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THE SITUATION ROOM
Obama Draws Massive Crowd in Germany; Oil Spill Shuts Down Mississippi River; McCain Speaks On Cancer and LiveStrong
Aired July 24, 2008 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: Barack Obama draws a massive crowd in Berlin. Calling himself a citizen of the world, the candidate also calls for an end to the war in Iraq. He also asks U.S. allies to step up to help with the war in Afghanistan.
Back home, the campaign takes on a sharp edge, as John McCain seems to take a dim view of Barack Obama's high-profile trip abroad. The best political team on television will assess.
And a massive oil spill shuts down the Mississippi River near New Orleans and sets off an urgent scramble to protect water supplies. We're on the scene live.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Barack Obama stood before 200,000 people today, not far from where the Berlin Wall once stood. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
The Democratic candidate made a plea for international unity and for tougher action against terrorism.
Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, has the story from Berlin -- Candy.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, if this is Thursday, then it must be Berlin. And it is here that Barack Obama most wanted to leave an impression, both in Europe and at home.
CROWLEY (voice-over): In the heart of Berlin, where communism cracked and a wall crumbled, Barack Obama went global with his presidential campaign, calling for renewed U.S./European cooperation to confront mutual problems.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real, and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman, in London and Bali, in Washington and New York. CROWLEY: It was an event designed to evoke distant images of John F. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. Greeted by a massive flag-waving crowd, Obama strode solo on the stage to both court Europe and challenge it, to step up in Afghanistan.
OBAMA: America can't do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops, our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.
CROWLEY: To help out in Iraq.
OBAMA: Despite -- despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.
CROWLEY: Despite repeated denials by his staff that this trip is not political, the event was staged like a political rally, paid for by the campaign and thematically in its call for a new way to move forward.
OBAMA: People of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment. This is our time.
CROWLEY: This speech could just as easily have been delivered in St. Paul.
OBAMA: America, this is our moment.
CROWLEY: Obama told the Berlin crowd he spoke to them not as a candidate, but as a fellow citizen of the world. But if voters back home saw a president, well, that was the point.
CROWLEY: It was a speech designed to give pictures to one of Barack Obama's most powerful issues back at home, when he brings up the issue of restoring America's moral leadership in the world. It is always a big crowd-pleaser back on the U.S. campaign trail. The pictures here are designed to get voters wondering: What would it be like if there was a president who came overseas and got greeted like this? -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What an amazing sight it was indeed. All right, Candy, thanks very much.
Let's discuss Obama's Berlin speech right now.
We're joined by our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, our senior analyst, Jeff Toobin, and Steven Hayes, the senior standard for "The Weekly Standard."
Gloria, I have got to tell you I have been covering politics for a long time. I don't remember a time where a candidate for president went overseas and got a reception, drew a crowd like this. Do you? GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No. I don't think there ever has been.
And, Wolf, look, it was a good speech. It was a little airy, except for the part about Europe stepping up its participation in NATO, helping out in Afghanistan, et cetera. But it was, as Candy said, a speech meant not only for consumption in Europe, but a speech meant for consumption at home. And if you like Barack Obama, you probably thought it was great. And if you're inclined to think he's arrogant and that it was a little presumptuous of a candidate to go over there, then you probably didn't like it.
BLITZER: Jeff, it was an amazing sight, though. I don't know what other person in the world right now could draw a crowd like that, maybe the Rolling Stones or some rock group. But it was pretty amazing to see that in Berlin.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, you know, I was in Berlin two summers ago for the World Cup. And they had screens there for all the games in that precise location, in the Tiergarten. And only soccer, I think, could draw as many people as Barack Obama did in Berlin.
But this event is unique in American political history, the size of the crowd. There's only been a handful of times that a presidential candidate has spoken to more people. But the fact that it happened overseas, I think that was a gamble on the part of the Obama campaign.
