million SpongeBob Square Pants address books and journals for lead paint in the metal binders.

On top of the ongoing recalls, a labor advocacy group in New York says the Chinese factories that supply major U.S. toy companies are abusing their workers.

Let's go back to Mary Snow.

She is looking into this story for us.

What is this group saying -- Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this group says that Chinese workers are suffering and paying the price for cheap toys sold around the world, including the United States.


SNOW (voice-over): A startling look behind some of the biggest toy brands sold in the U.S. China Labor Watch describes conditions that often do not meet even rudimentary Chinese safety standard for factory workers. The U.S. -based advocacy group investigated and photographed eight factories inside China where it says it found "brutal labor abuses, including one where 1,000 junior high school students were working."

Some of the factories failing to meet standards supply toys to companies in Japan, Europe and the U.S., including Disney and Hasbro.

One China trade expert not involved with the report says even when buyers hire inspectors, it's not difficult for factory owners to hide shady practices.

TED FISHMAN, AUTHOR, "CHINA, INC.": What happens often in China is that there's a kind of front door factory where these inspections can take place. But there are whole mazes of back door factories where the conditions are quite, quite different. SNOW: In those so-called back factories, China Labor Watch finds: "wages are low, benefits are nonexistent, work environments are dangerous and living conditions are humiliating."

It says workers often live in squalid dormitories and cites one case where 100 workers share one bathroom. The report also cites: "Many factories verbally or even physically abuse employees."

It accuses corporations, including Hasbro, of turning a blind eye to safety to pursue lower prices.

Contacted by CNN, Hasbro said in a statement it: "...takes the report from China Labor Watch seriously and we will conduct a thorough investigation into the areas of non-compliance cites in the report."

Disney, the other U.S. company cited, says it: "..investigates all reports of infringement and takes immediate actions to remediate."

Both companies say they take the safety and well-being of their manufacturing workers seriously.


SNOW: Now Mattel was also in the news again today. A Chinese official was quoted in a state-run newspaper saying the toy maker must share the blame for its recent recall of toys for fear they were tainted with lead. The official blamed Mattel for not carrying out quality inspections.

Now, in a statement, the toy maker says the safety of children is of utmost importance to Mattel and it says: "We have been working around the clock to improve our system and have already instituted changes in our required procedures" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: How much are these workers paid out there?

SNOW: Well, you know, in this report it points out that factories have fines and fees, but it averages the wages to be just about $92 per month.

BLITZER: Mary Snow watching this story for us.

Thank you, Mary, for that.

America's grand plan for Iraq may never happen. Right now, some in the U.S. military are openly wondering if democracy will ever flourish there. Our Michael Ware is out there talking with some of them. He's going to bring you their surprisingly frank comments.

And a state of emergency in Ohio -- we'll have more on the breaking news we've been following, the unfolding disaster in that state after relentless storms unleashed some of the worst flooding in almost a century.

Stay with us.



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

Happening now, the Pentagon is scaling back its ambitious plan to get 3,500 mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles to Iraq by year's end. A military spokesman now saying it expects to deliver only 1,500 of the so-called MRAPs by then. He says it's not a matter of production, but rather of shipping.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is calling for the ouster of the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. She says he should be replaced because he can't resolve differences between warring factions in Iraq.

President Bush maintains his support for the Iraqi leader.

And officials say they've begun releasing millions of 50-year-old documents detailing life in World War II Nazi concentration camps. They're going to the U.S. Holocaust Museum here in Washington, as well as another museum in Jerusalem.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

Schools are shut down. Hundreds of people are evacuating and rescuers in boats are trying to recover people stranded in pools of water. Right now Ohio is awash in a state of emergency after relentless storms caused by some of the worst flooding in almost 100 years. We're getting I-Report photos of the flooding from our viewers in Ohio. They're on the scene. Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton -- Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, we're going to Findlay, Ohio, where in the last hour-and-a-half we've had dozens of pictures coming in from people who are showing us just what they're going through right now. First of all, to downtown Findlay. Here these pictures from Scott Courtad who works there.

