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Hamas Says Israeli Soldier Alive; Hilary's Terror Remarks; Nagin Vs. Bush; Vick Suspended Indefinitely; Ruling Against Ex- Dictator; Mother Teresa's Crisis of Faith; Bikini Model Turned Newscaster

Aired August 24, 2007 - 19:00   ET


Happening now -- hurricane recovery outrage, two years after Katrina the New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, accusing President Bush of playing politics and making Louisiana pay.

Plus, crushing terror, when the bridge collapsed, the desperate calls to 911 came pouring in. You're going to want to hear now for the first time these just released tapes from Minneapolis. You'll want to hear them yourself.

And suspended indefinitely without any pay, the NFL punishing the quarterback Michael Vick for his role in a dog fighting ring, tonight his guilty plea is in. His career may be over.

I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's begin with the report though just in from Syria where Hamas has delivered a tough new message on the fate of a kidnapped Israeli soldier. Let's go to our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson.

He's joining us now in Damascus. Nic, tell our viewers what's going on because you've just met with one of the main leaders of Hamas, a rare opportunity in Damascus.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Wolf. I just met with (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It was a meeting of several hours here. He is one of the principal leaders of Hamas, and the Israeli government believes he was behind the kidnapping of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit in Gaza last June, June last year.

Now, there has been no visual identification or no visual record that Gilad Shalit is alive and well. Halid Mashall (ph) said Gilad Shalit is alive, is being treated humanitarianly by Hamas. He says that Hamas has reached out to Gilad Shalit's father to let the family know that Gilad Shalit is alive and well.

He has said that Gilad Shalit requested glasses for medical reasons, and that those have been provided by Hamas. But the overriding message here is that Hamas wants to use Gilad Shalit to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners. Hamas says that there are some 11,000 Palestinian prisoners. They've been negotiating they say through an Egyptian intermediary. They say they have put forward the names of 350 Palestinians they want released, and right now Halid Mashall (ph) from Hamas says that he blames the Israelis for those negotiations, those talks breaking down -- Wolf.

BLITZER: He's also asking specifically for one Palestinian leader who's been sentenced for terrorism by the Israelis. Marwan Barghouti is a very popular Palestinian. Would it be -- are you hearing from Halid Mashall (ph) that they want to swap Gilad Shalit for Marwan Barghouti?

ROBERTSON: It goes beyond that, Wolf. One of the reasons that Halid Mashall (ph) says that the negotiations have broken down in the past is because he said that Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, had agreed to swap a number of Palestinian criminals, robbers and such like, and not Palestinian leaders that Halid Mashall (ph) and Hamas want released.

I did ask him if Marwan Barghouti, who has been put in jail in Israel for murder on several counts of murder in 2004, I asked him if Marwan Barghouti was one of those he wanted released. He said yes. Marwan Barghouti was right at the top of the list, that there are a lot of senior Palestinian figures that they want released.

It's interesting that they want Marwan Barghouti released, because he is a leader from the Fatah party, a party that Hamas -- a Palestinian party that Hamas has gone to war with essentially and now won't even talk to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nic Robertson, doing some exclusive reporting for us, a rare opportunity to get into Damascus and interview the Hamas leader. Thanks, Nic, very much.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is raising some eyebrows once again today. This time it's for comments she made suggesting Republicans would get a political boost next year from a terrorist assault. Let's go to CNN's Mary Snow.

She's following up on Senator Clinton's remarks. Set the stage for us, Mary. Tell our viewers what you're learning.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, Senator Clinton is coming under fire tonight from fellow Democrats, at least three of them, over comments she made about Republicans and terrorism. Others say they are just puzzled by what she said.



SNOW (voice-over): Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton was playing up her experience. But some question her case for being tough on terrorism when she laid out this scenario. It's running on "The Washington Post" Web site. H. CLINTON: It's a horrible prospect to ask yourself what if, what if. But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world. And so I think I'm the best of the Democrats to deal with that as well.

LARRY SABATO, UNIV. OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: It's an odd thing for her to say. It doesn't help her. It probably helps Giuliani and may help some of her opponents.

SNOW: Republican Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, for one, has repeatedly tried to paint Democrats as weak on national security. And terrorism, says one Democratic pollster, is an area where Democrats are at a disadvantage.

