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THE SITUATION ROOM
Petraeus Testifies Before Congress; Police Break Up Israeli Neo-Nazi Gang
Aired September 10, 2007 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, the U.S. military commander in Iraq tells Congress the so-called surge is working and that some 30,000 U.S. troops could be brought home by next summer. The U.S. ambassador says there's no guarantee of success.
Does all of this bring the war back to square one?
Extensive coverage coming up this hour.
Police break up a violent neo-Nazi gang targeting religious Jews, foreigners and minorities.
The alleged gang members are Israelis in Israel.
And a side of Jack Cafferty you haven't seen before. In his new book, entitled, "It's Getting Ugly Out There," Jack reveals some very painful episodes from his own life.
He's standing by to talk about it right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Some 30,000 U.S. troops could be home from Iraq by next summer and that draw down from the recent troop buildup could begin very soon. The U.S. military commander in Iraq and the U.S. ambassador there gave their long-awaited reports to Congress today, but they offered no guarantees of success and critics found a lot lacking in their testimony.
Let's get it straight from our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
She's standing by with more -- Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, lots of controversy through hours and hours of testimony. The bottom line, General Petraeus says the security objectives of the surge are being met and he does see the surge ending.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please remove them.
STARR (voice-over): Heckling on Capitol Hill even before General David Petraeus began his historic testimony, telling the world when U.S. troops can start coming home from Iraq.
GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: First of all, what I recommended was a very substantial withdraw. Five Army brigade combat teams, a Marine expeditionary unit and two Marine battalions represent a very significant force.
STARR: It's the news exhausted troops and their families were waiting for. Some 2,000 Marines will be home within weeks. Another 4,000 Army soldiers may be home by Christmas and 18,000 soldiers and Marines will be home by July 2008. Petraeus raising the prospects those reductions could begin earlier than planned.
REP. TOM LANTOS (D), CALIFORNIA: The fact remains, gentlemen, that the administration has sent you here today to convince the members of these two committees and the Congress that victory is at hand. With all due respect to you, I must say, I don't buy it.
STARR: But it all still depends on what has come to be called conditions on the ground. Car bombs, IEDs and attacks still very much are part of daily life. Petraeus is making a calculated risk that security can be maintained with fewer U.S. boots on the ground.
PETRAEUS: I believe that this is the approach to take to sustain the gains that we have achieved, to build on them, to transition to Iraqi security forces as quickly as we possibly can, but without, as I mentioned, rushing to failure.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
STARR: And, Wolf, that's really the question here. Has all of this testimony today and all of the testimony still to come later this week, plus the president's address to the nation, will any of it change anybody's mind in the country or on Capitol Hill about what they think about the war in Iraq?
So far it seems unlikely.
BLITZER: I just want to be precise, Barbara, because I know you watch these numbers very, very closely. Maybe 2,000 Marines out by the end of this month; 4,000 soldiers by the end of the year. By next July, almost a year from now, there would still be, what, about 130,000, 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, under the best of circumstances. They'd bring it close to what the pre-surge level was. That's what he's hoping for.
STARR: Yes, Wolf. That is exactly right. They might be able to lose one brigade, about 4,000 troops of the pre-surge level. So it might be just below 130,000. But that's exactly right. What we are simply talking about here today is General Petraeus' recommendations about how to reduce the surge, how to basically bring all of those troops home. The baseline, that still continues -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Barbara.
Thanks very much.
Barbara Starr is reporting for us from the Pentagon.
Americans are skeptical that the troop increase in Iraq is bearing fruit. A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll out today shows 54 percent believe it's failing. Just 40 percent believe it's succeeding.
The U.S. ambassador, Ryan Crocker, told Congress today that he can't guarantee success. But he issued a dire warning about giving up in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN CROCKER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: I am certain that abandoning or drastically curtailing our efforts will bring failure. And the consequences of such failure must be clearly understood by us all. And Iraq, if it falls into chaos or civil war, will mean massive human suffering well beyond what has already occurred within Iraq's borders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's get a closer look on the reality on the ground.
Joining us now, our correspondent in Baghdad, Michael Ware.
That's a very dire assessment from Ambassador Ryan Crocker. As bad as the situation is right now, if the U.S. starts leaving, it's going to be so much more painful, so much worse.
Is that a fair assessment from the ambassador?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the ambassador is hit the nail directly on the head. I mean, any kind of withdraw, precipitous or not, right now by U.S. forces would create a vacuum, or certainly pockets of vacuum, that would immediately be filled by elements either hostile to America or certainly destabilizing in the region. There is no way America can pullout just yet.