There are people in the United States who may say, you know what, you shouldn't be trying to appeal to foreigners. You should be trying to appeal to us. And I think that's the risk they took. But, boy, it sure was an appealing picture. It's hard to think it alienated a lot of voters.
BLITZER: The McCain campaign, Steve, obviously took a little swipe at Barack Obama for this speech. What do you think? He took a risk, as Jeff and Gloria say, but what do you think?
STEPHEN HAYES, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Yes, I think Jeff nailed it. It was an extraordinary event. It was, I think, a good speech. But the concern, I think, if you're Barack Obama's campaign, is how it plays at home.
And what's interesting to me is when you listen to Barack Obama talk several times about global citizenship and being a citizen of the world, you wonder how that's going to play in places like Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania, precisely the kind of voters that Barack Obama is going to need if he's going to beat John McCain in those states, the old Hillary Clinton voters. And I'm not so sure that it will resonate with that group.
BORGER: But those may already be people who are not inclined to vote for Barack Obama.
And, quite honestly, if John McCain had counterprogrammed a little better, instead of showing up at a German restaurant in Ohio, and had something else going on, you know, it might have given people something else to look at.
BLITZER: But you have got to admit, Gloria, it's hard to compete...
BORGER: Oh, yes.
BLITZER: ... no matter what you do in the United States. How can anyone compete with what Obama did in Berlin today?
BORGER: Right. Look, I think it is very difficult. But, you know, John McCain's campaign issued a statement, as you alluded to earlier, that was a little nasty, Wolf. And there is a way to sort of do that differently.
BLITZER: We are going to continue this conversation. Guys, stand by. A lot more to talk about, including how John McCain he manages to compete with this kind of phenomenon.
By the way, I will be speaking with John McCain tomorrow. We will talk about his criticisms of Senator Obama over the war in Iraq. We will talk about other substantive foreign policy and domestic issues, issues you care about the most. Senator McCain will be here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow.
And you can take part in the interview. Send us your questions via CNN's I-Report. You can submit your questions at ireport.com/situationroom. And we will try to get some of your questions to Senator McCain tomorrow.
This also will happen tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM. We are going to bring you Candy Crowley's interview with Senator Barack Obama. She's sitting down with the Democratic presidential candidate in Europe tomorrow. That interview will also air here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Oil is still gushing out of a barge, adding to a massive oil spill off New Orleans.
Our Brian Todd is there -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you can see it right here behind me, a barge leaking 400,000-plus gallons of oil in an area that is still suffering three years after Katrina. What areas are affected, how they're planning to clean it up and just who might be to blame, all those details coming up next -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Also coming up, John McCain and Lance Armstrong, they're meeting about a cause that both of them share oh so deeply. And our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta is there as well. Stand by for that.
Plus, he was one of the original Apollo astronauts. And he's now talking about UFOs and aliens, why he believes. You're going to hear his words. That's coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: The lower part of the Mississippi River is closed right now with a huge shipping traffic jam forming, as crews try to clean up a massive, massive oil spill.
Let's go to New Orleans right now. Brian Todd is working the story for us.
Brian, it's heartbreaking to see how New Orleans, that whole area has to suffer yet again only, what, three years after Katrina. How bad is it?
TODD: It's very bad, Wolf. And it's not just this area that's suffering. It's the entire country suffering economically.
And I will give you a sense of that in just a second. Look at this behind me. This is one of the cleanup barges. These are the only vessels that are allowed to go on this river right now, these and some of the Coast Guard skiffs that are out there in charge of this cleanup.
Now, the traffic, as you mentioned, is stopped. That means that 60 percent of the nation's imports and exports which flow up and down this river can't come up and down this river, at least for a few days. About 400,000 jobs are dependent on that traffic. It's all because of this operation here. We are going to give you a sense of this.
Our cameraman, Bill Tasanova (ph), is going to pan down. This is one of the cleanup booms that has literally just in the last few minutes been brought in here. These booms sweep the oil up to the side here. It then is kind of suctioned out and sopped up. This is a cleanup job that is just massive. And for all intents and purposes, it's just starting.
