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Myanmar Crackdown; Ahmadinejad in Venezuela; Obama Interview

Aired September 28, 2007 - 1900   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Kitty.
Happening now, troops go to brutal new links to crush a pro democracy movement. The crisis in Myanmar, more shocking and more bloody by the hour. Tonight, powerful new pictures and a surprising new development, we'll go there.

Also this hour, one-on-one with Senator Barack Obama. We asked him why he's not drawing the kind of African American support you might expect and if he has a plan to catch up with the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton.

And it was one of the most contentious confirmation hearings in U.S. history. Now Justice Clarence Thomas is speaking out about his fight to get on the U.S. Supreme Court and what he thinks of his accuser, Anita Hill.

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

It has all the echoes of what happened in Tiedemann Square in China back in 1989. Government troops now in Myanmar have clubbed activists; they've shot into crowds of peaceful demonstrators. They've occupied Buddhist monasteries, cut public Internet access as they crack down on a pro democracy movement.

And the story is taking a surprising new turn with the killing of a Japanese journalist who was simply trying to cover this story. CNN's Dan Rivers is joining us from Bangkok with some dramatic new pictures which we want to warn you are graphic. Dan?

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Reporter: Wolf, the situation in Myanmar is continuing to deteriorate with new clashes on Friday between soldiers, the police and protestors. All this as a new video emerges of the shooting of a Japanese journalist.


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 photo journalist 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 the violence continued Friday.

MARK CANNING, UK AMBASSADOR (via phone): 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, have 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 Sandlin (ph) is one of those anxiously watching in Bangkok.

JOHN SANLIN, BURMESE EXILE: The novice shoot to the people and they shoot to the monk. 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 my relatives.


RIVERS: John has been trying to get through to his father in Yangon.




RIVERS: He is 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 today is nine.


RIVERS (voice-over): Like hundreds of other exiles, John has been venting his anger outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok. He was imprisoned during the last crackdown in 1988 and is hoping this crisis won't end as bloody.


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 for us -- thank you, Dan.

Meanwhile, two of the Bush administration's arch enemies they are standing side by side again, the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, getting a very warm welcome in Venezuela from the president, Hugo Chavez, only days after his controversial appearance in New York City. Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's watch thing story for us. I assume this trip to Venezuela, to South America for Ahmadinejad represents a boost for the Iranian leader?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At least in the immediate it does, Wolf. Fresh off that controversial visit to New York and his speech to the United Nations, Mr. Ahmadinejad took a trip to Latin America and it almost looks like a victory lap.


TODD (voice-over): A hero's welcome in Venezuela for Iran's lightning rod leader. An embrace from President Hugo Chavez, a fellow critic of America. A far cry from reception Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received in New York earlier this week.


TODD: Chavez praised Ahmadinejad for facing his critics at the United Nations and at Columbia University, whose president called him a petty and cruel dictator.

PRES. HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELA (through translator): You answered with the moral strength of the brother of the people of Iran and further with the moral strength of the people of the world.


TODD: Chavez is no stranger to using the U.N. pulpit to thumb his nose at America and President Bush.

CHAVEZ (through translator): Yesterday, the devil came here. And it smells of sulfur still today.

TODD: Ahmadinejad used that same podium this week to defy the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear program.

PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (through translator): I officially announce that in our opinion, the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed.

TODD: American diplomats are using that statement to press for tighter sanctions on Iran right away. But their counterparts on the Security Council want to wait until November when U.N. nuclear officials report on Iran's cooperation. If Iran is still resisting, only then would they agree to draw up a new resolution against Tehran.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: We will be working to finalize the text and we will be watching to see what progress takes place in the two events that are taking place during the November time frame.

TODD: So did Ahmadinejad emerge from the U.N. with the upper hand?

AFSHIN MOLAVI, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: It may look like he snubbed his nose at the United Nations and got away with it. But it also just may be a short-term tactical victory, which may not contain the elements for a long-term victory for Iran.


