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10th Anniversary Special

Aired July 6, 2008 - 11:00   ET


BLITZER: This is a special LATE EDITION, 10 years of the last word in Sunday talk.

BLITZER: A decade of tragedy and triumph, of wars, disasters and moments of great hope, of politics, policy and the men and women who make history. This is LATE EDITION.

For 10 years I've had the privilege of hosting this program, going wherever news was being made, from the campaign trail.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.: That's not surrender. That's a sensible policy.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: I've been involved in national security issues for the last, well, literally all my life.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.: This is the closest election we've ever had.

BLITZER: To the field of battle.

There's one of those Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from a destroyer. We have a gas mask just like this one, and we've all been trained how to use it.

Are you humiliated? Do you have trouble sleeping at night?

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Wolf, I simply don't accept the premise of your question.

BLITZER: And probing for real answers.

FORMER PRESIDENT WILLIAM J. CLINTON: Do I think certain people would be better off without Mr. Milosevic? You bet I do.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: It's got to be a Palestinian vision and AN Israeli vision where they find common ground, and our job is to help them find common ground?

BLITZER: We've interviewed world leaders.

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: We are operating against all terrorists.

BLITZER: International celebrities.

GEORGE CLOONEY: This is the first time that I know of that someone has talked about genocide while it's going on.

BLITZER: And ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, R-PA.: The rest of our life is going to be to celebrate his life.

BLITZER: We'll bring you the highlights.

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: I took the initiative in creating the Internet.

SECRETARY OF STATE CONDOLEEZZA RICE: We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

BLITZER: And a few lighter moments.

There we go, all right.

FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE DONALD RUMSFELD: You, sir, are not the president.

(UNKNOWN): That's the first time he hasn't interrupted in years.

BLITZER: He's on television almost as much as I am.

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: I don't know if anybody's on television as much as you are, Wolf.


ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is a special 10th anniversary edition of LATE EDITION With Wolf Blitzer.

It's July 6, 2008 here in Washington, and as I've been saying since 1998, from wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us for LATE EDITION.

For the next two hours we're taking a look at the biggest stories and the best interviews during my 10 years as the host of LATE EDITION. Throughout the show, CNN's Tom Foreman will join me to talk about my front row seat to history.

Over the past decade, the 09/11 terror attacks and the war in Iraq have certainly dominated the news. From thousands killed and wounded to tremendous and often unexpected changes in the balance of power in the Middle East, Iraq has been a central topic of many of this program's most significant interviews.

The subject of Iraq even came up in my first interview with then- Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush when I caught up with him on the campaign trail in Iowa in January 2000, a year before he entered the White House.


BLITZER: It's almost exactly nine years since your dad, the president of the United States, accepted a cease-fire with Saddam Hussein in Iraq in exchange for full Iraqi agreement to comply with U.N. weapons inspectors, but for the last year there have been no weapons inspection teams in Iraq at all.

If you were president today, what would you do about that?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I would continue to keep the pressure on the Iraqi government. I would continue to insist that inspectors be left and allowed into the country. I would continue to insist that Iraq complied with the cease-fire arrangement.

BLITZER: But they are in violation of the agreement.

BUSH: Absolutely, and we shouldn't be sending mixed signals, and if any time I found the Iraqis were developing weapons of mass destruction, they wouldn't exist anymore.

BLITZER: Who wouldn't exist anymore?

BUSH: The weapons of mass destruction, yes. I'm not -- they need to hear that from a potential president, that if we catch them in violation of the agreement, if we in any way, shape or form find out that they are developing weapons of mass destruction, that there will be action taken, and they can just guess what that action might.

BLITZER: And you're not going to spell it out here today.

BUSH: No, sir.


BLITZER: And he didn't spell out his plans back in 2000, but as the years went by his administration made it clear its fears of what Saddam Hussein could do were growing amid what appeared at the time, officials said, to be solid evidence of a hidden Iraqi nuclear weapons program.

President Bush's National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and I spoke about that in September 2002.


BLITZER: How close is Saddam Hussein's government, how close is that government to developing a nuclear capability?

SECRETARY OF STATE CONDOLEEZZA RICE: You will get different estimates about precisely how close he is. We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments going into Iran, for instance -- into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to -- high-quality aluminum tubes that are only really sorted for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs. We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists, to make a nuclear weapon, and we know that when the inspectors assessed this after the Gulf War he was far, far closer to a crude nuclear device than anybody thought, maybe six months from a crude nuclear device. The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons, but we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.


BLITZER: Tensions with Saddam Hussein continued to grow until march 2003 when the U.S. and a coalition of allies invaded Iraq and toppled his regime in a matter of only a few weeks, but no weapons of mass destruction were found.

Also cast into doubt was another reason given for the invasion, possible evidence of cooperation between the Iraqi government and the terrorists of Al Qaida.

I pressed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on this when we spoke almost two years after the invasion.


BLITZER: Listen to what you said on September 26th, 2002, several months before the war: Listen to this.


FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DONALD RUMSFELD: We do have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad. We have what we consider to be very reliable reporting of senior-level contacts going back a decade, and of possible chemical and biological agent training, and when I say contacts I mean between Iraq and al Qaeda.


BLITZER: That was a mistake?

RUMSFELD: No, Zarqawi was in there. It was clearly -- there clearly were al Qaeda in and around Iraq.

BLITZER: You believe that to this day?

RUMSFELD: Zarqawi was physically in Baghdad. They were operating.

BLITZER: But was he then, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, associated directly with Al Qaida?

RUMSFELD: No, probably not.

BLITZER: Why would you say there was a connection between Iraq and Al Qaida?

RUMSFELD: Because the intelligence reported that there were al Qaeda that moved in and out of Iraq and had some connection with the Saddam Hussein regime. BLITZER: That was on September 26th, 2002. The intelligence, your intelligence in February 2002 said exactly the opposite. There was a DIA intelligence estimate that's now been declassified, Senator Levin released it, that said this: "It's possible he does not know any further details. It's more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers. Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest.

In effect, the DIA concluded that this source, which alleged this Iraq/Al Qaida connection, was a fabricator.

RUMSFELD: There is no question but that there are fabricators that operate in the intelligence world, and that there's also no question, but you can find intelligence reports on every side of every issue. When you look at the reams of intelligence information that the United States develops from different agencies, they gather from other foreign, friendly foreign liaison services, you can find in any given week intelligence that conflicts with each other. The implication that there's something amazing about that is just ridiculous. We know intelligence is imperfect.

BLITZER: But the basis of the intelligence, that's why the U.S. went to war: The WMD and the Iraq/Al Qaida connection that you alleged?

RUMSFELD: The reason the United States went to war, the president has announced and said it repeatedly: There were 17 resolutions in the U.N. that were ignored by Saddam Hussein. Our planes were being shot at on a regular basis in the Operation Southern Watch and Operation Northern Watch. Saddam Hussein was giving $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers. Iraq was on the terrorist list.


BLITZER: By January of last year, after a four-year battle with insurgents, many Americans were seriously questioning the wisdom of the invasion, but the vice president, Dick Cheney, had no doubt it was the right course of action.


CHENEY: Saddam Hussein would still be in power. He would, at this point, be engaged in a nuclear arms race with Ahmadinejad, his blood enemy next door in Iran.

BLITZER: But he was being contained, as you well know, by the no-fly zones in the north and in the south.

CHENEY: He was not being contained, Wolf. Wolf, the entire sanctions regime had been undermined by Saddam Hussein.

BLITZER: But he didn't have stockpiles.

CHENEY: He had corrupted the entire effort to try to keep him contained. He was bribing senior officials of other governments. The oil-for-food program had been totally undermined, and he had in fact produced and used weapons of mass destruction previously, and he retained the capability to produce that kind of stuff in the future.