TODD (voice-over): This sheen on the water, yards away from the banks of New Orleans, shows just how poisoned the Mississippi River now is. Look downriver and you can see the overwhelming proportions of this.
More than 400,000 gallons of industrial fuel, heavier than diesel, but lighter than crude, is now snaking down one of the most densely populated stretches of the river, more than 80 miles from New Orleans down toward the Gulf. To get the full scope, we flew over the river in a Coast Guard chopper.
This is all the result of one of the worst commercial accidents this river has ever seen, the collision between a 61-foot barge carrying this oil and a tanker that didn't leak a drop. Crews are working frantically to scoop up this sludge and prevent it from poisoning the drinking water of nearby towns and parishes. By midday Thursday:
PAUL BOOK, AMERICAN COMMERCIAL LINES: The estimate we have of recovered oiled located close to the site itself is about 140 barrels of oil has been collected and contained.
TODD: Some local jurisdictions have shut their intakes to the river and are getting drinking water from backup sources while the river gets tested. Another huge problem, nearly 100 commercial ships are stuck in place, no traffic allowed during the cleanup. When can they move?
CAPT. LINCOLN STROH, U.S. COAST GUARD: At this point in the operation, I cannot tell you the exact time of the opening. As previously mentioned, think in terms of days for the opening. And think in terms of weeks for the cleanup.
TODD: And you're getting a live look now at the barge that has collided with that tanker. That red and black structure is half of the barge. That is actually upside-down and leaking the fuel as we speak. The other half is on this side of the bridge abutment. It's completely underwater, also leaking fuel.
Now we have an investigation to run at the same time. The barge owner has assumed responsibility, partial responsibility, for the cleanup, is denying any responsibility for the actual accident. Coast Guard officials are saying, look, we're going to talk about blame at a later date. But they're already told us that the tugboat operator wasn't properly licensed to operate on this river, Wolf. The tugboat pilot had only an apprentice license. So, that's going to be something they will be looking at in the coming days.
BLITZER: What a sad story for all the residents in that area. And, as you say, there are major economic ramifications for the whole country, given the traffic that is supposed to go through the Mississippi River down there.
Brian is working the story in New Orleans.
The fight against cancer, Senator John McCain is talking about it tonight at the second annual Livestrong Summit, as it's called. Lance Armstrong, who is a cancer survivor, as all of us, is the man behind the event.
Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is there at the summit in Columbus, Ohio, as well.
Tell us what's going on, Sanjay, because we know that cancer is a subject close to the heart of Lance Armstrong, who suffered from cancer, as well as Senator McCain, who had melanoma.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
Arguably, they're two of the most well-known cancer survivors in the country. And they're going to share the stage tonight to talk about cancer. You're looking at the Livestrong Summit. About 2,500 people gathered here today, Wolf, many of them cancer survivors, cancer advocates who have been talking about this issue for some time. We expect to hear some of the most personal accounts of Senator McCain's history of melanoma. As you know, he's had melanoma four times, the most serious of which was in 2000. He still has that swelling on the left side of his face, those scars on the left side of his neck as reminders.
Lance Armstrong and the Livestrong Foundation really focus on prevention and treatment. He's been to the Hill several times talking about this. Senator McCain is probably going to talk about what he would do as president if he were president to address cancer. Specifically, clinical trials and smoking cessation are the some of the things we know he's pretty passionate about, Wolf.
BLITZER: It doesn't mean necessarily -- or maybe it does -- that Lance Armstrong is endorsing McCain? How much of a political event, in other words, is this tonight?
GUPTA: I don't think this is a political event at all.
And it's worth pointing out, I sit on the board of directors for this organization as well. It was never attended to be a political event. Senator Obama was invited as well. As you know, he is traveling at this time, so had to decline.
They have really made a point that this is more about cancer advocacy and how to continue to push prevention and treatment agendas forward. Lance had been on the Hill before. As you know, Wolf, before Senator Kennedy was diagnosed with brain cancer, for example, Lance was there with him basically talking about new cancer legislation.