TODD: One sign that those who have been lenient on Iran are now turning, the French recently have stepped up their criticism of Tehran's nuclear intentions. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian thanks very much -- Brian Todd reporting for us.

Meanwhile, tonight some Republicans here in Washington who want to see an end to the war in Iraq are desperate, perhaps as desperate as some Democrats to find a way out of the current stalemate. A current -- a handful of GOP senators most of them up for reelection next year are coming forward with what is seen as a compromise of sorts.

But there's a huge catch. The timeline for U.S. troops to come home would not kick in until President Bush was well on his way out of the White House. Let's go to our congressional correspondent Dana Bash who is watching this story for us.

Give us the background. What's going on with these Republicans, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well most Republicans, as you know, Wolf, simply will not support what Democrats hold vote after vote on in the Senate, and that is a hard and fast deadline for troop withdrawal. But many of those Republicans are increasingly hearing from their constituents back home that they want more of a road map for a withdrawal from Iraq than the president will offer.


BASH (voice-over): The new Republican effort to force a change in Iraq strategy requires the president to change the mission from combat to support operations, with the goal of completing that transition in 15 months, after next year's election. The proposal was crafted by Ohio Republican George Voinovich and has the backing of three GOP senators who face war weary voters at the polls next year. It comes after months of soul searching by increasingly frustrated Republicans like Elizabeth Dole, looking to satisfy demands back home for a withdrawal plan.

SEN. ELIZABETH DOLE (R), NORTH CAROLINA: We must seek common ground based on a set of shared principles. A growing number of our fellow Americans oppose a long-term U.S. military commitment.

BASH: Senator Voinovich met numerous times with Democrat Carl Levin, hoping to finally find an Iraq compromise that could pass the Senate. But Democratic leaders dismissed out of hand the idea of waiting 15 months.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I don't support it at all.


REID: Well it doesn't do anything. It has the goal after -- woops, I'm sorry -- it has the goal after the election. That's very courageous.

BASH: Some in Harry Reid's own party warn that kind of scorn for a GOP compromise idea will only hurt Democrats in power for nine months without changing Iraq policy.

REP. NEIL ABERCROMBIE (D), HAWAII: We have the majority now. People expect results. In order to get results we have to reach out to the other side. That's the only way it is going to happen. People will give us credit for that.

BASH: Democratic Neil Abercrombie says Democratic leaders dug in on Iraq should learn from their strategy on children's health, by compromising with Republicans, Democrats won overwhelming bipartisan votes in the Senate and House and put the president on the defensive.


BASH: Now, we asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid if he learned any lesson from the success that he did have in negotiating with Republicans, finding compromise on children's health. Without missing a beat, Wolf, he replied quote, "Get a new president" and he left it there.

BLITZER: All right, Dana. Thanks very much -- Dana Bash on the Hill.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty watching all of this unfold for "The Cafferty File" in New York -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Two thirds of the public is opposed to the war. What are these people doing? They sit around and they talk and they write more people this, and we might debate that and let's -- the country is fed up with the war. Don't these people in Washington understand that?

The Watergate era is generally recognized as the low point in American history for trust in our government until now. While Americans trust in local and state governments hold steady, our trust of the federal government is at its lowest levels ever according to the latest Gallup poll.

Barely half of Americans, 51 percent, say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the federal government to handle international problems. That's the lowest single measurement ever obtained on that question by Gallup. Forty-three percent of Americans trust the executive branch. That would be President Bush. And that's just a couple of percentage points above the all-time low registered right before President Nixon resigned the office in 1974.

And less than half of us trust the federal government to handle domestic problems. Gallup found this number, below 50, only one other time, 1976. Trust of Congress is the lowest that Gallup has ever recorded. The only branch of our government at the federal level that's maintained pubic confidence is the judiciary headed by the Supreme Court.

