Return to Transcripts main page


Martin Sheen to Campaign with Richardson; Mourning in Pakistan; Campaigns and the Bhutto Assassination

Aired December 28, 2007 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The "West Wing" star Martin Sheen plans to campaign with Democrat Bill Richardson in Iowa this weekend.
Remember, for the latest political news any time, check out our political ticker, at

Happening now, overwhelming grief -- tens of thousands of people turn out to mourn Benazir Bhutto, as a fierce debate rages over how she died. Details of the Pakistani government's surprising version of what happened.

Also, stunning new video showing gunfire just seconds before the suicide bomb blast. It's adding to the confusion, but we have an expert standing by to show us what these images reveal.

Plus, the assassinations major impact on the campaign trail. It has White House hopefuls underscoring their foreign policy experience. Democratic candidate Chris Dodd is here to talk about it.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


New video is emerging as the controversy rages over exactly how Benazir Bhutto died. Take a look at these new images. They show a handgun being fired just seconds before that massive suicide bomb went off. Despite these images, the Pakistani government insists Bhutto died when she hit her head on her vehicle's sunroof -- an allegation her supporters are calling -- and I'm quoting now -- "a pack of lies."

CNN's Jim Clancy is standing by.

He's watching all of this unfold -- what can you tell us, Jim, about all these conflicting reports we're getting on Benazir Bhutto's assassination?

JIM CLANCY, ANCHOR, "YOUR WORLD TODAY": As I count them now, Wolf, we have four different versions of how she might have died. But with all the finger pointing, we have no agreement on exactly what happened, how the former prime minister lost her life.


CLANCY (voice-over): Declarations and : Over what killed Benazir Bhutto. New video images show Bhutto leaving a rally in Rawalpindi. She's standing upright, through the open sunroof of her opened car. And a gun is seen in the hand of someone who has clambered aboard, on the left rear bumper. That handgun is highlighted in a circle on the right center of the screen. No one denies there were several shots and an explosion. But the government now insists she died when she hit her head on a lever on the car's sunroof.

BRIG. GEN. JAVED IQBAL CHEEMA, PAKISTAN INTERIOR MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: So this is the lever which is opened, which is blood- stained. So there's every possibility that this is the lever, unfortunately, which caused, you know, the fracture in her skull and became the cause of her main death.

CLANCY: Despite what doctors said just the day before, Pakistani officials insist x-rays prove Bhutto was not killed by either bullets or shrapnel from a bomb.

CHEEMA: There was no foreign element in her body. So, henceforth, there should be no ambiguity that you know, she died because of the bullet hit or she died because of a pellet or because of a splinter.

CLANCY: But a senior member of Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party is branding the government account "a pack of lies," charging there was not only the gunman on the car and the suicide bomb, but a sniper on a nearby building.

FARZANA RAJA, CENTRAL COORDINATOR, PPP: They have changed themselves. They have changed their point of view today. Now, they have come up with a different stance.

CLANCY: Amid the controversy and contradictions, the government spokesman said if Benazir Bhutto hadn't stood up in the sunroof of her armored car, she would have survived.

CHEEMA: I wish she had not come out of the rooftop of her vehicle. Perhaps she would have been saved.


CLANCY: The real story told by the videos and the photos is that Benazir Bhutto had no serious security around her motorcade. You can see it. Eyewitnesses who were there told CNN anyone could easily approach in the moments before her assassination and did. There were no visible uniformed police. There were no private security guards provided by her own political party, either.

Benazir Bhutto was a known target. The lack of security made her an easy target -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And she went back knowing these dangers full well. We spent some time talking to her. She knew the dangers, yet she was willing to go and risk it all. Obviously, it ended in horrible tragedy. It's a horrible tragedy, but it was fully, fully anticipated, given the dangers there.

And you've been in that part of the world a lot -- Jim.

CLANCY: Yes. And, you know, as we look at this, Wolf, and we see -- we know that her political party was discussing getting private security guards. Talking about it is simply not enough. The U.S. had great interests there.

Why didn't they help train some security guards -- not only for her, but for other candidates?

This is a tragedy that's going to play out in unpredictable ways in the days, weeks, months ahead. A lot at stake in the questions about her security will not go away.

BLITZER: Jim Clancy doing some good reporting for us, as usual.

Thank you very much.