At this same forum last year, Senator Clinton and Senator Edwards, Governor Huckabee and others attended the forum. So, this has been something that has been ongoing for some time, Wolf.
BLITZER: And let's hope that Lance Armstrong and his whole project -- and I know you are deeply involved in it as well, Sanjay -- that they -- we really can come up with a cure sooner rather than later. All of us, all of our families have suffered from cancer.
All right, thanks very much, Sanjay. We will be watching the event coming up.
MTV airs its first political commercial ever, but there's a twist. It's anti-Barack Obama. You're going to see the ad, who paid for it. That's coming up. We will also discuss with our panel of analysts.
And a tale of two brothers. One is a preacher and a teacher with a Ph.D., a distinguished scholar. The other is serving a life sentence for murder. What's the difference? Skin color? CNN's Soledad O'Brien speaks to both of them as part of her special report, "Black in America." I think you're going to want to see this report.
And changes to the program that let some travelers skip to the front of the security line, how it might affect you. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Cleanup and recovery, that's what's going on right now after Hurricane Dolly blew through South Texas. The storm is now a tropical depression, supposed to break up some time tomorrow.
But it did slam into parts of the state, like Brownsville and South Padre Island. Luckily, the damage wasn't nearly as bad as a few forecasters had predicted.
Some homeowners have repairs to get started on. President Bush has declared a major disaster in the state. That means 15 counties will be getting some money to help recover.
BLITZER: Asleep at the switch, U.S. Air Force personnel in charged of ballistic missiles. Details of a new nuclear blunder. Stand by.
Also, new developments in efforts to release millions of barrels of oil from the nation's strategic reserve.
And they essentially had the same start in life, but their paths diverged wildly, two brothers, part of CNN's special report "Black in America."
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: John McCain competing with Barack Obama's Berlin speech. How can he steal at least some of the very bright spotlight?
Also, the same parents, the same upbringing, very different lives -- the lives of two brothers reveal the reality of being black in America.
Plus, they were in charge of a nuclear missile when they simply fell asleep on the job. New details of a new U.S. Air Force embarrassment.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
As Barack Obama grabs attention abroad, back home, John McCain seems to be taking a dim view of his rival's rather high-profile trip.
CNN's Mary Snow is working the story for us.
Mary, the presidential campaign almost every day seems to be getting a little bit of a sharper edge to it.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And the attacks are sharpening, Wolf. The McCain camp wasted no time criticizing Obama's speech in Berlin, calling it a premature victory lap. And while McCain tried to stress domestic issues, the focus shifted to his rival's trip overseas.
SNOW (voice-over): With his Democratic opponent stealing the spotlight in Berlin, Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain stuck to a German theme, but at a German restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. Was he trying to make a point?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would love to give a speech in Germany to -- a political speech, or a speech that maybe the German people would be interested in, but I would much prefer to do it as president of the United States, rather than as a candidate for the office of presidency.
SNOW: While there, McCain sat down with small-business owners to talk about the economy, health care and gas prices. While keeping one eye on domestic issues, his other remains watchful of Obama's stand on Iraq, criticizing him for not supporting the surge. Now Obama is firing back at his Republican challenger for saying this.
MCCAIN: It seems to me that Senator Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.
SNOW: Obama told NBC News he was disappointed by McCain's language.
OBAMA: For him to suggest that I don't -- for him to suggest that somehow I'm less concerned about the safety of my wife and daughter than he is, I think, was unfortunate.
SNOW: McCain is standing firm.
MCCAIN: All of us care about our children. I'm sure that every American does. The point is that Senator Obama doesn't have an understanding of what was at stake with the surge, what is at stake in the future for the security of this nation. I stand by my comments. And I think the record authenticates it.
SNOW: But one political observer says McCain's suggestion that Obama is more interested in winning the election than the war could cause a backlash.
LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: It's red meat for the Republican base. But this election, as all presidential elections, will be decided by the swing independent moderates. And they tend not to like language like that.
SNOW: Now, the McCain camp is doing what it can to keep Obama from using his overseas trip to bolster his foreign policy credentials. And in vying for the spotlight, McCain plans to meet tomorrow with the Dalai Lama in Colorado -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, we'll watch that story as well. Thanks very much Mary Snow.
Let's get more analysis of what's going on. We're joined once again by our senior political analyst Gloria Borger, our senior analyst Jeff Toobin and Stephen Hayes, the senior writer for "The Weekly Standard." Did he go too far, Steve, Senator McCain, in suggesting Barack Obama would rather lose the war in Iraq than lose the campaign? A lot of commentators are suggesting that was a scurrilous attack on his patriotism.
HAYES: I guess I don't agree with those commentators. It's a heavy charge to make I think, but if you look at what Senator McCain is talking about, he's talking about Barack Obama's opposition to the surge and his refusal to acknowledge that the surge really is fundamentally responsible for turning things around. When Obama was asked about this the other day, would you go back and would you vote differently? Would you support the surge? He said no. So I think it's not an unfair attack.
TOOBIN: I don't think it's unfair, but I think it's ineffective. I think it's angry. John McCain looks angry in talking about Obama these days. He's got good policy arguments. He should be the workhorse in this campaign. Calling Obama the show horse. That is a good argument. You know, talk about the surge. Talk about how you're going to keep taxes down. But don't talk about how Obama's a bad person. Because I don't think that's going to sale.
BORGER: McCain really needs to take a lesson from Hillary Clinton. He's got to decide which Clinton campaign he wants to wage against Barack Obama. The campaign that did not succeed in which she said, shame on you, Barack Obama and she became unlikable. Or her campaign that did succeed in which she talked about substance. She stayed on message and she talked about her credentials. He's got credentials as a guy who works across the aisle. That will appeal to independent voters. Why not talk about that?
BLITZER: I was going to say --
TOOBIN: Why not talk about his accomplishments?
TOOBIN: This is a guy who has passed all sorts of laws in Congress, who has done things for people. That's real stuff that he can talk about.
BLITZER: Let me let Steve weigh in. But the point is, that was in the Democratic primary, the Democratic contest. Now there's a general election. Let me throw the question to you. Does that kind of angry John McCain, which is not necessarily the John McCain a lot of us know and have covered over the years, does it work in a general election campaign right now?
HAYES: I think there needs to be a difference between an angry John McCain and a sharp John McCain. I think it's fine to make pointed criticisms, but I agree with Jeff. I mean you don't want to look like you're really angry about it. I also agree with Jeff, that if you focus on substance, if John McCain focuses on substance, he does himself favors. As tattered as the Republican brand is these days, and we all know how tattered it is, you ask voters whether they are conservatives, moderates or liberals, more people self identify as conservatives than liberals these days.
BLITZER: Do moderates and independents, Jeff, get turned off by that kind of rhetoric?
TOOBIN: We, I think sometimes think they do. Attack rhetoric often works. The swift poke attacks on John Kerry, a lot of us thought four years ago, ooh, it's too harsh, it's making fun of his patriotism. But you know what? Sometimes the negative stuff works very well. But it usually works better in the mouths of others, not in the candidate. And I think that's the mistake McCain is making.
BORGER: John McCain has to convince the American public that Barack Obama is too much of a risk. This campaign is not about John McCain. This campaign is about Barack Obama. That's what people are focusing on right now. So he has to say to them, yes, I want change. I can be a part of that change. I can work across the aisle. This guy, you can't risk your future with him. He has to do that in a more nuanced way. The problem for John McCain is he's not a nuance kind of guy and he has trouble sticking to a singular message.
BLITZER: Yes, go ahead,
HAYES: Wolf, I think Gloria is absolutely right. This is fundamentally about Barack Obama. One of the things I think we may be overlooking, as you pointed out earlier in the show, the race seems to be tightening. For all of the criticism that we've all lobbed at John McCain and the way he's run his campaign, he's not falling behind any further which I think is rather remarkable.