So here's the question. Why do Americans trust the government less today than they did during the Watergate era? E-mail or go to I just love how the politicians do that. They play politics with the war while our kids get killed over there. It's disgraceful, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well maybe that's part of the answer to the question that you just asked.

CAFFERTY: I'm sure it's a factor...

BLITZER: You're going to get a ton of e-mail, good e-mail on this question, Jack. Thanks very much.

So why aren't more African Americans supporting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama?


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's no doubt that an impact also has to do with the fact that Senator Clinton is in the race. There's enormous affection for Bill Clinton in particular and that carries over.


BLITZER: So what does he plan to do about all of that? Roland Martin sat down with him for a one-on-one interview. That's coming up next.

Also, his book on the plight of the Palestinians created a huge uproar. Find out how a new movie about Jimmy Carter could revive it.

Plus, the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, he is finally telling his side of the Anita Hill controversy that haunted his nomination.

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


BLITZER: Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are making personal appeals today to the congressional Black Caucus here in Washington. It's yet another example of their intense competition for African American support. Support that's not coming as easily as one might think for Senator Obama.

Our contributor Roland Martin is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You had a chance, Roland, to speak at length today with Senator Obama. You did a good interview. I want to play some excerpts and then on the other side we're going to talk about it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.

BLITZER: Listen to this.


OBAMA: My belief is, is that we have changed 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. The African American community across the country doesn't know me the way the African American community in Illinois knows me. And so there I've got 90 percent support.

But I don't assume that that's going to exist across the country until they get to know who I am. And there's no doubt that an impact also has to do with the fact that Senator Clinton is in the race and there's enormous affection for Bill Clinton in particular. And that carries over. But I've always said that my goal is to get known so the people know my track record on dealing with racial profiling, on reforming the death penalty system, on expanding health care for kid who needed it, dealing with ex-offender issues.

If people know the work as I've done as a community organizer, civil rights attorney, state legislator, U.S. senator, then I will feel confident that I will get a large share of the African American vote. People don't know as much about me. They're learning about me now. We've got positive name I.D., but they haven't seen us, Michelle (ph) and myself go through the ups and downs of politics the way they know some of the other candidates in this race.

And you know I've always believed that the African American vote is a sophisticated vote. They don't just jump at somebody. They want to get to know you. Lift the hood. Kick the tires. Their vote tends to break late. It's a fascinating and interesting problem in our community. Sometimes we defeat ourselves.

Sometimes we anticipate that the white community will reject us. We anticipate slights. We anticipate because we've seen those kinds of slights and discrimination in the past. It's not unfounded. It's based on a tragic history in this country and personal experiences that people have seen.


BLITZER: So did you get a sense that he was frustrated, that he wasn't doing better in the African American community? What was your impression?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, not that he's frustrated. He understands that he's really only been on the national scene a couple of years. His chief opponent, 15 years and so there's a huge gap here. But it is an issue that he recognized in terms of this fear, that is, well he's not going to win. Whites are not going to support him, so therefore why should I?

BLITZER: You mean among black voters.

MARTIN: African American voters and so I mean I've got lots of phone calls on this on my radio show, on syndicated columns, same thing. It's amazing when you hear that. Well then you also have those who are concerned about their power. Because you're African American (UNINTELLIGIBLE) built considerable power in the Democrat Party, so therefore, if they align themselves with Obama, he doesn't get the nomination, Clinton does, well then what happens? And so the Clinton machine cannot be overlooked in terms of their grip on the Democratic Party.

BLITZER: Does he have a strategy to translate the support he has among African Americans? He says 90 percent in Chicago, which is his base. What is his strategy for going national and to get that kind of support? Because some of the early contest, especially South Carolina, he needs that.

MARTIN: He is not necessarily concerned about going national. He made it perfectly clear that we are focusing on those first four states. I mean that's the most important thing...

BLITZER: So we're talking about Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina.