GEOFF GARIN, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Right now this is an election where on virtually every issue the Democrats have the wind at their backs. But terrorism is the one issue that lets the Republicans level the playing field.

SNOW: Echoing that sentiment former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis was quoted in the "New York Observer" this week, saying quote, "some crazy guy will blow up a building with three weeks to go, you know, and then we'll be back in Bush land again." Democratic pollster Geoff Garin says Republicans aren't perceived as being strong on national security as they once were, but...

GARIN: Whoever is the Democratic nominee is going to have to show that they're strong. That they're resolute, that they're committed to doing whatever it takes to protect the country.


SNOW: And reacting to Senator Clinton's comments, Democrat Christopher Dodd calls them tasteless. John Edwards calls them troubling, saying political calculations shouldn't factor into discussions about terrorism. Bill Richardson had similar criticisms. A spokesman for Senator Clinton says the senator was making clear she has the strength and experience to keep the country safe -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Mary. Thank you -- Mary Snow reporting.

Tonight the New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, says White House politics is stunting his city's hurricane recovery. Only days before the second anniversary of Katrina, Nagin is now accusing President Bush of holding up federal aid money because of Louisiana's Democratic leadership. Mr. Bush may have something to say about that when he returns to the Gulf Coast next week. Let's go to our Gulf Coast correspondent Susan Roesgen.

You had a chance to speak with the mayor, Susan, and he had some pretty stark comments.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, Mayor Nagin has said some unusual things since Hurricane Katrina. But this is the first time that we've heard him blame this city's slow recovery on presidential politics.


MAYOR RAY NAGIN (D), NEW ORLEANS: I'm tired of in between whether this is going to be a red state or a blue state. You have a Democratic governor and a Republican president and there are all sorts of tension there and it's slowed things down tremendously.

ROESGEN: Are you suggesting that a Republican president doesn't care about citizens of this country who are Democrats?

NAGIN: No, I wouldn't say that. But I think that, you know, as you look at the landscape, and if he has a preference to work with the Haley Barbour in Mississippi and work things through very smoothly, and work with Kathleen Blanco, and she's not as versed, or not as comfortable with dealing with him, things will slow down.

ROESGEN: That's a pretty hot thing to say. I mean the Mississippi's faring better with the feds because it's a red state, and we're not faring as well because...

NAGIN: The facts speak for themselves. If you go look at the per capita funding that's gone to Mississippi -- and look, I'm not complaining. I think we've gotten a lot of money to help us. We haven't moved the money as quickly, and I think we have an opportunity to go back. But the facts are the facts. On a per capita basis of residents, or damaged buildings, Mississippi has fared much better.

ROESGEN: Could it be that they have better leadership on the ground?

NAGIN: I don't know. I've given you my theory. That may be your theory.


ROESGEN: So Mayor Nagin says look at the facts, and that's just what we did. We looked at the facts and it turns out that the federal government promised about $116 billion for the entire Gulf Coast recovery. And Louisiana was promised almost twice as much as Mississippi, $60 billion earmarked for Louisiana, 23 billion earmarked for Mississippi. However, the big problem for both states still remains, Wolf, a slow trickle of that money down here to people on the ground who really need it to start rebuilding.

BLITZER: Could be a tense encounter next week when the president heads back to New Orleans. And he gets together with Mayor Nagin. Susan, thanks very much.

For the record, by the way, Louisiana isn't necessarily considered a blue state. It's been a red state at least in recent presidential elections. President Bush won Louisiana back in 2004, with 57 percent of the vote compared to 42 percent for the Democratic nominee John Kerry. Mr. Bush also won Louisiana in 2000, getting 53 percent of the vote, versus Democrat Al Gore who got 45 percent.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty, he's in New York with "The Cafferty File" -- hi, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: How you doing, Wolf. The number of bad bosses could be increasing in this country. The "Los Angeles Times" reports that some experts say the ranks of bullying superiors are actually growing as short-staffed companies pick managers with poor people skills. That never happens in the television business, though.

They also say that today's workers are more likely to complain or quit their jobs rather than suffer in silence. For those who are serious about complaining, lawmakers around the country are considering legislation that would allow employees to sue their bosses. A bill in New Jersey would allow employees to ask for as much as $25,000 in damages if an employer creates an abusive work environment.