He says in his pictures there you can see people being evacuated in a truck. He says the Red Cross has set up an area in an ice rink. And from his photos you can see people are just trying to use anything to get from A to B.

More pictures from Sarah Gonzalez (ph). This is the college student we heard from in the last hour who says that she just moved to Findlay yesterday. This is the scene that she's encountering, the rescue efforts trying to get people out from their flooded houses.

And then a whole set of photos from Nicki Marin who said that she spent four hours driving around today trying to get from A to B, trying to find friends and family. Found herself cut off. And her pictures really just show house after house that is under water. A vehicle there submerged as well. And not just that, this is the local cemetery. And her pictures there and also a public pool. Nicki says that the rescue efforts under way, they're doing an excellent job taking evacuees to a local rec center, but she says her brother and his family are currently stranded. There are some areas that rescuers just haven't got to yet -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you and thanks to our I-Reporters as well. Our meteorologist Chad Myers is at the CNN Severe Weather Center in Atlanta.

Chad, what's the latest forecast out there?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The latest forecast, Wolf, is for more rain this evening. Right now it's still hundreds of miles to the west. But this rain came down over the last 48 hours and here is a map. This is Indiana. Here is Illinois and here is Ohio. And right there would be Columbus.

Findlay right under this very large purple area with six- to 10- inch rainfall totals over the past 48 hours. And what has happened now, this rain is going to Tiffin, where Heidelberg College is. This rain is going now and going up into Findlay, Ohio. This is the Blanchard River, which actually eventually runs all the way to the north and to the northwest.

You would think that this water would eventually just go straight north and into let's say Lake Erie. It doesn't do that. It actually goes out toward the Maumee and then to Toledo. So this is going to be a long flood event for them.

And, in fact, I know this is a pretty difficult map to understand and you can't see the numbers but don't worry about the numbers. Just look at the lines. Back out here, 14, 18 feet. This line right there, 18 feet high. That is the old record ever for that river.

And, Wolf, we are right up to it right now. Not expected to go down. Not expected to go down for at least another day-and-a-half, down below flood stage, so they really are seeing it and this is where the rain is now. Des Moines, back to Chicago, and it's headed that way probably in about, oh, I would say, 12 to 14 hours.

Now we'll talk about Dean. Well to the north of Mexico City, although Mexico City still seeing some rain showers. There's Poza Rica. There is Nautla. This right to the north of Nautla, south of Tuxpan is where the eye came through earlier today. It is now dying but in the process, Wolf, it is going to make flooding rainfalls.

This is the Sierra Madre Occidental. This here is a very high mountain range, 9,000 feet. The rain is on the mountain now and that rain is coming down. The rain will come down and so will mud slides -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We wish those people only the best. It's going to be a rough several days for them, as well as in Ohio. Chad, thanks for that.

Let's get back to the other top story we're following. President Bush saying Vietnam offers grave warnings about pulling out of Iraq too quickly. But might the U.S. plan for democracy in Iraq actually fail? The price of that grand plan can be measured in huge sums of money and most importantly, of course, lives.

And yet the payoff for this tremendous sacrifice may not be what the United States had hoped for. CNN's Michael Ware is in Baghdad -- Michael.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, for President Bush, victory in Iraq means a successful democracy and nothing less. But with the government in Baghdad ailing, the realities on the ground, the forcing his diplomats and commanders to soften expectations of just what that democracy might look like, with some generals suggesting it may not be the solution at all.


WARE (voice-over): Two years after the euphoria of historic elections, America's plan to bring democracy to Iraq is in crisis. For the first time exasperated frontline U.S. generals talk openly of non-democratic alternatives.

BRIG. GEN JOHN BEDNAREK, U.S. ARMY: The democratic institutions are not necessarily the way ahead in the long-term future.

WARE: Iraq's institutions are simply not working. It's hard to dispute that Iraq is a failing state. Seventeen of the 37 Iraqi cabinet ministers either boycott the government or don't attend cabinet meetings. The government is unable to supply regular electricity and at times not even providing running water in the capital.