The latest accounts of Benazir Bhutto's death contradict what we heard from a doctor who treated her only the day before. He told the Associated Press she was hit by two bullets, including one that damaged her spinal cord and exited from the side of her head. We do know that she was dead upon arrival at the hospital in Rawalpindi.


DR. MUSSADIQ KHAN, RAWALPINDI GENERAL HOSPITAL: She was brought to the hospital at about 5:35 p.m.. And when she was brought to the emergency room, the doctors who saw her noticed that she was not breathing. She did not have a pulse. And her pupils, they were dilated and they were not responding to light. These are the signs of serious that a person has had a cardiopulmonary arrest and is not responding.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our own medical expert right now.

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is joining us on the phone -- Sanjay, how plausible is it that Benazir Bhutto was actually killed when she struck her head on the sunroof, as Pakistani officials are now suggesting?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is a possibility, Wolf. I mean when you have a significant explosion, several different types of blast injuries occur. You have one type of blast which actually sort of moves your brain within your skull. And that could be a significant injury, as you might imagine. But, also, the secondary sort of blast injury actually moves your entire body, and, you know, can move someone's head at a very rapid speed into an object -- in this case, maybe the sunroof. So that is a plausible explanation.

The fact that the -- in Jim Clancy's reporting, just talking about the fact that the x-rays did not show a bullet or shrapnel in the body, that doesn't tell you a whole lot, Wolf. And that's something that I think a lot of are sort of focusing on. But all it means is at the time the x-ray was taken, there was no bullets or shrapnel in the brain or in the brain cavity. It doesn't mean that a bullet maybe passed through or a piece of shrapnel passed through, as well. So that's sort of the difficulty. You're getting a static point in time, of reference, and you don't know -- it doesn't tell you much about what happened previous to that.

BLITZER: So, what I hear you saying is that when the doctor yesterday at the hospital in Rawalpindi -- and he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that one bullet went into the back of the neck and damaged her spinal cord before exiting the side of her head, another bullet pierced the back of her shoulder and came out through her chest. That's pretty specific information, as opposed to the doctor today...

GUPTA: But he didn't...

BLITZER: ...saying there was no evidence of any bullets there.

GUPTA: Yes, that struck me as very odd, Wolf, I'll be honest with you. I think that, you know, people who investigate these sort of crimes -- you know, investigate medical problems like this, there is a specific pattern to bullet injuries -- the bullet entry points and exit points. And people who have looked at these sort of things can tell with some degree of accuracy whether or not the injury was caused by a bullet or some sort of fast-moving foreign object versus just a sort of blunt injury, as is now being suggested.

I, obviously, have not seen any of these images. I just saw the same images that you have. But that is something that doctors can usually pretty reliably say that something has happened here other than a sort of blunt force trauma, which is what is now being suggested.

BLITZER: Sanjay Gupta is our chief medical correspondent.

Lots and lots of questions, Sanjay. Still no answers. I assume this investigation is only just beginning.

Thanks very much, Sanjay, for joining us.

GUPTA: Thank you.

BLITZER: While some suspect a Taliban leader was behind the assassination, Bhutto's own political party is blaming the president, Pervez Musharraf.

Let's turn to CNN's senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the issue of who killed Benazir Bhutto and why is becoming emotionally and politically charged right now.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): In the chaos of the attack, clues to Benazir Bhutto's assassin -- a hand visible on this videotape squeezing off three rounds immediately before the bomb blast. Pakistani government officials say they have evidence radical Islamists with ties to Al Qaeda were behind the plot.

CHEEMA: We have intelligence intercepts indicating that Al Qaeda leader Baitullah Mehsud is behind the assassination.

ROBERTSON: Congratulations to you. Were they ours?," Baitullah Mehsud is said to ask.

The response: "Yes. It was us."

But Bhutto's party officials blame the government of President Pervez Musharraf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there were key members of General Musharraf's government. She informed them that in case she is killed on an attempt, then they be held responsible for her murder.

ROBERTSON: And each claim and counterclaim is emotionally and politically charged. Perhaps the most damning accusation came from Bhutto before her death. In an e-mail to a friend, she named officials in the military-backed government she said would be responsible if she were killed.

Why would Bhutto make such a claim?

She had plenty of enemies. This year, she vowed to crack down on radical Islamists. In the past two weeks, Al Qaeda's number two, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, said Bhutto was a U.S. plant in Pakistan -- an indication if she was not already an Al Qaeda target, she soon would be.

But for Bhutto and her party, President Musharraf's government seemed to present a greater danger.

