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Pope Benedict XVI Visits U.S.; Obama Attacked on All Fronts; Role of Single Women in Presidential Election; Sixty Killed in Iraqi Bombings; Oil Costs Push Up Gold Prices

Aired April 15, 2008 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Pope Benedict XVI makes history with his first trip to the United States. In a very unusual move, he's greeted right on the tarmac by President Bush. The pope's six day visit begins with his red carpet welcome over at Andrews Air Force Base, right outside of Washington, D.C.
He'll hold a prayer service in Washington's new baseball stadium, speak at the United Nations and visit New York's Ground Zero. But the pope may have to share some of the spotlight since his visit also comes at a key point in the presidential campaign. Our own Brian Todd is joining us now live from Andrews Air Force Base, where the pope has just arrived within the past hour or so.

Brian, will the pope, based on everything we're hearing from him and his others, his entourage, get involved in American politics during this visit?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, he is not expected to. And we're told that the people who are planning this visit and some of his aides are going to really do everything they can to keep him above the political fray. But as one analyst pointed out, it would be pretty naive at this point to think that there's at least no political subtext to this trip.


TODD (voice-over): Benedict XVI steps onto American soil for the first time as pope and is warmly received by President Bush -- the first time the president has been at Andrews Air Force Base to welcome a dignitary. Embarking on an ambitious trip seen as a broad window into his papacy, the pope arrives exactly one week before the critical Democratic primary vote in heavily Catholic Pennsylvania -- a backdrop that may not have been part of the plan.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Organizers of this trip are going to try to move heaven and Earth to keep him above the political fray.

TODD: But CNN analyst John Allen says it would be naive to think that there's no political subtext this week. Broadly, observers say, Benedict is likely to address the changing face of the Catholic Church in America. The influx of Hispanics has averted a serious decline in the Catholic population in the U.S. and the pope will likely advocate a generous immigration policy. He's likely to discuss privately his opposition to the Iraq War with President Bush. He won't endorse or meet any of the presidential candidates. But Allen predicts they'll pick apart his words and spin them for potential Catholic voters.

ALLEN: He'll talk about opposition to abortion, defense of the family based on marriage between a man and a woman, and, in general, that will help conservatives. He's also going to push peace and justice issues, probably referring to the Vatican's well-known opposition to the war in Iraq. That probably helps the Democrats.

TODD: But some of the most scrutinized moments of this trip will be decidedly non-political. Pope Benedict is expected to talk about the sex abuse scandal that has scarred thousands of victims, led to $1.5 billion in payouts and bankrupted five dioceses.


TODD: Now, analyst John Allen says that up to date, the pope has not met, at least very publicly, with any of the victims of the sex abuse scandal. It's not clear whether he's going to do so on this trip, even though this is the first papal visit to the U.S. since the scandal broke in the early part of this decade. Another very sensitive topic on this trip, Wolf, the City of Boston, widely seen being in the center of that sex abuse scandal, was on the original list of this cities that pope was going to visit on this trip. The Vatican took it off the itinerary -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Brian. Thanks very much.

TODD: Thank you.

BLITZER: Brian is over at Andrews Air Force Base.

The pope's high profile visit means high security. More than two dozen law enforcement agencies are involved in protecting the pope over these next six days here in the United States.

Let's turn to our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, who's watching this story.

Jeanne this is a huge, huge challenge.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It is a very big job. Right now, administration officials say they know of no threats to the pope or any of the places he's visiting. But he is a very symbolic figure. He was mentioned in a recent audiotape from Osama bin Laden. And he is visiting two high threat cities -- Washington and New York. So security is very tight.


MESERVE (voice-over): This is the pope -- not Benedict XVI, but the man who plays him in security rehearsals for this week's visit. The Secret Service has been preparing for these four days for five months, enlisting 27, state, local and federal agencies to help out. JEFF IRVINE, U.S. SECRET SERVICE: Every security aspect that you've ever been exposed to will be deployed -- and, quite frankly, quite a few that you've never even seen deployed.

MESERVE: One of three pope mobiles was shipped in ahead of time to move Pope Benedict through large crowds. One concern -- roadside bombs. Though a Virgin Mary will watch over the pope and heavy bulletproof glass will surround him, you can see the pope. And the car sticks out. So some standard security tactics cannot be used.

RENEE TRIPLETT, U.S. SECRET SERVICE: Clearly, that will make this a little more challenging than when we can play different shell games or moving the vehicles around and moving the protectee around.