The health care system is run by one Iranian-backed militia. The police, dominated by another. Death squads terrorize Sunni neighborhoods. Sectarian cleansing pushes people into segregated enclaves, protected by Shia or U.S.-backed Sunni militias.

And thousands of innocents are dying every month. The government failures are forcing the Bush administration to curb its vision for a democratic model for the region, the cornerstone of its rationale for the war.

U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and commanding General David Petraeus declined to be interviewed but issued a joint statement to CNN. In it, they reiterate "Iraq's fundamental democratic framework is in place" and "development of democratic institutions" is being encouraged.

But Crocker and Petraeus concede they are now engaged in pursuing less lofty and ambitious goals than was the case at the outset. And now in the war's fifth year, democracy no longer features in some U.S. commanders' definitions of American victory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would describe it as leaving an effective government behind that can provide services to its people and security. There needs to be a functioning and effective government that is really a partner with the United States of America and the rest of the world in this fight against these terrorists.

WARE: This two-star general is not perturbed if those goals are reached without democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see that all over the Middle East.

WARE: Democracy he says, is an option. The Iraqis free to choose it or reject it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that is the $50,000 question is what will this government look like? Will it be a democracy? Will it not?

WARE: Security, he says, is what the U.S. soldiers are fighting for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Core to my mission is security for Iraq's people to establish a functioning government and to enhance their security forces and to defeat this enemy.

WARE: A functioning government, not necessarily a democratic one. But Iraqi government officials say the democratic government could work better if it was actually allowed to run things.

"We don't have sovereignty over our troops. We don't have sovereignty over our provinces, we admit it," says the head of the Iraqi parliament's military oversight committee. "We don't say we have full sovereignty."

For example, while the Iraqi government commands these army troops, you cannot even send them into battle without U.S. agreement.

And these Iraqi special forces troops do not answer to the Iraqi government at all, only to U.S. officers. And because of the very real prospect of Iranian infiltration, the Iraqi government doesn't fund or control its own intelligence service. Instead, it is paid for and run by the CIA.

"So is it reasonable for a country given sovereignty by the international community to have a chief of intelligence appointed by another country?" asked the head of Iraq's parliamentary watchdog committee. "We think sovereignty means the ability of a government to be elected and make its own decisions."

He may not be wrong, but a senior U.S. official in Baghdad told CNN any country with 160,000 foreigners fighting for it sacrifices some sovereignty. The U.S. has long cautioned the fully functioning democracy would be slow to emerge, but with U.S. senators calling for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ouster, some senior U.S. officers suggest the entire Iraqi government must be removed by constitutional or non-constitutional means, and they're not sure democracy need replace it.


WARE: Either way, if a successful democracy does manage to emerge in Iraq, it's not going to be the one that President Bush originally had in mind -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Michael Ware, doing some excellent reporting for us from the scene. Michael, thank you very much.

Up next, they're waiting for a secret to be revealed and they're sure it will lead to world peace their way. Stay with us for a special preview of a CNN special report you're going to want to see.

Plus, the battle of the bulge. Wait until you hear what a new study just out this hour says about the long-term effects of stomach stapling. Stay with us, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Russian warplanes allegedly swooping into unauthorized airspace are getting perilously close. A display of military fighters and helicopters in a Moscow air show and joint exercises. Military exercises with China, it's all part of a recent show of force by Russia. So what does it all mean? Joining us now, our world affairs analyst William Cohen. He is chairman and CEO of the Cohen Group here in Washington.

Vladimir Putin, he is flexing his muscles right now in ways that the West may not like.

WILLIAM COHEN, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, he's -- I think he has been taking some oil-based steroids. Because of the revenues coming in from oil, they're now getting wealthier.

BLITZER: They export a lot of oil, so they're making a ton of money.

COHEN: They're making money and they are now starting to rebuild their military. President Putin is upset with the fact that he saw the deterioration of the Soviet empire, following the end of the Cold War. He saw NATO starting expand, incorporate those former Soviet republics into NATO. He is seeing a missile defense system being erected potentially with the Czech Republic and also with Poland.

