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THE SITUATION ROOM
New Bin Laden Tape, Thompson on Bin Laden, Missing Girl's Parents Suspected, Pres. Bush Says Bin Laden Tape is Reminder of "Dangerous World", President Bush's Summit Stumbles
Aired September 7, 2007 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Osama bin Laden, we (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for nearly three years. Experts say the man on the latest videotape is the fugitive al Qaeda leader. Tonight, is bin Laden warning of a new terror attack against the United States?
Also this hour, a disturbing case being watched around the world, a missing little girl, a mother now under scrutiny and growing pressure to confess a killing.
And a diplomatic spat between President Bush and the leader of South Korea, all of it caught on camera. What remark infuriated President Bush?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Tonight the world's most wanted terrorist is back with a message for Americans. Days before the sixth anniversary of 9/11, that takes place on Tuesday, Osama bin Laden is out with a new videotape. He says President Bush and I'm quoting now, "harvests nothing but failure". And he is blasting Democrats in the U.S. Congress for not stopping the war.
He even mentions dates and events that suggest the tape could be relatively new. Let's go straight to our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena. She's watching the story for us. What are we learning from the analyst, Kelli?
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, an intelligence official says that an initial technical analysis proves it is Osama bin Laden's voice on that tape. The tape is obviously still being reviewed on a variety of other fronts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
ARENA (voice-over): I'm alive and I'm well, that's the main message of a new videotape from Osama bin Laden, the first in nearly three years. His message to the American people contains no specific threat, but is heavy on symbolism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The subject of the mujahideen has become an inseparable part of the speech of your leader and the effects and signs of that are not hidden. ARENA: Experts say it is an effort to re-establish his relevance. Bin Laden remains a unifying figure for the many terror groups that have drawn inspiration if not actual support from al Qaeda.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: He gets to reach out to followers, who according to jihadist Web sites have been wondering where is the leader and he also gets to rail about the Iraq war which is his strongest propaganda point.
ARENA: An obvious news junkie with a lot of time on his hands he makes several references to current affairs proof that the videotape is a new one. He refers to a news report from Iraq that aired in July, the 62nd anniversary of Nagasaki (ph) and Hiroshima (ph), this past August. He names the new French president who was elected in May and the U.S. mortgage crisis. But bin Laden's commentary is not prompting change in security.
FRANCES TOWNSEND, W.H. HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: We don't have specific or credible information indicating an imminent attack and so I would not anticipate any change in the threat level, certainly not because of the tape.
ARENA: At times he comes off like an angry blogger chastising Americans for electing President Bush twice and the Democrats for not doing more to stop the Iraq war.
ARENA: But bin Laden's need to stay in the spotlight may also put him at risk. U.S. intelligence is combing this tape, examining his appearance, looking for video clues even background noises, anything that could reveal where he is, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Kelli. Thanks for that report.
Tonight we are analyzing the Osama bin Laden tape, for terror code words, hidden messages, a lot of analysts are doing exactly that including our own terrorism analyst Peter Bergen, who has actually met with Osama bin Laden, we have a picture of you back when you went on that interview that a lot of our viewers will recall. Let's talk about any signals that may be, might have been delivered by bin Laden as a result of this videotape because a lot of people are going to see it on the Web.
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: I don't think (UNINTELLIGIBLE) hidden signals, Wolf. It has always been very avert, you know kill Americans, kill Jews, kill crusaders, there is less of that on this tape. But you know it is -- I mean he doesn't really need to say anything in a hidden way he generally explains to the people around the world...
BLITZER: There are no code words that could have been there to trigger some cell whether in Europe or the United States to go after Americans?
BERGEN: I can't think of an example of that in the past and I don't think this tape has that.
BLITZER: Take a look at that picture of him behind you, this is the new videotape. His beard is really black, if you contrast to the last videotape three years ago the last time we saw him his beard was really, really gray or white. What do you think that suggests -- the fact that he is dyeing his beard?
BERGEN: Personal vanity.
BLITZER: Just vanity or to show his followers, hey I'm not only alive, I'm youthful looking, I'm well, I'm strong. Because that is the way I would see it.
BERGEN: Yes. Well you know Wolf he is a comparatively young man. He's only 50. He celebrated his 50th birthday this year. For somebody who is relatively young he has done quite a lot of damage. But yes I think he wants to show everybody he is sort of tanned, rested, relaxed. He is not hassled by the "war on terrorism". He is you know wearing these well pressed clothes; caves don't really have laundry facilities. He is extremely well-informed. He is reading books. He seems to be getting -- reading newspapers, stuff from the Internet. You know he is -- this is not a man who is living in a cave and who is having a problem about...