New York, Vermont, Washington State all looking into similar measures, and a group in California is working to bring a "sue the boss" bill back to life. Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO out with the results of its second annual "My Bad Boss" contest this week, the winners were a man with cancer who said his boss threw away his disability benefit paperwork, and a help desk employee who said he was forced to stay at his desk and work during an office fire.

They won vacations, while six runners-up got "bad boss" survival kits. These include earplugs for the obvious reason, the screaming, and Aretha Franklin's recording of "Respect". The group says while the contest is a fun way to vent, it also shines a not very flattering light on the American workplace. It's Friday night. It's your turn to vent.

Here's the question. What's the worst experience you ever had with a boss? E-mail us -- there it is -- or go to What do you think about that idea, Wolf, being able to sue your boss?

BLITZER: Not bad.


CAFFERTY: Of course, there would be no need here at CNN.

BLITZER: You know you -- of course not here, but you can sue anybody anytime you want. The question is will you win.

CAFFERTY: Yes, that's a good point.

BLITZER: Yes. Jack, thanks very much. See you in a few moments.

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: 911-calls from the collapsed bridge. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are hundreds of cars down the river. Bring everything you've got.


BLITZER: We're going to hear now for the first time what it was like for drivers as that bridge below them gave way. They've just released some of the audio tapes from those 911-calls.

Plus, spacey love triangle, a former astronaut says she's sorry to the woman she's accused of attacking.

And suspended indefinitely from the NFL without pay, Michael Vick hit hard with a job loss and a guilty plea.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: You're about to hear moments of sheer terror and utter disbelief. They're the recordings of the 911-calls made right after an interstate highway bridge in Minneapolis fell into the Mississippi River. It happened August 1st, 13 people died. The recordings have now only been released.

Carol Costello has been listening to them and I take it, Carol, I haven't heard them, they're pretty ominous.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: They're really chilling. I mean it's amazing to listen to them. Seconds after that bridge collapsed, calls started pouring in to 911. About 100 people called in, in two minutes. And right around 6:05 when that bridge came down. Now at first dispatchers didn't believe the callers. One of them I heard even hung up on a caller. But after a few minutes, those dispatchers did believe. They dispatched emergency crews quickly to the scene. A sample of what those operators were dealing with.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I was on the bridge. It just collapsed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm in the middle, I'm not, not bad. I'm in the middle of the river, though.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're in the middle of the river. Are you in a car?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. No, I'm out of the car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Are you floating in the river then? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I'm on like a little island part in the middle. There are a lot of people here, too, and I think there could be people trapped in cars, is what I'm really worried about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we have help on the way. Have they gotten there yet?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven't seen anyone yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, because help is on the way. We have fire trucks, the police, the ambulance are all on the way. I will let them know. How many people are on the island with you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just me and another guy right now, but there's a few (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at least 20 people, 20, 25 people here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. I will let them know. They're on the way to help you guys, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911, do you have an emergency or can you hold?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Send everything you've got. The whole bridge over the river fell down. There are cars all over the place.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 35 down on the Mississippi down by the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). (UNINTELLIGIBLE) There's hundreds of cars down the river. Bring everything you've got...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Sir, we're getting them started. OK.



COSTELLO: And of course, they did bring everything they had. Traffic was heavy when that bridge fell down. Thirteen people were killed, 100 injured. As to what caused the bridge to buckle, well the National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating that.

BLITZER: What a story that was, my God, all right. Thanks very much, Carol. There are a lot more of those tapes as well.

Only hours after admitting he helped kill dogs, the NFL star, Michael Vick, is now suspended indefinitely from the NFL. And the quarterback will no longer be paid. The NFL says its commissioner told Vick that today. The commissioner says Vick's actions are in his words cruel and reprehensible, and that they violate the terms of his contract with the NFL. This comes after Vick laid out a stunning admission of guilt in court documents today.

CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Vick, who months ago, was throwing for touchdowns as the star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, now has thrown himself before the mercy of a federal court, admitting in court papers to dog fighting.


GRIFFIN: The one count plea to be entered by Vick in Richmond, Virginia Monday charges Vick with conspiracy, a charge that could bring as much as a five-year prison term. Responding to a possible plea deal earlier this week, one of Vick's defense attorneys indicated the agile (ph) quarterback couldn't run from his past.