And so all of these in combination of not having "respect" for Russia, sort of the Rodney Dangerfield of the greater Europe, has caused him to say, we're still here and we're going to be good or great again and beware.

BLITZER: You know, because these Russian bombers, they got very close to British airspace, you're the former defense secretary. What do you do in a situation like that when you have Russian bombers getting very close to your airspace? You're scrambling your own Royal Air Force fighters to go up there. This is a perilous potential situation.

COHEN: Potentially it could be very dangerous. There could be accidental -- or miscalculations take place which would put us on a very perilous path. I think what you have to do is you have to scramble, you have to send the signal to the Russians that you can't do this with impunity. You can't cross the line, that we're not going to react to it.

It could be a testing on the part of the Russians to see how quickly we can react. But it is also a signal on their part to say we're back and we're going to be much more aggressive in our diplomatic and economic and military operations in the Middle East, throughout Asia and throughout central Asia in particular.

BLITZER: He's getting rather bombastic in some of his statements. In The Times of London, he was quoted this week as saying: "Russia has a very important goal, which is to retain leadership in the production of military equipment." And some of that military equipment going to countries not necessarily all that friendly to the U.S. and the West, like Iran, for example.

COHEN: Well, Iran, by way of example, but we have discussed this before that you now have the situation where there is a proposed package to go to the Gulf states. Russia, China sitting on the edge watching that to see whether they can get in. Russia has been trying to get a foothold in the Middle East for decades now. And China, of course, is dependent upon having an access to that pipeline coming out of Iran and other areas in the Middle East.

So they are working together. They're exercising together. They're sending signals that perhaps the United States is not going to be quite as dominant a country and a power as it has been in recent years.

BLITZER: Echoes of the Cold War, let's hope those echoes go away. Thanks very much, Secretary Cohen, for joining us.

COHEN: A pleasure.

BLITZER: Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, our own Christiane Amanpour covers up to interview a man who, get this, won't even look at her. Stay with us for a preview of her special report, "God's Warriors."

And how far will a $15 million ad campaign go toward changing Americans' opinions about the Iraq War? Jack Cafferty standing by with your e-mail. Stay with us, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Tonight, part two of a major CNN event, "God's Warriors." Our senior international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, looks deep inside Islam, including the history of a Ninth Century Shiite cleric whose return is eagerly awaited by millions. Tonight, Islam's savior, the Hidden Imam. Here is a preview.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To find out more about the mysterious Hidden Imam, I traveled to the holy city of Qom, Iran's center of religious power.

(on camera): Before going into interview some of these conservative clerics, I had been warned to make sure that I wore the strictly traditional head scarf, head covering. So, I'm now going to remove the one I traditionally have to wear here, and I'm going to -- out here in the car quickly put this very tight-fitting covering over my head. I can't do it.

(voice-over): So, I went to this Islamic dress shop for some professional advice.

(on camera): So, this lady is helping me, because it's actually rather difficult to organize. There's an elastic band around the back of my head holding all this in place.

Can you believe this -- women have to do this every day?

(voice-over): By the time I was deemed sufficiently covered...

(on camera): Salaam alaikum.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Salaam alaikum.

(voice-over): ... the head of the Bright Future Institute, studying the Hidden Imam, wouldn't look at me anyway, nor would he shake my hand, because I'm a woman.

(on camera): My name is Christiane Amanpour from CNN, and we have come to find out about the Bright Future and how you see it.

H.I. ALI LARI, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, BRIGHT FUTURE INSTITUTE (through translator): You are welcome here, and we are at your disposal.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): I discovered that the Hidden Imam mysteriously disappeared centuries ago and that God has kept him alive since then so that he can return one day and usher in a new era of peace and Islamic justice.

This center is waiting to welcome him, and it's abuzz with activity. Clerics pore over religious texts, and people even call in to ask exactly when the Hidden Imam is coming back.

(on camera): The phone is ringing.

(voice-over): Right now, clerics tell me, the imam is hiding like the sun on a cloudy day. That's the message they're sending even to children all over the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to go to a faraway land, and I want us to go on the journey together, to ride on the clouds and go to the land of dreams, the land of wishes, to the end of the world.