And the withdrawal, so-called, that General Petraeus is flagging, much welcome to weary American ears back home and the families of troops.
But let's face reality. Firstly, these troops were pretty much going home next year any way. It was the end of the so-called surge or the escalation. It was a one year deal.
And let's not forget, too, that the relief that's being provided in Anbar that might allow Marines and others to go home is essentially built on the back of the deal cut with the Sunni insurgency and the tribes -- the Sunni tribes. It's become ironic that while the surge has achieved many of its military objectives and violence levels have dropped, but for a myriad of reasons, rather than buying political breathing room for Iraqi government to stand up, what, in fact, has happened is it's given time for America to begin developing Sunni militias -- Sunni militias that are either going to prod the Maliki government into action or will help preserve U.S. interests as things devolve -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I was struck at the beginning of Ambassador Crocker's testimony, Michael, how he made comparisons to the early years of America's own independence during the Revolutionary days. It took a long time to deal with issues like slavery and suffrage, women's rights, civil rights and that people should be patient with this new Iraqi government.
So here's the question, in a nutshell.
Is Nouri Al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, George Washington?
WARE: Oh, no way. Absolutely not. He's not even a Hamid Karzai, the unifying president of Afghanistan. There's no one unifying figure waiting in the wings here in Iraq and certainly there's not one in the prime minister's chair right now. And I must admit, I was surprised to hear Ambassador Crocker harking back to America's constitutional and revolutionary history. That is such an old and tired line that we've heard trotted out almost since the beginning of the invasion in 2003.
Most significantly, though, Wolf, really what we've just witnessed in this testimony is the shifting nature of the war in Iraq. Wolf, it's changed.
How little did you hear Al Qaeda mentioned and how much did you hear Iran mentioned?
Wolf, we are now ushering in -- we are welcoming the real proxy war between America and Iran. We're about to see that become the true rivalry in this country.
BLITZER: Michael Ware on the scene for us in Baghdad, as he has been for the last four years.
So, Michael, thanks very much for that.
WARE: Thank you.
BLITZER: Let's go to Jack Cafferty in New York with The Cafferty File -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: You know, he's even better than you are.
BLITZER: He's much better than I am. He's not as good as you, though.
CAFFERTY: Oh, he's terrific. I enjoy Michael a lot.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell doesn't think it's terrorists that pose the biggest risk to this country. About the greatest threat facing this country, Powell tells "G.Q." magazine in a piece: "People will say it's terrorism, but are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what's the great threat we're facing?"
Powell also says that he would approach the problem of terrorism differently. He says we should send in military forces when there's a target. But beyond that, he would look for opportunities to create intuitions that help the world -- things that move us toward more respect for human rights, creating democratic institutions and increasing the efficiency of market economies.
He says that this doesn't mean that there isn't a terrorist threat, but rather that we are "taking too much counsel of our fears," adding we shouldn't destroy ourselves and use fear for political purposes.
Remember that old line from FDR -- we have nothing to fear but fear itself?
Here's the question -- Colin Powell says terrorists cannot change us, only we can change ourselves.
Do you agree with that?
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile.
I wish he'd get off the sidelines and get back in the game. We could use his input, I think.
BLITZER: We've invited Colin Powell to join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM on many occasions. Hopefully, he'll decide to come on one of these days.
CAFFERTY: I just wish he'd get into the national debate on a full-time basis.
BLITZER: Yes, well...
CAFFERTY: I think he's got some things worth listening to.
BLITZER: I've known him for many, many years.
And I want to just to alert our viewers, Jack. We're going to be speaking about your new book later this hour...
BLITZER: ..."It's Getting Ugly Out There". And our viewers are going to see a part of you -- a painful part of your life that they're not familiar with. I've worked with you for years. I wasn't familiar with this until I read the book. We're going to be talking about that. I just want to alert our viewers that that's coming up, Jack.
So stand by for that.
Jack's new book...
CAFFERTY: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: ..."It's Getting Ugly Out There," on the bookshelves -- in the bookstores today. You're going to want to go get a copy of this book.
Up ahead, they allegedly attacked observant Jews, foreigners and gays. Police breaking up an armed gang of neo-Nazis in Israel.
A high school student suffers a stroke, but no one calls 9/11 for at least an hour.
Were teachers ordered not to summon help?
This is an outrageous story. Mary Snow is working it.