MESERVE: The stadium where Pope Benedict will celebrate mass in front of 46,000 people poses the biggest challenge. A mile-and-a-half of the nearby Anacostia River will be shut, patrolled by Coast Guard votes with machine guns.

(on-camera): So if anybody poses a threat, they're in trouble?

LT. LYNDA LECRONE, U.S. COAST GUARD: We can use force.

MESERVE (voice-over): Air traffic restrictions will be tightened over parts of the city and there will be widespread road closures.

CMDR. JAMES CRANE, D.C. POLICE: Yes, but we're used to that. We are a department that deals with large amounts on a constant basis.

MESERVE: Even now, however, the security plan is not set in stone, as authorities continue to collect and analyze intelligence.

ERIC ZAHERN, U.S. SECRET SERVICE: The security plan has to have some flexibility built in. It has to change and evolve based on the environment. And we plan for any and all contingencies.


MESERVE: People coming into the city to see the pope will also see a lot of security sniper teams on rooftops, bomb detection teams. But there will be a lot of security, officials say, that they will not be able to see -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jeanne. Thanks very much.

Let's get some more insight now into Pope Benedict's first visit to the United States as the pope. Joining us once again is father David O'Connell. He's the president of Catholic University here in Washington.

You know, we all remember Pope John Paul II and what they used to say his rock star status, especially with young -- young people, young Catholics. But to a large degree, Pope Benedict is unknown to American Catholics.

REV. DAVID O'CONNELL, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY: Yes, he's only been pope for about three years. And what he would have been known for prior to his becoming pope was something that probably would be an area of specialization for theologians and people who (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: Because he's a scholar -- he was more of a scholar.

O'CONNELL: A scholar, a brilliant man and he spent his whole life, really, in an academic pursuit. He was a professor at a university, a dean, a vice president. And so his life before was a life of true scholarship, which would be a little less in the forefront. He was the gentleman who informed Pope John Paul and advised Pope Paul on a lot of doctrinal and dogmatic matters. So he was in the room. He was a player, in a sense, but not in the forefront.

BLITZER: As you're looking at these live pictures now of Massachusetts Avenue here in Washington, D.C. , outside the embassy, the Vatican embassy.

Now we're going back to tape of Andrews Air Force Base from earlier. He's going to go into the embassy right now and do what?

O'CONNELL: What he'll do in there, he'll go in the embassy. He'll -- his bags and so forth will be delivered. He'll rest for a bit. Then he'll have dinner. And the dinners that he will be having here will be small dinners. They will not be big dinners. And he'll probably go to sleep. You know, he's -- he gets to bed at a decent hour.

BLITZER: And he's flown all the way. And, as we say, he turns 81 years old tomorrow. But based on everything we know about his health, it's pretty good, right?

O'CONNELL: He looked so vigorous coming down those steps.

BLITZER: Yes, he looked great walking down those stairs. And he looks like a very healthy 80, almost now 81-year-old.

O'CONNELL: Yes. I know it's a -- I've spoken to my mother in the green room and I told her that he was 81. And she says, well, he looks a lot better than I do.

BLITZER: Yes. I don't know how old your mom is, but you don't have to tell us on that.

As a leader in the Catholic Church, you, here in the United States, how important was it for you to see the president and the first lady drive out to Andrews Air Force Base and personally be on hand to receive the pope?

O'CONNELL: It was such an impressive thing, such a great show of respect. Both of these men are men of faith. And I think that's what the attraction is between the two of them on a very basic level. The heart speaks to heart.

BLITZER: And one thing we're going to be -- later this hour, we're going to be playing some of the pope's remarks aboard Shepherd One the Alitalia airliner that brought him to the United States. He spoke with reporters, including our own John Allen, aboard that plane. And he was using very strong words in condemning the sexual abuse of young people by priests, especially here in the United States. And we'll play those remarks for our viewers.

That's coming up. But give us your thoughts.

O'CONNELL: Well, I don't think you can speak strongly enough. The situation was so horrific, so terrible, so tragic. And I think the pope feels this keenly, as the church in our country has felt it keenly. And he wanted to make sure people know that this is important -- an important matter for him to discuss. And I think he wants to help the church heal and help the church, especially the victims, move forward.

BLITZER: And we'll hear from the pope himself on this very, very sensitive subject. That's coming up later this hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Father O'Connell, thanks very much.

O'CONNELL: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is watching all of this unfold, as well. He's also got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: I do, indeed. Thank you, Wolf.