MARTIN: Absolutely. Forty percent of black women in South Carolina, they are undecided. And so he's making a heavy push in that particular state. Reverend Jackson, of course, won that state in 1988. And so he says look, as you get to know me more, then you'll understand who I am because it's a matter of time. But look, he understands he's going against someone who is extremely popular among African American as a result of her husband, President Bill Clinton, and so that's a formidable person to counter.

BLITZER: And he's still reluctant -- correct me if you have a different impression -- he's still reluctant to do what John Edwards, for example, is doing, really going after Hillary Clinton in a public, forceful way.

MARTIN: Well, I think the issue there is John Edwards really has no choice, because here was someone on the ticket in 2004, now where does he fit in? He's really third behind Obama except where they are in Iowa. And so Edwards can take more chances with that. Obama has to be a bit more pragmatic because again you're sitting in the number two position.

Do you want to get forceful? Go after her and then have it backfire or do you say let's stay where I am and then let's see what happens in November and December, then come January then we start putting ads on the air and going after the record. So I think that plays a part of it as well, because he is sitting in the number two position one spot away from number one. BLITZER: You've got to give him a lot of credit. He has raised a lot of money, and when these new numbers come out over the weekend, we will see he's raised even more, very competitive with Hillary Clinton.

MARTIN: Very true.

BLITZER: Unbelievable numbers on both of their counts, Roland, good work.

MARTIN: Thank you, sir.

BLITZER: His book outraged some Jewish leaders. Now there's a new documentary about former President Jimmy Carter and it may revive the concern, the outrage. We're going to show you what's going on.

And millions of people around the world read "The Kite Runner". It is a bestseller. Find out now why one scene in the movie that's about to be coming out is creating huge controversy even before it's released.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: It could be a major break in a horrifying case involving child sex abuse. Police now are asking all of us, everyone around the country, to try to help track down a vicious predator. Let's go straight to CNN's Kara Finnstrom. She is watching this story for us.

First of all, Kara, what do we know about this guy?

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, sheriff deputies say they now have a person of interest that they want to talk to about this videotape. Videotape that detectives say shows the repeated brutal rape of a 4 or 5-year-old girl. This person of interest is Chester Arthur Stiles and he's a man who's being sought as a fugitive in another case.


SHERIFF ANTHONY DEMEO, NYE COUNTY, NEVADA: Chester Arthur Stiles is wanted by Las Vegas Police Department for sexual assault and lewdness with a minor under the age of 14 years of age. There is a nationwide warrant out for him from Las Vegas Metropolitan Police and there is also an FBI warrant for him as well.

FINNSTROM (voice-over): Detectives have no idea where Stiles is. They're hoping these pictures may trigger leads. They acknowledge clear physical similarities between Stiles' picture and the picture released earlier of the actual attacker on the videotape, but stress Stiles is not considered a suspect in this case at this point, just a person of interest. Detectives also told us what they believe is the first name of the little girl attacked, Madison. They say the attacker calls her by that name. They also say items in the background of the tape suggest the attacker may have been entrusted with her care and they say the child showed little emotion during the repeated rapes. So they believe she's been brutalized before. The sheriffs spoke about how difficult it's been for everyone involved in this search.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing that I have seen in my career has come anywhere close to what this girl has gone through. You know, I just don't imagine that anyone should go through this, wherever 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.


FINNSTROM: Now, sheriff deputies say the tape was originally turned in to them by a local man named Darren Tuck. He says he found it in the desert, but deputies say he's got a lot of inconsistencies with his story. They say he held on to that tape for about five months and they say he showed it to at least one other person. So they are planning to give him a polygraph test to try and test his truthfulness and to see if they can get any other information out of him.

We also want to briefly touch on the other little girl that was in this videotape, because there were two. The older of the two girls has been found and identified by police. She is safe. They say she was videotaped through a window in her home by a peeping tom. And they say it appears these two girls had no contact at all with each other. Wolf?