And a Chinese woman faces surgery to remove two dozen needles -- why she may have had them in her body since she was born.
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Osama bin Laden releases his first video in years and just days later, may be about to release another one. On the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, al Qaeda's propaganda arm is working overtime right now.
Let's go back to CNN's Brian Todd.
He's watching this story for us.
It looks like he's trying to make a little comeback out there -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, his media company promises he'll be back for the 9/11 anniversary and analysts say this message could be simply an excerpt that we haven't seen from the videotape released last Friday. But it still seems to carry a very disturbing image.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
TODD (voice-over): A chilling preview of what Americans may see from Osama bin Laden on the September 11th anniversary. In an animated Web banner with an image of a plane headed for the World Trade Center, Al Qaeda's production company says bin Laden will introduce a so- called last testament from a 9/11 hijacker. Waleed al-Shehri was on the first plane to strike its target -- American Airlines Flight 11, which slammed into the North Tower.
Experts say this is a familiar media strategy.
OCTAVIA NASR, SENIOR EDITOR, ARAB AFFAIRS: We've seen Al Qaeda get very busy around the anniversary date. They release tapes, especially testimonials and last wills left by the 9/11 hijackers.
TODD: Experts say the forthcoming release may be another except from the bin Laden videotape issued on Friday. U.S. officials say they take the messages seriously, but they say these videos have never been used by bin Laden to trigger an actual attack and they seem to play down bin Laden as an overall threat.
FRANCES TOWNSEND, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: This is man on the run in a cave who is virtually impotent, other than his ability to get these messages out. It's propaganda.
TODD: Propaganda that could offer clues. Analysts say bin Laden's videos are more primitive than those issued by his top Lieutenant. Ayman Al-Zawahiri's messages often come with features like moving graphics, indicating he may be in place with better access to production facilities.
But they say while bin Laden may be more isolated, he's not completely cut off.
STEVE COLONEL, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: His own accounts of what he's watching and reading suggest to me a lot of exposure to English language media. And Pakistan is an English dominated post-colonial country.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: U.S. intelligence officials have recently said they believe bin Laden is somewhere in Pakistan. But Pakistani officials have always denied that. U.S. officials tell us they're still examining the last bin Laden tape for clues to his whereabouts, his health, maybe even any hidden messages -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And some analysts suggest -- Brian, correct me if I'm wrong -- that these video messages can be more than just simply propaganda.
TODD: They certainly do. Analysts say they also serve as a very effective recruiting tool for Al Qaeda. Whenever the anniversary comes around, these messages are a great rallying call for jihadists around the world.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us.
It may seem unthinkable, but police in Israel say they've broken up a violent neo-Nazi gang made up of Israelis. CNN's Atika Shubert has the story from Jerusalem.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brutal attacks recorded on home video and set to music. Police say it is a bizarre case, the first of its kind -- a home grown neo-Nazi gang in the Jewish state of Israel. Police say they confiscated this video and other photos from suspects' homes, finding also explosives, weapons and Nazi propaganda material. Police say they have been investigating the group for more than a year.
MICKEY ROSENFELD, ISRAELI POLICE: They planned and were involved in carrying out attacks against innocent people -- both Jewish people wearing yarmulkes, Asians, foreigners. And they had strong ties with neo-Nazi cells overseas, as well.
SHUBERT: Police have arrested eight alleged members of the gang, bringing them to court on Sunday. They covered their faces, but at least one remained defiant. All are between the ages of 16 and 21, all Israelis -- immigrants from the former Soviet Union. They came to Israel by the Law of Return -- a policy that grants citizenship to any Jew that chooses to immigrate to Israel. That includes anyone who has Jewish parents or grandparents, even though they themselves may not necessarily be Jewish.
Now, at least one Israeli lawmaker is demanding the suspects have their Israeli citizenship revoked. Another is threatening to change the Law of Return, allowing only Jews and not their non-Jewish kin, to immigrate.
But some Israelis dismiss the group as nothing more than a violent, misguided group of teens.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beating up homeless people -- they're thugs. You know, I don't -- I don't take it seriously.
SHUBERT: But as these pictures play across televisions nationwide, Israelis are left to wonder how it could happen here, of all places.
Atika Shubert, CNN, Jerusalem.
BLITZER: A pretty shocking story.
Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, a landing gear gives way and flames erupt.
What happened next in this dramatic crash landing?
That's coming up. You're going to want to see this.