DANIEL MEACHUM, MICHAEL VICK'S ATTORNEY: He's accepting responsibilities for those charges. And he's trying to put the pieces of his life back together. And ask that you pray for him and forgive him for any wrongdoings that he may have involved in.

GRIFFIN: Three co-defendants have already pleaded guilty. And all three gave graphic details about how Michael Vick's Virginia property was the headquarters of bad news kennels, that dogs were raised there to fight, that Vick not only financed the operation, but took part in gambling. And that Michael Vick personally killed under- performing dogs by drowning and electrocution.


GRIFFIN: In his plea agreement today, Vick's lawyers appeared to be trying to minimize the damage. Specifically saying while Vick financed the operation, even put up money for purses, he did not bet on the dogs. He did admit, however, to agreeing to the killing of six to eight dogs that did not perform well in so-called testing sessions. The dogs were killed by various methods, including hanging and drowning.

And, the summary states, Vick agrees and stipulates that these dogs all died as a result of the collective efforts of his co- defendants Purnell Peace, Quanis Phillips and himself, Vick. Neither Vick nor the prosecution had anything to say about the plea deal beyond the court filings. Once the plea is entered in court Monday, a federal judge will decide whether to accept it and then set a sentencing date.

A source familiar with details of the case says prosecutors will ask the judge to send the star quarterback to prison for no less than 18 months.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


BLITZER: Space love triangle, a former astronaut apologizes to the woman she's accused of assaulting.

Plus, friends of the White House, a Republican lobbying firm here in Washington now trying to undermine the prime minister of Iraq. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Now to a case that supposedly is a little out there, the so-called NASA love triangle. Today a pretrial hearing began for Lisa Nowak, the former astronaut accused of stalking a romantic rival. CNN's John Zarrella was in court for testimony and everything from Nowak's ankle monitor to suspicious diapers.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former astronaut Lisa Nowak apologized to the other woman.

LISA NOWAK, FORMER ASTRONAUT: I would like her to know how very sorry I am about having frightened her in any way. And about the subsequent public harassment that has besieged all of us.

ZARRELLA: Nowak's statement came at the end of a pretrial hearing where Nowak, the accused, and Colleen Shipman, the victim, were both present, seeing each other for the first time since an alleged love triangle between the two women and shuttle astronaut Bill Oefelein (ph) came to a head. Nowak allegedly attacked Shipman with pepper spray at the Orlando airport. During the hearing, Nowak's attorney argued that the monitoring device his client is forced to wear is unnecessary. That she is not a threat. On the stand, Nowak promised to stay clear of Shipman if the ankle bracelet is removed.

NOWAK: I can absolutely say that I will not go to Brevard County.

ZARRELLA: Next on the stand, Colleen Shipman saying there is a comfort level knowing Nowak is being monitored but admitting she traveled to Houston to visit her boyfriend, going to the same city where Nowak lives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ms. Shipman, did it still make you feel better that you knew that she couldn't come near you or be around you?

CAPT. COLLEEN SHIPMAN, U.S. AIR FORCE: Absolutely. When I'm home alone and there's nobody there with me, it is a comfort.

ZARRELLA: Much of the hearing's testimony came from Police Officer William Becton. Nowak's attorney, Donald Lykkebak, wants evidence collected, the BB gun, the mallet and the interview Becton conducted with Nowak after her arrest thrown out saying she never really agreed to talk without an attorney.

DONALD LYKKEBAK, NOWAK'S ATTORNEY: And you asked for that commitment of her, to speak to you without advising her of her constitutional rights known as the Miranda warning, isn't that right?

OFFICER WILLIAM BECTON, ORLANDO, FLORIDA POLICE: I wouldn't say that's totally accurate. ZARRELLA: Lykkebak has maintained that the stories his client wore a diaper when she drove from Houston to Orlando were preposterous. On the stand Officer Becton (ph) testified he found three soiled diapers in her car.

BECTON: She said that she used the diapers in order to pee so that she didn't have to make as many stops.

ZARRELLA: The judge has yet to rule on any of the issues. Nowak's trial is set to begin next month.


BLITZER: That was John Zarrella reporting for us from Florida.

Tonight, democracy Iraqi style...


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is no government here. And anyone who says there is, is either delusional or trying to spin a line. There's nothing here for America to work with.


BLITZER: Our man in Baghdad, Michael Ware gives us a reality check on the political turmoil in Iraq right now.