BLITZER: Let's hope they find this guy soon. Thanks very much -- Kara Finnstrom reporting for us.

A Supreme Court justice breaks his silence on allegations that threatened to derail his nomination. Clarence Thomas finally tells his side of the Anita Hill controversy and what he says it was really all about.

Plus, an Afghan family says they were duped about their son's role in the upcoming movie version of "The Kite Runner". We're going to show you why they're now afraid they may be targeted for violence.

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


BLITZER: After more than a decade as a United States Supreme Court justice, Clarence Thomas still is seen by many as a very controversial figure. His nomination by the first President Bush triggered a Senate brawl and a national dialogue about sexual harassment. Now Justice Thomas is retelling his side of the story and the accusations leveled against him by Anita Hill. Let's bring in Carol Costello. She's here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He's suggesting that the entire fight over his nomination was simply misunderstood.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly what he's saying. In fact, Justice Thomas makes some pretty explosive allegations. He says Anita Hill was a mediocre employee used by political opponents. He says quote, "They chose the age-old blunt instrument of accusing a black man of sexual misconduct."


CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I, Clarence Thomas do solemnly swear ...

COSTELLO (voice-over): Justice Clarence Thomas has been on the bench for 16 years and yet the essence of who he is, what makes him tick, remains a mystery to many. Now his new memoir, "My Grandfather's Son" may change that, allowing us to see the man behind the robe. It's what Wendy Long, a former clerk for Thomas, is hoping for.

WENDY LONG, FORMER THOMAS LAW CLERK: He's a brilliant person. A very hard-working person. Which is why I think this book is going to be just great.

COSTELLO: Thomas' legacy will perhaps been forever tainted by his Senate confirmation hearing. It remains the most contentious in Washington. It had it all, sex, politics, race and the surrounding media frenzy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Professor, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?


COSTELLO: It got ugly when law professor Anita Hill accused her former boss Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment after she refused to date him. Her accusations were at times lurid and embarrassing.

HILL: One of the oddest episodes I remember was an occasion in which Thomas was drinking a Coke in his office. He got up from the table, at which we were working, went over to his desk to get the Coke. Looked at the can and asked "Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?"

COSTELLO: It was the line that birthed a million jokes. In his memoir and on CBS's "Sixty Minutes," Thomas talks frankly about that hearing, telling Steve Kroft, "The process harmed her, it harmed me. What are we going to look like years from now if we can't get people confirmed because everybody gets to attack them?"

And Thomas, an abortion opponent, says the hearing had little to do with sexual harassment and everything to do with abortion. "That was the elephant in the room," he says. "That was the issue." Of Anita Hill, he says, "She was not the demure religious conservative person that they had portrayed. She could defend herself. Let's put it that way."

Friends of Thomas hope his frank talk will help Americans understand the 59-year-old justice. A man they greatly admire.

LONG: I hope he'll be a model and an inspiration to many people that the kind of classical, old fashioned virtues of hard work and discipline and courage and faithfulness will serve anyone well.


COSTELLO (on camera): Now, Long says Thomas doesn't harbor any bitter feeling towards Anita Hill, but Thomas' words in this book pack a bunch. He also asks why it took hill 10 years to come forward and says she only complained to him about not being promoted and nothing else. I did reach out to Anita Hill today. I did not hear back.


Clearly, this is a story that is by no means going away.

Let's continue some analysis now. And we will bring in our senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin. He's also the author of a new bestseller. It's entitled "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court," number three on the "New York Times" bestsellers list -- we -- or number five.


BLITZER: Number three on Amazon.

TOOBIN: Three next week, we hope.

BLITZER: Number three on Amazon.con -- .com.


TOOBIN: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: An excellent book, an amazing insight you found on these nine justices.

Let's talk about Clarence Thomas. What do you think, first of all, what he's saying now to "60 Minutes"? TOOBIN: Well, you know, I think it's so interesting, because, in the earlier part of Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearing, he refused to say what he thought about abortion. He -- he said he had never even discussed abortion in Roe v. Wade.