And later, from commentator to guest author, our own Jack Cafferty. He's going to take a few minutes to talk about his personal details in a new book, "It's Getting Ugly Out There" -- a side of Jack none of us knew about.
That's coming up.
BLITZER: Truly heart-stopping moments in Denmark. Check it out -- a Scandinavian Airlines plane carrying 73 people made an emergency landing yesterday. The right landing gear gave way and the plane simply spun out on the runway. Five people were slightly hurt. The plane was a Bombardier Q400 Turbo Prop. Scandinavian Airlines has a fleet of 33 Q400s. They seat up to 78 passengers. Q400s are used as regional aircraft, usually traveling routes under 500 miles. Scandinavian Airlines says the landing gear problem was a first both for the carrier and the manufacturer.
Let's check in with Carol Costello.
She's monitoring some other incoming stories to THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Carol, what's going on?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A couple of things, Wolf.
Sabotage being blamed for overnight explosions that ripped apart five natural gas pipelines in Mexico. Thousands were evacuated and two roads were closed. The explosions could be felt up to 12 miles away. So far no one is claiming responsibility. Security was increased after a similar pipeline attacks in July, which were attributed to a small leftist guerrilla group.
The IRS has cleared Focus on the Family Chair James Dobson of compromising his organization's nonprofit status through political contributions. Dobson endorsed President Bush's reelection bid in 2004 and supported other Republican candidates. The IRS found that Dobson gave his support as an individual. Two liberal watchdog groups filed complaints with the IRS, saying Dobson used the resources of Focus on the Family to back GOP candidates.
Buzz Aldrin is speaking out about fellow astronaut Lisa Nowak. Nowak, you'll remember, is charged with attempted kidnapping, battery and burglary after confronting a romantic rival. On "Time" magazine's Web site, Aldrin says astronauts are not superhuman and that Nowak should be admired for driving across country without stopping. But he says it's not excusable. Aldrin was the second man to walk on the moon. He says astronauts often have trouble readjusting to life outside the space program.
From the bizarre and unbelievable files, Chinese surgeons will attempt to remove 23 needles from a woman who may have been a victim of attempted infanticide. Doctors say the woman's grandparents may have embedded the one inch needles when she was born to kill her so her parents could try for a boy baby. China restricts most parents with -- to one child, with boys preferred.
That's a look at the headlines right now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What a horrible story there.
COSTELLO: Oh, real bad. BLITZER: Sick. Sick. Sick.
All right, Carol.
Up next, Senator Larry Craig officially moves to withdraw his guilty plea in that bathroom bust.
Will he fight now to keep his job?
And what you didn't know about Jack Cafferty -- in fact none of us knew. Jack has a new book that's out today. It's entitled "It's Getting Ugly Out There". In the book, he reveals some very personal and painful details from his own past. Jack is standing by to talk about that right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, the former defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, declaring the U.S. mission in Afghanistan is a success, but not so much the mission in Iraq.
In an interview with "G.Q." magazine, Rumsfeld says U.S. efforts in Iraq are hindered by the Iraqi government's failure to establish a foundation for democracy.
Senator Larry Craig makes his move to undo his guilty plea. Attorneys for the Idaho Republican filed a motion today to reverse the plea stemming from his June arrest in an airport bathroom sting operation.
And Senator Chuck Hagel says he will not seek a third term in the U.S. Senate. The Nebraska Republican also ended speculation about a possible presidential run, saying he won't be seeking any other office either.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Our top story, the U.S. commander in Iraq saying the troop buildup is basically meeting its objectives. General David Petraeus telling Congress the military can reduce its forces to "the pre-surge level," bringing home some 30,000 U.S. combat troops by next summer.
It's not the first time U.S. commanders have voiced optimism. Back in 2004, then the commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, suggested that stability was just around the corner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, APRIL 8, 2004)
LT. GEN. RICARDO SANCHEZ, U.S. ARMY: The Marines are making great progress. I am -- and I am totally confident that we will succeed. The security situation will improve over the days and weeks ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And earlier this year in February Petraeus' predecessor, General George Casey went out with what was then seen as a pretty upbeat note as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENERAL GEORGE CASEY, U.S. ARMY: Today Iraqis are poised to assume responsibility for their own security by the end of 2007. Still with some level of support from us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: When it comes to today's testimony, the liberal advocacy group moveon.org has been sharply critical of the current U.S. commander in Iraq accusing him of, quote, "cooking the books for the White House."