And hip-hop diplomacy, are anti-war artists now singing the Bush administration's tune?

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


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

Happening now, China says it's declaring war on tainted exports -- the country's vice premier saying a campaign to clean up its foods, drugs, toys, and other exports is starting now and it will last until the end of the year.

As of today, a child killer has a date with the executioner. A Florida judge sentenced John Couey to death for the 2005 abduction, rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford. Couey buried her alive.

And in a case of delayed justice, reputed Ku Klux Klansman James Ford Seale (ph) is sentenced to three life terms for his part in the 1964 murders of two African-American teens in Mississippi.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

There are eye-opening new details about the effort right here in Washington to pull the rug out from under Iraq's current government. This is potentially a huge embarrassment to the Bush administration, lots of intrigue going on in Washington right now. Our White House correspondent Ed Henry has the story from Crawford, Texas, where the president is vacationing -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this opens a window on how Washington really works. Big-time republican lobbyists who are normally on board with the White House, this time slapping the president in the face by working to undermine Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki while promoting former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi as a potential successor.

Why would these republicans be doing it? Well, we got some new details today. The lobbying firm Barber Griffith Rogers is getting, listen to this, $300,000 for six months of lobbying work, that's 50,000 bucks a month. These details first reported by a blog run by the former CNN Executive Eason Jordan.

Now also interesting, we've learned that the lobbyist who is handling the Allawi account is Ambassador Robert Blackwell. What's interesting about that? He's a former envoy to Iraq for President Bush, served as a deputy national security adviser. I asked White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe today what this says about the president's policy that even former top advisers are now turning against it.

GORDON JOHNDROE, NATL. SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESMAN: Far be it for me to judge why people, you know, sign contracts for whatever reason. I'm sure they have a desire to help out their client. But their former administration officials, administration policy remains unchanged. There is a sovereign elected government with Prime Minister Maliki and the presidency council.

HENRY: You might ask, what are these republican lobbyists doing for the $300,000? It's interesting, so far they've mostly been sending e-mails to members of Congress in both parties, and their staffs, as well as various people in the media. These emails basically say good things about Allawi, their client, obviously. But also our newspaper clips from "The New York Times" and other publications that show Maliki in a bad light, stories saying he's not stepping up to get the job done on political reconciliation in Iraq. These are stories that are already out in the public domain. They're emailing them around and 300,000 bucks for six months of work. Pretty good work if you can get it.


BLITZER: Ed Henry covering the story for us. Ed broke this story for us yesterday.

Ayad Allawi is also in the news for something the political block runs is doing. That block, a major one in Iraq's government, is now pulling out of the country's cabinet. It's a major show of no confidence in the Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Joining us now from Baghdad, our correspondent Michael Ware. Michael, at least from this vantage point, it looks like this Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is slowly by surely falling apart. Shia coalition partners are leaving. Sunni partners are leaving. Big picture, what's going on?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I mean, really, there's never been an Iraqi government. I mean, it's never been a so so-called entity. It's been an apparition from the beginning, a loose coalition of militias, most of them according to western intelligence, backed by Iran, jammed together. So really, there's never been a functioning government here.

It's certainly not delivering services to its people. I mean, it can't even guarantee running water in its capital, can't provide electricity. Of Maliki's 37 cabinet ministers, 17 just don't show up to cabinet meetings, or are actually boycotting the government. We now see yet another political block that represented by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi now announcing it, too, has withdrawn. Effectively, there's four more ministers gone. Wolf, there is no government here. And anyone who says there is, is either delusional or trying to spin a line. There's nothing here for America to work with.

BLITZER: Yesterday John Warner, the Republican Senator from Virginia, the ranking member of the armed services committee, said the U.S. has to send a powerful signal to the Iraqi government, and announce it's starting to withdraw troops, get some of them home by Christmas, maybe only 5,000. But on a practical level, and you've been there for four years plus now, Michael, what happens when U.S. forces move out of an area and say to the Iraqis, you guys take over. You're in charge now. Practically speaking, what happens?

WARE: Well, that sends a strong signal to the militia factions who own this country, and whichever region we're particularly talking about where the U.S. forces withdraw, that it's game on. Power is yours. I mean, that's what's holding this country together, are militias. I mean, comparisons to Lebanon in the '80s are not that far off base.

