Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Details of Blackwater Shooting; Myanmar Military Crackdown; Barack Obama Interview
Aired September 28, 2007 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAFFERTY: Jack in St. Augustine, Florida: "I suggest you and your cohorts look in the mirror for the answer. The television industry stands to loose big bucks if we find a way to curtail spending by those hoping to be elected."
Miriam in San Francisco: "The U.S. should institute the same kind of policy France has, where every candidate gets the same amount of money and campaigning is limited to just a few weeks."
And Susan writes: "I know how it looks, but we may have a chicken and egg situation here. Which comes first -- are the frontrunners winning in the polls because they've raised more money and can afford lots of ads? Or are the frontrunners getting all the donations to their campaigns because more people like them and want to donate? In other words, are they first because they're flush or are they flush because they're first?" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, an air strike that U.S. military commanders say killed a key leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. We have new video just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM from the Pentagon.
Also, new details emerging of the Air Force mistake that could have led to disaster. Live nuclear warheads flown across the United States. We may now know exactly what happened.
And a break in the case that simply horrified this country. Investigators identifying now a person of interest in the videotaped sex assault on a little girl. They want all of our help in finding this guy.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
U.S. military officials in Iraq are touting the killing of one of the top terror leaders in the country. Take a look at this video just released by the Pentagon. It shows an air strike that military officials say killed Abu Osama al-Tunisia, one of the senior leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq, along with two deputies -- all of them killed by two 500-pound bombs dropped by a U.S. F-16 in a daylight attack south of Baghdad. Officials say al-Tunisi, a native of Tunisia, was the heir apparent of the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Meanwhile, a source in the Iraqi interior ministry tells CNN as many as 10 civilians may have been killed in a raid by coalition forces early today in Baghdad. Coalition officials say all those killed in the operation were insurgents. There are also, at the same time, new details emerging right now about that controversial and deadly incident in Baghdad involving the private U.S. security firm, Blackwater. But they're only deepening the division over what really happened in a confrontation that left at least 11 Iraqi civilians dead.
Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd.
He's been following this story from the beginning.
So what are these new accounts suggesting -- Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, they're suggesting that even with at least two separate investigations underway on this incident, we may never get a really clear picture of just what happened that day.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
TODD (voice-over): A source familiar with the incident report describes the scene at that crowded Baghdad intersection as mayhem. According to the initial State Department report on the September 16th shooting, obtained by CNN, Blackwater contractors, at one point, were surrounded by Iraqi Army and police units.
BOBBY GHOSH, FORMER "TIME" BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: When a contingent of Iraqi police or Iraqi military turns up in a situation, you can't tell whether they're good guys or bad guys, because the Iraqi police and the Iraqi military is so thoroughly infiltrated by the various militias.
TODD: So far, details haven't been released publicly, nor has any evidence that the Blackwater guards exchanged fire with Iraqi forces. Accounts differ on whether they pointed their weapons at each other. But a U.S. Army Quick Response Force had to come in and extricate the Blackwater team. While not speaking specifically about Blackwater, one U.S. commander was asked today if he believes some private contractors are overly aggressive in these situations.
BRIG. GEN. JOSEPH ANDERSON, CHIEF OF STAFF, MULTINATIONAL CORPS- IRAQ: I have seen them, in my opinion, overreact. But that does not mean it's consistently the case.
TODD: An official with Blackwater USA denies published accounts that at least one Blackwater guard drew a weapon on his own colleagues and screamed for them to stop shooting. The Blackwater official says: "There is no truth to that."
State Department officials say they're disturbed that these accounts are trickling out.
TOM CASEY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: It's unhelpful to the investigation. It's unfair to any of those involved. And, ultimately, while I understand why it makes for good copy, it doesn't necessarily shed any real light on the incidence that's occurred.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: Both sides are sticking to their very different versions of this incident. Iraqi authorities saying Blackwater guards opened fire indiscriminately in the busy intersection, killing up to 20 civilians. Blackwater saying its team responded to an insurgent attack. Now, several investigations into this incident continue. The State Department is now sending a separate team to Iraq to review security contractor operations -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And what other details are you getting from that first State Department report?
TODD: There is a lot of detail in just two short pages. This report says that a total of three Blackwater units were involved. One of them, it says, was guarding a U.S. diplomat. And it says that unit was able to get that person safely back to the Green Zone after the initial explosion that triggered all of this.
The other two Blackwater teams, according to this first assessment, these are support units that went into the intersection at least two different times. One of them engaged in small arms fire. The other came in later. And that's the one surrounded by Iraqi forces. And that's the one that, according to this report, had to be pulled out by the U.S. military.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us.