MoveOn placed a controversial full-page ad in today's "New York Times." It reads "General Petraeus or general betray us?" That ad has people on both sides of the aisle crying foul.
CNN's Tom Foreman is joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You've been doing a reality check on some of the claims in that ad, so tell us what you've picked up.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we picked up mainly that MoveOn itself is playing it quite fast and loose with the facts here. Listen to what MoveOn said in their ad. Here's one of their assertions. "Every independent report on the ground situation in Iraq shows that the surge strategy has failed."
Well contrary to that, we looked at the three examples they cited on their Web page as proof of this, all of the reports while highly critical of what has happened in the war, certainly stop short of saying the surge has failed. Some suggest, in fact, that the surge probably needs to go on in some fashion to keep things from getting much worse.
MoveOn, citing the "New York Times" says, "The Pentagon has adopted a bizarre formula for keeping tabs on violence. For example, deaths by car bombs don't count." What they're doing here is criticizing the numbers that the military is raising about the number of civilian deaths and troop deaths and that sort of thing but Petraeus directly countered this saying it is simply not true. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETRAEUS: They are false, that's correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for confirming my suspicions.
PETRAEUS: We have a formula for ethno-sectarian violence. There is a very clear definition about it. It's acts taken by individuals of one ethnic or sectarian grouping against another ethno-sectarian grouping in general for an ethno-sectarian reason. It is not that complicated candidly. If al Qaeda bombs a neighborhood that is Shia, that is an ethno-sectarian incident and it is adjudged as such.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Now, this can be very murky territory, of course, in terms of exactly how the counts come through but as we here at CNN try to reconcile the Iraqi government's count of fatalities there, our military's count of bodies there and a group at bodycount.org, we found the numbers generally track with each other any way and are generally pretty much the same.
Here's another MoveOn assertion, "We'll hear of neighborhoods where violence has decreased but we won't hear that those neighborhoods have been ethnically cleansed." Let's look at a map of Baghdad. Here is one of the neighborhoods and indeed Petraeus did talk about the facts that there is violence in these neighborhoods. He didn't call it ethnic cleansing but he certainly talked about the notion that there remains a problem of violence here but the biggest area where he talked about a reduction in violence was Anbar Province out here, which is Sunni. It's not a question of one ethnic group driving another group out. This is an area Sunnis were fighting against al Qaeda and against American forces and decided ultimately to fight more against al Qaeda so that also raises a question.
The last part we want to raise about what MoveOn has said here, MoveOn says, "We may hear plan to withdraw a few thousands troops but we don't hear what Americans are desperate to hear. A timetable for withdrawing all of our troops."
Well, counter to that, Petraeus, as you noted earlier, Wolf, said we talk about 30,000 troops out by next summer. That's hardly a few thousand as this ad would suggest and while polls indicate that many Americans do want us out of this war, our latest poll here at CNN shows they are less enthusiastic about a timetable. Forty-eight percent says Congress should set one but 50 percent of Americans say there should be no timetable.
So the simple truth is, Wolf, that everybody is pushing these facts around in a lot of ways and MoveOn with this ad certainly does not corner the market on the truth.
BLITZER: You will be getting some feedback on that fact check. Thanks very much. Tom Foreman reporting for us.
You have no doubt heard the expression, "Tell us what you really think." Jack Cafferty does just that right here every day in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Jack has got a new book that's on sale today. The title is vintage Jack Cafferty. "It's Getting Ugly Out There, the Frauds, Bunglers, Liars and Losers who are Hurting America."
And Jack Cafferty is joining us. You know, Jack, I went through the book. I read it over the weekend. I worked with you now for many years. And I know you. Our viewers know you. They may love you, they may hate you but there's lot of your life that they simply don't know. And when you told us the other day that this book was gut wrenching in putting it together, I now understand why. Let me read from the beginning of this book.
One part of the book. "My folks were both alcoholics who between them were married 11 times. It would have been an even dozen, but my dad accidentally killed one of his fiancees."
You go on to write, "I'm the product of a very dysfunctional, sometimes violent Irish background. Indeed, very little of my back story qualifies as Hallmark material but it may help you make sense of the way I see and interpret what's going on around me."