BLITZER: You're absolutely right. By our average, our poll of polls, it's what the latest is only four points, which at this stage is a very, very close contest, at least in the national polls among registered voters.
MTV has aired its first political commercial sponsored by a conservative group. It's an anti-Barack Obama ad. I'm going to play a little clip for you guys. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are saying that Senator Obama's recent changes of position have made him a flip-flopper. He's not. Flip- floppers only hold one position at a time. Senator Obama is different. He holds two positions at the same time. Both weighs on banning handguns. Both weighs on public campaigning financing. And now both weighs on withdrawing from Iraq. He wants to have them all both ways. He's both ways Barack, worse than a flip-flopper.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What do you think? Gloria --
BORGER: I didn't know you were talking to me.
BLITZER: I was saying, MTV decides now, they're running political commercials and the first one its running is an anti-Barack Obama commercial.
BORGER: Once you make the decision that you're going to run a political commercial you can't decide who it's going to be for and who it's going to be against. These I might add are just the beginning of these ads that are produced by these so-called 527 independent groups that can spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of candidates so long as they do not coordinate the ads with candidates. Clearly the McCain folks are looking to go to a little younger audience to cut into Obama's lead with younger voters.
BLITZER: This is not the McCain campaign this is an independent group as they --
BORGER: Well, groups who support McCain.
BLITZER: What I found interesting Jeff, is that they think there is an audience there among young people who watch MTV. Which a lot of people have seen the Barack Obama phenomenon know that he's got a real constituency among young people right now.
TOOBIN: To put it charitably, there is a lot of room to grow for McCain among young people. Because he's got about six votes among people under 25 in the United States at the moment.
BORGER: And they're in his family.
TOOBIN: That's right, they're campaigning for him. I think Republicans should go after the younger voters. Those are -- it's a big voting bloc. There are some votes out there to get. I didn't think that was the most effective political ad I've ever seen, but, you know good for them for trying.
HAYES: Practically speaking, I think Republicans should not go after young voters. In this particular cycle first, with 18 to 29- year-olds are going to vote I think almost uniformly for Barack Obama. If I'm a Republican strategist or if I'm running a 527, what I'm trying to do is raise questions about whether Obama is really this new -- this practitioner of a new politics the way that he portrays himself. And try to raise doubts about that, which I think would effectively suppress the turn-out. McCain is not going to get a big turn-out among 18 to 29-year-olds.
BORGER: You wouldn't put ads on MTV then?
HAYES: I'd spend my money elsewhere I think.
BLITZER: I think Steve makes a decent point as he always does. Hey guys, thanks very much, good discussion.
This important note to our viewers, John McCain is going to be here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow. You can take part in the interview. Send us your questions via CNN's iReport. You can submit your questions at iReport.com/situationroom. We'll also bring you tomorrow, Candy Crowley's interview with Senator Barack Obama. She'll be sitting down with the Democratic candidate tomorrow in Europe. Both of the interviews tomorrow here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Coming up, two brothers whose lives took very different paths. Some say shaped in part by their skin color. Their experience being black in America. Soledad O'Brien has that special report.
And outbreak and heartbreak in Iraq. The country's Olympic team barred from the Beijing Olympics. Why? Stay with us.
BLITZER: They come from the same family but they ended up in two very different places. Their story is part of an unprecedented television event, "Black in America." CNN special correspondent Soledad O'Brien has this preview. A tale of two brothers.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Sunday service in Detroit. The doctor of religion begins to preach.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, REVEREND: It's not a metaphysical projection. It shows up when folks won't let you have the job you know you should have. It shows up when people won't give you acknowledgement for who you are. It shows up when you work twice as hard to get twice as far behind and still keep going. Evil is real.
O'BRIEN: When Reverend Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is speaking -- he gives voice to an epic American struggle. He's become a preacher and a teacher and a controversial social critic.