BLITZER: But that was in the '80s.

CHENEY: You can go back and argue the whole thing all over again, Wolf. But what we did in Iraq in taking down Saddam Hussein was exactly the right thing to do. The world is much safer today because of it.

There have been three national elections in Iraq. There's a democracy established there, a constitution, a new democratically- elected government. Saddam has been brought to justice and executed. His sons are dead. His government is gone and the world is better off for it.

You can argue about that all you want. That's history. That's what we did and you and I can have this debate. We've had it before.

But the fact of the matter is, in terms of threats to the United States from al-Qaida, for example, attacks on the United States, they didn't need an excuse.

We weren't in Iraq when they hit us on 9/11. The fact of the matter was...

BLITZER: But the current situation there is...

CHENEY: The fact of the matter was that al Qaeda was out to kill Americans before we ever went into Iraq.

BLITZER: The current situation there is very unstable. The president himself speaks about a nightmare scenario right now. He was contained, as you repeatedly said throughout the '90s after the first Gulf War, in a box, Saddam Hussein.

CHENEY: He was, after the first Gulf War, had managed to kick out all the inspectors. He was providing payments to the families of suicide bombers.

He was a safe haven for terrorism, one of the prime state sponsors of terrorism, designated by our State Department for a long time. He'd started two wars. He had violated 16 U.N. Security Council resolutions. If he were still there today, we'd have a terrible situation.

Today, instead...

BLITZER: But there is a terrible situation there.

CHENEY: No, there is not. There is not. There's problems -- ongoing problems -- but we have, in fact, accomplished our objectives of getting rid of the old regime...

BLITZER: And... CHENEY: ... and there is a new regime in place that's been there for less than a year, far too soon for you guys to write them off. They have got a democratically written constitution, the first ever in that part of the world. They've had three national elections. So there's been a lot of success.

BLITZER: How worried are you, Mr. Vice President...

CHENEY: We still have more work to do to get a handle on the security situation...


BLITZER: And still ahead on this special 10th anniversary LATE EDITION, an eyewitness account of the terrible days right after 9/11. My interview with Rudy Giuliani is coming up next.


GIULIANI: I think what's really driving them is they're hoping to be able to find survivors.


BLITZER: Plus, former President Jimmy Carter on his toughest decisions and his biggest mistakes.

And the basketball legend Michael Jordan on life after leaving the court.


BLITZER: On September 11th, 2001, al Qaeda terrorists attacked the United States. Two hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center towers in New York City killing thousands and plunging the city into chaos. Another slammed into the Pentagon and yet another was brought down by a heroic group of passengers in Pennsylvania. Five days later, New York's Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New York's Governor George Pataki came on LATE EDITION.


FORMER MAYOR RUDOLPH W. GIULIANI, R-NEW YORK CITY: I wish I could report more progress in saving people, which, except for the first day, we have not had progress. We haven't given up hope yet, and the experts tell us that there still is some hope that we could find people.

But you know, we would be, I think, all that much happier if we were finding and saving more human beings. My firefighters and police officers and the people that Governor Pataki has given us from the state and the federal people, they're all there -- getting rid of the debris and the rubble is part of it -- but the thing that's really driving them is they're hoping to be able to find survivors, and they haven't had any success in the last couple of days.

BLITZER: What do you need most, Mr. Mayor, right now? Do you need more volunteers to come to New York City and help in this operation?

GIULIANI: We actually don't. The showing of support and the volunteers that have come here -- and even those who have come here and actually there's nothing for them to do right now -- has been wonderful for the spirit of the city. It's kind of like we're all embracing each other; America is embracing each other. And that show of support is enormously important.

FORMER GOV. GEORGE PATAKI: The fact that the president did come in Friday within three days of this horrible attack speaks an awful lot about his confidence in the security of New York City. And as I said, he spent hours here and spent a lot of time grieving and inspiring people who needed that type of help. So I think that shows us that the federal government is confident that everything that can be done from a security standpoint is being done. It's being done by the city and the Giuliani administration has been spectacular in their leadership in dealing with this. It's being done by the state and the federal government has been just tremendous in their support.

But you know, terrorism strikes in ways that, like this horrible attack, no one foresaw, no one predicted. So I don't think it's just New York, it's all of America that has to be on alert.

And we also have to support the president, because he has said this is a war, this is an attack upon our way of life, and he is right. We have to go after those terrorists wherever they may be in the world, including governments that harbor those terrorists.

The people of New York will be united and stand with the president in this. The people of America will be united and stand with the president in this.


BLITZER: Governor Pataki described 9/11 as we just heard as an attack on our freedom and the counterattack was swift. U.S. forces swept into Afghanistan, destroying the headquarters of al Qaeda and toppling the Taliban regime. An interim Afghan government was appointed, led by a man who had fought the Taliban, Hamid Karzai. We spoke in December of 2001.


BLITZER: Let me begin by asking you the question that many people around the world are asking. Do you and your government control all of Afghanistan right now or are there still pockets of potential al Qaeda or Taliban forces at large?

KARZAI: Generally the Taliban movement or that regime has completely gone away from Afghanistan. The main terrorist bases associated with them have been removed. There may be individuals hiding in parts of Afghanistan. We are looking for them and in recent days some have been arrested. And we're looking for more. We will see to it that terrorism is completely finished in Afghanistan, in all its form and we're also looking to it to cooperate internationally to finish this menace all over. BLITZER: What about Osama bin Laden? Do you believe that he's alive and what do you do if you find him?

PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN HAMID KARZAI: We will deal with him exactly in the same way. He, too, is responsible for lots of suffering in Afghanistan. He was a close associate of Mullah Omar. The two of them, together, committed murder, in the destruction of the Afghan land and people. There's no way that he can go unpunished. If we arrest him, we will deliver him to international justice.

BLITZER: But will you not necessarily deliver him immediately to U.S. authorities, who obviously want him in connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States?

KARZAI: We strongly condemn those attacks against the United States. They killed very innocent people. I saw on television the way people jumped off the 80th floor of the twin towers. It's a criminal thing that they did. We will deliver him to the United States.


BLITZER: Despite those promises, Osama bin Laden escaped and intelligence placed him over the border in the mountainous tribal areas of Pakistan.

Capturing bin Laden and destroying his terrorist organization was very much on the mind of the Pakistani president, General Pervez Musharraf, when I interviewed him three years later.


BLITZER: Is the commitment, the drive by Pakistan, by your government and your military and intelligence forces, as strong today as ever in trying to find bin Laden?

MUSHARRAF: Absolutely. I mean, when you talk only of bin Laden, frankly, there is no -- the issue is not going and locating one individual. We are operating against all terrorists.

Now, within that, we don't know where he is, and he may be anywhere. And, therefore, in our strikes, in many of our strikes, we find some leader or the other, second stringer, third stringer, who has been eliminated or killed.

So we haven't gone for a particular name, as such. So all that I would like to say is that the concentration is not on one individual, frankly. We are operating against all terrorists. He could be anywhere, and he will be knocked out if he's in one of the areas where we strike.

BLITZER: A lot of people believe he's somewhere along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, probably on the Pakistani side.

Is that your assessment?

I know you don't know, for sure, but is that your working assumption?

MUSHARRAF: No, it is not. Because anyone who says, probably, he's in Pakistan, I would like to ask him, what have you based this judgment on?

So, therefore, I wouldn't be able to say that. He could be on the Pakistan side. He could be on the Afghan side.

But all that I would like to say is, on the Pakistan side, our army is inside all this tribal area. It has seven agencies. In all of them, we are there. And we are operating there.