I'm sorry, about with all respect to Senator Warner, he is absolutely kidding himself. If I were withdrawing 5,000 troops is going to send any kind of a message, or that America can withdraw without serious penalty. The strongest message that would send is American defeat.

And if you want a clear-cut example of both the power of that message, and what happens on the ground, just look at Basra in the south. The Brits have all but been forced to abandon Basra. What's happened? Rival sparring, brawling, Iranian-backed militia have taken over and it's turning into an absolute disaster. That's a glimmer of Iraq's future without American forces.

BLITZER: Pretty depressing information. Michael Ware, thanks very much for joining us.

WARE: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: And this important programming note for our viewers. I'll be speaking exclusively with the former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi on "LATE EDITION." The interview airs Sunday morning 11:00 a.m. Eastern, two hours of "LATE EDITION" coming up on Sunday.

Unlikely diplomats, a hip-hop funk band recruited by the state department.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were some funny guidelines that were a joke like you can do anything you want, but just don't burn bush in effigy.

BLITZER: Find out why a band that's anti-ware, anti-President Bush was sent to the Middle East to boost the U.S. image abroad.

An anchor woman, a bikini model turned newscaster, canceled after just one day. Jeanne Moos with a most unusual story coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: In our look at some stories from around the world, they're hip-hop artists that don't support President Bush. So why are they working for the Bush Administration? Our state department correspondent Zain Verjee is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. A lot of people are talking about this story, Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: A lot of people are dancing as well, wolf. The state department is really reaching out to a young hip band to do the kind of diplomacy that it can't, in the Arab and Muslim world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are so honored to be here and glad to connect with people.

VERJEE: High-energy music in a high-tension part of the world.

The popular Los Angeles band Ozomatli, hip hop funk, no fans of U.S.

RAUL PACHECO, MEMBER OF OZOMATLI: We don't agree with this war. We haven't since the get-go.

VERJEE: But they're the state department's unlikely diplomats.

PACHECO: There were funny guidelines that were a joke. You can do anything you want, but just don't burn Bush in effigy.

VERJEE: Since 9/11 the state department's increasing cultural exchanges like this, artists carrying the torch of freedom and creativity.

ALINA ROMANOWSKI, DEP. ASST. SECRETARY OF STATE: We want to make sure we reach out to younger, broader audiences that we haven't been able to reach.

VERJEE U.S. taxpayers paid for Ozomatli to go and perform in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia, places where the U.S. wants a better image. Whether it's in the Middle East or back home, for these roving diplomats, it's not about the politics, it's all about the music. ULISES BELLA, MEMBER OF OZOMATLI: For me, I was never -- never had this naive notion that my music was going to change something over there. It was going to change maybe the perceptions of anything that might have happened in Iraq.

VERJEE: Connecting one on one makes the difference.

BELLA: We're walking around the pyramids, and this guy just came up to me and said, where are you from? I'm from Los Angeles. I love Americans! But I can't stand your government! And you know what? All of a sudden it opened up a dialog.

VERJEE: Ozomatli admits some of their longtime fans cried sellout.

PACHECO: There's an element of you know kind of a compromise going on here. On a certain level, I think that is part of the agenda. I think for us we felt we could transcend that. It was worth it to even take that chance.

VERJEE: It was worth jamming with local musicians, visiting with kids, legends have played the same tune before. Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie took jazz and the U.S. message around the world.

LISA CURTIS, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: During the cold war, people realized the importance of cultural diplomacy. We need that same kind of invigoration.

VERJEE: It's hard to change opinions about the U.S. abroad, but experts say cultural exchanges like this are just one tool in the kit but the payoff, though, Wolf, just takes a really long time.

BLITZER: Fascinating material. And good music as well. Zain, looks like you had fun doing that story.

VERJEE: Yes. Too much.

BLITZER: He once was U.S. enemy number one. Now after 15 years in a Miami prison, the former Panamanian dictator, Manuel Noriega, may have to face more drug related charges. This time in France. A federal judge issued a ruling today on Noriega's legal fate. Our national correspondent Susan Candiotti is in Miami.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's we instead of si. A federal judge is refusing to stand in the way of Manuel Noriega's scheduled extradition hearing next week to France instead of Panama.