Thank you, Brian.
Meanwhile, disturbing reports and new images of violence are coming out of Myanmar, scene of a deadly government crackdown on pro- democracy demonstrations. And the story is taking an even more dramatic new turn with the killing of a Japanese journalist who was covering the story.
CNN's Dan Rivers is in Bangkok with some dramatic pictures -- Dan?
DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the situation in Myanmar is continuing to deteriorate, with new clashes on Friday between soldiers, the police and protesters. All this as a new video emerges of the shooting of a Japanese journalist.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
RIVERS (voice-over): Gunned down on the streets of Myanmar. This video was taken by the exiled pressure group, the Democratic Voice of Burma the moment a Japanese photojournalist was shot on Thursday.
As the crowds run in panic, Kenji Nagai falls to the ground. It looks as if he was shot at close range as he tried to flee. He died a short while later. The government acknowledged Nagai was shot by security forces.
Diplomats in Yangon say it continued Friday.
MARK CANNING, U.K. AMBASSADOR: There were clashes underway in at least one area. We have heard shots. I would be very surprised if, in a Buddhist society as devout as this one, many people -- including members of the government here, including members of the military -- had not been thoroughly revolted by some of the things we have seen.
RIVERS: There have been few images of Friday's protests. But all coverage has been eagerly watched by exiles in neighboring Thailand. John Sanlin is one of those anxiously watching in Bangkok.
JOHN SANLIN, BURMESE EXILE: And now they shoot the people and they shoot the monks.
What the hell is this?
I don't know what should I do. I can't even sleep last night. I really worry about my friends, my brother. You know, it's all of my relatives.
RIVERS: John has been trying to get through to his father in Yangon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello?
SANLIN: Hello, Bia (ph).
RIVERS: He's relieved when he finally hears his voice and confirms everything is OK.
(on camera): And they have seen people being shot?
SANLIN: My father has seen people being shot.
RIVERS: How many?
SANLIN: He say just today it's nine.
(VIDEOTAPE OF PROTEST IN BANGKOK)
RIVERS (voice-over): Like hundreds of other exiles, John has been venting his anger outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok. He was in prison during the last crackdown in 1988 and is hoping this crisis won't end as bloody.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
RIVERS: Those exiles continuing to watch and wait here in Thailand. And the information flow coming out of Myanmar has started to dry up. Apparently, the government has cut the Internet connection, making it much more difficult for people to get out their photos and videos -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Dan Rivers reporting from Bangkok for us, watching this. Speaking of the Internet connection, citizens in Myanmar have been using the Internet to post images and videos of the violence. But today the Internet there was completely shut off.
Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.
She's following this story for us -- what are people doing now, Abbi?
ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, well, it just got a whole lot harder. With so few foreign press in that country, this is where we've been getting the images -- online -- people passing them, evading the cyber restrictions in that country to get these out to CNN's I-Report earlier this week. And, also, people on the ground have been sending images to the Web sites and the blogs of the exile community. This one is based in Thailand, some further afield.
This U.K.-based blogger tells CNN he was getting up to 40 messages -- images a day that he's been publishing online from his flat in London. But there's now a further clampdown. Reports yesterday were that the cyber cafes were closed inside Yangon and today public access to the Internet blocked entirely.
It means it's going to be so much harder for people to get pictures out. But this blogger in London telling CNN -- writing on his site today that he's not giving up writing that where there's a will, there's a way -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Abbi, thank you very much.
Let's go to Jack Cafferty in New York with The Cafferty File -- you know, and some of these pictures, Jack, you and I and a lot of our viewers will remember Tienanmen Square in Beijing.
And this pro-democracy movement in Myanmar, these are courageous -- not only the monks, but the thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of peaceful demonstrators who want a change. And obviously, the military junta there has a different idea.
CAFFERTY: Well, and political oppression is nothing new in a lot of places in this world. I remember those wonderful pictures of that guy who ran in front of those tanks in Tienanmen Square. I forget how many years ago that was. But they're not exactly dipping their fingers ink wells in that country, either, these days.
Speaking before a global climate change conference, President Bush said today the United States is ready to do its part to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The president also said the largest producers of greenhouse gases -- that includes the U.S. -- need to cut emissions in a way that "does not undermine economic growth."
Now, the day before the president was talking about gas, Vice President Dick Cheney was in Denver, talking to a Republican fundraiser that was hosted by the Benson Mineral Group. Now, that's an oil and gas producer headed by the former head of the Republican Party in Colorado, Bruce Benson. According to "The Denver Post," Cheney was scheduled to address about 20 people and they guessed that it would bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Republican Party.