Then, yet, than a year later, in the Casey case, he called for Roe v. Wade to be overturned. So, he's clearly right that abortion was a big deal. But, you know, the fact is, he didn't let on what his views were in the course of his confirmation hearings.

BLITZER: There's so much in this book that readers will learn about these justices on Clarence Thomas.

I'm going to read from page 103: "Unlike any of his colleagues, Thomas learned the names of all the new clerks every year, including those of his ideological adversaries. And he frequently invited the young lawyers into his chambers to chat, conversations that often stretched to two and three hours. One year, Thomas became friendly with a Stevens clerk, a lesbian whose partner was a professional snowboarder. Thomas liked the two of them so much that, for a while, he kept a photograph of the snowboarder on his desk."

It's a fascinating little nugget there.

TOOBIN: And that's the thing about Thomas is that, as bitter and alienated as he was by hearings, is as kind, as endearing as he is on the bench.

You know, most people know that he doesn't ask any questions in oral argument. What you don't know is that he spends a lot of the time passing notes with Stephen Breyer, laughing, telling jokes. He's not a polarizing and an isolated figure on the court.

BLITZER: On the -- the very important case Bush vs. Gore that decided who was going to be the president of the United States back in 2000, you write this about Justice Souter: "He came from a tradition where the independence of the judiciary was the foundation of the rule of law, and Souter believed Bush vs. Gore mocked that tradition. His colleagues' actions were so transparent, so crudely partisan, that Souter thought he might not be able to serve with them anymore. Souter seriously considered resigning."

Tell us something else about David Souter that perhaps we don't know.

TOOBIN: So different from the other justices, lives this 19th century lifestyle, no computer, no fax, no answering machine. He moves his chair around his office to catch the natural sunlight, because he doesn't like electric light to read by.

He -- he -- when he arrived at the court, he hadn't heard of Diet Coke. He hadn't heard of the singing group called the Supremes. You know, he -- he has this very idealistic notion of what the court is like. And that's why he took Bush v. Gore so hard.

BLITZER: And amazing insight you got into Justice Antonin Scalia.

On page 319, you write: "To be sure, there was something endearing about Scalia's unique mix of elan and erudition. He was a justly popular public speaker, but, over two decades, Scalia failed to charm his most important audience, his colleagues. And his moxie never translated into influence."

TOOBIN: Scalia has been on the court since 1986. Yet, if you ask him or ask most Supreme Court experts, what's his most important opinion, they will almost always cite his dissenting opinions, because he has not written many opinions that, you know, translate into real influence in the law.

Another fact about Scalia that is sort of fun, remember his famous duck hunting trip with Dick Cheney? Well, I actually went to look to see what happened on that trip. And -- and, you know, I'm a city boy. I don't know much about duck hunting or any kind of hunting.

And it turned out it was so rainy on that trip, that it was too rainy even for ducks, and there were almost no ducks to be shot, and it was not a successful trip.

BLITZER: Let me summarize with this quote from page 324: "George W. Bush's second term had been marked by a series of political calamities for the president and his party. But one major and enduring project went according to plan, the transformation of the U.S. Supreme Court. The court in 2006 and 2007 became a dramatically more conservative institution."

And some are suggesting this will be his legacy. He changed the United States Supreme Court.

TOOBIN: You bet he did. I mean, he said in his campaign he was going to appoint justices in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, and that's precisely what he did.

If you look at President Bush's second term, there are only two accomplishments. There's the continuation of the -- of the war in Iraq, and there are the Supreme Court appointments. And those young men -- they are in their early 50s, both of them -- they are going to be there a long time, and they are both very conservative. And the 2008 election will be just as significant, because there are going to be some vacancies there soon.

BLITZER: The book is entitled "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court," number five on the "New York Times" bestsellers list, but moving up rapidly.

We want to congratulation our senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin, for writing a very, very excellent book.