Is that the case on the Afghan side?

Is all the border region -- is the military operating in all the regions of the border?

No, sir, they are not. So I leave it to anybody's judgment -- where would he feel safer?

BLITZER: So are you suggesting the U.S., on the Afghan side, together with the Afghan military, the other allied forces on the Afghan side, are not doing enough to find bin Laden?

MUSHARRAF: No, no. They are doing enough. They are doing a lot. There are certain force restrictions also. The terrain is very inhospitable, and it's a large area.

Now, are there enough troops to be in every area?

No, there are not enough to be in every area, to cover all the mountains of the region on the border. There are not enough for that. So therefore they are operating according to their own strategy, which they are doing very well.


BLITZER: Increasingly, President Musharraf's grip loosened, as political opponents from all sides attacked his rule.

One of the strongest rivals was the former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, who returned to Pakistan from exile in October of last year. I spoke to her about fears for her safety.


BLITZER: You're a relatively young woman. How scared are you, though, because, as you know, Osama bin Laden and other terrorists -- they've attacked you in the past and they clearly would like to go after you now?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Yes, of course, they would like to go against me. There's a lot of threats, because under military dictatorship, an anarchic situation has developed, which the terrorists and Osama have exploited. They don't want democracy. They don't want me back.

BLITZER: They don't want a woman to be the prime minister of Pakistan, either?

BHUTTO: And 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.

BLITZER: Your family has a history, unfortunately, a tragic history of assassination.

BHUTTO: I know the past has been tragic, but I'm an optimist by nature. I put my faith in the people of Pakistan. I put my faith in God.

I feel that what I am doing is for a good cause, for a right cause, to save Pakistan from extremists and militants and to build regional security. I know the dangers are there, but I'm prepared to take those risks.

BLITZER: Your father was killed in a political assassination.

BHUTTO: My father was killed. It was a very terrible moment in my life. But I also learned from him that one has to stand up for the principles they believe in, and I'm standing up for the principle of democracy. I'm standing up for moderation. And I'm standing up for hope for all the people in Pakistan, who today are poor and miserable and really quite desperate.


FOREMAN: Really quite an extraordinary interview that you did, and you interviewed her several times.

Benazir Bhutto, in Pakistan, notably talking to her just months before she was assassinated, and you talked to her about that possibility.

BLITZER: She was determined to go back to Pakistan. And I knew how dangerous the situation was. President Musharraf himself had been the target of assassins on several occasions.

And I knew that Benazir Bhutto, a woman going back, to try to become the leader of Pakistan -- I knew she was going to be targeted, and I said to her -- she was sitting right with me here in Washington, and I said, aren't you scared; are you sure you want to do this? And she said, yes.

In my gut, even as I was asking that question, I said to myself, I hope and pray that I'll never have to use her answer, after this interview, again.

Because I knew -- she said, well, I've got to do it. And I said to myself, you know, if she's killed, we're going to have to play that tape.

FOREMAN: Despite that hope, did you think, at that moment, she's going to be killed? BLITZER: I said to my producers, "She's going back." And I didn't know if she was going to be killed, but I knew she would be targeted on many occasions.

FOREMAN: How hard is that, as a human being, whether you're dealing with a leader or a person who's living in a violent area, to talk to somebody whom you know has every chance of dying a violent death in the not-distant future?

BLITZER: It's very hard. Because, you know, we may be journalists, professional journalists, but we're also human beings, as you say. We have feelings. And she was a very, very impressive woman, very, very charming. And I knew the family, her family, as well. And I said to myself, you know, she may have this belief that, you know, God is going to protect her, or whatever, but I knew she was taking a huge risk. And obviously she did.

And coming up on this special 10th anniversary program, we'll turn back to those who have won the White House. Jimmy Carter looks back on four years of the Oval Office and Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush look forward to working together.

And later what is a full Ginsburg? We're going to tell you. It's all part of a decade of LATE EDITION. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: We spend most of our time on LATE EDITION looking forward, probing world leaders for the problems they see looming ahead and their plans for solving them.

We do, however, pay attention to history, and it was in this vain that I had the chance to speak to Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale about their successes and failures on the 30th anniversary of their inauguration.


FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: The best decision and most difficult decision, Wolf, was not to launch a military attack against Iran. Most of my strong advisors said that would be a good political thing to do, and it would punish Iran for taking our hostages, but I thought then and still believe now, of course, that if I had attacked Iran -- and we could have destroyed Iran with our powerful military -- that it would have resulted in the loss of life of more than 10,000 innocent Iranians, and there's no doubt that they would have killed hostages as well. So I think that was a most important single and most difficult decision I made.

My worst decision was to send seven rescue helicopters instead of eight. If we would have sent one more helicopter, wolf, we would have been successful.

I would say the most painful decision and not the most important diplomatically was having to with draw from the 1980 Olympics. That painful for me. FORMER PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: We told the truth, and we obeyed the law and we kept the peace. Doesn't sound like much, maybe just what is expected, but I think we're seeing evidence of what happens when you stray from these fundamental principles.

BLITZER: It sounds, Mr. Vice president -- excuse me for interrupting, that that's an implied criticism, if not a direct criticism, of the current president and vice president.

MONDALE: Well, that's acceptable to me if you want to draw that conclusion, but the fact of the matter is that ours was an honest administration. You could believe what you were told. We never played games with the law. We were true to that oath of office, and we did everything we could to enhance American power based on our principles and try to avoid war. And we accomplished that, and I feel good about it.

BLITZER: Is this a dishonest administration?

MONDALE: You know, let me just say this: A lot of the things -- I never use that word. A lot of the things we were told proved not to be true.


BLITZER: Took a global tragedy for two former presidents to put politics aside and work together to spearhead recovery efforts after the tsunami in 2004. The wave crashed on to the coast of 11 countries, killing hundreds of thousands and leaving millions more homeless.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush sat down with me during their trips to the devastated region.


BLITZER: Thanks for joining us on your mission. Let me begin with you, President Bush. Give us your thoughts: What have you seen now in the tsunami-affected areas, Is it what you expected?

FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: It's worse. It's worse than I expected. The devastation is greater. Of course, we come in now and most of the bodies have been accounted for, or at least have been picked up and put into these refrigerated vaults, so we didn't see any of that.

But the devastation on the ground is worse than I expected. It's leveled. Where there were schools and houses it's just flat, just flat land. I've never seen anything like it, ever.

BLITZER: What about you, President Clinton?

FORMER PRESIDENT WILLIAM J. CLINTON: Wolf, we were in Thailand this morning and yesterday and then we went to Aceh in Indonesia and flew up and down the coast. They have only buried 110,000 people, only. That sounds staggering. They think at least another 130,000 are dead, that they haven't even recovered yet.

We visited one little village where 6,500 people had lived and only 1,000 survived. There are orphans everywhere. Nobody's got a home. Nobody's got a way to make a living. It's unbelievable.

BLITZER: President Bush, how is the recovery effort, based on what you can tell, coming along?

BUSH: Well, the recovery effort really is just starting, in cleaning up until now and trying to account for the bodies. But the recovery effort is just starting. In Aceh, there's not a lot of evidence that is there.

In talking to the people that are on the ground, they're all quite optimistic that the houses will start being built again and schools being put up.

So I'd say it's got a long way to go. But it's not because of negligence or because of inefficiency. It's just because of the enormity of the devastation.

BLITZER: President Clinton, what has surprised you the most? You saw a lot of this on television. You read about it. But now, being on the ground, what was the most eye-opening moment, let's say, for you?

CLINTON: Seeing the orphans in their school uniforms yesterday in Thailand; and standing in the street of a town where nothing, nothing was left except the mosque; flying over the town and seeing the rice fields flooded with salt water from the ocean, and having the farmer say it would be three years before they could grow a crop again.