Following the deadly double suicide attack on her return from exile in October, Bhutto said Pakistan's government was not doing enough.

BENAZIR BHUTTO, FORMER PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: I have raised the issue of my security with General Musharraf and have asked him to provide me the security that I am entitled to as a former prime minister. I hope that he will provide me the security, because I have been a target of terrorists in the past and I know I could be a target in the future.

ROBERTSON: Bhutto's suspicion of Pakistan's military has deep roots. Zia-ul-Haq ABC's, a U.S.-backed military dictator, hanged her father -- a former prime minister from 1979. Last summer, in an off- camera conversation, Bhutto told me she wanted to get Pakistan's army back to the barracks, get them out of politics. And that's where supporters saw danger in Pakistan's zero game politics. The political equation was simple -- if she rose to power, the army would lose it and fight back.

What can be gleaned from the video in the moments before Bhutto's death -- her assassin appears expert, steadily firing three shots at Bhutto seconds before he knew he would blow himself up.


ROBERTSON: How Benazir Bhutto's party handles these claims and counterclaims and how President Musharraf's government also handles the same claims and counterclaims will very much affect stability in the country in the coming days -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nic Robertson reporting for us.

Thank you, Nic.

Fallout from the Bhutto murder on the race for the White House. It's putting the candidates' credentials to the test. We're going to talk about it with Democratic Senator Chris Dodd.

Also, what this new video of a gun tells us about the assassination. We have an expert standing by to shed some light on the mystery surrounding Benazir Bhutto's death.

And with less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses, Republican candidate Mitt Romney steps up his attacks on a key rival. We'll have details of what he's saying.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: Benazir Bhutto's assassination has dramatically changed the subject on the presidential campaign trail. The war on terror and the U.S. relationship with Pakistan are suddenly top priority issues -- and so is the talk of experience.

And joining us now from out in Iowa, Senator Chris Dodd. He's a Democratic presidential candidate.

What do you think about President Musharraf, because, as you know, Senator, some of your rivals are saying he should step down right now.

What do you say?

SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that would be a dreadful mistake to make. I'm sort of surprised they're making that recommendation without knowing who would replace General Musharraf. This is a country with a nuclear arsenal that could be launched within days. The idea that you'd get rid of General Musharraf at this point or call for his ouster, without knowing the alternative, I think is a very, very dangerous suggestion.

Again, General Musharraf -- no one is suggesting this is a Jeffersonian democrat or the ideal choice. But until you know what the alternatives are going to be, I don't think you want to turn over a nation with that kind of capabilities to potential fundamentalists, jihadists who could cause us and our allies great, great danger.

So I'm very much I'm opposed to that idea. That lacks, I think, responsibility, to make that suggestion.

BLITZER: Because it's Bill Richardson, the New Mexico governor, the former United Nations ambassador, who says not only should President Bush squeeze President Musharraf to step aside, but, also, the U.S. should immediately suspend military aid to Pakistan.

What about the second point he makes?

DODD: Well, I think Governor Richardson -- and I say this respectfully -- I think he's wrong on both counts here. You're talking about a nuclear arsenal that's capable of being launched immediately.

We're going to turn those keys over to whom?

If you can't answer the question, what's the alternative, I think you ought be careful about suggesting something that could add to further chaos.

Secondly, the aid needs to be looked at. But, clearly, the people in control of the nuclear arsenal -- in addition to General Musharraf -- are the military in that country. It's going to be very important at this immediate time of chaos here that we're not suggesting that they may have alternatives other than the United States where they could look. And that's very dangerous.

So I would say on both counts here, we're looking for stability, Wolf, here. Right now you need stability in Pakistan. This is the most dangerous place in the world. It's not Iraq, it's not Iran. It is Pakistan and the western slopes of Pakistan and Afghanistan. And so we need to be concentrating on that. It's where we should have been over the last number of years here and we might not have had these problems we're talking about today.

BLITZER: Senator Hillary Clinton told me that she has no confidence in President Musharraf's government to have a fully independent, complete review of how Benazir Bhutto was killed, who may have been responsible for this assassination.

Do you agree with her that there should be an international tribunal, outside elements coming in to investigate?

DODD: Well, it's awfully hard to imagine how that would happen, quite candidly. Obviously, we all have our suspicions about what went on there. But I can't understand why General Musharraf would see any value in participating or in any way condoning the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. It doesn't make any sense to me.