Manuel Noriega wanted to serve out the last month of his prison time in the U.S. and then go home to Panama. But a federal judge put the kibosh on that dream ruling that the former dictator can first be sent to France where he faces a 10 year sentence for money laundering. Noriega's attorneys had argued that his unique status as a POW requires him to be sent back to his home country.

FRANK RUBINO, NORIEGA ATTORNEY: He was very disappointed, very displeased. He was hoping that the judge would have done the right thing and sent him back to Panama.

CANDIOTTI: But the judge hearing the case disagreed. His written order reading, "This court never intended for the proclamation as the defendant as a POW to shield him from all future prosecutions for serious crimes he's alleged to have committed."

Even if Noriega had been sent to Panama, he faced prison time there for murdering political opponents. But his attorney suggested a secret deal had been cut to send Noriega to France to keep him from destabilizing the country he once ran. French authorities say Noriega owes a debt for misdeeds he committed there while in bed with Colombian drug lords.

DENIS SIMMONEAU, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTRY: Mr. Noriega and his wife were sentenced of money laundering, because of drug trafficking. It is because of this traffic and the fact there were some strange financing, that they were sentenced by a French tribunal.

CANDIOTTI: If Noriega is sent to France, it may mean a change in lifestyle. During the nearly 18 years he spent behind bars in the U.S., Manuel Noriega's POW status allowed him to wear a general's uniform at court appearances and received $58 a month from the government. Prison officials gave him a private cell with a TV and exercise equipment. French officials say they do not await Noriega in their prisons.

The decision means Noriega is running out of legal options. His extradition hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday in Miami.


BLITZER: Susan, thank you. Susan Candiotti reporting.

She inspired the faith and hopes of countless people. But now we learn Mother Teresa had her doubts. Coming up, the fascinating private letters of a woman on track for sainthood.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Mother Teresa stands as an icon as selflessness ten years after her death. She's even on the fast track to sainthood. But despite decades of giving her life to India's poorest people and to God, the late nun did have some doubts. Let's go to CNN's Carol Costello. She's here to tell us about letters that are only now, Carol, emerging, which paint a little bit of a different picture.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does. It surprises a lot of people. Mother Teresa never wanted these letters made public, but the church overruled her. And in reading them, you can understand why. Mother Teresa, at times in her life, was in a dark place. That shook her faith in God.

Mother Teresa symbolizes religious devotion for millions of Christians. But newly released letters reveal she actually had a crisis of faith and questioned God's presence. The new book, "Come Be My Light," exposes a letter she wrote to Reverend Michael Vanderpete (ph). She said, "Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen, and do not hear." This from an extraordinary woman who won the Nobel Prize for doing God's work, tending to the poorest of the poor, who often told the world to have faith.

MOTHER TERESA: It is not enough to say for us to say, I love God. But I also have to love my neighbor. St. John said that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don't love your neighbor.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: I don't think she believed that she was lying to the world. On the other hand, I think that she clearly did feel a conflict between presenting herself as a role model of holiness, and knowing what was going on inside her own heart and her own soul.

COSTELLO: According to the author, Mother Teresa's doubts began after she had a mystical experience onboard a train in 1946. She told friends in one of her letters, Jesus came to her. "It was in that train I heard the call to give up all, and follow him into the slums, to serve him in the poorest of the poor."

According to Catholic organizations, it was that moment that led her to Calcutta, India. But as she sacrificed, she says Jesus never visited her again. She felt he had left her. Her friend, a priest, asked her to write a letter to Jesus about her feelings. She did that in 1959. "I don't pray any longer. I utter words of community prayers, and try my utmost to get out of every word the sweetness it has to give. But my prayer of union is not there any longer. I no longer pray. My soul is not one with you."

REV. DAVID O'CONNELL, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: I don't think the letters are negative at all. In fact, if anything, I think they're strengthening of this case for her canonization, because mother, despite her struggles with faith, and her concerns about faith, she was able to accomplish so much good in the name of Christ.

COSTELLO: Father O'Connell is pushing for Mother Teresa's sainthood. She's been beatified. That's a major step towards sainthood. These revelations, according to Father O'Connell, likely will not affect her path.

BLITZER: OK. Thanks very much, Carol. Carol Costello reporting.

Despite her long crisis of faith, Mother Teresa is only one step away from sainthood. Although the process usually starts five years after death, Pope John Paul II had it expedited. Just two years after she died, Mother Teresa was named a servant of God giving the church the ability to investigate her virtues. In 2002, Mother Teresa was declared venerable. A year later she became beatified after being credited with performing one miracle. Now the Pope needs just one more miracle to declare her a saint.