Just the magnitude of it -- you guys have done a wonderful job covering this, but no distant picture can convey the enormity of the human tragedy and the environmental destruction until you see it.


BLITZER: There's a lot more still to come on this special 10th anniversary LATE EDITION. After scandal and even impeachment, Bill Clinton speculates on life after the presidency. And Al Gore makes the statement that could have potentially cost him the race against George W. Bush. Stay with us, we'll be right back.


BLITZER: A week after I began hosting this program in January 1998, the No. 1 was a scandal involving the relationship between President Bill Clinton and a former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. We asked a moment ago if you knew when a full Ginsburg was. At the start of the long-running scandal, Lewinsky's attorney, William Ginsburg appeared on all five Sunday morning talk shows here in the United States on the very same Sunday, a feat of endurance and aggressive driving that became known as a full Ginsburg.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Well you suggested earlier in the day today that you thought President Clinton would survive this crisis. What do you mean by that?

BILL GINSBURG, ATTORNEY: Well, I watched the polls, and if I can put any statistical accuracy in any of the polls that I'm seeing, and if I take them on face and on faith, what I'm seeing is that the American public doesn't care about his sex life. The American public doesn't care about Monica Lewinsky's sex life. The American public apparently is focused on other issues such as your earlier report on Iraq, on Jerusalem, on Social Security and other things of importance.


BLITZER: President Bill Clinton managed to survive the headlines, the special prosecutor and eventually impeachment and censure. As he prepared to leave office back in 1999, I sat down with him at a summit in Cologne, Germany and I asked him about his future plans and also the possible political future of the first lady, Hillary Clinton.


BLITZER: You've always been someone who's looked ahead. When you look ahead to your personal life after you leave the White House, what do you see?

CLINTON: Well, it depends in part on what Hillary does. You know, I'll be going to -- I hope I'll be going to meetings in the Senate spouse's club if she decides to run. But I want to -- I want to continue to be active in areas that I care a great deal about.

And I think that through my library and through the public policy center and perhaps through some other activities, I can continue to work on some of the issues of world peace and reconciliation of people across these racial and religious lines that I devoted so much of my life. I can continue to work at home on issues I care a great deal about including involving young people in public service, whether it's young people in America or young Americans who are interested in running for public office.

I have given a lot of thought to it. But I'll find something useful to do. I want to work hard. I'm too early to quit work and I'm not good enough to go on the senior golf tour. So I expect I'll have to just keep on doing what I'm doing.

BLITZER: What I'm hearing more the Jimmy Carter model as opposed to a Gerald Ford model.

CLINTON: That may just be a function of age and circumstance. I think President Carter has been the most effective former president in my lifetime and one of the three or four most important former presidents in his public service and the quality of his work in the entire history of the United States.

So what I would do wouldn't be exactly what he has done. I think the model of what he's done and how he's done it is a good model for every former president who gets out who still has good health and a few years left.

BLITZER: OK Mr. President, I'm told we're all out of time. I want to thank you very much for joining us for this special LATE EDITION here in Cologne.

CLINTON: This is your last trip with me so I want to thank you for six and a half good years.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

CLINTON: Good luck.

BLITZER: It's been an honor to cover you.

CLINTON: Thank you.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In speaking of the Clinton administration you also spoke to Al Gore and evoked from him one of the most memorable comments he's ever made about the Internet. Tell me about how that happened and what you thought.

BLITZER: Just, it was on his mind. I didn't ask him about the Internet. I asked him about the differences he had with Bill Bradley.


BLITZER: Why should Democrats, looking at the Democratic nomination, the process support you instead of Bill Bradley, a friend of yours, a former colleague in the Senate? What do you have to bring to this that he doesn't necessarily bring to this presidency?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: I will be -- I'll be offering my vision when my campaign begins. It will be comprehensive and sweeping. I hope that it will be compelling enough to draw people toward it. I feel that it will be.

But it will emerge from my dialogue with the American people. I have traveled to every part of this country during the last six years during my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system during a quarter century of public service, including most of it long before I came into my current job. I have worked to try to improve the quality of life in our country and in our world. And what I've seen during that experience is an emerging future that is very exciting about which I'm very optimistic and towards which I want to lead.


BLITZER: Honestly, at the time, when he said it, it didn't dawn on me that this was going to have the impact that it wound up having, because it was distorted to a certain degree and people said they took what he said, which was a carefully phrased comment about taking the initiative and creating the Internet to -- I invented the Internet. And that was the sort of shorthand, the way his enemies projected it and it wound up being a devastating setback to him and it hurt him, as I'm sure he acknowledges to this very day.

Coming up, our extensive coverage of this year's historic presidential election and conversations with the stars of Hollywood and the legends from the world of sports. And speaking of sports, here's another LATE EDITION news question. Which NBA star told me that he plans to run for governor of Alabama? I think you might be surprised by the answer. Stick around, much more right here on LATE EDITION.


BLITZER: Over the years, I've enjoyed covering events from around the world. My schedule is fast paced, but I make time for another quick-moving passion of mine, basketball.

FOREMAN: You love basketball.

BLITZER: For some reason, I've always liked basketball.

FOREMAN: Did you play basketball?

BLITZER: No, I was not good. I had a few minor problems. I couldn't dribble very well.

FOREMAN: That would be one.

BLITZER: I was sort of slow. And I couldn't shoot. By the ay, I once told that to Shaquille O'Neal, I interviewed Shaquille O'Neal, and I said to him, I would have loved to play basketball, but I really couldn't shoot and I can't dribble and I was sort of slow. And he looked at me with a straight face and said, I can't do any of that. And it's true, she's not a great dribbler, Shaquille O'Neal, not a great shooter, free-throw line, not very good and he's kind of slow, but you know what, he's Shaquille O'Neal and he's a great star.

I've been fortunate enough to score interviews with some of the biggest names in professional basketball, but perhaps no NBA player has impacted the league quite like Michael Jordan. I went one-on-one with the NBA legend before his comeback with the Washington Wizards.


BLITZER: You've got to take a look at what's happening right now and say, I really miss not being inside the game.

JORDAN: Well, I do miss the game quite a bit in all honesty. If you didn't love the game, and you would not have the love for the game, if you get away from the game, quite frankly you are going to have to have some just remembrance of being away from the game. But I do have those itches. I love watching the young players play. I think, to some degree, they are very, very exciting.

BLITZER: Well, you could change all that, you know, with a quick decision that would electrify the game and cause a huge celebration around the world.

JORDAN: Well, I think the whole Mario Lemieux got everybody starting to think that way, but in all honesty I'm very happy where I am. And I still have a challenge ahead of me in Washington.


FOREMAN: I can't help but think that off all the great leaders you've met, that must be the kind of experience that makes you feel like a little kid.

BLITZER: That's the kind of thing, when you interview a great basketball player like Michael Jordan, you pinch yourself and say, am I getting paid to do this? It's very cool. This is something you would want to do even if you weren't doing what you're doing.

There's much more ahead on this special 10th anniversary LATE EDITION. Our extensive coverage of this year's historic presidential contest. And exclusive interviews with Yasser Arafat, Ariel Sharon and Nelson Mandela.

First, the answer to our LATE EDITION news question. It was legendary basketball tough guy Charles Barkley who told me that he planned to run for the governor's mansion in his home state of Alabama in the year 2014.


CHARLES BARKLEY, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I just bought a house in 2007. And in 2014, I promise you, I'm going to run for governor of Alabama.


BLITZER: That's only six years from now. I'll ask him the tough questions when he becomes governor, if he becomes governor right here on LATE EDITION.