And, clearly, we ought to offer whatever help we can so you can get to the bottom of this and who was really responsible. And certainly making an international suggestion here -- I doubt you're going to get that level of cooperation.

And, again, right now, it seems to me, before we start rushing off in that direction, we need to have stability there. And then we can talk about it. I don't see General Musharraf as a long-term solution to Pakistan at all. But I'm very worried when I hear candidates here talking about things that could really contribute to additional chaos there. This is a time for very mature, adult leadership here. And it's very important that people think this through carefully here. You only get into Afghanistan through Pakistan here. The Taliban is resurgent. You've got major problems between Pakistan and India. And we have Osama bin Laden still on the loose here.

The idea of calling for international tribunals, cutting off aid, abandoning General Musharraf -- this is not the kind of suggestions that are encouraging or providing the kind of assurances to people that you know how to lead in a time of crisis.

BLITZER: Let me quote what you said the other day about Hillary Clinton, then I'm going to get you to elaborate. You said this: "Good soaring speeches aren't the experience we need this moment. And, frankly, even being the first lady of the United States, it doesn't necessarily qualify for you -- for dealing with these issues."

What are you saying here about Hillary Clinton's comments that she has the most experience that would justify her becoming president?

DODD: Well, experiences -- we all have experiences. But experiences to lead here being -- watching people who have engaged in experience doesn't make you qualified. And I say that respectfully. I respect the experiences she's had. But when you compare that to 26 years in the United States Senate serving on the Foreign Relations Committee, having served in the military, served in the Peace Corps, have actually resolved conflicts in Central America, helped bring about a peaceful solution in Northern Ireland -- those are the kind of hands-on experiences that I bring to this candidacy. I think that's what people are looking for.

This was a very sobering event yesterday, Wolf -- very sobering. You can almost feel it on the ground out here. People are backing up and taking a strong second look now at those of us who bring more than a quarter of a century of working on these issues, both domestic and foreign policy.

Having been a first lady or giving a great speech or being a great trial lawyer does not qualify you to be the president of the United States, necessarily, under these circumstances. And the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, I think, highlights that exact problem that people are assessing now.

BLITZER: And do you think it's going to have an impact on the caucus goers next week?

DODD: Well, no question about it, in my view here. Again, this is one of these events -- people are asking themselves the following question: Who do I want in that chair in the Oval Office when the unexpected event happens, just as we saw yesterday -- those events that are going to fall on the desk of the next president?

What experiences, what abilities, what victories, what results have you been able to achieve on critical areas like this that give me a sense of confidence that you would do the best job possible for our country?

I think I bring that kind of experience to this candidacy. And, respectfully, I say the others I don't think quite meet that test.

BLITZER: Senator Chris Dodd, thank you very much for joining us.

DODD: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: The Pentagon is keeping a very close eye on developments in Pakistan, and for good reason. And we're going to show you what its top priority is there and why the U.S. is walking a very, very fine line.

Also, new numbers raising new fears about the U.S. housing market. We have details of a major plunge.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Carol, what's going on?


Home sweet home is increasingly becoming home unsold home. Sales of new homes last month plunged to their lowest level in 12 years. That's much weaker than forecasted. New home sales dropped 9 percent from October to November and 34 percent since last year. Sales were down nationwide, except for in the West.

It adds up to a lot of snowball fights, but the snow in Illinois also adds up to problems for holiday travelers. Four hundred flights canceled at Chicago's O'Hare while some flight delays last up to an hour-and-a-half. As much as six inches of snow expected by tonight.

Two suspects have now been charged with first degree murder in that Christmas Eve shooting of six people near Seattle. According to court documents, Michele Anderson -- a family member of all of the victims -- and her boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe, have confessed to the murders of Anderson's parents, her brother, his wife and two children. Another family member says Anderson felt "she wasn't loved enough."

A lot of eyes are on the sky for the next month, watching the path of an asteroid. Odds are improving that the asteroid may hit the planet Mars, but many still consider it unlikely. Astronomers at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico raised the chance from one in 75 to one in 25. Scientists estimate that an asteroid impact on Mars would produce a crater measuring a half a mile wide.

Back to you -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Carol, thanks very much. She lived a tumultuous, high profile life. Now some people are calling Benazir Bhutto a martyr. That's raising some questions whether other Muslim women will see her life as a role to imitate or to avoid.

Also, a dramatic mission to rescue hostages is now underway. We have details coming up.