BLITZER: As Kelli noted he is really going after Democrats of Congress, which shows certain, you know level of sophistication as to how much he is watching what is happening here in the United States. He says this. I will read it.
After several years of the tragedies of this war -- he is referring to the war in Iraq -- the vast majority of you want it stopped. Thus, you elected the Democratic Party for this purpose, but the Democrats haven't made a move worth mentioning. On the contrary, they continue to agree to the spending of tens of billions of dollars to continue the killing.
That's pretty sophisticated on his part?
BERGEN: Take that, Harry Reid. No, you know I -- this guy -- one of the things different about this tape and it's mostly political, and it sort of trumps the -- you know trumps the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) critique in the United States major corporations controlling the political system. There is not very much religious in kind of invocations usually his statements have a lot of religious. This is mostly sort of boilerplate leftist critique of American politics, kind of an unusual thing. He also mentioned the Kyoto treaty, at one point, which is not something he has really been concerned about in the past.
BLITZER: Sort of a boilerplate speech, is that what you are saying?
BERGEN: Leftist probably.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. Peter Bergen, our terrorism analyst. Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He is joining us from New York for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Friday night, Wolf and on the subject of we all waste time on the job. You have your ways of doing it. I do this. A new Gallup poll asks American workers to estimate the number of hours they waste at work each day along with the number of hours their typical co-workers waste. Of course, they found most employees say they personally waste about an hour a day, but their co- workers well they goof off a little more than that.
They waste about an hour and a half each day. The poll reported no significant difference between groups of employees. Men/women, young/old, those who work for private companies, government, employees who work less than 40 hours a week, to those who work more, those who are very satisfied at work and those who are not. Which means -- well we're all guilty.
So here's the question -- and since we only use first names in "The Cafferty File", you can feel free to be honest. How much time do you waste at work? How do you waste it? E-mail your thoughts to CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile. You would be the exception to this study, Wolf.
BLITZER: Well not just me. You know Americans are the most productive workers in the world, that according to a study that just came out, Jack. You know that.
CAFFERTY: Well I guess we are so productive that we have time to waste during the day because a lot of us do just that.
BLITZER: OK. Jack thanks very much.
Coming up, world leaders usually try to keep their diplomatic spats between closed doors, behind closed doors I should say. But President Bush faced a very direct, very public challenge from the South Korean president; the awkward moments were all caught on tape. We're going to play it for you.
Also, will the so-called troop surge in Iraq become the status quo? There is now new word emerging, or what's coming out in a politically charged progress report on the war.
And did her mother do it? We're following the horrible case of a little girl who vanished on vacation and the suspicion allegedly being cast right now on her own mother.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: We now have a much clearer idea exactly what the top U.S. military commander in Iraq is going to say about troop levels. Those who know General David Petraeus say his decision is made -- 30,000 troops came into Iraq as part of the troop build-up back in January. In all there are now about 168,000 United States troops spread out throughout the country. The word that we are getting is General Petraeus expects them all, repeat, all of them to stay put for the time being. Let's get some specific details from our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre. Jamie what is behind the general's determination?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, here is what our sources say that General Petraeus is going to say when he goes public next week. One is that the surge is working, but not as fast as he expected it to. Two, that there are some signs of hope but it is too soon to bring the troops home.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): CNN has learned that when General David Petraeus meets with President Bush and reports to Congress he will recommend maintaining the current higher U.S. troop levels in Iraq until spring when the surge will begin to be phased out. And officials familiar with the thinking of the top commander strongly dispute published reports in "The New York Times" and "Washington Post" suggesting General Petraeus would be OK with pulling back or pulling out one brigade, roughly 4,000 troops in a nod to critics in Congress.
That's nonsense one military official told CNN, insisting Petraeus believes at this crucial time every brigade is important. In an April interview with CNN, General Petraeus promised as he has many times to give the unvarnished truth about the prospect for success.
(on camera): If in December you think the surge strategy is not working are you going to be able to tell that to the president and presumably the Congress?
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, CMDR. MULTINATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: Not only will I be able to, Ambassador Crocker and I will do that. We have an obligation to the young men and women who are out there giving their all to do just that.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): Some of the general's thinking is revealed in a letter he sent to all U.S. troops in Iraq on the eve of his congressional testimony. In it he acknowledges while the security improvements have been dramatic in some areas, such as Ramadi and Anbar Province, overall progress has been uneven. And the Iraqis have not used the breathing space to embrace reconciliation. He concedes...