BLITZER: This is a special LATE EDITION, 10 years of the last word in Sunday talk.


BLITZER (voice over): A decade of tragedy and triumph, of wars, disasters, and moments of great hope, of politics, policy, and the men and women who make history.


For 10 years, I've had the privilege of hosting this program, going wherever news was being made. From the campaign trail...

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.: That's not surrender. That's a sensible policy.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: I've been involved in national security issues for the last -- well, literally all my life.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.: This is the closest election we've ever had.

BLITZER: To the field of battle.

There's one of those Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from a destroyer. We have a gas mask just like this one. We've all been trained how to use it.

Asking tough questions.

Are you humiliated?

Do you have trouble sleeping at night?

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Wolf, I simply don't accept the premise of your question.

BLITZER: And probing for real answers.

FMR. PRESIDENT WILLIAM J. CLINTON: Do I think that certain people would be better off without Mr. Milosevic? You bet I do.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: It's got to be a Palestinian vision and an Israeli vision, where they find common ground. And our job is to help them find common ground.

BLITZER: We've interviewed world leaders...

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: We are operating against all terrorists.

BLITZER: ... international celebrities...

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: This is the first time that I know of that someone has talked about genocide while it's going on.

BLITZER: ... and ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events.

(UNKNOWN): The rest of our life is going to be to celebrate his life.

BLITZER: We'll bring you the highlights.

FMR. VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: I took the initiative in creating the Internet.

SECRETARY OF STATE CONDOLEEZZA RICE: We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud. BLITZER: And a few lighter moments.

There we are.

FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE DONALD RUMSFELD: You, sir, are not the president.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, R-PA.: I don't think Wolf's going to mind a bit. That's the first time he hasn't interrupted in years.


BLITZER: He's on television almost as much as I am.

CHENEY: Well, I don't know if anybody's on as much as you are, Wolf.


ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is a special 10th anniversary of LATE EDITION with Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: And welcome back to our special LATE EDITION. For the next hour, we're taking a look at the biggest stories and the best interviews during my 10 years as the host of LATE EDITION.

In all the years I've reported from Washington, there's never been a presidential primary just like the one we've been having this year. And a good deal of this historic contest has played out right here on LATE EDITION.

From 2004, when I asked a freshman senator his plans for the future.


BLITZER: One quick question. Do you want to be president of the United States?

OBAMA: I want to be the best U.S. senator for the state of Illinois that I can be.

BLITZER: You know there's people talking about this.

OBAMA: Well, you know, that's the way talk -- talk to my wife. She'll tell me I need to learn just to put my socks in the hamper.


BLITZER: By the time Senator Obama became the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, our conversations had turned from handling laundry to handling international policy.


BLITZER: McCain says, if you had your way, the U.S. would surrender in Iraq. He wants victory.

OBAMA: If I'd had my way, we would not have gone into Iraq in the first place.

BLITZER: Well, what about now?

OBAMA: I think it was a huge strategic blunder.

And I think the American people are smart enough to understand that a phased withdrawal, where we're as careful getting out as we were careless getting in, that puts pressure on the Iraqis to stand up and take seriously their obligations to arrive at a political accommodation at the same time as we are doubling down on diplomacy in the surrounding region, and not just Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Jordan, but also Syria and Iran, then we are also investing in humanitarian aid for the people who have been displaced in Iraq, that that's not surrender.

That's a sensible policy that will allow us, then, to deal with our biggest strategic problem, which is Al Qaida in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan reconstituting themselves. And that's something that we have been distracted from. It's something that I intend to focus on when I am president of the United States.

BLITZER: This is going to be a huge difference. The war in Iraq, the fallout between you and McCain.

He also is going after you now, today, the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence. He says you're not necessarily endorsing policies that would be good for Israel.

He says this, for example. "I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States. I think that people should understand that I will be Hamas's worst nightmare. Senator Obama is favored by Hamas. I think people can make judgments accordingly."

OBAMA: Yes, this is offensive. And I think it's disappointing, because John McCain always says, well, I'm not going to run that kind of politics.

And then to engage in that kind of, you know, smear, I think is unfortunate, particularly since my policy toward Hamas has been no different than his.

I've said that they are a terrorist organization, that we should not negotiate with them unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence, and unless they're willing to abide by previous accords between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

And so for him to toss out comments like that, I think, is an example of him losing his bearings, as he pursues this nomination.


BLITZER: Nine years ago, John McCain made his first run for the presidency. We talked about the qualities of a good running mate. Here's what he was looking for back in 1999.


MCCAIN: I think you should pick a running mate on the basis of their overall qualifications for office. And there should not be a litmus test. And I feel that way, also, about Supreme Court justices.

I'm proud of a 17-year voting record of pro-life positions. And I adhere to that position. I believe this issue of the repeal of Roe v. Wade is important. I favor the ultimate repeal of Roe v. Wade.

But we all know, and it's obvious, that, if we repealed Roe v. Wade tomorrow, thousands of young American women would be performing illegal and dangerous operations.

I want us to be a party of inclusion. I think that we can all be members of the Republican Party, whether we are pro-choice or pro- life, because we share the same goal. And that is the elimination of abortion. Because it's an unpleasant and terrible procedure.

We think -- I think that we must go back to the party platform of 1980 and '84. We include people who have specific disagreements, who share our same goals.

Ultimately, I would like to see the repeal of Roe v. Wade, but to do it immediately, I think, would condemn young women to dangerous and illegal operations.

And we Republicans must send, on this and other issues, that we're the party of Abraham Lincoln, of inclusion and not of exclusion. And I hope we can all work together and maintain a dialogue within our party, as we help try to resolve this very difficult issue that affects America in such a grievous way.


BLITZER: Republicans didn't think John McCain was the right man back in 2000. This year he's the presumptive nominee. One of his biggest challenges, this time around: gaining the confidence of the conservative base.


BLITZER: A lot of conservatives are nervous, as you well know, Senator McCain, about you. And the American Research Group poll, in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, right now, you come in third in New Hampshire. You come in fourth in Iowa and South Carolina.

Why are conservatives worried, at least some of them, suggesting they're not convinced you're the best conservative to run as the Republican nominee?

MCCAIN: Well, Wolf, those polls have been going steadily upward, while Fred Thompson and Giuliani and Romney have been going down. I'm pleased with the progress we have. It's well known that we had a significant problem last summer. The fact is that, since Labor Day, and in the debates, which I've clearly won, and in every -- in campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, that we got a long way to go, but we're in the mix.

And I'm very pleased with the progress that we are making. And it's -- I believe I can out-campaign the other candidates. And I am also convinced that my experience and my background to take on the challenge of radical Islamic extremism warrants their consideration.

And I need no on-the-job-training. And I think it's great to have been a mayor. I think it's great to have been a governor. I've been involved in national security issues for the last -- well, literally all my life, in one way or another.

BLITZER: Is the fund-raising improving?

MCCAIN: Yes. Yes, it is.

BLITZER: Because there's some suggestion that you don't have enough money to compete with Romney, who has, probably, unlimited sums. He can put a lot of his own money into it, and Giuliani, who is doing a lot better, at least, so far, this year.

MCCAIN: Well, I've never won a campaign on money. But we have, certainly, sufficient money. We're up on television, and we're going to hopefully get more.

And I'm very happy, as I say, with the way the campaign is run. If it was just about money, as you said, Governor Romney can spend unlimited amounts of money. Other candidates have in the past, and they haven't won.

And I think I can prevail this time, particularly, as you well know, Wolf, the type of campaigning in New Hampshire and South Carolina is retail politics. That's what people want; and in Iowa the same way.