Those are powerful words, Jack, and we spoke about this earlier. I want you to explain some of your background to our viewers that all of us were totally unfamiliar with.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Don't misunderstand. I didn't put that in the book because I'm looking for a sympathy card from anybody. But I put it in the book so that people who watch this program and listen to the things I say might have some sense of where this ongoing questioning of authority that I have comes from. And it's probably rooted in the fact that I learned pretty early on because of the environment I was in not to trust everything you see and hear because it's likely a good portion of it isn't going to turn out to be true. So that's sort of the reference point. I hope people understand that I'm not looking for someone to say poor Jack. On the contrary. I got some street smarts by the time I was a pretty young guy that a lot of kids never pick up because they're in more sheltered, quote, "normal" environments.
BLITZER: It's amazing, Jack, that here you are, you are on CNN every single day and some of the early experiences that you openly write about in this book, it's amazing you turned out to be as great as you did. I've got to tell you, Jack, a lot of kids who went through what you went through with your mom and your dad would not necessarily have turned out to be like Jack Cafferty is today.
CAFFERTY: Well, I wouldn't have turned out this way either except that I was started down the same road that my parents were on. I drank too much for too many years. And I was in the process of probably destroying a second marriage as well as the relationship that I value very much with my four daughters when 20 years ago I made a decision that it's going to be either -- you either got to change this and doing it in some way that makes some sense or you can look forward to the sort of tragic ending that your parents both met and they both died basically broke, alone and unhappy people.
So 20 years ago I put down the cigarettes and the booze all in one year and that was the year I almost didn't survive but in looking back it was the right thing to do and smartest thing I ever did. And my life began to improve rather dramatically after that.
BLITZER: It's amazing how you describe it because one thing that certainly comes through in this book and I think our viewers will love it is they can hear you say every one of these words on these written pages. They know your voice, Jack. It comes -- I can see you wrote this book from the heart. And I don't want to leave the impression that the whole book is just about Jack Cafferty. You have got some thoughts on the current administration, the political scene, what's happening in our world that you write about at great length as well.
CAFFERTY: Well, I think there's a sense of betrayal on the part of at least a lot of the people that write to me on this program, Wolf, that they have been betrayed by a government that doesn't have their best interest at heart. An eighteen percent approval rating for our Congress. Somewhere between 35 and 40 percent approval rating for our president after as many years as he's been at the controls and a 70 percent rating of people in this country that feel we're headed in the wrong direction.
And I get the sense that people are frustrated and disappointed and in some cases extremely angry that this country that they love and feel that they used to be a part of has simply bypassed them for the agendas of the large corporations and the special interests and the things that don't really matter to their lives. A lot of our jobs have been shipped overseas. We're celebrating the sixth anniversary of 9/11 and we haven't secured the Mexican border.
BLITZER: What was the most difficult thing for you to write about in this book that you said was a gut-wrenching experience?
CAFFERTY: Just going back and revisiting what a maladjusted young pup I used to be. Now I'm a maladjusted old pup. I don't mean to suggest that I've become anything else but some of the crap I used to pull on people, my employers, my family, when I was drinking and trying to hide it. I spent a lot of time with the shrinks because that's where you go to get help and I can remember leaving Channel 4 here in New York City and driving to a therapist appointment in New Jersey but I would stop it at the bodega across from Rockefeller Center to get a six pack. Put it in the car with me, drink three beers on the way to the doctor's appointment. Spell $150 discussing whether I had a drinking problem or not. And then drink the other three beers on the way home.
And when I got home I'd have a couple more drinks before dinner. So it was a scam. And I'm not proud of that having to go back and deal with it again was a little tough.
BLITZER: It's an amazing, amazing stories you tell in this book. And they all have the added advantage, Jack, of being true which is pretty good. Let me read a quote from the book.
"It doesn't matter who they are or how long they've been there. Time to go. We want our government back." And then you write. "And if it doesn't work, hey, maybe you and I will run for office."
What are you hinting at, Jack? Are we going to hear about Congressman Jack Cafferty or something?
CAFFERTY: No. Absolutely nothing. The editor of the book called me one day and said this thing has weak ending. You have got to rewrite it. So I sat down and rewrote it. If we can't vote these crumbs out of office, we're never going to get term limits from the government we have because they would be denying themselves reelection and a job. So it ain't going to happen. We have to impose the term limits. The way we do that is at the voting booth.
Incumbent, you're out of here. The idea of this government as envisioned by the founding fathers was sort of like jury duty. You come in for a couple years off the farm or out of the town and you go to the capital and serve the country and you do the nation's business with a pure heart and do the best for the people you represent and then you go back. You don't spend 40 years and build up these power bases and these pork projects and all of this garbage that our government has come to represent.