"It has not worked out as well as we had hoped. We are a long way from the goal line. It's clearly taking more time than we initially expected."
MCINTYRE: Now ultimately it will be up to President Bush to decide if he wants to order a brigade home before the surge ends. But our sources tell us Wolf that if the president does that it will not be on the recommendation of General Petraeus -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jamie, good reporting as usual. Thanks very much.
Let's go to the Democrats now. They're setting the stage for a confrontation over the Iraq policy by leveling some very serious charges of manipulation including by the general, our congressional correspondent Dana Bash -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you really can't overstate how much General Petraeus' testimony and the Iraq report has been built up here as a pivotal moment in the Iraq debate. Now it looks like General Petraeus will undercut Democrats' arguments for troop withdrawal and Democrats are making an explosive charge.
BASH (voice-over): The Senate's number two Democrat is accusing the administration of manipulating information in its highly anticipated Iraq report.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), MAJORITY WHIP: By carefully manipulating the statistics the Bush-Petraeus report will try to persuade us that violence in Iraq is decreasing and the surge is working.
BASH: Senator Dick Durbin says he has been in e-mail contact with civilian employees gathering data on Iraq progress.
DURBIN: Some of them I correspond with almost on a daily basis, when they send a discouraging report about things that were happening in Baghdad they were reminded by their superiors that that is unacceptable. We need a positive report and it be sent back for editing and changing. Now that is a fact.
BASH: General David Petraeus is expected to testify next week that the troop surge has produced progress on the ground. Democrats are engaged in a coordinated effort to minimize the impact of that testimony which could undermine their ability to convince wavering Republicans to vote for troop withdrawals. The Senate's top Democrat got personal. He questioned Petraeus' credibility.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: He has made a number of statements over the years that have not proven to be factual. I have every belief that this good man General Petraeus will give us what he feels is the right thing to do in this report. That is now not his report. It's President Bush's report.
BASH: And administration official called charges they're manipulating Iraq data absurd. A Republican leadership aide accused Democrats of trying to discredit Petraeus and noted the general's approval rating is four times higher than congressional Democrats -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Dana Bash on Capitol Hill for us. Thank you. A nuclear charged spat between two presidents for all the world to see. The cameras were rolling, the microphones were on. You might be surprised to see how far President Bush was pushed.
Plus, she has been getting support from celebrities and now she is under a cloud of suspicion. Is the mother of a missing little girl feeling the heat to make a confession? There are new details emerging right now. We'll go to Portugal.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: President Bush caught up in a very awkward moment today. The president of South Korea pressed him to answer a question. And the tense back and forth happened in Australia. It was all caught on television cameras. President Bush clearly was surprised.
Let's go to our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. She is joining us from Sydney, Australia, where the president is right now. This involved the Korean War, Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf if you were in that room, I mean you could really feel the tension, President Bush three times saying thank you, sir, thank you, sir, thank you, sir, trying to end that exchange. They started off on the same page, talking about North Korea, but then a very unusual moment.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): It was a rare unscripted exchange. President Bush publicly challenged to explain his position on how to formally end the Korean War. It happened after private talks and pleasantries with South Korea's president, Roh Moo-hyun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I might be wrong, I think I did not hear President Bush mention the -- the declaration to end the Korean War as just now, did you say something, President Bush?
MALVEAUX: Surprised President Bush reaffirmed U.S. Korean policy. The U.S. will only initiate a formal declaration of peace between North and South Korea after North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, no longer poses a threat.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Kim Jong Il is not ready to sign the peace treaty. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he has to get rid of his weapons (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
MALVEAUX: But Roh, throwing his head back with laughter, was not satisfied.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe they are the same thing, Mr. President. If you could be a little bit clear in your message... BUSH: I can't make it any more clearer, Mr. President. We look forward to the day when we can end the Korean War. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it will happen when Kim Jong Il verifiably gets rid of his weapons programs and his weapons.
MALVEAUX: South Korea plays a vital role as a member of the six party talks aimed at convincing North Korea to disarm. The country is also eager to reunite with his northern neighbor. But with more than 37,000 U.S. troops helping keep the peace along the North-South Korean border, the Bush administration is reluctant to make any changes while it still considers North Korea a threat.