The billionaire founder of Black Entertainment Television says Barack Obama would not be his party's leading presidential candidate if he was white. Hillary Clinton supporter Bob Johnson revived comments previously made by Geraldine Ferraro, telling the "Charlotte Observer" -- quoting now -- "What I believe Ferraro meant is that if you take a freshman senator from Illinois called Jerry Smith and he says he's going to run for president, would he start off with 90 percent of the black vote? And the answer is probably not. Geraldine Ferraro said it right. The problem is Geraldine Ferraro is white. This campaign has such a hair trigger on anything racial, it's almost impossible for anybody to say anything."

Of course, it didn't stop Mr. Johnson.

Ferraro stepped down last month as an adviser to the Clinton campaign after she said something similar. Obama's campaign calls the latest remarks "just one in a long line of absurd comments by Johnson and other Clinton supporters who will say or do anything to get the nomination." The campaign says the American people are tired of this kind of politics.

Johnson also says Obama is likely to win the nomination and that he has the support of the liberal media. He stirred up controversial, Johnson did, earlier in the campaign, when he referred to Obama and "what he was doing in the neighborhood." Many took that as a reference to admitted drug use when Obama was a young man, but Johnson later insisted that he was talking about Obama's time as a community organizer.

This is nasty stuff.

Here's the question: What's your reaction to BET founder and Clinton supporter Bob Johnson saying Barack Obama wouldn't be where he is if he was white?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

It's worth pointing out, Wolf, I think, that the overwhelming support Barack Obama is getting in the African-American community in this country didn't materialize until after he won in the 97 percent white state of Iowa. That's -- once they were convinced that whites would vote for him, that's when he got on board big time. But before then, there was no overwhelming outpouring of black support for Barack Obama.

BLITZER: At least that's what all the polls showed. You're absolutely right, Jack. Thanks very much.

Jack is going to be back shortly.

And we're also going to have a lot more on the pope's arrival here in the United States. Stand by for that. He's now over at the embassy -- the Vatican residence embassy residence here in Washington. Much more coverage coming up.

Also coming up, attacking on all fronts. A day before a debate in a critical primary state, the Clinton campaign is trying to keep Barack Obama on the defensive.

Also, single women -- they may decide the November election. But both Democratic candidates are having some problems with that bloc of voters. We're going to tell you why.

And many Americans can't forget those notorious pictures at a prison in Iraq. Now a new film tells the shocking story of U.S. troops who took those photos.

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


BLITZER: The day before a critical debate in Pennsylvania, the Clinton campaign is trying to keep Barack Obama on the defensive.

Let's go live to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She's watching this story.

I think it's fair to say they're not pulling a whole lot of punches -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They certainly aren't, Wolf. And, really, what this is all about is in preparation for next week's primary here in this critical contest in Pennsylvania. Also, more immediately for that debate -- the first face-off between these contestants, these candidates, here in Philadelphia. The idea of the strategy is to really keep them on the defensive here so that she can try to maintain that double digit lead.



MALVEAUX: Hillary Clinton issued a dire warning -- a vote for Barack Obama will mean another George Bush.

CLINTON: We have seen the power of the presidency placed in hands unready or unwilling to address the tasks that lie ahead.

MALVEAUX: Her thinly veiled slam to Obama was part of a speech aimed at laying out her vision as president.

CLINTON: I am running for president because I believe in the promise of America and I believe in the power of the presidency to help fulfill that promise.

MALVEAUX: While Clinton tries to appear above the fray, her campaign is attacking Obama on all fronts. Mindful that it's tax day, Team Clinton piled it on, resurrecting their call for Obama to release three years of tax records from his days in the Illinois state senate, accusing him -- whether it's tax returns or legislative records or his relationship with indicted political fixer, Tony Rezko.

Senator Obama seems to take the dog ate my homework approach to disclosure. On a conference call, this from a Clinton spokesman...

The only thing transparent about Senator Obama is his claim that he is transparent.

MALVEAUX: Here in Pennsylvania, the Clinton campaign launched a new ad criticizing Obama for saying some small towns cling to guns and religion out of bitterness over hard economic times.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not clinging to my faith out of frustration and bitterness. I find that my faith is very uplifting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The good people of Pennsylvania deserve a lot better than what Barack Obama said.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary does understand the citizens of Pennsylvania better.


MALVEAUX: Obama is responding to Clinton's accusations, specifically her charge that he's out of touch with working class voters. SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am amused about this notion of elitist given that, you know, when you're raised by a single mom, when you were on food stamps for a while when you were growing up, you went to school on scholarship, that's when you know we're in political silly season. So, hopefully, it will come to an end fairly soon.