Also, Mary Snow went one-on-one with Mitt Romney. Today, she's focusing attention on the latest criticism he's leveling at a familiar target. We'll tell you what's going right there in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Happening now, a surprise presidential pocket veto for a newly passed defense policy bill. It will delay part of a military pay raise and hold up money for veteran's health care. The president objects to the provision of the bill allowing victims of Saddam Hussein to sue the current Iraqi government. Angry Congressional leaders say the White House never signaled that would be a problem.

Three hostages of leftist rebels in Colombia could soon be free. In a deal arranged by the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, helicopters will be directed to a pick up point somewhere in the Colombian jungle.

And in Baghdad, a car bomb explodes in a Shiite shopping district, leaving at least 14 people dead and 64 wounded.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


Tens of thousands of people turned out for Benazir Bhutto's funeral, marked by an overwhelming show of grief.

CNN's John Vause is in Pakistan.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A simple coffin draped in the flag of Benazir Bhutto's political party made its way slowly through tens of thousands of mourners -- each trying to catch one last glimpse of the best hope for their nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): This is a tragedy for Pakistan and for Islam. I ask all Pakistanis to share in our grief.

VAUSE: Their grief was palpable -- some beating themselves on the head. Men were in tears. By her coffin's side, Bhutto's husband and three young children, coming from Dubai after hearing of the murder of their wife and mother. The coffin slowly approached the Bhutto family's mausoleum in their ancestral home. Also buried there, are her father, he, too, a former Pakistani prime minister and her two brothers. Victims all of violent deaths.

Bhutto was laid to rest next to the father she beloved and follow into politics. He was overthrown and hanged by the military not far from the park where his daughter was killed.

Following Bhutto's murder, there was violent explosions of grief and anger throughout the country, buildings and buses burned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are all very sad about Benazir's death. May god grant her a place in heaven, but her supporters should not burn cars.

VAUSE: The turbulent night gave way to eerily empty streets in the morning. An I-reporter sent us these pictures of the shells of cars, buses and buildings after the sun rose. Grim and bleak like the outlook many here now feel about their country's future. John Vause, CNN, Karachi, Pakistan.


BLITZER: Bhutto's assassination is focusing new attention right now on a jailed lawyer some see as her possible successor. He is now under house arrest, dragged away as TV news cameras rolled. CNN's Jim Acosta has more. Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Aitzaz Ahsan is a long-time outspoken supporter of democracy in Pakistan. He has recently emerged as a leading critic of President Musharraf. I sat down with Ahsan's son here in New York in early November after his father was first arrested.


ACOSTA: How many people do you know who can say they watched their father become a political prisoner on You Tube? Ali Ahsan can. That's his father Aitzaz Ahsan, one of Pakistan's most prominent attorneys, taken into custody after President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency last month.

And in the middle of the press conference, he's arrested.

ALI AHSAN, SON OF POLITICAL PRISONER: He was denouncing the military coup.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is one man against the nation.

ACOSTA: Ahsan's father is a well known thorn in the side of Musharraf. He represented Pakistan's recently deposed chief justice, one of a number of judges ousted by Musharraf's government. Ali Ahsan is scrambling to free his father from confinement.

Why is he there?

AHSAN: He is there - well there is no legal basis for him being there. There is no law in Pakistan. The basis that he is there is that he is an opponent of General Musharraf.

ACOSTA: And if that's not bad enough, the government, he says, has gone after his mother, also an outspoken activist.

AHSAN: They are going after the wives and children of people who are opposing them.

ACOSTA: Ahsan has also worked to find support in Washington. Members of Congress have petitioned Musharraf to release Ahsan, as has the New York Bar Association.

BARRY KAMINS, NEW YORK CITY BAR ASSOCIATION: The easiest way to start stripping democracy of its strength is to attack the judges, attack the lawyers.

ACOSTA: But Ali Ahsan says it's taking different cues from the Bush administration which he says has coddled the Pakistani leader for too long.

But what we're told in this country is that Musharraf has been on our side during the war on terrorism.

AHSAN: He has because you have been paying him. You should do what America has always done and inclination which has always been which is speak up clearly for liberty, for democracy.

ACOSTA: Democracy is not what Ali Ahsan sees when see sees what is happening at home.


ACOSTA: There are reports out of Pakistan that Aitzaz Ahsan was freed briefly and then rearrested. Ahsan has had his share of political differences with Bhutto. Whether he could ever leave Bhutto's political party is an open question. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

The seconds before Benazir Bhutto's assassination are caught on camera. We're about to get a former police detective's take on the shaky images and whether they support or undermine the official story of the government of Pakistan of what happened.