BLITZER: Hillary Clinton's campaign for president ended this year in June, after an amazing primary fight. When we spoke in May, she was still determined to stay in it to win it.


CLINTON: You know, what I think is that this is the closest election we've ever had, that anybody can remember. Each of us has brought millions of new people into the process.

I think I've now been privileged to receive the votes of 17 million Americans. And that's pretty much the same as Senator Obama. The delegate race remains close. We have contests yet to go. People have been trying to end it, and the voters just won't let it happen. As a recent poll suggested, 64 percent of Democrats want to see this continue, and I think for a good reason. Because it's one of the most substantiative, exciting, energizing political events I can remember in my lifetime.

And there is no winner yet. You have to have, now with the special election of a Democrat from Mississippi, 2,210 delegates to actually stay...

BLITZER: You're including Florida and Michigan.

CLINTON: Which we have to. We have to include them.

BLITZER: Because in -- they're going to be meeting, the Rules Committee of the DNC...


BLITZER: ... May 31st.

CLINTON: That's right.

BLITZER: They have to make a decision.


BLITZER: What do you want them to do?

CLINTON: Well, what I would want them to do is to seat the whole delegations based on the votes that were taken, because I think the voters who came out, over 2.3 million of them in both states, clearly believed that their votes would count. And they may have violated the DNC rules, but other states did as well.

BLITZER: Because right now the DNC says that the number is, what, 2,025 or 2,026?

CLINTON: That's just not a practical answer. That would mean that only 48 states would determine who the nominee of the Democratic Party is. And that's not the way the election works.

BLITZER: So you're staying in at least through May 31 and June 3...

CLINTON: That's right.

BLITZER: ... which is the last -- you're not going anywhere.

CLINTON: I'm not going anywhere, Wolf...

BLITZER: All right.


BLITZER: Whoever wins the White House this year, you can bet they'll be interviewed right here on LATE EDITION. Still to come on this special 10th anniversary program, we'll look at a decade of conflict in the Middle East, including improve conversations with Ariel Sharon and Yassar Arafat. Three generals who have taken on the historic task of leading the U.S. effort in Iraq. And later, the stars of Hollywood shine a spotlight on tragedy and triumph all over the world.


BLITZER: Most Sundays, we open the program with the current time in Washington and in Baghdad. And that's not an accident. What's happening in Baghdad and the consequences for U.S. troops and for the nation has been a constant focus of our coverage. To do this, we've spoken to all the top U.S. military commanders.


GEN. RICARDO SANCHEZ, CMDR, MULTINATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: I think we have to understand that we have a multiple-faceted conflict going on here in Iraq. We've got terrorist activity, we've got former regime leadership, we have criminals, and we have some hired assassins that are attacking our soldiers on a daily basis.

The key that that we must not lose sight of is that we must win this battle here in Iraq. Otherwise America will find itself taking on these terrorists at home.

BLITZER: How organized are these attacks against U.S. and coalition forces?

SANCHEZ: Well, the level of organization is something that we've been working on now for some time. We believe that there's local organization. There are some indicators that there may be regional coordination ongoing. The level of sophistication of their attacks have increased over the last 30 days or so.

But I believe that the elimination of the Hussein brothers will go a long ways in beginning to tampen down the resistance and bringing back some security and stability to Iraq.

BLITZER: Is there any evidence of foreign organization, foreign involvement, non-Iraqi elements involved in these attacks?

SANCHEZ: Well, we have seen during the major operations, we did see some foreign involvement, we have seen some terrorist activity and religious extremists that have been coming into the country. So I do believe that there is some foreign fighter engagement that is ongoing here against our forces.

BLITZER: Lots of the U.S. troop levels in this country will depend on the formation of a new Iraqi government and the ability of Iraqi security forces to take over. Let's talk about these two issues.

First of all, the new Iraqi government. Elections were January 30th. We're approaching the end of March, and you know what? They still don't have a new government.

GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: I can't predict how politics are going to work, Wolf.

I can say that the encouraging sign is there's an awful lot of politics going on. And I think that we have gone from a primarily military environment to a primarily political one, and that's a very encouraging sign.

Obviously the longer we have a delay in the formation of an Iraqi government, the more uncertainty there will be. The more uncertainty, the greater chance for escalated violence.

American forces provide the seal by which the political process can take place. And American forces also have got to develop the Iraqi security forces.

When politics move forward and Iraqi security forces move forward, you'll start to see not only a big change in the prospects for peace and prosperity in the region, but an opportunity for a pretty substantial draw-down.

BLITZER: Are you on board with a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq?

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, CMDR, MULTINATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: I'm not on board with a permanent military presence, Wolf. I do think that we will have forces here for some period of years. The key there, though, is that I do not envision them at anything like the present level, nor do I see us performing the same mission sets that we're performing right now.

BLITZER: When you say a period of years, can you give us an estimate? Is that five years, 10 years, 100 years?

PETRAEUS: I can't, Wolf, in part because it's fairly difficult to determine what the conditions might be. Frankly, we've tried to look into this crystal ball in the past over here, and I think that it has shown us repeatedly that sometimes you can get some bad surprises, occasionally you get some good fortune.

And hopefully, you're prepared for that good fortune and can turn opportunities like that into sustained progress. And Anbar Province, I think, is an example of that. And I think our soldiers were prepared intellectually for the concept that there were reconcilables whom we needed to reach out to and try to bring into the -- becoming part of the solution over time rather than part of the problem.

And then irreconcilables. And you try to minimize the number of irreconcilables because at the end of the day, they have to be killed, captured or run out of the country.


BLITZER: There's more to come on this 10th anniversary of LATE EDITION. The South African President Nelson Mandela talks about the important lessons he learned during 27 years in prison. And my interviews the pivotal figures in the long and very painful struggle in trying to achieve Middle East peace. And here's another LATE EDITION news question. What visibly angered Arab leader said during one of my interviews, "don't forget who you're speaking to"? The answer, coming up on LATE EDITION.


BLITZER: War and peace in the holy land. For the past decade, LATE EDITION has been a place where Israeli and Palestinian leaders have come to talk of peace and the reality of the continuing violence. In 2000, peace talks brokered by then-president Bill Clinton broke down as violence erupted yet again. And in March 2001, Ariel Sharon replaced Ehud Barak as the prime minister of Israel. One of his first interviews was right here on LATE EDITION.


ARIEL SHARON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I think that it was maybe the major mistake of the Israeli formal government that agreed to negotiate under fire and under terror, because that caused and brought only for more demands from the Palestinians and Israel made some more concessions. Israel became weaker and weaker. And in the end was that, after major effort by the Israeli government led by Prime Minister Barak, that we have not achieved peace and we have not achieved security. Therefore, this government will have another policy. Though we are committed to peace, but we will not negotiate under pressure. Because Israel is a tiny, small country, but it's a country where the Jewish people are having the right and the capability to defend themselves by themselves. And that is the most important thing, and we cannot give up this capability that we have. That is our responsibility.


FOREMAN: You've interviewed so many of the world's leaders, and you talked to, among others, a lot in the Middle East, including Yasser Arafat, a number of times. One particular time, a midnight meeting grew very interesting. Tell me about that.

BLITZER: We got a call late in Jerusalem. Linda Roth, my producer and me, and they said, the chairman would like to see you. And I assumed it would be tomorrow. And they said, no, no, now. I said, now, midnight? And I assumed it would be tomorrow. And they said, no, no, now. I said, now, midnight? So fortunately we had the papers to get through Israeli military checkpoints. We had an armored vehicle and a driver that was willing to take us.


YASSER ARAFAT, PALESTINIAN LEADER: We are searching for a solution for our children and for their children.

BLITZER: Two states?