So I was trying to suggest at the end, look, let's start voting them out. If that doesn't work, maybe you and I will take shot at it but I am just kidding. This is much more fun to sit here throw rocks at them than to actually be one of them.
BLITZER: Well, the book is a fabulous read. I am beginning to understand, it's a scary Jack, I'm beginning to understand you a little bit.
CAFFERTY: You will be in therapy next.
BLITZER: I have to stay it's a good experience. Jack Cafferty's new book "It's Getting Ugly Out There, the Frauds, Bunglers, Liars and Losers Who are Hurting America." The publisher is Wiley. I hope you sell a million copies, Jack, thanks very much for coming in.
CAFFERTY: Well, thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: You're not leaving anyway because we have "The Cafferty File" in just a couple minutes. So we're going to make you work.
BLITZER: Thanks very much. Jack Cafferty has got a hot new book that I recommend highly to all of you out there.
It's a parent's nightmare. A teenager suffering a stroke in school. So why did school officials wait so long to call for help?
And new evidence comes to light in the case of the missing British little girl Madeleine McCann. Police say it points right to her parents. We've got new details. Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: A new element comes to light today in the search for a missing British four-year-old Madeleine McCann. Sources connected to the police telling a Portuguese TV station DNA evidence found in a car rented by her parents 25 days after her disappearance was in fact match for Madeleine. They were to turn the case over to prosecutors today. Let's go to CNN's Paula Hancocks. She is on the scene for us in Portugal. This is a pretty significant development, Paula, if in fact the blood in that car, which was rented 25 days after her disappearance is confirmed to be the blood of that little girl.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, yes. Now we have heard from Portuguese media, they are quoting police sources saying that it is a full DNA match of Madeleine in this particular rental car. They're not mentioning if it is blood or not but they are saying the DNA evidence shows that the body of Madeleine was in that particular car. Now the police themselves here in Portugal can't officially comment. There is a secrecy law here which means when they're in the middle of a criminal investigation they can't say anything.
And of course, Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents who are now formal suspects in the disappearance of their own daughter also can't comment because they are formal suspects. Now, we know that the prosecutor on Tuesday is going to be handed a file by the police full of all of the investigation they have done in the past four months and also all of the questioning with Kate and Gerry McCann. We saw certainly last week, Thursday and Friday hours on end of questioning for both of them. And at that point the prosecutor will decide whether to charge or whether to decide more evidence is needed. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right. Paula, thanks very much. We'll check back with you when we get some more information. What a story happening in Portugal and Britain right now.
The family of a teenager is taking legal action against the New York school system. She suffered a stroke in class which in itself is unheard of but even more unheard of is school officials waited to call 911 because they were apparently told not to. CNN's Mary Snow is watching this very troubling story for us. Mary, tell our viewers what's going on.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's really a story prompting outrage among teachers as well. Family in Queens, New York, says their daughter suffered damages because of bad judgment. They're blaming school officials and now suing the city for $10 million.
SNOW (voice-over): Five months after having a stroke, 14-year- old Mariya Fatima struggles to walk.
MARIYA FATIMA, STROKE VICTIM AT SCHOOL: My arms and my legs are not working.
SNOW: She no longer attends the school where she was an honor student. Her family says she reverted from 9th grade to 5th grade reading level and now they are suing the school over her suffering. Documents filed in lawsuit show this internal school memo bans school deans from calling 911, quote, "for any reason." Her family says no one called 911 for more than an hour following Mariya's stroke and says that delay may have made the damage worse.
FATIMA: I'm having a hard time.
SNOW: Tell me about that.
FATIMA: I mean, I can't describe the pain.
SNOW: Her lawyer blames school politics.
GARY CARLTON, FATIMA'S LAWYER: There have been numerous calls in the past to 911 which did not involve health issues but may have involved altercations between students and this helped to place them on this targeted list.
SNOW: That targeted list was a list of dangerous schools that could face consequences from the No Child Left Behind Act. The teachers' union says there is pressure to lower statistics.
RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED FEDERATION OF TEACHER: They start hiding incidents and this is the most tragic consequence of that where somebody would say don't call 911. Don't let the police know, don't let anybody know if there's an incident, a safety incident in school. And this was tragic.
SNOW: The city's Department of Education says it is limited in what it can currently say but this strongly goes against school policy. "We're investigating the events. We do not comment on ongoing investigations or cases in litigation. Chancellor's regulations stipulate that school staff must call 911 in a medical emergency."