Here's the question -- is the Bush administration sending out mixed messages about the environment?
E-mail your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Jack, very much.
And if you'd like a sneak preview, by the way, of Jack's questions, plus an early read on the day's political news and what's ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, you can sign up for our daily e-mail alert. Just go to CNN.com/situationroom.
Up ahead, a U.S. military plane carrying six armed nuclear missiles flying across the United States -- a dangerous, a major mistake. Tonight, we have new information that has even the Air Force baffled.
Also, a different kind of terror attack -- one that we're especially vulnerable to. We're going to show you what's being done and why many are saying it's not enough.
Plus, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama -- why aren't more African-Americans supporting him instead of Senator Hillary Clinton?
He talks about that and a lot more in a one-on-one interview. You're going to see it right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: There's news coming into CNN right now from the Pentagon involving a missile defense test -- Jamie McIntyre, what are we learning?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's up and it's good. The Pentagon says the latest test of the national missile defense was a success. The target missile launched from Kodiak, Alaska; the interceptor from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Part of this test was a new upgraded tracking radar. And there was a successful intercept in space over the Pacific Ocean.
This makes the record of intercept tests now six out of 10, for a 60 percent ratio -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, still not 10 out of 10, but we'll see how they can do.
Jamie, let's move on to that incident that occurred in recent weeks. A B52 flying across the United States with nuclear weapons. That's not supposed to happen. You're getting new information on how that happened, why that happened.
What are you learning?
MCINTYRE: Well, you know, Wolf, it sounds like common sense, right?
You have nuclear weapons with the highest level of security and then you have conventional weapons that don't have as high security.
You wouldn't put them in the same place, right?
Well, it turns out that's not the case.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): The Air Force won't say, but CNN has confirmed that a preliminary investigation has found that both nuclear tipped and unarmed cruise missiles were stored in the same bunker at Minot Air Force Base -- a practice that was just begging for an accident, according to one Pentagon official.
But officials say it was only the first of several mistakes that would lead to a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber flying from Minot, North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana last month with six nuclear armed missiles under one wing -- each with the explosive power of 10 Hiroshima bombs.
The Air Force insists they never could have detonated. But the blunder has shaken the highest levels of the Pentagon.
GENERAL PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: General Mosley, the chief of staff of the Air Force, Secretary Wingate, the secretary of the Air Force, have, from the instant they were notified, are taking this to be exactly what it is -- an unacceptable occurrence.
MCINTYRE: The problem with storing missiles with real and dummy warheads together is that they look exactly alike except for some markings and a small hole used to check the warhead. It appears nobody checked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "BROKEN ARROW," COURTESY TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you mind not shooting at a thermonuclear weapon?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCINTYRE: Ironically, back in the mid-1990s, the U.S. Air Force refused to cooperate with the Hollywood movie "Broken Arrow." the plot, about a nuclear weapon stolen by a rogue pilot, was dismissed as totally implausible. It could never happen given the elaborate safeguards in place -- which is what makes the real incident, called a bent spear in Pentagon parlance -- so astonishing. It prompted the "Military Times" newspaper, which broke the story, to headline its follow up report, "WTF," which does not stand for weapons transfer foul up. HANS KRISTENSEN, FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS: Most alarming is that the confidence in our command and control system -- that the custodians of these weapons know what they're doing and they what their weapons are -- collapsed that day.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
MCINTYRE: Now the Air Force says it will wrap up its investigation in about two more weeks. And that's when the House Armed Services Committee will also have hearings into the matter. Chairman Ellen Tauscher, Democrat from California, says she has a lot of questions beginning with, of course, the obvious one everyone wants to know -- how could this have possibly happened -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jamie, thanks very much.
Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.
Massive power blackouts lasting for weeks, even months -- it's not necessarily what comes to mind when you think of terror attacks on the United States. But it's a very real possibility. And we've discovered the country's power grid is extremely vulnerable.
Let's bring in our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve.
She is joining us now with new information about what's being done to deal with this threat -- Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, first I'd say that government officials would say it isn't extremely vulnerable now, that that have reduced some of the risk. But let me tell you that CNN has been told that recent events, including widespread cyber attacks on U.S. government computer systems, are galvanizing the federal government into undertaking a new cyber initiative. Still under debate, sources say, are exactly who is going to head it up and what its mission will be.
Meanwhile, some disturbing new insights into whether that government test I reported on on Wednesday could really happen in the real world.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MESERVE (voice-over): A generator spins its way to self- destruction after a simulated cyber attack on its control system.