TOOBIN: Thanks, Wolf.


BLITZER: A top Hollywood director turning his lens on the former president, Jimmy Carter. You're going to find out why the film could span the flames of a controversy that had some Jewish leaders of accusing Jimmy Carter of anti-Semitism. And Jenna Bush, does she agree with her father on the war in Iraq? We'll show you her response to that question. You'll hear what she has to say. Stick around, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


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.

More than two decades after he left the White House, Jimmy Carter is on a new stage, a movie theater near you. The former president is the subject of a new documentary centered on his controversial book about the Middle East. Let's bring back Carol Costello. She is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. This film, Carol, is likely to bring new controversy to what already has been a huge uproar.

COSTELLO: I think so, because it's a real behind the scenes look and will revive the controversy. But that seems to be what Mr. Carter wants. He wants very much to be understood and to be remembered as a peacemaker.


COSTELLO (voice-over): After leaving office, many ex-presidents choose to sit back and rest on their laurels. Jimmy Carter, "Man from Plains", is a big budget documentary directed by a big-time Hollywood player Jonathan Demme, you know, the guy who won the Oscar for "Silence of the Lambs." Hannibal Lechter to Jimmy Carter? it seems strange, but Demme's passion for Carter is clear. "We live in a country where our president is obsessed with war and how to destroy the enemy. Jimmy Carter is obsessed with peace.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT: Bringing permanent peace to Israel would be at the top of my list.

COSTELLO: But the film documents a contentious chapter in Carter's quest for peace. Following him across the country as he promotes his book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," including an appearance in THE SITUATION ROOM.

BLITZER: Former President Jimmy Carter is responding to the controversy.

COSTELLO: The book was a media sensation. Its use of the word apartheid in the title so inflamed some Jewish leaders they charged Carter was clearly pro-Palestinian and even anti-Semitic.

CARTER: This is the first time that I've ever been called a liar. And a bigot. And an anti-Semite.

COSTELLO: Douglas Brinley, a Carter biographer, said that hurt, and the desire to protect his legacy are why Carter agreed to allow Demme access to his life.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, AUTHOR, "THE UNFINISHED PRESIDENCY": I think allowing a film maker who he trusts like Demme following him around in a cinema verite way is a way for Jimmy Carter to say I don't want to be held hostage to the sound bites. I don't want to be misinterpreted.

COSTELLO: Brinkley says Carter yearns to be the man who brokers peace between the Israelis and Arabs but his support for the late Palestinian President Yassir Arafat and his harsh tone toward Israel in his book may have made that impossible.

BRINKLEY: He's no longer a broker in the Middle East. He's somebody who is explaining the plight of the Palestinians. President Carter sees them as underdogs.

COSTELLO: Brinkley says this new documentary is powerful. It shows Carter both bashed and praised for his work toward Middle East peace. If it changes minds, that's a gamble, Brinkley says, Carter is willing to take.


COSTELLO: Now, as I said, Mr. Brinkley has seen bits and pieces of this documentary and he says it is very powerful. It's already won several awards at the Vienna Film Festival and will open here in the United States sometime next month.

BLITTZER: Carol, thank you very much. Carol Costello reporting.

She's a teacher, an author, and she's engaged to be married. That would be Jenna Bush stepping out now of the shadows and speaking her mind about her father, the polls and serving her country. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's go right back to Jack Cafferty in New York with "The Cafferty File. Jack?

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is why do Americans trust the federal government less today than they did during the Watergate era?

Joseph in Ft. Lauderdale writes, "We trust the government less than during Watergate because since then we've been betrayed by a two party political system that has degenerated into a one class monopoly of power. Both parties are in the hands of powerful multinational corporations whose allegiances lie not to our nation but to the bottom line."

Mark in New York. "The U.S. government does less and less for the American people. Those in charge spend more of our money on foreign wars, foreign countries, businesses with offshore headquarters, the wealthy elite and friends like the big Republican donors who put them there. The taxpayers and honest hard-working Americans trying to keep their families together are being taken for a ride.