MALVEAUX: Not likely. With the critical Pennsylvania primary just a week away, the question is whether this constant criticism over Obama will stop his momentum and give Clinton the big victory she needs. A number of recent Pennsylvania polls show the state of the race is still unclear.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: One poll is showing some gains for Clinton. The other poll is showing nothing much changing. But all the polls continue to show Clinton ahead. The only question is whether by a small margin or a big margin.


MALVEAUX: And, Wolf, what those polls don't show is if Barack Obama is the nominee on the general election, how are those remarks about bitter really going to have an impact there. And that is really weighing the Independents and the Republicans, on how they feel about all of this. And that is the -- that is the argument that the Clinton campaign is making to superdelegates, that he's unelectable, because they believe he's really going to suffer if he is -- in the general election -- from those comments -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Suzanne Malveaux in Philadelphia.

Both Clinton and Obama may have some serious problems with one particular bloc of voters -- that would be single women.

Let's go to CNN's Jessica Yellin. She's picking up this part of the story for us.

So what are the Democrats facing here -- Jessica?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the single woman vote could put a Democrat in the White House in November. But a new study out today shows that neither Clinton nor Obama is doing enough to reach out to them.


YELLIN (voice-over): This time around, single women are flexing their muscles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We address families with children. But there are so many of us that are single.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The single people are not ever represented by any parties. What's going on with that? YELLIN: A new poll out today says single women voters could decide the election in November. They make up 26 percent of the electorate and tend to be Democrats. For example, in 2004, John Kerry got 62 percent of the single women's vote and just 44 percent of the married women's vote. But single women are less likely to turn out and vote. And the study shows Democratic candidates are at risk of losing them.

STAN GREENBERG, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: They got more excited about the election, more engaged, you know. But they don't see their issues being addressed. They're looking for pay equity to be addressed, minimum wage, day care, education. Those are not issues that they've heard the candidates talking about.

YELLIN: The candidates make sporadic efforts to woo women broadly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're often overworked, underpaid and sometimes overlooked. But not by everyone.


YELLIN: Clinton and Obama have policy proposals on family medical leave, day care and education. Clinton has a women's outreach office. And both candidates have addressed pay equity on the stump.

CLINTON: We're going to finally have equal pay for equal work in every job across our country.

OBAMA: If a woman is doing something that the man's doing, the woman has to be treated fairly and get paid the same.

YELLIN: But today's research says if these candidates do more to turn out these voters, single women could be for the Democrats what Evangelical voters were for the Republicans in 2004 -- the key to the White House.


YELLIN: And, Wolf, the same study shows that single women are likely to turn out at record high numbers in November. But that's only if these candidates work harder to appeal to them. And wouldn't you know it, just after this new study came out today, the Clinton campaign announced a new plan for campaign events focusing on the wage gap and pay equity -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jessica, thank you.

Jessica Yellin reporting.

Pope Benedict -- he's speaking out about the priest sex abuse scandal. You're going to find out what he told reporters on his flight to the United States. He's talking about healing this wound. We'll play for you the pope's comments. He spoke in English. Plus, exclusive images of a horrifying plane crash. We'll show you what our CNN I-Reporters are sending in.

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


BLITZER: A plane crashed into a crowded marketplace in the Democratic Republican of Congo today. At least 18 people were killed according to a Congolese official. That number is much lower than earlier reports of 75 people dead.

Our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, is here with some I-Report video -- some of the only video we've seen of the aftermath -- all right, Abbi, tell us what's going on.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, this is mobile phone video of what minutes before was a bustling marketplace in the eastern city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This was sent in to CNN's I-Report by a United Nations pilot, Aniel Shreenivasan (ph).

Eyewitnesses described to CNN this scene, where people were running with buckets of water to try and douse the flames, try and do anything they can to rescue the people who were on board.

Aniel Shreenivasan tells us there was a humongous crowd of people there, people trying to put out the flames. The aircraft already in two parts when he arrived on the scene and he was just meters away. There are rescue workers still on the scene. The final death toll is unclear.

All these pictures and video you can now upload at -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Abbi, for that.

Carol Costello is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Carol, what's going on?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the verdict is in for the so-called D.C. Madam. A federal jury says Deborah Palfrey is guilty of running a prostitution ring, which she insisted was just an escort service. Palfrey's clients allegedly included Washington power players and at one point she said she would sell phone records to pay for her defense. Republican Senator David Vitter was linked to the case but did not testify.