Could it happen in the real world?
A professional hacker says, you bet.
KEVIN JOHNSON, INTELGUARDIANS: If I woke up tomorrow morning and decided I wanted to do that against a generator, I could, and it would not be that hard.
MESERVE: First step, pick a target. Second, cyber reconnaissance. On the Web, a hacker can find a treasure trove of sensitive information and strangers who will give you more.
JOHNSON: I can ask anybody, hey, hey what's a default password for whiz bang widget 2000 and somebody will come back and say, oh, it's "tiger". And then I'm able to log into the system.
MESERVE: Because, in many cases, default passwords on control systems have never been changed. And once in the system, sometimes there are schematics mapping the route for a hacker to follow, to, let's say, jimmy with a cycle of electricity to a generator, resulting in something like this. And then potentially this -- a blackout that could last for months and months.
Cyber experts say it is a scenario with life or death implications, that policymakers just have not taken seriously.
O. SAMI SAYDJARI, PROFESSIONALS FOR CYBER DEFENSE: And nuclear, chemical or biological attacks, they are more immediately understandable because we've seen them. And they result in body bags. Whereas cyber attacks certainly would result in body bags ultimately, but, really, they attack our civilization, our way of life, which is a much harder thing to grasp and a much harder thing to grapple with.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
MESERVE: ...to be changing if this new initiative is as large and broad as expected, sources say its first goal will be to better defend government computer systems. One of the people pushing hard to bring it to fruition, we're told, the director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell.
Wolf, -- back to you.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much.
Jeanne Meserve, our homeland security correspondent.
Still ahead, there are new developments in a horrible case of child abuse that's making headlines across the country.
Why are investigators hoping all of us -- you -- all of us, could help find this man?
And imagine being trapped in this wreckage for eight days. It happened to a woman in Washington State. The amazing story of how she was found. That's coming up, as well.
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: It could be a major break in a horrifying case of child sex abuse. Investigators are now identifying a man they want to question about the assault on a little girl -- a brutal attack that was videotaped. Let's go straight to CNN's Kara Finnstrom.
She's watching this story for us -- who is this man, Kara, and what do we know about him?
KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're calling him a person of interest that they want to talk with about this videotape, a videotape which they say shows the repeated horrific rape of a 4- or 5-year-old little girl.
This man's name is Chester Arthur Stiles. He is actually already wanted by Las Vegas area police and the FBI. He's wanted on warrants for both sexual assault and lewd conduct with a minor.
At this point, they say he's a fugitive and they have no idea where he is. They're hoping by releasing this picture of him that, perhaps, someone will come forward. But they also acknowledge that this picture of Stiles looks an awful lot like the picture they released earlier of the man -- the actual attacker -- that was taken from that videotape. But they stress at this point, Stiles is not an official suspect. He is a person of interest.
Also, today, they released what they believe is the name of the little girl in that videotape. And they believe her name is Madison. They say the attacker referred to her by that name. They also say that by some of the background in that videotape, they were able to ascertain that they think this attacker actually was entrusted with the care of Madison. And they think because this little girl showed very little emotion during these repeated assaults that she has been brutalized many times before.
The sheriff spoke about how difficult it has been for everyone working on this search.
SHERIFF ANTHONY DEMEO, NYE COUNTY, NEVADA: Nothing that I've seen in my career has come anywhere close to what this girl has gone through. And, you know, I just don't imagine that anyone should go through this whether -- how old they are, no matter what. And this person, whoever this person is, is a predator that, as far as I'm concerned, belongs in custody and should be successfully prosecuted and jailed for as long as the law allows.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FINNSTROM: Now, this videotape was originally turned into sheriff's deputies by a man named Darren Tuck. He is a local man. He says he found it in the desert. But sheriff's deputies say he's had a lot of inconsistencies with his story. They also say he held onto this videotape for at least five months and showed it to at least one other person.
So this afternoon they say they are going to give him a polygraph test to try and tell how truthful he's been and see if they can get any other information from him about this little girl.
And one final point, Wolf, that we want touch on. There were two girls on this videotape. We have learned from sheriff's deputies that the other girl, an older girl, about 11 or 12, was from this area. She was identified. She is safe. She was actually videotaped by a peeping Tom outside of her window. And they don't know how these two pieces of video may be related. But, Wolf, this one of the things they're looking into.
BLITZER: There are a lot of sick people out there.
What a horrible story.
Kara, thank you very much.
Kara Finnstrom reporting for us.
Let's go to Carol Costello.