ARAFAT: Two states.

BLITZER: One Jewish state? ARAFAT: One Israeli state, because we have Jews and they have Christians --

BLITZER: When you refuse to say a Jewish state, the Israelis say --

ARAFAT: No, I am not I am not refusing. They have accepted --

BLITZER: The first prime minister of --

ARAFAT: Said what? And they want to take on recognition with this name. If they want to collect Jewish state as they like. If they want to change its name, it is their right. If I collect Palestinian state, it is my right. If our PNC or our legislative council call it Arab Democratic Palestinian or whatever, they have the right.


BLITZER: It was an exciting time to interview the Palestinian leader. What turned out to be a heart-racing moment was afterwards around 3:00 in the morning. We finally put all our gear into this car and we left Ramallah to drive back to Jerusalem.

We had to go through Israeli military checkpoints. At one point there was one checkpoint we stopped and we waited and we waited, we were in this armored car, waited. Nothing happened. Finally after about five minutes, our driver opened the door and went out. And fortunately he did that, because all the lights came on, the spotlights from the Israeli military checkpoint and we could finally hear these Israeli soldiers and their bull horns telling us get out of the cars with your hands up. We have not heard anything -- inside an armored car, you can't hear anything.

FOREMAN: You think they were on the verge of opening fire on you?

BLITZER: They told us later, another 30 seconds, had we not got out of the car, they were going to blow it up because they thought it was a car bombing in the works. Fortunately, we got out of the car.

FOREMAN: Do you ever go away from something like that saying, maybe I should get into another business?

BLITZER: I always do. Whenever I'm in a dangerous situation, I go through sort of the same cycle. Before I go off to, let's say Iraq or some place there's a war, Lebanon in the '80s when I used to cover that story, the civil war. I always say to myself, why am I doing this?

Then I say, I'm a journalist, it's my job, I want to do it, and they've given you an assignment, so you do it. So you go there. When you're there in the middle of all the action, your adrenaline is pumping, you're excited, you're focused, you're trying to get the story, you don't worry about the danger. You think about it, but it's not really obsessing you. On the way back, you're in a plane, you're finally flying back on British Air to the Dulles Airport here in Washington and you say to yourself, what was I thinking? That was nutty, that was dangerous.

Yassar Arafat passed away in 2004 and Ariel Sharon lies in a coma, but the drive for peace goes on. President Bush brought Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the United States to try to broker a peace deal, one Mr. Bush says he's determined to finalize before he leaves office. A day after this meeting, I had an exclusive interview with President Bush.


BUSH: This notion about how America can impose their vision just simply isn't going to work. It's got be a Palestinian vision, an Israeli vision where they find common ground. And our job is to help them find common ground. And I'm going to spend a lot of time doing it.

BLITZER: Because, as you know, there are a lot of Israelis who are nervous right now, a lot of Palestinians who are nervous. Our interview is being seen all over the world. Do you have anything you want to say directly to the Israeli people who are worried perhaps that the U.S. might squeeze Israel, pressure Israel into making concessions that could undermine their security?

BUSH: Well, first of all, the vision that I hope emerges as a result of these negotiations, will be -- the implementation of the vision will be subject to a road map. In other words, I would never expect a country to allow terrorists to be on their border. I mean, it's -- the big threat in the Middle East is terrorism and radicalism, and I understand that.

And therefore I believe that the best way to defeat those terrorists and radicals, however, is through a vision based upon liberty. And so my message to the Israelis is, it's in your interest that your prime minister negotiate with the Palestinians, a democracy.


BLITZER: And here's the answer to our news question. Yasser Arafat is the one who reminded me who I was talking to, not something I'm likely to forget in the middle of his well-defended headquarters. Straight ahead, a personal conversation with South Africa's president, Nelson Mandela.

And from Angelina Jolie to George Clooney, you never know who will show up here on LATE EDITION. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: One of the most difficult parts of this job, probably the most difficult thing for any journalist is interviewing those who have suffered a terrible loss. But there are stories that need to be told and ones that the survivors often want to tell. When a troubled student shot and killed dozens on the campus of Virginia Tech last year, I interviewed the parents of 27-year-old student Jeremy Herbstritt only days after he was murdered in cold blood.


BLITZER: I know this is very hard for you to do this, but if there is anything you'd like to say, go ahead.

PEGGY HERBSTRITT, MOTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM: It is. It will not seem real to me until I actually see his body. But I want to say to my other children, Jeremy loved you very much. I know right now you think of him as being dead, but we can keep him alive in our hearts. We will find a way to make this -- make some kind of positive out of this. So, please, guys, stick together, OK?

BLITZER: How are your other kids doing?

MIKE HERBSTRITT, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM: It's tough. It's tough. They're sad. They're missing their brother. And it's hard to lose your brother. It's hard to lose your son.

And on Monday night I was watching some of the newscasters, and I don't think the newscasters really understand how hard it is to lose your son.

M. HERBSTRITT: You know, it's really hard. And it hits you right in your heart. You know, that's the whole thing. But we have to go on. We've got to celebrate Jeremy's life. The rest of our life...

BLITZER: We're trying to do that.

M. HERBSTRITT: The rest of our life is going to be to celebrate his life, to say what he did good, you know, and to say, "That Jeremy was a good boy, a good man, and we're going to love him forever."

P. HERBSTRITT: That's right.

M. HERBSTRITT: That's what we're going to do. We're going to love him.

BLITZER: God bless him. And god bless all of you, and thank you for sharing his story.


BLITZER: One of the most amazing stories of the 20th century was how South Africa, after decades of apartheid and oppressive rule by a white minority, evolved into a multiracial society without a violent revolution.

Key to this change was Nelson Mandela, released in 1990 after 27 years in prison. And in 1994, he was elected to become the first black president of South Africa.

When President Clinton visited South Africa in 1998, LATE EDITION was there.


BLITZER: We saw you take President Clinton to Robin Island, to your cell where you spent 18 years as a political prisoner. And today we're sitting here in your beautiful home.

The contrast between that cell and this home, here in Cape Town, is remarkable. But it must be so amazing for you to see where you are, right now, see where South Africa is right now, and to remember those days, which were only a few years ago.

NELSON MANDELA, FMR. SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: No, that is true. Having spent -- the fact that I spent so many years in prison is part of my life now. It's part of my background. I don't think about it, because, as I pointed out to the press yesterday, when I think of those days, pleasant and unpleasant memories arise in my mind. And we (inaudible) is tragic, but at the same time, it has important lessons. Because human beings are human beings.


FOREMAN: You've always said that your favorite interview was Nelson Mandela. Did you think, compared to all the other world leaders you've interviewed, did you think, I'm talking to a great man here?

BLITZER: I did. I really did, because of what he managed to do. I had learned the history of South Africa. I saw what had happened there in years gone by. And I said to myself, this guy is incredible and he is an amazing world leader.

FOREMAN: You must have a feeling of wonder, at a time like that, too, to have been in his prison cell and to see him in a circumstance that defied all the odds.

BLITZER: Because I said to myself, you know, if that had been me, how bitter, how angry would I have been, 20-plus years, almost 30 years in prison -- for what? Just wanting to be free and wanting my people to be free. And I would have been crazed, probably, had I survived that ordeal.

And yet, you know, he was so mellow and so calming and so powerful. It was just a wonderful thing to see. And I said to myself, I wish more leaders had been like him.

Up next, some celebrities trying to set the example. The leading men and women of Hollywood and the causes they care about.


BLITZER: Welcome back to a special 10th anniversary LATE EDITION. I'm Wolf Blitzer. This is a news program, and in general, our guests are politicians and policymakers, newsmakers from around the world. But from time to time, we turn to the better known residents of Hollywood, celebrities using their fame to put a spotlight on a worthy cause.