Jack Cafferty is in New York with the Cafferty File. Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the question this hour is with what's the worst experience you ever had with a boss? This is coming out of an AFL-CIO contest trying to find the worst boss in the country.

Ernest in Texas writes, "The worst boss I had January 2005, my wife diagnosed with gallbladder cancer. She was given one month to live and my boss wouldn't give me time off even without pay because the corporate policy was you had to work there for six months before they'd give you family leave act time off. I quit. My wife passed away prior to the 30 days the doctor had given her. The saving grace is, I spent those days with her."

M.S. in Farmington, Connecticut, "20 years ago, waitressing to pay my way through college, I had a boss who used to ask his honeys to sit on his lap in the break room. He would laugh about what a lucky man he was. I think I lasted a week. I felt badly for all the women who really needed that job in order to put food on the table. I think that kind of thing happens more than we'll ever know."

Susan in Tennessee, "Three years ago, I was having chest pains at work, told my supervisor I needed to go to the emergency room. She told me I didn't have enough sick leave left. Is this a great boss or what?"

Tracy in South Carolina, "I once worked for a really thrifty guy. He agreed to put paper towels in the bathroom but we were to hang them up to dry so they can be reused."

Mark in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, what a charming name for a town. "I once worked on a fishing boat on the east coast with a captain whose blood pressure ran so high, that when he came down on deck to scream at me or anyone else, his nose would bleed and he would spray paint us all with his blood as he yelled at us."

And finally Art in Manchester, New Hampshire, "The AFL-CIO is only interested in bad bosses, that's okay, there are plenty of those. I hope they also do a question on bad employees that bosses cannot fire because of overprotective unions."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, go to We post them online along with video clips of this dribble.


BLITZER: Not dribble by any means Jack. Have a grated weekend. See you back here on Monday.

When we come back, an anchor woman tuned out. We'll tell you why one television network is now pulling the plug on a bikini model turned newscaster after one day.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: A bikini model turned anchor. Her show dropped after only one day. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She went from bikini model to winking and tugging, always tugging at her skirts.

LAUREN JONES: Yes, I'm hanging up the bikinis and going in a more serious direction.

MOOS: She hung up her bikinis all right and changed into this for a stint at a real TV station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which of your favorite anchors is dressed like this?

MOOS: Station management was always telling her --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need you to go home. I need you to change.

MOOS: What do you think this is, nude news? What it was was a Fox reality series. Take a sexy novice and give her a crash course in TV news at a real TV station in Tyler, Texas.

JONES: When we get to where we're going, are we going to like run out of the car and act all newsy?

MOOS: Teach her how to read a teleprompter.

JONES: Welcome to this Sunday edition of eyewitness news. I'm Lauren Jones and thank you for joining us. Gunshots ring out at a Tyler nightclub. There's nightclubs here?

MOOS: Not quite as bad as movie character Ron Burgundy (ph).

RON BURGUNDY (ph): What is the name of this network again?


BURGUNDY (ph): That's a terrible name.

MOOS: But this was a real station. The Fox reality series anchor woman brought Loren Jones here for a month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's darling. She's personable. She's friendly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She isn't anything.

MOOS: That's one of the station's real anchors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know deep in your heart.

MOOS: Say that to the station's general manager, and he'll take every other network to task. PHIL HURLEY, KYTX GENERAL MANAGER: Well you know he had probably already turned over three or four times watching y'all and Fox cover Paris Hilton.

MOOS: And hey, didn't "CNN HEADLINE NEWS" hire Andrea Thompson, star of NYPD Blue as an anchor after she worked only a year in a station Albuquerque. The "HEADLINE NEWS" gig didn't last long and neither did the anchor woman. The show was canceled after the first episode because of low ratings.

HURLEY: We like her. She had a great work ethic. She knew how to laugh.

MOOS: Tell that to this guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stormy, the weather dog.

HURLEY: He didn't like her. And for 30 days he didn't like her.

MOOS: Maybe it was the way they met.

JONES: It looked like a stuffed animal.

MOOS: Though she sank as an anchor woman, Hurley says she has as many as ten other TV offers. Being able to read teleprompters pales next to being able to do this.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.