She's monitoring some other stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Carol.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
A man convicted of killing his adoptive parents is still alive hours after he was to be put to death in Texas. The U.S. Supreme Court blocked Carlton Turner, Jr.'s execution while it reviews lethal injection procedures in another state. Turner would have been the 27th Texas death row inmate to be executed this year.
The husband of a Maple Valley, Washington woman says red tape almost killed his wife. Tanya Rider was found yesterday in a crashed car in a ravine along the highway that she used to drive to and from work. She'd been missing for eight days. Her husband, Tom Rider, finally convinced police to use cell phone technology to home in on her location. Tanya Rider is now in the hospital. She is in critical condition.
Cabbies are fighting it, but a federal judge refused to block a new rule in New York requiring taxis to go high tech. New York's more than 13,000 cabs must be equipped with credit card machines and global positioning systems by Monday. Drivers say the GPS, in particular, will give away trade secrets by revealing their driving patterns. The judge says in this case, service trumps privacy rights.
That's a look at the headlines right now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Carol, very much.
Still ahead, our one-on-one interview of the Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama. You're going to find out why he says African-Americans outside his state don't really know him -- at least not yet.
Plus, a movie based on a worldwide best-selling now engulfed in controversy even before the film is released. We're going to have details of a controversial scene.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, 142 passengers and crew members of an airliner that caught fire today, breathing easier right now. The American Airlines MD-80 took off from St. Louis to Chicago, fire erupted in one of the engines. The plane returned to St. Louis. Everyone got out safely. That's good.
President Bush calls on the world's worst polluters to set a goal for greenhouse gas emissions. The president acknowledged global warming is a problem in a two-day conference on climate change here in Washington. Says countries must reduce emissions while keeping economies growing.
And forensics experts think remains of two children of Russia's last czar may have been found. They say there's a good chance the bone fragments are those of the son and daughter of the Czar Nicholas. The family was killed after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
He's African American but that doesn't make Senator Barack Obama necessarily a shoo-in for the African American vote. He and his toughest competition, Senator Hillary Clinton specifically, appealed to the Congressional Black Caucus. Today our contributor Roland Martin sat down with Senator Obama just a short while ago.
Roland, thanks for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Glad to be here.
BLITZER: Good interview. And I want you to throw to an expert but set the scene for us how you managed -- first of all, why he wanted to talk to you today, what was going on, first of all, in Washington involving the Congressional Black Caucus? This is an important day.
MARTIN: Actually I hadn't talked to him in a couple of months and I want to get on my radio show. That's one of the things that we did. So we scheduled the interview. He had a panel on climate control and so after the panel he sat down and talked to us on a wide variety of issues and the race with Senator Clinton. But also, interesting thought about African Americans who are afraid to vote for him.
BLITZER: All right. Let's listen to this little excerpt from the interview.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: ... change sufficiently in this country that it is possible for large numbers of whites to vote for an African American candidate. If I did not believe that I would not be running because, as I think you know, Roland, this is not a symbolic race and I just want to point out that all those other candidates are taking me awfully seriously and if they didn't think I could get white votes, then they wouldn't be worrying about my campaign as much as they are.
MARTIN: I want to speak about a fellow Harvard graduate, W.E.B. Dubois. He said that the problem with the 20th century is the problem of the color line.
Look at O.J. Look at Michael Vick. Look at Jena -- stories come up all the time when it comes to the whole issue of race and America is split. Bill O'Reilly made some comments that some people said were critical. He said, wait a minute, it wasn't critical. I was simply talking about what whites think about African Americans. Any thoughts do you have regarding Bill O'Reilly comments but also how do we address what some people say continues to be a problem, that is a racial divide?
OBAMA: Well, look, we've had racial division in this country since its founding. It's not going to go away overnight. We have made progress. To deny we have made progress, I think, would be to dishonor the memories of all those who fought for our civil rights throughout the generations. We've got a long way to go and I think the Jena situation indicated that.
MARTIN: Your wife, Michelle Obama, she said in Iowa this week if Barack doesn't win Iowa, it is just a dream meeting. Did you talk to her about that?
OBAMA: Well, you know when she's in Iowa, I want her to make sure that folks in Iowa know we think they're important. When she goes to South Carolina, she'll be talking about South Carolina. So there's no doubt that our strategy is to do well in the early states and we want to emphasize our campaign efforts in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. If we're successful there, then I think that gives us the launching pad to be successful all across the country.
MARTIN: Real quick, Iranian President Ahmadinejad what did he say, made some comments this week that ticked some folks off. You said you would meet with him at the CNN-YouTube debate. Based upon his comments would you still do it?