MALVEAUX: White House officials say regarding this exchange between President Bush and Roh, they say it was a case of lost in translation that both of these leaders agree about the expectations of North Korea. They say there are no tensions between these two. And Wolf, I think part of what happened here was that as all leaders do they play up to their domesticate audiences. South Korea is looking for a more assertive leadership from their president and therefore that could have played a part in why that actually happened -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Suzanne. Thanks very much -- Suzanne Malveaux reporting for us from Sydney, Australia.
The new videotape from the world's most wanted man appears to have been made very recently. We're going to talk to the man Osama bin Laden mentions by name in the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inherent in his request for us to convert is a very explicit threat that he is going to attack us in a very hard way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit, talks to us about what he thinks Osama bin Laden is up to right now.
And a new twist in a tragic case, her daughter has been missing for four months. Now a British mother is under suspicion.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, the first lady, Laura Bush, preparing for surgery -- the White House says Mrs. Bush will have an out patient procedure tomorrow to relieve pressure on pinched nerves in her neck. It does not say where or when the surgery will take place.
Hard times for Countrywide Financial Corporation, the troubled sub-prime mortgage lender says it plans to cut as many as 12,000 jobs over the next three months. That is a fifth of its work force. The company says it expects new mortgages to fall by about 25 percent next year. To fail that is, new mortgages to fail.
In North Carolina, the former Durham district attorney, Mike Nifong, serves his 24-hour sentence in jail. That is his punishment for the contempt conviction related to his mishandling of the discredited Duke lacrosse rape case. Nifong resigned after being disbarred.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Back to the breaking news we are following tonight, the first new tape of Osama bin Laden in nearly three years. The timing isn't lost on anyone. Coming only a few days before the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Our Brian Todd has been watching this tape with a terror analyst. Brian, what did you see with this analyst that the rest of us perhaps might have missed?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a couple of things that are extraordinary here. Analysts say that this is the closest that bin Laden has come to admitting responsibility for 9/11 and it follows the pattern of a man who is relentlessly attuned to his image and appearance.
TODD (voice-over): The same clothes and calm demeanor as his video in October of 2004, but this time the beard is black, not streaked with gray. The appearance and body language of Osama bin Laden on this latest tape is the first thing we analyzed with Steve Coll, Pulitzer Prize winning author on bin Laden.
STEVE COLL, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: There is a long streak of consciousness and vanity in his appearances. He often re-tapes some of his presentations when he feels he hasn't done a very good job and he is a performer and a marketer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
TODD: Early on he crows about September 11th, saying despite America's status as the world's greatest economic and military power...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Nineteen young men were able to change the directions of its compass.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now he more or less concedes that this is his doing and he's quite proud of it in a way. So I think the more time has passed the more pride he has taken in that attack.
TODD: But there is contradiction. He almost condemns 9/11. In the transcript, quote, "Burning living beings is forbidden in our religion, even if they be small like the ant." Is he ignoring the images of the World Trade Center on fire? COLL: He has often contradicted himself in this way, particularly when he feels defensive when he is accused of violence against civilians.
TODD: And what to make of him ticking through news events. The Democrats taking power in Congress, even an apparent reference to the American mortgage crisis. Coll says he wants to do more than prove he is still alive.
COLL: Like American news consumers he seems sometimes to get irritated at politicians and newsmakers talking about him in a way that he doesn't agree with.
TODD: It is bin Laden's seeming consumption of news that Coll believes might offer insight into where he actually is, satellite TV, access to news outlets is widely available in Pakistan. Coll believes that is the most likely place this video was made -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Thanks, Brian.
And joining us now two guests Michael Scheuer used to be an analyst at the CIA. He ran the Osama bin Laden unit, and John McLaughlin, our senior international security adviser, the former deputy director of the CIA. Michael, you got a shout-out from Osama bin Laden today in his videotape that was released. He says this.
He says, and if you would like to get to know some of the reasons for your losing of your war against us, then read the book of Michael Scheuer in this regard. What is he talking about?
MICHAEL SCHEUER, FORMER HEAD OF CIA'S BIN LADE UNIT: Well he is talking about the motivation of the enemy which American political leaders have lied to Americans about pretty regularly for a decade.
BLITZER: What do you mean by that, American political leaders have lied to the American people?
SCHEUER: They keep telling us, both parties, that we're at war because these men hate freedom, they hate liberty, they hate women in the work place, hate Budweiser after work. That has nothing to do with this war. Their country wouldn't look like ours, of course. But the war is motivated on their part by our foreign policy in the Islamic world.