Also coming up here later in THE SITUATION ROOM, my exclusive interview with Senator Hillary Clinton. You're going to want to hear how she thinks the assassination should be investigated.

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


BLITZER: We want to get some more now on that very disturbing new video of the attack on Benazir Bhutto, which clearly shows someone has a hand holding a gun. Let's take a closer look at the pictures and we've brought in an expert to help us analyze what's going on. The retired New York City Detective Sergeant Wallace Zeins. Wallie, thanks very much for coming in.

Let's look at the whole tape. It's not that long and we'll get a sense of what we see. Let's role that tape right now. There you see it, right in the middle. You're seeing the whole tape. You see it right there and let it breathe and then let's talk about what we think we saw first in that tape. What did you see there?

WALLACE ZEINS, FORMER NYC POLICE DETECTIVE: There's no question we see a gun in a position towards the vehicle.

BLITZER: You clearly saw it but you know what we're going to do down. We're going to break it down frame by frame and get a closer look. Here in this first picture right here, you see Benazir Bhutto, you see the scarf over her and you see this highlighted area. Tell us what you see there as the trained observer of these type of images.

ZEINS: As a trained observer, we see the person right behind the vehicle and we start to see his hand going up.

BLITZER: And you see, you can clearly make that out. He's not very far away at all.

Let's move down it the next frame because here we get a closer shot of what appears to be a gun, is that right?

ZEINS: Yes, appears to be a gun. You can actually see it.

BLITZER: You can make that out right there.

ZEINS: Yes. There it is right there. You see in the lower portion.

BLITZER: It's not a camera; it's not a cell phone. It's a gun. Not very far away from Benazir Bhutto.

ZEINS: No and you see the reaction. Whenever there is an action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. You do see the hand going up as the shot being fired.

BLITZER: We've moved down and I'll show our viewers a closer shot of that gun right now. Right here in this last picture we sort of highlighted it right there. You can see it there, right?

ZEINS: You can see the gun up on the upper portion.

BLITZER: That's a close up of that gun. What conclusions do you draw from this? What, if anything, can we draw? We're getting all sorts of conflicting opinions on what happened from her supporters as opposed to the Pakistani government.

ZEINS: We have three areas that we can confirm. We have shots fired and we have a gun that was fired. Secondly, we have an explosion that followed after that which creates shrapnel and a third one is a concussion from the explosion, which causes an implosion which could have caused her to have her hit her head on that because of the explosion.

BLITZER: She could have died from any of those causes.

ZEINS: Any of those three ways she could have died.

BLITZER: There's no way to determine whether a gunshot actually killed her based on these pictures we're seeing right now, whether the implosion from the shock, if you will or from any of the shrapnel.

ZEINS: Absolutely. When they went to the emergency room they interviewed the doctors to see if she had gunshot wound. You can tell gunshot wound from shrapnel wound.

BLITZER: When they do an investigation, they'll have techniques to enhance it and make sure they fully understand what happened.

ZEINS: Without a doubt.

BLITZER: Wallie, thanks very much for that. Wallie Zeins, a former New York City police detective sergeant.

Let's get some more now on the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. It has some calling her a martyr for democracy and some Pakistani women fearing for their future. Carol Costello is joining us once again with more. What is Bhutto's legacy right now for Pakistan's women?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Benazir Bhutto was a fascinating complex person, a woman who rose to power despite the bias women face in her country. Here's a mother with children who thought nothing of taking chances with her life and who rose to power because of it.


COSTELLO: Grief over Benazir Bhutto's death intense, befitting of a charismatic figure, the kind of political star some say Pakistan has rarely experienced. Elegant, eloquent, complex and brilliant, she inspired passion, in death, some say, martyrdom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say she's a martyr for democracy and liberalism.

COSTELLO: But for many Pakistani women, Bhutto was a different kind of symbol, one that inspired awe. By winning two elections to become prime minister, she proved to the world a Muslim woman could become a leader in a male-dominated culture.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She gave a face to Pakistan that really raised the country's esteem in the eyes of the west and I think it showed the west that Muslim countries don't necessarily always oppress their women.

COSTELLO: In five years as prime minister, she pushed for laws that reaffirmed women's rights. Still, Bhutto had to fight for political prominence, despite her family's political dynasty and its wealth.