OBAMA: Absolutely. What I've said is I find his views -- many of his views odious and reprehensible but we had meetings with Mao, who had killed millions of his own people, Stalin, who had killed millions of his own people because we thought it was the United States' security interests to meet. Strong countries and strong presidents meet with their adversaries and tell them where America stands. So if we meet with the Iranian president, we are going to tell him we don't agree with him when it comes to nuclear weapons. We detest his views of Israel and his denial of the Holocaust.
But here are some carrots and here are some sticks to see how we can cooperate together. That I think is the kind of forward looking diplomacy the next president is going to have to engage in to repair the damage done by President Bush and Cheney's policies. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BLITZER: You know, the amazing thing right now is that in the African American community, correct me if I'm wrong, Roland, Hillary Clinton is actually doing better among Democrats than Barack Obama is. Is that right?
MARTIN: Absolutely. First and foremost he even addressed that (ph). She has been on the national scene 15 some odd years, for him about three years. But also what's interesting, folks are scared to vote for Obama ...
BLITZER: Black people?
MARTIN: African-Americans, thinking that whites will not elect him so therefore their vote is going to be wasted. I've had people call my radio show in Chicago on WBON saying that. Obama even said it. He said there were women in his family said, do you really think he can do this? He said because they're fearful he might lose, they don't want him to be let down. And so it's an interesting psychological issue here as to why some are not supporting him because they don't think he would actually win.
BLITZER: That's an interesting phenomenon. We are going to continue this conversation in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour. Roland Martin, thanks for coming in.
MARTIN: Glad to be here.
BLITZER: John McCain is out with a new ad in New Hampshire that goes back to his days as a POW in Vietnam as the campaign fund-raising quarter comes to an end. He's trying to raise his profile. Here is a little bit of McCain's ad. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: ... Tehran heeds. And I ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We're here with Gloria Borger. So, Gloria, why is Senator McCain doing this now? What's his strategy?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: A senior McCain aide told me today they have this sense they need to reintroduce John McCain to the voters of New Hampshire and what they're doing is selling his biography, they're selling his character, they're selling him as somebody, this aide said who acts on principle and he also said this is what he's been doing his entire life. So they want to reintroduce him to voters who may not remember John McCain, the maverick, from the year 2000.
BLITZER: And what are you hearing about his fund-raising, because we're all waiting Sunday, Monday, we should be getting the latest official numbers this quarter. How all the presidential candidates, Democratic and Republican are doing. What are you hearing?
BORGER: Well, as you saw in our poll this week he had an uptick in New Hampshire.
BLITZER: As a result of part of the last Republican debate there.
BORGER: But fund-raising is a lagging indicator, Wolf, so his numbers as John King reported earlier are probably going to be around $5 million. What CNN has also learned, though, is that Fred Thompson, the newest entrant into this race, may raise around $7 million, a little bit more than $7 million.
BLITZER: That would be more than Senator McCain which would be embarrassing to Senator McCain.
BORGER: Well, it's a good showing for Thompson, though did I ask the McCain people about it and they said what else has Fred Thompson been doing? He's been out there, all the time in the world to raise money.
BLITZER: Even though he only announced officially in early September he's been out there for a while raising money. It's interesting, though, that among the frontrunners of the Republicans, if you compare how much they've raised to the Democratic frontrunners, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, they have raised two or three times as much as the leading Republican candidates. How do you explain that?
BORGER: Well, the energy in this presidential race so far and the intensity and the enthusiasm, Wolf, is clearly on the Democratic side. There is a sense, OK, we finally want to win a presidential race and so whether it's Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or John Edwards or anyone else, the Democrats now are putting their money where their wishes are and that's why you see the Democrats raising this kind of money.
BLITZER: It's going to be a fascinating development. You'll be with us every step of the way.
BORGER: I hope so. It will be a lot of fun.
BLITZER: Thanks, very much. Gloria Borger.
Imagine Iran with an atomic weapon. When we come back, our special correspondent Frank Sesno considers a nuclear Iran and a best- selling novel becomes a movie steeped in controversy. We're going to tell you about a scene in "The Kite Runner", a scene that's getting a lot of attention right now. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, finds himself in friendlier territory. He stopped in Venezuela yesterday to visit with his ally President Hugo Chavez. The Iranian leader left New York on Wednesday, traveled first to Bolivia where he pledged $1 billion in investment and from there he traveled to Caracas.
A key bone of contention between Iran and the West has been Iran's nuclear program. The United States and others want it stopped. Iran says it has only peaceful intentions.
Correspondent Frank Sesno for this week's "What if?" segment. Hi, Frank.
FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. What if -- Iran had nukes. Let's go to a timeline and take a look at what's been happening. Back in 1968 during the time of the shah, the Iranians signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. That means no weapons. That was suspended, their nuclear program, suspended after the revolution, but in the 1980s they started a program back up in secret. It was not discovered for 18 years, until 2002. A year later enrichment activities confirmed by inspectors.
Where are we today? About 2,700 centrifuges are spinning uranium either under construction or actually operating in Iran. They say if you have 3,000 of them and they work round the clock, you have enough highly enriched uranium for a bomb in about a year. That's why there's so much suspicion, Wolf, in this whole thing and if anything this last week with the Iranian president's visit and all the rhetoric, the issue and the tensions have ratcheted up.
SESNO (voice-over): What if Iran gets the bomb? The U.S., Britain, France, among others predict instability, plaque mail, maybe nuclear terrorism. At the very least Iran trying to play regional superpower, throwing its weight around from the battlefields of Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories to the oil fields of the Persian Gulf.
The French president told the UN darkly there will not be peace in the world. The Israelis say a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, an existential threat as they see it since one bomb could just about wipe out the country because it's so small.
Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Sunni Arab world fear a nuclear Iran almost as much. They worry about the power, influence, and ability to intimidate of a Shiite nuclear armed Iran and its support of militants and terrorists in their back yards. More than a dozen Arab countries are now exploring nuclear programs of their own for peaceful purposes, they say, of course.
What if there were a nuclear arms race in the Middle East? Iran's president defiantly told the UN Iran is complying with international inspections. He said the nuclear issue is now closed. No, it's not. The world is watching a super high-stakes game of chicken. What if the chicken goes nuclear?
SESNO (on camera): That of course is the nightmare scenario. Where do the chickens come home to roost? First in Iran and Natanz. Let me show you this map. This is really a remarkable thing. You can see the Natanz facility here, there the overall complex, push in and you see these buildings. This is the original gas centrifuge plant where they are enriching uranium. Pull out and look at the top of the picture and you see that empty soil area there. Not what it seems. Go back to 2002. Soil was being cleared. Push on a little forward. You see the construction under way.
The next picture, these all taken by satellite, restoration activities so it looks as it does now, but others, inspectors, IAEA, has gotten inside. Three buildings, more than 300,000 square feet, those two big buildings, large enough to put several aircraft carriers in. Pull back out and around a four-mile security perimeter each of those little red dots is either anything from an antiaircraft system, some of them very sophisticated to a tower. So Wolf, you see why the suspicions run so deep and why this situation is as serious as it is.
BLITZER: So what are the options? What do you do about this?
SESNO: Well, the options aren't great and there aren't very many of them. There basically are three. One, get over it. Realize the genie is out of the bottle and some actually say this, and try to deal with it diplomatically and other ways you can. Two, work to contain it and deter it the way the United States and the Soviets had their mutual assured destruction in their arms race. And finally, confront it. That's actually what's happening now through really stiff sanctions which is what the United States, France, and Britain want or maybe, maybe, military action. Again, the nightmare.
BLITZER: Certainly would be a nightmare. Thanks very much, Frank Sesno.
SESNO: Wolf, thanks.
BLITZER: And up ahead, the long-awaited film "The Kite Runner" is nearing release. Controversy is spinning over one especially graphic scene. We'll have more on that coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's go back to Jack Cafferty in New York for "The Cafferty File." Jack?
CAFFERTY: The question is, is the Bush administration sending out mixed messages when it comes to the environment?
Jerry writes from Florida, "There is nothing mixed about Bush's messages on the environment. He has suppressed and refuted scientific evidence proving global warming is real since he was first elected, all in the interest of corporate profits. Now he admits it's a problem but does nothing about it except spew rhetoric.
Rich in Texas writes, "America does not need Bush to tell us there is a serious problem with the environment. What we need as a president that has a solution. A plan to accomplish something, not to simply point fingers. Talk is cheap, action speaks volumes." Melissa writes from Georgia. "When is the president not sending a mixed message? I don't even think he knows what he's saying."
Bill in Louisiana. "I wouldn't say the administration is sending mixed messages. They are very clear. To hell with the environment as long as big oil and big business can make millions."
Paul in Montreal. "If Bush was serious about solving global warming he'd join the 169 other countries and sign the Kyoto Protocol. The countries meeting in Washington account for over 90 percent of emissions worldwide. Real action by those countries could deliver massive cuts in emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. The big emitters' meeting is a distraction from the valuable and constructive work within the United Nations leading up to climate talks involving Indonesia. What the world needs is a strengthened Kyoto protocol and a little less conversation, a little more action."