AMANPOUR (on camera): What are the conditions, what has there to be in the world, for the Hidden Imam to come?

H.I. ABDOLLAH REZAIE, DIRECTOR OF CULTURE AND ARTS, BRIGHT FUTURE INSTITUTE (through translator): All the world's ideologies will falter. Communism came and went, and liberal democracy will also fail. And, when nobody can provide a solution, that's when the Hidden Imam will appear, saying, I'm the answer. And he will save the world.


BLITZER: Christiane Amanpour's special report "God's Warriors," is an unprecedented event. Tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, once again, tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only, only here on CNN. Part one was last night. Part two tonight. Part three tomorrow night.

Jack Cafferty is joining us with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Some remarkable parallels that occurred to me watching that between the Hidden Imam and Christianity's view of when the second coming of Jesus Christ will occur and under what conditions. Pretty remarkable stuff.

The question this hour is how far will a $15 million advertising campaign go toward changing Americans' opinions about the war in Iraq?

Richard in Louisiana writes: "This is will not change the public's mind about Iraq one bit. Enough money has been spent on this war, enough lives have been lost. There is no need for a campaign to keep Bush's ideas or his war going."

John writes: "I suspect $15 million will buy a good deal of time to support the war effort. But compared to the media's campaign, that amount of money is a drop in the bucket. How much would it cost to replace you, Jack? Think how much daily anti-war, anti-Bush, and America-bashing they could reduce by paying to get you off cable."

David in York, South Carolina: "If they were to give it all to me, I wouldn't change my mind, $15 million, billion, zillion, it's not going to work."

Chase in Georgia: "It doesn't matter how much money the Bush administration spends to try and change America's mind. Clearly the reason the administration is spending this money is because they see that America is not happy."

Richard writes: "These ads aren't aimed at the U.S. public, they're aimed at 41 members of Congress, 37 of them Republicans. The objective is to keep Republicans supporting a failed policy in order to save the president's rear end."

And Steve in Illinois: "Well, quite a bit if they use the same people who do the commercials for Hardee's. America is full of people with the intellect of a horny 16-year-old. Maybe the new slogan will be something like 'Iraq: It might be while before you figure out it's not a video game.'"

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to We post more of them online along with video clips of the "Cafferty File" -- Wolf.

CAFFERTY: Jack, thanks very much.

Still ahead, somebody's submarine surfaces off the Pacific coast with some very interesting cargo inside. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Here is a look at some of today's "Hot Shots." In Afghanistan, an elderly man and his son shield their eyes from the rising sun in a town southwest of the capital.

In Ukraine, President Viktor Yushchenko watches rescue workers try to put out a forest fire from very close range.

In Sri Lanka, a student hits a tear gas canister, sending it back to police during a protest. And in southern Germany, paragliders are seen landing over the mountains of the Black Forest. Some of this hour's "Hot Shots," pictures often worth a thousand words.

Let's go back to Carol Costello. She is monitoring some other incoming stories to THE SITUATION ROOM -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Score one for the U.S. Customs and border protection agencies eyes in the skies. One of the high-tech planes caught a semi-submarine full of cocaine in the eastern Pacific Ocean this weekend. That's a little sub. The four alleged smugglers tried to sink their boat with most of its $352 million cargo just before a Navy ship pulled up to arrest them.

One of Georgia's "Barbie Bandits" has had a change of heart. The surveillance video of this $11,000 bank robbery last February made a big splash because the robbers looked so young and they kept giggling. Well, today, 19-year-old Heather Johnston tearfully pleaded guilty to felony theft and marijuana possession. Her accomplice, a bank teller and another man still face charges.

And you know those radical treatments for obesity like stomach stapling? Well, they work. A first of its kind long-term study out just this hour shows people who offer such drastic surgery not only have long-lasting weight loss, they live longer.

They were almost 178,000 obesity operations in the United States last years. And now there might be more.

That's a look at the headlines right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: See you back here in an hour. Thanks very much, Carol, for that.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM, up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." Lisa Sylvester is sitting in for Lou -- Lisa.