And I think maybe Osama Bin Laden thought no one is listening to him in America. Maybe they will listen to an American. But I doubt it.
BLITZER: Even in the tape, John McLaughlin, he spells out all the things he hates about the west including capitalism, he goes into some pretty specific details on this.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF CIA: Yes, in fact, what he has got in the tape is almost a classic Marxist analysis, very interesting, talks about capitalism being at the root of all the evils he sees in the world and even reaches out maybe the second time he has done it to people in the world who oppose globalization. He talks about global warming. He talks about all of those problems. Again he blames it on capitalism and on all of those things.
SCHEUER: Really he doesn't blame it on capitalism he blames it on Americans not being Muslims. And I think whether ...
BLITZER: He expects Americans to become Muslims?
SCHEUER: The important thing, Mr. Blitzer, is not what he expects, inherent is his request for us to convert is a very explicit threat he's going to attack us in a very hard way.
BLITZER: You see this coming through in the latest tape?
SCHEUER: Clearly. The prophet told Muslims before you attack anyone, you, you warn them, you offer them a chance to convert, and you offer truces. And he very clearly is playing to the Muslim audience in this document.
BLITZER: That's pretty chilling, John McLaughlin.
MCLAUGHLIN: Well I don't know that I see a specific warning in the tape. I wouldn't dispute what Michael says about their readiness to attack us. Everything we know about al Qaeda over the last year or two indicates they have reconstituted an attack capability. Safe haven restored, leadership once again reconstituted below the Bin Laden level. One thing we are uncertain about whether they have infiltrated operatives into the United States but I certainly wouldn't dispute the idea that they're prepared, they want to attack, and they're determined to do it.
BLITZER: I interviewed the president's homeland security advisor, Fran Townsend, here in THE SITUATION ROOM last night I want you to listen to what she said.
FRAN TOWNSEND, HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR: It is not for a lack of resources devoted against that task. It is a huge priority for us to capture and kill Bin Laden.
BLITZER: But they missed a lot of opportunities not only over the last six years but going back earlier.
SCHEUER: Yes and Ms. Townsend is fighting a losing rear guard action. Mr. Blitzer, we have 30,000 American troops in Afghanistan. They're supposed to build a democracy, rebuild the economy, defeat the Taliban, keep Mr. Karzai's government in power and eradicate the poppy heroin industry and in their spare time maybe find Osama Bin Laden. The idea that we have sufficient resources devoted against this is just laughable.
BLITZER: Does it matter if the United States, finds and captures or kills Osama Bin Laden?
MCLAUGHLIN: It matters a great deal. He is not only a mythical figure who inspires a lot of people to join the movement but he has a point of view about what this movement ought to do. If you take him out of the picture, I don't know whether Mike would agree. But I think debates would begin within the movement about how you proceed in the future. So it would be a good thing. It would throw them off balance.
BLITZER: I'm going to put a map up. A lot of people think he is along the border some where. If you turn around, you see between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Maybe in Waziristan, this is really a remote area. But there are some people who say, you know what? He might be Karachi or Raul Pindi in a major urban area in Pakistan, too. Michael, what do you think?
SCHEUER: There is very little chance he is in either place.
BLITZER: Where do you think he is?
SCHEUER: He's north of Jalalabad, north of Waziristan in an area called Konar and Nuristan. It's the most remote area of Afghanistan. It's the place he wanted to go in May '97 but he didn't think he could refuse the Taliban's invitation to go to Kandahar and it's the most southest area of Pakistan.
BLITZER: Well, that sounds like a pretty narrow location. Why not go in there and get the guy?
MCLAUGHLIN: Well this is -- it's a 1,200 mile long border. This is not a small location. Michael is correct to say that I believe, that he is some where along the border. He could also be north of Pashir, he could be in the Bazur province. There are reasons to think he is along the border. But you've talked to many people and heard many times how rugged the terrain is, how difficult it is to find one person and so forth. And a major problem here is the fact, Michael refers to, our people in Afghanistan. A major problem is we are not over on that side of the border in any significant numbers. You have to be there. Because when you are there you cause him to move.
SCHEUER: We have delegated protection of America to a third world dictator.
BLITZER: You mean Pakistan.
SCHEUER: Pakistan, right, sir. Musharraf has helped us more than we had any right to expect him to do. Once America begins to learn that it has to do its own dirty work, we may have some progress.
BLITZER: Michael Scheuer and John McLaughlin, thanks for coming in.
SCHEUER: Thank you, sir.