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to throw the book at actor Wesley Snipes. They're seeking the maximum of three years in prison and a $5 million fine for Snipes, who was convicted in Florida of failing to file federal income tax returns. Government lawyers say they want to make an example out of the actor when he is sentenced next week. Images like these would be illegal in France under a new bill approved by the country's national assembly. Yes, illegal. It would make it a crime to promote extreme thinness or anorexia, with punishments including fat fines, so to speak, and even jail time. The bill also requires models to have their health checked every six months. It now goes to the French Senate.

And take a look at this -- a volcano erupting 150 miles southwest of Bogota, Colombia. It's not only belching plumes of smoke, it's spewing a shower of hot ash and that's forcing as many as 15,000 people who live nearby to flee. This is Colombia's highest volcano, more than 17,000 feet. And there's fear of flooding and mud slides if the ice cap melts.

Back to you -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Hope it doesn't.

COSTELLO: I hope not, too.

BLITZER: Yes, thanks, Carol, very much.

Remarkable comments from Pope Benedict about the priest sex abuse scandal as he arrives in the United States. You're going to hear what he had to say. That's coming up.

Also, you're going to find out what former President Jimmy Carter is doing that's angering both the U.S. and Israel right now.

We're going to show you, also, a high tech new anti-terror tool that could be used on you, even without you knowing it.

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


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, the former president, Jimmy Carter, urking the White House and angering Israel for meeting with Hamas officials during a visit to the West Bank. Carter says Hamas and its leaders in Syria would have to be part of any final Middle East peace plan.

Also, a wave of deadly violence today in Iraq -- bombings in four cities killing at least 60 people and injuring more than 100. The U.S. military blames the attacks in Baghdad, Ramadi and Baquba on Al Qaeda in Iraq.

And no end in sight to soaring oil prices -- now closing in on $114 a barrel. That's helping push up the price of gold, as well, closing at more than $928 an ounce, as investors seek an edge -- a hedge against oil-led inflation.

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

By visiting the United States, Pope Benedict will have to come to grips with a sex scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church in this country. On his flight, the pope told reporters, it's a wound that needs to be healed.


POPE BENEDICT XVI: We are deeply ashamed and be possible that it cannot happen in the future. I think we have to act in three levels. The first is level of the political level. We have to react in this way. I won't speak at this moment about homosexuality but pedophilia what is the other thing. And we will absolutely exclude the pedophiles from the ministry. This is absolutely important, who is really guilty to be a pedophile cannot be priests.


BLITZER: Let's take a closer look at the impact of the pope's words and his historic visit to the United States.

Joining us now on the phone is our senior Vatican analyst, John Allen.

You were on that flight from Rome to Andrews Air Force Base. And I believe it was you, John, who asked him that sensitive question. Give us a little context.


Well, I think it's important to set the stage here, because this is -- the pope was not blindsided in any sense by that question. Several days ago the Vatican had asked those of us in the press corps who would be traveling to the pope to submit proposed questions.

They then screened those questions and picked four and informed four of us who had submitted the questions that were chosen this morning, as we took off, that we would be asking them to the pope. So, the pope clearly knew this was coming.

Secondly, when the Vatican spokesperson had actually indicated the pope would be speaking entirely in Italian today when he came back to the press compartment, but when I asked him if he would answer this question in English because of its extreme importance for the church and the people of the United States, he was immediately ready to go.

So, Wolf, I think what that tells us is that the Vatican understands that the pope cannot come to the United States and not address what has been the deepest wound in the 200-plus-year history of this church, which is the sex abuse crisis.

BLITZER: And as you say he's going to be doing more than that on least one occasion and maybe twice while he's here over the next six days. What do we know about it?

ALLEN: Well on background, the Vatican officials have told us the pope will address the sex abuse crisis in his speech to the 400 American bishops tomorrow here in Washington and again during a mass that he is celebrating on Friday in New York, for priests and men and women religious at St. Patrick's cathedral. And it may well come up again in -- in at least in passing in one of his homilies at his big public masses, one in Nationals Stadium in Washington and another one at Yankees Stadium in New York.

So, clearly, this is going to be an important part of the subtext of this visit. Obviously Wolf, what we mains to be seen is those most scarred by the crisis, the victims, are going to be satisfied by what they hear from the pope.

BLITZER: There's no indication he's going to actually meet with any of those victims, is there?