In September of 2003, she told the BBC, "The clerics took to the mosque saying that Pakistan had thrown itself outside the Muslim world by voting for a woman - that a woman has usurped a man's place in Islamic society."

And before Bhutto returned to Pakistan a few months ago, she feared her gender and her anti-extremist stance could endanger her. Telling "Parade Magazine" I am what the terrorists fear most and our Wolf Blitzer ...

BENAZIR BHUTTO, FORMER PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: They don't believe in women governing nations so they will try to plot against me, but these are risks that must be taken. I'm prepared to take them.

COSTELLO: The question for some Pakistani women, though, is what Bhutto's murder will mean for them. Extremists in tribal areas of Pakistan are slowly stripping women of the right to work in tribal regions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If a woman Prime Minister, an ex-woman prime minister leading an election battle can be assassinated, what does that mean for ordinary Pakistani women who are trying to go about their ordinary lives and try to go to work and school? Does this mean that the extremists are going to get to them, as well?


COSTELLO: And you know there's an interesting theory out there. Government officials are now saying Bhutto died because she hit her head, not because she was shot. One security analyst believes the government may be, may be saying this to deny Bhutto the death of a martyr, something very important in the world of Islam.

BLITZER: Fascinating material. Carol, thanks very much for bringing it to us.

Al Qaeda is the top concern for the Pentagon as it monitors developments in Pakistan right now with the worse-case scenarios in the back of the mind of top military commanders. Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's joining us right now. What exactly is the Pentagon watching so closely, Barbara, in Pakistan?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, the Pentagon has put all of its chips with the government of Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani army. It's a strategy they're watching closely. It may be very risky.


STARR: As violence grows across Pakistan, the U.S. military is watching closely, looking for any indications the long-term security of this vital ally is threatened. The Pentagon's top priority is to get the Pakistani army moving in the fight against al Qaeda. Billions of dollars in training and equipment has been earmarked to do just that.

But the U.S. is walking a tense line between supporting a fragile Musharraf government, pro-democracy Pakistanis in the streets and the military, one of the most respected institutions in the country. It all comes as al Qaeda is posing a greater threat inside Pakistan. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Pakistan collapses as a key ally of the United States, that's what the United States considers Pakistan. It will have an immediate impact on the war on terror.

STARR: This man, General Ashfaq Kiani, now the head of the Pakistani army, is seen as central to U.S. strategy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are impressed with this new chief and how he has set some goals and a vision for their military.

STARR: But Kiani was hand picked by Musharraf. He also has ties to Pakistan's intelligent services, all raising questions about his commitment to democratic reform.

Reform is critical to keeping billions of dollars in U.S. aid flowing. Congress wants assurances the Pakistani army isn't misusing the money or planning another coup if Musharraf weakens further.

And the ultimate question, can the Pakistani army still assure the Pentagon it can keep Pakistan's nuclear weapons safe, especially if the government falls and fundamentalists take over, not the military.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly, if things unravel in Pakistan one has to think about worse-case scenarios and that would be the worse- case scenario. But I don't think we're there right now.


STARR: So, Wolf, there are two essential challenges; getting the Pakistani army moving against al Qaeda and getting the Pakistani army behind the movement towards democracy. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Barbara, thanks very much.

Pakistan, by the way, is one of seven countries known to have nuclear weapons. Its arsenal is believed to contain between 24 and 48 devices. Other countries with confirmed public declarations of nuclear weapons include China, France, India, Russia, Britain and, of course, the United States. Israel, of course, also believed to have a nuclear arsenal.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is setting his sights on rival John McCain. We'll have details of what he's saying on the campaign trail today and in a new TV ad. He talks to our Mary Snow.

Plus, my exclusive one-on-one interview with democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton. Does she think the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf should step down right now? I'll ask her.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: With less than a week to go until the Iowa caucuses, Mitt Romney is stepping up his criticism of Senator John McCain and in light of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Romney is also highlighting questions about leadership and experience.

Let's go out to the campaign trail. Mary Snow caught up with Mitt Romney in between campaign stops out there and Mary is joining us right now from Iowa. Update our viewers on what happened.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, John McCain has said that the crisis in Pakistan really underscores the need for the next president to have extensive foreign policy experience. As you said, we caught up with Mitt Romney today and his campaign bus. We asked him about that. He took a swipe at John McCain.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 99 other people talk about issues and go and visit the world and have view points on issues and another thing to actually lead.