BLITZER: And only within the past few moments, President Bush now for the first time has weighed in on the new Osama Bin Laden tape. He says this first video appearance by the al Qaeda leader in three years is a reminder in his words of the dangerous world in which we live. Tonight, fresh off the announcement of his candidacy, the republican Fred Thompson is talking about whether Osama Bin Laden and the war on terror are relevant. He spoke with our chief national correspondent, John King, in a rare interview on bored Thompson's campaign bus.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, national security dominated our conversation as the bus rolled across the Iowa countryside. Senator Thompson most robust, defending president Bush's decision to topple the government of Saddam Hussein. He plays down the significance of the president's failure to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden.
SEN. FRED THOMPSON (R), TENNESSEE: I think Bin Laden is more symbolism than he is anything else. And I think he shows and demonstrates to people once again that we are in a global war.
Bin Laden being in the mountains of Afghanistan or Pakistan is not as important as the fact there is probably al Qaeda operatives inside the United States of America. I think that the latest National Intelligence Estimate indicates they're alive and strong and trying to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction.
Iraq is very important only part of a bigger global effort and it's one that Osama Bin Laden and people like him are heading up and we, we surely need to catch him. And we surely need to deal with him. But if he disappeared tomorrow, we'd still have this problem. If Iraq disappeared tomorrow. We would still have this problem.
KING: But if he still at large and there are al Qaeda operatives in the United States we should be worried about are those who said Iraq was a diversion, that even if it was the right thing to do it should have waited until Osama Bin Laden was caught or at least al Qaeda was further damaged and decapitated, are they right?
THOMPSON: It is not an either/or situation. Some times you don't have a choice. Saddam Hussein was on the cusp of having defeated the United Nations and the free world and the United States. He had certainly had weapons of mass destruction had the capability of reviving his nuclear program.
In light of what Iran is doing with their nuclear program he certainly would have gotten back on the stick and gotten there again.
KING: As for what he would do if he becomes commander-in-chief in January, 2009, Senator Thompson said for starters he would spend more to bulk up U.S. intelligence agencies around the world and hoped to end the bitter partisan divide over the Iraq war, which Thompson has said has not only made it much more difficult to get things done regarding Iraq policy, but also in the broader the global war on terror.
BLITZER: All right. John, thanks very much. John King reporting for us from the campaign trail.
Celebrities like soccer star, David Beckham, and even the pope have weighed in on a very tragic case involving a missing little girl. Now there is a disturbing twist involving the parents. Yes, both parents of Madeleine McCann. We're going to go live to the scene for an update. There are new developments happening now.
And President Bush gives some fresh ammunition to those tracking his every verbal gaffe. Jeanne Moos with that story coming up.
BLITZER: Blood evidence collected, a mother and father grilled for hours in a startling turn of events today in the case of a missing British girl.
3-year-old Madeleine McCann vanished early may on a family holiday in Portugal. Now Portuguese police are said to suspect her parents. Mary Snow is standing by in New York but let's go to the scene in Portugal. Paula Hancocks is there with some late breaking developments, some very dramatic developments only within the past hour or so. Paula.
PAULA HANCOCKS: That's right, Wolf. In fact half an hour ago, Gerry McCann, the father of the missing 4-year-old Madeleine, came out of this police station after eight hours of questioning and he too is now considered a formal suspect. So that means both the parents of Madeleine are both suspected of being involved in her disappearance.
Released without arrest or charge Kate McCann remains a formal suspect in her own daughter's disappearance. The usual respectful silence towards the McCann's now punctured with whistling and jeering. 127 days after the 4-year-old was reported missing from the family's holiday apartment, Kate McCann has been confronted with forensic evidence by Portuguese police according to the family's spokesperson. Kate McCann's sister in law claims the police offered Kate a deal during her interrogation.
PHILOMENA MCCANN, KATE MCCANN'S SISTER-IN-LAW: They tried to get Kate to confess to having accidentally killed Madeleine by offering her a deal through her lawyer which was if you say that you killed Madeleine by accident and then disposed of the body then we can guarantee you a two-year jail sentence or even less. You may get off because people feel sorry for you. It was an accident.
HANCOCKS: Spokeswoman Justine McGuiness claims police found Madeleine's blood in a car that the family rented 25 days after reporting her disappearance.
JUSTINE MCGUINESS, FAMILY SPOKESWOMAN: She's horrified by it. Absolutely horrified. And she hopes and praise that Madeleine is still alive. And she sincerely wants to be reunited. She wants her daughter back. That's all she wants. She wants her daughter back and wants to go back home.