ALLEN: No, that's right. In fact, there were a couple of ideas floated about his itinerary. One was that he might going to Boston, which was the epicenter of this crisis at least in its early stages to tackle it head-on and in the end he passed on it.

And the other was that at some point he might meet with victims and at least so far there's no indication that will happen on this trip, Wolf.

BLITZER: What would he like to achieve more than anything else during the course of these six days?

ALLEN: Well, I think basically speaking, Wolf, his task is to introduce himself to an American public that frankly doesn't know a great deal about him. The Pew Forum recently did a survey of Americans finding that 80 percent of Americans including two-thirds of the almost 70 million Catholics in the United States say that they know nothing or next to nothing about this pope. So I think job number one in a sense is for him to make his debut on what is the biggest stage in the world which is the United States.

Beyond that I think he wants to offer a message of encouragement and consolation for a Catholic Church in the United States, that is very large, very dynamic. It's being buoyed by new waves of Hispanic immigrants. But at the same time obviously still reeling from this very deep blow which has been the sex abuse crisis, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, John, thank you very much. Our Vatican analyst, John Allen, he flew over with the pope from Rome. He's going to be spending obviously the next several days here covering the visit.

If you'd like to know more about Pope Benedict's life or see pictures and videos from his trip to the United States, go to That's where you can get a whole lot more information.

They were a turning point for the war in Iraq. Now we meet some of the soldiers behind the infamous pictures from inside the Abu Ghraib prison. That's coming up.

And a high-tech camera that can see right through you. We're going to show you where it's already being used to fight terrorism.


BLITZER: For many Americans, the notorious pictures of abuse inside Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison was a turning point in the way they saw the war. Now, a new film shows us the shocking story of the soldiers who actually took those pictures.

Let's go out to Los Angeles.

Our entertainment correspondent, Kareen Wynter, is joining us now with more about this film -- Kareen.


The documentary is called "Standard Operating Procedure" and it takes a critical look at this controversial incident.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A guy died. Put him on a gurney, he was gone, go about your business. Keep working.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the first time I started taking photos.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody knew. Everybody that was inside of that prison, they had pictures.

WYNTER: A new documentary about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal uses pictures and reenactments to take viewers beyond the graphic images.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys naked. Guys in women's panties. Guys, you know, in handcuffs in the stretch position.

WYNTER: Photographs taken inside the prison in 2003 show the abuse of Iraqi detainees by members of the United States military.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was wires on his fingers. And he was told he would be electrocuted if he fell off.

WYNTER: Soldiers like former specialist Sabrina Harmon are profiled in the film "Standard Operating Procedure." Harmon who snapped many of the shots, including this infamous one of naked prisoners in a human pyramid, says she was only documenting what was going on inside Abu Ghraib.

The military disagreed. She was convicted of conspiracy, dereliction of duty and maltreating detainees and received a six-month prison sentence and a bad conduct discharge.

ERROL MORRIS, FILM DIRECTOR: We think of these soldiers now as monsters. And my goal was to take them back as people.

WYNTER: Oscar-winning director Errol Morris says the film details the soldiers' acts of what happened and why they say it was only a group of low-level soldiers and not those higher in command who took the fall.

MORRIS: It's become political football. The left says one thing. The right says something else. Wouldn't it be interesting to actually find out what really happened?

JANIS KARPINSKI, FORMER ABU GHRAIB CMDR.: The fear of the truth silenced people.

WYNTER: Also featured in the movie, former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski who was in charge of 16 prisons in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib. Karpinski says she was unaware of the pictures and the torture techniques her soldiers were using on detainees.

KARPINSKI: This did come from the very top, and that all of those people have somehow escaped any responsibility or blame.

WYNTER: Karpinski was demoted to colonel and discharged. She says she wasn't the only scapegoat.

KARPINSKI: Why these seven soldiers? Were they just conveniently all assembled in one place at the same time and all of them conveniently willing to do this? Or were they directed to do it?

MORRIS: Abu Ghraib whether we like it or not is one of the biggest stories of our time. And trying to understand it is something that will be with us for many, many, many years.


WYNTER: Wolf, we contacted the Pentagon for a response. In a statement Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman tells CNN the events were, "Brought to the attention of the military through the chain of command, resulting in an extensive investigation into Abu Ghraib, and other U.S. detention operations."