Ray in Lubbock, Texas. "The Bush administration has made its position on global warming quite clear. When you're hot you're hot. When you're hot, we care not."
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," Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much. See you back here in an hour. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, the long- awaited film "The Kite Runner." It's nearing release. But there's already controversy over one especially graphic scene. We'll have a full report on that right after this.
BLITZER: The film based on the best selling book "The Kite Runner" will soon be in theaters. But its road to release is proving a little bit rocky. Let's go to CNN's Kareen Wynter. She is joining us from Los Angeles. Kareen, what's the problem here?
KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. Well, this is really a huge film. "The Kite Runner" deals with Afghanistan's long history of political struggles, but there's a pivotal point, Wolf, in the movie some say has already cast an unfavorable light on a young boy who plays one of the key characters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened to the boy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Taliban took him.
WYNTER (voice-over): "The Kite Runner" hasn't even flown into theaters yet and it already swiped up in controversy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I dream flowers will bloom in the streets again. WYNTER: The movie, set in Kabul, Afghanistan, is based on a best-selling novel about two boys and their unbreakable bond from the final days of Afghanistan's monarchy to the days of the Taliban reign. But far from the flashes of Hollywood comes another plot. And this one isn't scripted. It involves the movie's lead character, 12-year- old Ahmad, and a brief but graphic rage scene he was cast to play.
We track down the movie's lead character thousands of miles away in the rolling hillsides of Afghanistan. Ahmad and his father were reluctant to speak with us at first saying the studio instructed them not to talk to the media.
(on camera): What went through your mind as you were filming the scene, the rape scene?
AHMAD, 12-YEAR OLD ACTOR IN "THE KITE RUNNER" (on phone) (through translator): I was just scared for a few minutes.
WYNTER: Ahmad's father who says he wasn't on the set at the time said had he known about the scene he would have pulled his son from the film.
(voice-over): The cultural implications of a boy from Afghanistan being raped, even if it's just acting is viewed as dishonorable and could make the family a target of violence.
(on camera): Has the film company offered to move you out of Kabul?
AHMAD'S FATHER (on phone) (through translator): They said if there is ever a time you don't feel safe or there is a problem, we will provide a safe place for you.
WYNTER (voice-over): The film company and movie producers declined an on-camera request but they released this statement. "
"The family members addressed their concerns with us and said they were fine with the content of the scene, as long as we portrayed it in a sensitive manner. We made this a priority and followed their specific instructions."
(on camera): We asked Paramount Vantage if "The Kite Runner" would still be released November 2nd. A spokesman would not confirm whether or not that date had been pushed back because of the controversy.
(voice-over): The author of the best-selling novel from which this movie is based also told CNN "The safety of the children in 'The Kite Runner' film is of the utmost importance. I believe the filmmakers are doing everything within their means to ensure that the boys are safe and cared for."
For now, Ahmad and his father says they'll continue to live their lives just a bit more under the radar hoping their brief brush with fame doesn't come at a cost.
WYNTER (on camera): Wolf, we learned of another significant development in this story late yesterday. The boy's father says the production company has offered to bring them here to the United States before the film is actually released but he wouldn't tell us when that would be. Ahmad, by the way, was paid $10,000 for his part.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Kareen, for that report. "The Kite Runner" has already achieved great success, huge success as a novel. It's the first book from the author Khalid Hosseini and has been on "The New York Times" bestseller's list for more than two years. There are currently 4 million copies in print and it's been published in 42 languages since its release in 2003. Hosseini second novel, "A Thousand Splendid Suns" was released in May and is number two on "The New York Times" hard cover fiction list.
Here's a look at some of the "Hot Shots" coming in from our friends over at the Associated Press, pictures likely to be in your hometown newspapers tomorrow.
In Venice, Italy, children splash around St. Mark's Square where floodwaters are up to 40 inches deep.
Over at the White House, President Bush calls out his Scottish terrier Barney. Check it out.
In Kiev, Ukraine, supports of the prime minister rally for their leader ahead of parliamentary elections on Sunday.
And in Israel a breeder holds up three Canadian sphinx cats at the International Cat Show.
Whoa, some of this hour's "Hot Shots", pictures often worth a thousand words.
That's it for us this hour. Remember, we're here in THE SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern, back for another hour at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. One hour from now. Much more from our interview with Barack Obama. That is coming up at 7:00. Until then, thanks for watching.
LOU DOBBS TONIGHT starts right now. Kitty Pilgrim sitting in for Lou. Kitty?
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com