HANCOCKS: Really an incredible set of events a turnaround in the investigation facing exactly the opposite way it was 24 hours ago. 24 hours ago, Kate and Gerry had the support of millions and they still do have the support of many including the family who also, all say they think that both suspects now is just utterly ludicrous.
BLITZER: What a story. Paula, thanks very much. We'll check back with you as more developments come in.
Little Madeleine McCann disappeared in May. Criminal investigation experts here in the United States are very surprised that her parents were not questioned more thoroughly just a long time ago.
Let's go to Mary Snow watching the story for us. The procedures I take it Mary, over there, are a lot different than they would be over here.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Wolf. Experts say because law enforcement here has learned unfortunately from its own tragic cases of missing children there are procedures immediately put into place in the U.S. that may not be implemented as quickly in other countries including Portugal.
Four months after daughter Madeleine's disappearance, Gerry McCann, the girl's father who points out until Thursday his wife had only been interviewed by police once before. It is not that he is questioning his wife. He strongly denies Kate had anything to do with their daughter's disappearance. At issue is why Portuguese police didn't interview Kate McCann more thoroughly earlier on and U.S. experts agree. Saying that would have been standard procedure.
ERNIE ALLEN, NATL. CTR. FOR MISSING & EXPLOITED CHILDREN: It is surprising. And certainly in this country one of the first things that law enforcement would do is question the parents, question those who are around the children.
SNOW: Take the case of Polly Klaas who was abducted in 1993 and was found dead months later. Her father Mark says he and other family members were questioned by police and cleared within a week of Polly's disappearance.
MARK KLAAS, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: We took polygraph exams. We answered all their questions until they were satisfied we had nothing to do with it. Then they moved on.
SNOW: Critics including the McCann's have questioned the way police in the small resort town of Portugal where Madeleine disappeared have handled the case throughout. The hotel room where the McCann's stayed for example was not immediately secured after the McCann's vacated.
John Walsh, who's become an advocate for missing children after his own son disappeared, calls the case a nightmare.
JOHN WALSH, AMERICA'S MOST WANTED: This police agency, this small agency and I am a big supporter of law enforcement, made mistake after mistake, not taking DNA, not securing the crime scene, not asking for international help. When you are in trouble and you're a small agency you ask for help, Scotland Yard, other agencies within Portugal.
SNOW: The Portuguese police did eventually ask for help since it was British search dogs that found the traces of blood. It took months for the dogs to be brought in. As for the Portuguese police they have kept quiet and are not commenting on the case as the investigation continues.
BLITZER: Mary Snow reporting for us. Since Madeleine McCann disappeared, there has been an enormous outpouring of support. Soccer star David Beckham filmed a video urging people to be on the lookout for the little girl. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling reportedly pledged half of the $6 million reward money offered for Madeleine's safe return. She also allowed posters of Madeleine to be distributed with the release of her latest book. In late May, the McCann's met with Pope Benedict the 16th at the Vatican. The Pope pledged to pray for their daughter's safe return.
Up next, we are just getting some new tape into CNN here in THE SITUATION ROOM of President Bush in Australia, his first comments on the new Osama Bin Laden videotape. That's coming up.
And Jack Cafferty wants you to "be honest." How much time do you waste at work? How do you waste it? Jack, with your confessions coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Only moments ago, President Bush reacted to the Osama Bin Laden tape and he said that tape underscores why the United States must continue the war in Iraq. Listen to this.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The tape is a reminder about the dangerous world in which we live and it is a reminder that we must work together to protect against those who murder the innocent in order to further their political objectives. I found it interesting that on the tape Iraq was mentioned which is a reminder that Iraq is a part of this war against extremists.
BLITZER: President Bush speaking in Australia only moments ago.
Let's go to Jack Cafferty in New York for the Cafferty File.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is a little misleading. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, nothing to do with al Qaeda and if we sent 160,000 troops we have in Iraq into Afghanistan and the Pakistan border 4 1/2 years ago to look for the clown that killed all these Americans on September 11th, we wouldn't be seeing his ugly face on videotape right now. But I digress. That isn't what we are talking about here Friday night.
The question is somebody did a study. Everybody admits to a wasting about an hour a day. They all say that their work mates waste more though. How much time do you waste at work and how do you waste it?
Cindy in New Jersey writes, "Where can I get a job where I can waste an hour a day? I want in. I don't stop from the time I go in to the time I leave and regularly work more than 40 hours a week with no overtime, and I eat my lunch at my desk! If the productivity numbers for our country are right and your poll is also correct, well I'm making up for somebody else's lack of productivity."