After a dozen reviews, he says, "There was never any indication of any government policy that directed, encouraged, or condoned abuse. In fact, all 12 investigations confirm that humane treatment of detainees is, and has always been, the DOD policy standard," adding that some 250 service members have been held criminally accountable for their roles in incidents of mistreatments -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And as we said earlier, for a lot of people this was a turning point in their appreciation or understanding of this war. All right, Kareen, thanks very much for that report.

In news around the world, a new high-tech tool for fighting terror, a camera that can see right through you.

Our CNN international security correspondent, Paula Newton, shows it how it works -- Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it is a virtual strip search. It can see through all of these people behind me. The key question is, does it make us any safer?


NEWTON (voice-over): On the move and on mass, we are all soft targets, easy prey for terrorists. You can't slow down border crossings for days. You can't screen every one of us for hours. But what, if you could see right through us looking for concealed weapons or explosives?

CLIVE BEATTIE, THURVISION: We are genuinely looking through clothing.

NEWTON: That's the claim of Thruvision and the T-5000 camera. It works a bit like a telescope to strip search you from as far away as 80 feet even when you're moving. The black hole on the body image on the left, that's the camera picking up mock explosives, but without revealing detailed anatomy.

BEATTIE: This one is the glowing light bulb. You don't see the detail that people might be concerned about.

NEWTON: You can cover the camera up, and it will still work, picking up on electromagnetic radiation that all of us, and all objects, give off naturally. They're called terra hertz or t-rays. Thruvision claims the technology is completely safe.

BEATTIE: We're not x-raying you with any type of radiation.

NEWTON: But some still find it still a bit creepy. Let me show it to you, OK? This is Piccadilly Circus, central London. Already one of the most spied-on corners in the world.


NEWTON: But when others caught a glimpse of the T-5000 in action --

(on-camera): They can see right through them. You see that? They were willing to put safety before privacy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's surveillance everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do think the point is -- I don't care if they can see through me, because they can see.

NEWTON (voice-over): Reality check here, Thruvision doesn't claim that its camera could have prevented, for example, the London terror attacks in 2005, even if it could have spied into the bombers' backpacks. It's only as good as the security officials who can recognize those distinctive t-rays of certain objects and make a split-second decision to intervene.

Some experts say the intrusion isn't worth the benefit.

DAVID MURAKAWI, PRIVACY ADVOCATE: What we should consider is how much we want to lose aspects of our privacy in order to attain a sort of notional security? In most cases this isn't a real security. It's a sense of safety, a sense of security which has very little real effect.

NEWTON: Still, Thruvision's camera is already in uses at places like London's Canary Ward Complex, where authorities are convinced a sneak peek could make us all a bit safer.


NEWTON: Wolf, the camera's already been used in and around London here and authorities are convinced that the sneak peek will make us a bit safer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Paula, for that.

Paula Newton in London.

Jack Cafferty's asking this question, what's your reaction to the BET founder and Clinton supporter Bob Johnson saying Barack Obama wouldn't be where he is if he were white?

And Lou Dobbs, he's standing by to join us live. We'll take a closer look at whether the campaign is at a turning point right now after Senator Obama's remarks about small town America.

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


BLITZER: Check back with Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Wolf, the question this hour is: What is your reaction to BET founder, Clinton supporter, Bob Johnson saying that Barack Obama wouldn't be where he is if he was white?

C.J. in Texas says: "It saddens me people like Mr. Johnson don't have more productive commentary to add to the political process. He has every right to support whichever candidate he chooses. However, I would like to remind him that the only reason the media is even concerned with his comment is because he is an African American 'leader' sharing that sentiment. The comment was inappropriate when Ms. Ferraro said it. It is no less inappropriate for Mr. Johnson."

Mike in Syracuse says: "Of course he's right. Obama and Clinton are splitting the traditional Democratic voters right down the middle except for black, who have gone overwhelmingly for Obama. How can anyone say that Obama's race isn't a factor in that? Take away the black vote, Obama probably would have won about two states. Why is it anyone who points out this fact is branded racist?"

Audrey says: "It's sad we're back to race again, thanks to the Clinton supporters such as Bob Johnson and the likes. Let us all concentrate on the issues and ignore the Clinton machine mentality of a win by any means necessary, which is so troubling for this election process. America, do you really want more of the Clintons with all of their baggage, or do you want a clean-slate candidate who can carry this country in a new and decent direction who's not a career politician?"

John in Tennessee says: "He's simply telling the truth. If Hillary had done the racist and dirty things he has done, the whole nation would be outraged. But he gets a free pass, especially from you in the news media, because he is black."