SNOW: Now, he is saying that experience is needed. It doesn't necessarily have to be experience in the senate. John McCain was on CNN last night and asked about these increasing attacks against him from Mitt Romney.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he's in the tail spin. I'm familiar with those. Look, I have been involved in every major national security issue for the last 20 years. I understand the issues.


SNOW: And, now, Mitt Romney is also stepping up criticism of John McCain in a new ad that began airing in New Hampshire, where he is calling into question John McCain's stand on opposing President Bush's tax cuts in the past and also his immigration reform bill, trying to kind of portray him as being soft on immigration.

McCain, on the other hand, is out with his own ad, touting his endorsements using the words integrity and principles in his advertisements and also any doubt what we're doing well Mitt Romney starts attacking. Mitt Romney today, I asked him about that, yes, indeed, John McCain is doing well, that it's a very tight race. He's not so much attacking, he's contrasting their policies. Wolf?

BLITZER: Mary Snow in Iowa for us, thanks very much.

Pre-caucus polls of Iowa democrats show a virtual toss-up among the top three, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. Today, the candidates are trading some punches, only less than a week to go before the Iowa caucuses. Jessica Yellin is out there in Iowa. What are you hearing and seeing today, Jessica?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, today I had a chance to sit down for an interview on Barack Obama on our CNN Election Express and he pushed back against comments by Senator Clinton and Senator Edwards. He responded to Senator Clinton's claims that his campaign had politicized Benazir Bhutto's death saying no it wasn't his campaign that did that. Let's listen.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Clinton campaign started pushing this notion that somehow immediately after this happened that somehow this was going to manage their campaign and one of my campaign's aides responded.


YELLIN: He also told us, Wolf, that he does not share Senator Clinton's view that there should be an independent international investigation into Bhutto's death saying that we shouldn't suggest Pakistan cannot handle its own internal affairs.

Now, he pushed back, as well, against some new comments by John Edwards who, himself, suggested that he, Edwards, was better able to take on special interests and fight for the working man. Obama, he takes issue with that.


OBAMA: I think you look at the track record, you know, what John is talking about now is not what he was talking about four years ago. It's not what he was talking about eight years ago. On issue after issue he now says he made a mistake. But when he suggests that somehow he's going to fight more steadfastly on the behalf of the American people, then I have to point out that my track record of fighting on behalf of working families in America has been unwavering.


YELLIN: Some pointed comments from a campaigner that made his every effort for the last few months to try to avoid these kind of personal distinctions that we're now hearing on the campaign trail from every direction from every candidate as they get down to the wire on this one. Wolf?

BLITZER: It is down to the wire. Thanks, Jessica, for that; Jessica Yellin out in Iowa.

An international investigation, democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is calling for it now in the wake of Benazir Bhutto's assassination. I'll ask her why she thinks it's needed in an exclusive one-on-one interview. That's coming up.

Plus, identifying the candidates. Can voters match the name, that is, to the face? We're going to show you.

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


BLITZER: Happening now, the Pakistan government changes the story on how Benazir Bhutto died and a Bhutto ally is calling that new line from the Pakistani government a pack of lies. This hour, CNN's Anderson Cooper is on the scene for us in Pakistan.

Hillary Clinton accuses the Obama camp of politicizing Bhutto's death. In our exclusive interview, she is also questioning the credibility of the Pakistani government and the credibility of the Bush administration.

And it's the question Mitt Romney hoped to have answered by now. Six days before the Iowa caucuses why are some voters still asking him about his Mormon faith?

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

Violence, grief, political turmoil, and unanswered questions. It's a dangerous mix in Pakistan right now a day after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Huge crowds turned out for the former prime minister's funeral today amid conflicting reports about exactly how she died.

We know this much. Video at the campaign rally in Rawalpindi where Bhutto died shows a handgun being fired three times before the gunman blew himself up. The Pakistan government now insists Bhutto wasn't killed by the bullets, wasn't killed by the shrapnel. They insist she was killed by hitting her head when she either fell or ducked into the car.

CNN's Anderson Cooper is joining us now. He is in Pakistan watching all of this unfold. Give us a little flavor. We've seen the picture, we've seen the protests, the outrage, but you're there on the scene for us, Anderson, what are you seeing, what are you hearing?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I can tell you, Wolf, there's a lot of skepticism over what you just talked about exactly what killed Benazir Bhutto.