Diego in New Jersey, "I'm a security guard for an office building. I work 25 hours a week and get $12 an hour. I sit in a chair for 3 hours a day and watch your show. I'm doing it right now. So I would say I waste about 15 hours a week. Sometimes I feel like a thief."
Peter writes, "With all the important issues you could be talking about, Mr. Cafferty, it looks like the time at work I wasted today was watching you. Turn your brain back on please."
Lauren writes, "What do you think I'm doing right now? I just don't consider it "wasting time." It's not our fault that most bosses think the average subordinate takes eight hours to do a five or six hour job."
Ivan in Newark, New Jersey, "Jack, I work as a delivery driver, but my job is four blocks away. I come home every morning for breakfast for 45 minutes. It gives me a chance to catch up on the morning news, and then still get my lunch hour. But, all my work gets done. And it feels good sticking it to the man a little bit each day."
A.C. in Tulsa, Oklahoma, "Hi Y'all! I only waste two hours per day, but I make it up on weekends. Oh, by the way, I waste it watching Loud Dobbs and the Situation Room. Keep me interested and I'll keep watching." A.C., we're trying.
And Lee in Los Angeles, "Jack, I work for the government. All my time is wasted."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile. We post more on line with video clips of the Cafferty File.
BLITZER: Jack, have a great weekend.
CAFFERTY: You too.
BLITZER: See you back here Monday.
Let's go right to Rick Sanchez. He's standing by in New York with a preview of what is coming up top of the hour. Rick.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Wolf. Right here top of the hour. We're going to be breaking down the new message from Osama Bin Laden, Peter Bergen just one of the people that we're going to be talking to.
Also looking at the Oprah effect, what can her endorsement do? Because I mean Hillary is here, right. And Obama is here. Well can Oprah do this? That's what we're going to ask. We'll check it out.
Back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: She's a very powerful woman. We'll see what she can do. Thanks very much Rick. He's coming up in a few moments.
It just wasn't President Bush's day. He stumbled more than once during a summit. He couldn't remember, and might prefer to forget. We're going to give you some of the highlights or lowlights, Jeanne Moos with a most unusual story.
BLITZER: President Bush going the wrong way on a day that seemed to repeatedly go wrong for him. Our Jeanne Moos now on a most unusual and most unfortunate series of events.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a bad day when the president seems to say, what summit am I at? The prime minister of Australia preceded President Bush to the podium.
JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: There's a speech here on the podium but I don't think it is for me.
MOOS: No, it's for him. And his first gaffe came only three sentences into the speech.
BUSH: Thank you for being such a -- a fine host for the OPEC summit. APEC summit.
MOOS: APEC may have been written behind him and in front of him. But he had OPEC on his tongue. OPEC is a group of oil producing countries. APEC stands for Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation.
BUSH: They invited me to the OPEC summit next year.
MOOS: But what's a little a one letter off mistake? The next one was two letters. President referred to the Australian prime minister's visit to Iraq.
BUSH: As John Howard noted when he went to thank the Austrian troops there last year.
MOOS: Did he say Austrian?
BUSH: Austrian troops. MOOS: He meant Australian. What's 10,000 miles off between friends? Coming this fall, the sixth and say it ain't so final edition of George W. Bushisms, the ultimate Bushisms, it's probably too late to include OPEC/APEC.
But who doesn't misspeak? Take the guy introducing the latest presidential candidate, Fred Thompson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Fred Roberts from Tennessee.
MOOS: Fred Thompson didn't bat an eye over Fred Roberts.
Back in Australia.
BUSH: God bless.
MOOS: President Bush wrapped up his summit speech and tried to exit the wrong way, until the prime minister called him back. At least it wasn't as bad as the locked door, thwarted exit, a couple years ago in Beijing.
BUSH: I was trying to escape.
MOOS: But there is no escaping the unblinking, unkind eye of the press. We're already panicking at the thought of losing the lame-duck commander-in-chief. Presidential home work before attending next year's summit, repeat three times without saying OPEC.
BUSH: The APEC summit. The APEC summit. The APEC summit.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: This Sunday on "LATE EDITION," the White House Homeland Security, Fran Townsend, will be among my guests. We'll discuss the hunt for Bin Laden and the German terror plot, Sunday, 11:00 a.m. eastern.
Let's go to Rick Sanchez. He is standing by in New York.
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