Al writes from Florida. "Except for times when greatness was demanded as a matter of survival, the Civil War, World War II, our federal government has always been venal, corrupt and untrustworthy. The difference now is the news media have developed roasting politicians into an art form. They aren't worse, they're merely overexposed. Keep up the good work."

Paul in Brooklyn, "That's the easiest question of the day. Tricky Dick was an amateur next to this bunch. He got nailed on one thing. This crowd does more illegal stuff before 9:00 in the morning than Nixon's people did their whole term. That sad part is the outcry for justice is nowhere to be heard. The American public is silent and instead of Woodward and Bernstein we have off-the-table Pelosi. Sad."

Wayne in North Carolina. "Jack, in the days of Watergate we didn't have a nightly barrage of insults and disrespect hurled over the airwaves at our president from self absorbed who care more about their ratings or hawking their latest book than they care about proving news and unbiased constructive commentary."

And finally Dave writes, "That's easy. Iran-Contra, 'Read my lips,' 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman,' and 'Mission Accomplished.'"

If you didn't see your e-mail here you can go to, there are more of them posted on line along with video clips of "The Cafferty File," Wolf.

BLITZER: Have a great weekend, Jack.

CAFFERTY: You too.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. First daughter Jenna Bush rarely talks to reporters, now she's answering questioning about her father and whether she should be serving her country in Iraq. You'll hear from her in a moment.


BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the "Hot Shots" coming in from our friends at the A.P. In Tokyo, a protestor demonstrates outside the Myanmar Embassy against the ongoing military crackdown.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Lieutenant Colonel Will Henson is greeted by students as he arrives home from a tour in Iraq.

In Winnipeg, a couple glances at their neighbor's house after it slipped off its shoring and fell into the basement.

And in California, a bear clings to a ledge on a bridge. Volunteers rescued the 250-pound bear after he was stuck for almost 24 hours. Some of this hours "Hot Shots," pictures worth a thousand words.

First daughter Jenna Bush is facing some tough questions about public disapproval of her father and the war in Iraq and why she hasn't enlisted to fight. Here's a just released clip from her rare interview with Diane Sawyer with ABC News.


DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Do you think about it a lot in the middle of the night, the poll numbers that are so tough and the ...

JENNA BUSH, PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER: No, because he's a different person to me than what they portray him as. He's a totally different person. I think that's normal. He's my dad.

SAWYER: Do you agree with your dad on the Iraq War or do you disagree?

J. BUSH: No, I'm not going to talk about that, but I'm also not a policymaker and it's really complicated. Obviously a very complicated subject. Everybody can agree on that.

SAWYER: Do you friends come to you and try to make you talk about it?

J. BUSH: I talk about it with my friends I'm just not going to talk about it on national television.

SAWYER: You know there have been people, Matt Damon among them, who have said ...

MATT DAMON, ACTOR: If we get together and decide we need to go to war, that needs to be shared by everybody. If a president has daughter who are of age, then maybe they should go, too. J. BUSH: Obviously, I understand that, you know, that question or -- and I see what the point of that question is for sure. I think there are many ways to serve your country and I hope, I think my talents and what my way is to teach or to work in UNICEF and represent our country in Latin America. But I don't think it's a practical question. I think if people know that we would put many people in danger, but I understand the point of it.

I hope that I serve by being a teacher.


BLITZER: The whole interview, by the way, can be seen tonight on ABC's "20/20."

That's it for us. Remember we're here in THE SITUATION ROOM Monday through Friday 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern and then again at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Sunday on LATE EDITION, the last word in Sunday talk, among my special guests, Seymour Hersh of "The New Yorker" magazine. He's got an explosive new article out on U.S. Iranian relations. What's going on on that front?

Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Up next, Rick Sanchez with OUT IN THE OPEN.