John in Chicago says: "Does everyone think the black race is somehow hoisting Obama on their collective shoulders alone? What Bob Johnson, and Geraldine Ferraro before him, seem to be missing is the incredibly large number of white people who support Barack Obama, including me. If Barack's name were Jerry Smith and he were white, I would be voting for Jerry Smith. They just don't get it."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at and look for yours among the hundreds of other letters there.

We got a ton of mail on this question today, Wolf.

BLITZER: I'm not surprised at all, Jack. Thank you. Thanks very much.

Barack Obama's controversial remarks about bitterness in small town America, is that a turning point in the presidential campaign? Lou Dobbs has some very strong views on this subject. We'll hear from Lou in a moment.

Also, as the pope arrives in the United States, we'll show you how Catholic voters could tip the race for the White House.

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


BLITZER: Turning now to some politics, some people see subtle code words in the language that's being used against Barack Obama. That came out in a town hall meeting earlier today on the trail in Washington, Pennsylvania, but how does the candidate feel about all of this? I want you to listen to what he said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This term, the ways it is being used against you, it isn't far from uppity, OK? And I think the Clintons are getting away with something that they must be called on. They will continue to do it until somebody states, Mrs. Clinton, you're really close to prejudice here.

This is wrong. This man does not have anything elitist about his upbringing. Never will. And I desire a well-educated person as a president of the United States. I am sorry, it's got to stop!

OBAMA: Well, I appreciate it. I -- you're very nice to say that.

I -- look, let me say this. You know, I don't -- I don't think there are racial overtones to the attacks going on right now. I think that, you know, it's politics. And this is what we do politically, when we start getting behind in races, then we start going on the attack.

And, you know, one of the reasons I decided to run, though, I was pretty sure that the American people are looking for politics that's not about tearing each other down, but is about lifting the country up. I'm pretty confident about that.

And so, you know, so these kinds of, you know, political attacks, they don't solve the VA problems. They don't put food on the table. They don't bring jobs back to these communities. And what we really need to do right now is focus on solving problems.


BLITZER: All right, that's Barack Obama. I want to get some reaction now from Lou Dobbs. He's getting ready for his show that begins in an hour.

What's your take on how this story's unfolding today?

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": It's unfolding precisely as you would think, in my opinion, Wolf. The idea that this man suggested that the issues of illegal immigration, free trade, the second amendment, the right to keep and bear arms and the first amendment, that is, one's faith, to dismiss those qualities and those elements of our culture, our life, as he did in the supercilious and superior tones that he took with his fundraisers and his donors up in San Francisco, this -- this nonsense isn't going to play.

He says it's a diversion from the major issues? Well, the in fact is these are major issues. Thirty-two consecutive years of trade deficits in this country. These are huge issues with the constitution right now to be reviewed by the Supreme Court, as it takes up the case of the D.C. handgun ban.

The idea that this -- that any candidate would refer to clinging to their guns and their -- and their religion, you know, he said that he chose his words poorly. He chose his tone poorly, his perspective, his point of view. The man owes an apology to the people he offended. That was an outright insult. That was not attempted empathy.

And the national media has done more explaining and spinning and rationalizing and justifying for the senator than any candidate I've ever seen who has ever misspoke before.

You know Fran Leibowitz referred to politicians that misspeak as Senator Clinton did earlier and now as Senator Obama says he did, she says, you know, that misspeak is an English word for "lie."

BLITZER: I don't know about that.

DOBBS: I was talking about Fran Leibowitz. Not you, Wolf. You don't know anything. You're just a news anchor.

BLITZER: I'm just a news guy. All right.

You know the polls don't seem to show that there's been much punishment of Barack Obama since all this erupted last Friday, at least the polls in Pennsylvania. We saw he still has a really decisive in the polls of North Carolina. The polls don't seem to have changed in Indiana and the Gallup Poll nationally among the Democrats nationwide show he's still got a significant what 11 point lead over Hillary Clinton right now.

How do you explain that at least in the polls, he doesn't seem to have been hurt by that whole controversy?

DOBBS: I don't know. I think the only issue that really matters is how will the people of Pennsylvania respond to it next Tuesday and the fact is that another poll, as you know, racked up at the end of that comment shows him with a 20 point deficit in Pennsylvania as well. Senator Clinton holding somewhere around six percent. I know one thing, the punishment that's going on right now when a nation of 300 million people produces three primary candidates such as these, the punishment is all ours, not theirs.

BLITZER: Lou, we'll see you back here in one hour, Lou Dobbs reporting. Thank you.