SNOW (on camera): Now that memo in Jamaica High School banning calls to 911 was reversed after Mariya's ordeal. The assistant principal who wrote it and the principal have both left the school. We have been unable to reach them for comment.
One city official says they could face disciplinary actions but did not specify at this point what that might be. Wolf?
BLITZER: So they didn't call 911 for an hour but did they call the parents?
SNOW: They did. And I spoke to Mariya's mother today. She says she rushed to the school and was told that an ambulance was called. The lawyer also points out that the family has been here only two years from India and that Mariya's mother's English is not all that great. But she was under the understanding an ambulance had been called.
BLITZER: Mary Snow with the story. Thank you, Mary, very much.
Dozens of airplanes searching for adventurer Steve Fossett who disappeared a week ago after taking out from a Nevada air strip. Now anyone with a computer can use satellite imagery to join in on the search. Let's go to our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton. How are people trying to do this online? ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf they are scouring new satellite images of this vast area, finding any object that could be Steve Fossett's plane.
Hundreds of thousands of images of the western Nevada desert are now posted on a Web site of amazon.com called Mechanical Turk along with instruction what to look for, the size and color of an object that could be a damaged plane. Amazon says a team of specialists is reviewing submissions and forwarding them to search crews and that tens of thousands of people are searching worldwide.
On the ground with search teams in Nevada, local sheriff Joe Sanford said today a lot of these Web leads have been promising however he said they are now having to divert resources to follow up on leads that turn out to be false alarms. Wolf?
BLITZER: Abbi, thanks very much. Abbi Tatton reporting. Still ahead, Colin Powell says terrorists can't change us, only we can change ourselves. We'll find out if you agree. Jack Cafferty standing by with your e-mails. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the "Hot Shots" coming in from the Associated Press. In Pakistan, an officer clears a burning tree out of the street during a protest.
In Bangladesh, commuters get soaked as cars drive through flooded streets.
In London, a Harrod's worker watches a seagret (ph), an aggressive and deadly Egyptian cobra. He is in the case to guard a shoe encrusted with diamonds worth more than $125,000.
And in Turkey, somebody has a case of the Mondays. A student cries as he sits at his desk for the first day of school after summer vacation. Some of this hour's "Hot Shots."
Let's go back to Jack Cafferty in New York. He has got "The Cafferty File."
CAFFERTY: Wolf, this hour the question is Colin Powell says that terrorists cannot change us, only we can change ourselves. Do you agree with that? Pardon me.
Harold writes from Alaska, "That is exactly so. By allowing Bush's New World Order to destroy our freedom in reaction to terrorists, we accomplished what radical Muslims could never do to us. As long as we're reactive to terror instead of proactive we will feed the fires of extremism."
Rhyer writes, "Yes, they changed us. Saddam Hussein couldn't have delivered a mushroom pizza UPS much less a cloud but Republicans use fear constantly to make us conform. We've completely changed our lifestyle because of a small group of terrorists. Bin Laden should be dead but Bush and his oil buds raped 9/11 into an international oil heist gone terribly wrong."
Ashley in Miami. "I don't agree with Colin Powell that terrorists can't change us, only we can change ourselves. Part of a terrorist attack is psychological. And while 9/11 didn't change our overall political system or our people as a whole, I think most Americans would agree that we all think differently since those attacks even if we don't mean to."
Tony in New Jersey. "Powell could not be more correct on this issue. Bin Laden can kill, he can knock down buildings, but only we can destroy, disregard and ignore our own principles of our democracy until they eventually die off with a whimper. Constitutional when it's convenient? Whatever happened to give me liberty or give me death?"
Ed writes, "This is the most intelligent statement I've seen from Washington in many years. Where terrorists are concerned, why are we trying to kill mosquitoes with elephant guns? Our response, particularly the war, was massive overkill and very counterproductive."
And Lance in Florida writes, "Did I hear that correctly? A nationally known figure with an intelligent plan who is not afraid to say what needs to be said? Pinch me, I must be dreaming."
If you didn't see your e-mail here you can go to cnn.com/caffertyfile. We post more of them online along with video clips of "The Cafferty File." Check it out, Wolf, you'll really like the tapes.
BLITZER: We love it all. Thanks very much, Jack Cafferty. Thanks for that interview earlier. We're going to take a quick break. More of THE SITUATION ROOM right after this.
BLITZER: Remember, we're here weekday afternoons 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern, back in one hour at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. That's it for us. Let's go to LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. Kitty Pilgrim sitting in for Lou. Kitty.
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