BLITZER: How did you get involved?

You're a U.N. goodwill ambassador. How did this happen that, all of a sudden, one day, a very glamorous movie star like yourself winds up going around the world, including in these refugee camps, and you're working to try to do something about HIV/AIDS?

ANGELINA JOLIE: I just -- I feel very, very fortunate that I started traveling, with work, and my eyes were open, through meeting people of other countries and seeing what life was like for them, in countries like Cambodia and Sierra Leone, and realizing that I couldn't just rely on, you know, what was being taught to me at school or basic news, that I needed to go out and really try to see for myself, and met a lot of amazing people.

So it's been nothing, really, but inspiring, and gives me strength and hope. And I've met the most wonderful people who are refugees or child soldiers, who have taught me, just, about life.

And so I'm just blessed to be able to work with them. It's a great thing.



CLOONEY: The single most important thing I want to achieve is to try and help make sure that it gets on the air, that people see it, that people are talking about genocide, which they're not, in general -- and not just in this country -- in the whole world.

But if I show up in places, sometimes cameras follow. And that's a good thing because then we can have these conversations and help, perhaps, the administration and the U.N., and all the people who actually want to do something about this, but they don't have the political capital.

BLITZER: You mentioned what Nicholas Kristof wrote. He wrote this, and it seems to sum up the world's attitude, especially Americans' attitude, toward what's happening in Darfur.

"Mr. Bush is paralyzed for the same reasons as his predecessors. There is not great public outcry; there are no neat solutions; we already have our hands full; and it all seems rather distant and hopeless."

I think that, sort of, conveys what's going on, right now, in this country, as far as the horrors of what's happening in Sudan.

CLOONEY: But it's interesting how quickly things aren't hopeless when people, a group of people, American citizens, European citizens, suddenly stand up and say, wait a minute, let's take a look at this.

This is the first time that I know of that someone has talked about genocide while it's going on. Well, there's an opportunity there for the people to stand up and say, OK, now let's make this simpler by saying, we're going to make it -- we're going to make this important enough that it will make -- could make it easier for the administration to do something.



BLITZER: Why has this been so important to you, personally, to get everyone on earth to remember the sacrifices, what was done on this day, 60 years ago?

STEVEN SPIELBERG, DIRECTOR: Well, you know, it's said that we're all influenced by our parents, and my dad taught me the lessons of World War II because he fought in the China/Burma/India theater in World War II, the 490th Burma Bridge Busters.

And so all my life, as a child, was spent hearing my dad's stories of World War II and the reunions he would have with other veterans. He didn't seem to be able to talk about it to other people who weren't in the war, but once he had somebody who he shared an experience with, he was able to really open up and talk about it.

BLITZER: Could he talk about it with you?

SPIELBERG: Yes, he could. But it was great to hear him talk about with those who served with him.

And it just, sort of, instilled in me a sense of my dad was more afraid of being forgotten than anything else -- you know, his generation being forgotten. And I just think that "Saving Private Ryan," or at least my impulse to tell a story of the landings on Omaha Beach, most of that came from what my dad had been talking about all those years.

BLITZER: What about today, when you walked around; you met with these veterans? So many of them, unfortunately, this will probably be the last occasion for them to remember D-Day. What were they saying to you?

SPIELBERG: Well, first, they were thanking us for both the films, the "Saving Private Ryan" picture and also the "Band of Brothers" miniseries that Tom Hanks and I did together. Because that was all involved. It's pieces -- the Rashomon, pieces of the same story.

But the great thing is, they're just happy that you're remembering them, that there are so many people who have come here to honor what they did. Because they saved the world, didn't they?

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: I couldn't look back at my 10 years hosting LATE EDITION without remembering a very special person that we recently lost.

NBC's Washington bureau chief and "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert died suddenly of a heart attack last month. He was one of my Sunday morning competitors, a fellow Buffalonian, and a friend whom I dearly miss.

But Tim was also a guest on this program twice. When I interviewed him in May of 2004, he talked about our hometown and one person near and dear to his heart, his dad.


TIM RUSSERT, FMR. HOST OF "MEET THE PRESS": My dad is the most innate optimistic man I ever met. His glass is two-thirds full. He was born in the Depression, Wolf, left school in the 10th grade to go fight in World War II.

He was in a terrible plane crash, his B-24 liberator. He came -- six months in the hospital. He then came home and worked two full- time jobs as a sanitation man and a truck driver.

His only mission was to educate his kids. Everything else was secondary. I learned more by the quiet eloquence of his hard work, by his decency, by his loyalty, than I could ever learn in any textbook.

BLITZER: And these lessons are applicable to everyone, not just those of us who grew up, like you and me, from Buffalo, New York.

RUSSERT: But we were blessed, by growing up in God's country.

BLITZER: You grew up on the South Side, I grew up in Kenmore, which is the northern...

RUSSERT: Rather affluent, you were.

BLITZER: Yes, it was real affluent. It was...


RUSSERT: No, but I was stunned by the reaction, across the country, to "Big Russ and Me." It's universal in its application. People say to me, you know, Big Russ is unique to you, but I have a Big Russ too.

People want to talk about their dads, the influence they had in their lives, all the times they would say something to us, Wolf, we rolled our eyes and say, yeah, right, here comes another sermon, they're right, every step of the way.

And particularly now, when I my own son, and I'm trying to teach him, in 2004, that he's always, always loved, but never, never entitled, that's what Big Russ taught me. You've got to be prepared. You've got to work hard. You've got to be accountable for your behavior. Those lessons will last a lifetime, if you can learn them and pass them on to your son.


BLITZER: Tim Russert, with me here on LATE EDITION, back in 2004. He entered those interviews the same way he often ended "Meet the Press," with these words, "Go Bills." He'll be missed here in Washington and all across the country.

And when we come back, my thoughts on the 10 years that I've spent as host of LATE EDITION and as an eyewitness to history.


BLITZER: From around the world, thanks for joining us for this special LATE EDITION, live from Jerusalem...

... from Africa.

... from the library of the U.S. Naval Observatory.

... from Beijing, China.

... in Doha, in Qatar, in the Persian Gulf.

... from the Democratic National Convention here in Los Angeles.

... from the Republican National Convention here in Philadelphia.

This is LATE EDITION, the last word in Sunday talk.




BLITZER: Senator Lott, thanks so much for joining us.

FMR. SEN. TRENT LOTT, R-MISS.: Thank you, Wolf. I'm happy to be on your first show, on this new role, and congratulations.



(UNKNOWN): Congratulations to you, Wolf, on your first stewardship of the show.



(UNKNOWN): Wolf, congratulations to you, on moving into your new position on this show. I think that's great.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: It seems like only yesterday when the then-producers of LATE EDITION, Rick Davis, Lucy Spiegel, and Sam Feist, asked me to host the show. I couldn't say no. And it's been a fabulous experience ever since.

This is the kind of show that a serious, hard news television journalist can only dream of hosting. I get a chance to spend some good quality time asking major news makers serious and tough questions.

Can you imagine? It doesn't get much better than that.

I've been blessed with really great producers over these years. Rick and Lucy and Sam and, in more recent years, Linda Roth.

Together with a terrific team, they've made my work easy, and I'm certainly grateful to all of them. The first 10 years of hosting LATE EDITION are history. Now we can focus in on the next ten years.

And that's it for this special 10th anniversary celebration of my time as host of LATE EDITION. I want to thank Tom Foreman for his special contribution to this week's show. The next decade promises to be an exciting one, so please be sure to join me next Sunday and every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.

Remember, I'm also in "The Situation Room," Monday through Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.