DYSON: The people that we have neglected now have spoken back to us and we don't like what we hear.
O'BRIEN: Leaving his neighborhood in impoverished Detroit to earn a Ph.D. from Princeton.
DYSON: Minds don't bleed red blood they bleed thoughts of depression, self hatred.
O'BRIEN: He's come with a lot to say. When you lived in this house, what did you think you would become?
DYSON: This is the house where I began to speak in public at the age of 11. A lot of opportunity was offered me. And I had dreams and aspirations of being a writer. You know, my nickname as a youth was professor.
O'BRIEN: In black America, one man makes it, too many don't. Often in the very same family. This is Michael Eric Dyson's younger brother Everett. He is serving a life sentence for murder. Two brothers. Your average person would say, OK, for the most part they were given similar opportunities, they were raised in the same house. They had a mother who loved them. They had a father who was tough, a little abusive, but he also loved you both. How did you end up one here and one here?
EVERETT DYSON: Choices we make every single day. I've not always made the best of choices. Therefore, I must suffer the results thereof. I've learned that.
M. DYSON: I did make some better choices. But I was allowed to make those better choices. I was encouraged to make those better choices because I was given a vocabulary to express those choices in a way.
O'BRIEN: Whatever led these brothers down different paths, Everett Dyson will likely spend the rest of his life in this maximum security penitentiary. What do you think when you look over at your brother, you're in a jumpsuit and he's in a jacket? And he's a college professor and you've served 19 years of a sentence for murder?
E. DYSON: Whenever I see Michael, it becomes a testament to the fact that I could have done this, that, or the other.
O'BRIEN: Why is one a prisoner and one a Princeton grad? The answer might be staring us in the face.
M. DYSON: I saw how the differential treatment was accorded me. Little curly top, yellow Negro child. I'm not dissing any yellow Negro children, that's who I am. I'm saying that being a dark-skinned black man has a kind of incriminating effect to many people. I'm not even getting to white brothers just as yet, I'm talking about within black America. I'm saying to you many darker-skinned black children don't get the opportunity. I'm not suggesting every dark skinned black person in this country is going to go to --
O'BRIEN: Plenty of dark skinned children are very successful.
MICHAEL DYSON: Of course, I understand that.
EVERETT DYSON: It takes a keen eye to look beneath the rocky soil, the rough exterior of a person and see the beauty that's within.
BLITZER: You're going to want to see Soledad's special "Black in America," tonight. Part two, 9:00 p.m. eastern. Only here on CNN. It has been an amazing series. If you missed last night, you'll have an opportunity to see it again. But watch tonight's report. It's worth seeing.
A nuclear tipped missile with no one watching over it. The U.S. air force now says the crew in charge fell asleep.
A former NASA astronaut now going public, saying that aliens do exist. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Very disturbing words just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM about an incident involving U.S. nuclear launch codes. The U.S. Air Force says three of its people actually fell asleep while at the controls. It's the latest in a series of military nuclear blunders. Let's go to our pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, she's working the story for us. What are you learning Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know Wolf, it does bring a new meaning to that old phrase, asleep at the switch.
STARR (voice-over): Air force officials acknowledge a minuteman three nuclear missile launch crew fell asleep on July 12th while in control of electronic parts that contained old nuclear launch codes. It happened at a missile launch facility connected to Minot, North Dakota Air Force base. Air Force officials say the old launch codes were with the crew behind locked doors, guarded by armed military personnel and emphasize the codes were out of date and not useable. But still, it was against regulations and the officers involved face possible discipline. This is the fourth air force incident involving nuclear security that has come to light in recent months. Last year, nuclear warheads were flown on a B-52 from Minot to Barksdale, Louisiana. The crew didn't know they were on board. In March, it was discovered weapons fuses had accidentally been sent to Taiwan. And earlier this year an air force unit at Minot failed a nuclear security inspection.
STARR: Now Wolf, the air force emphasizes that there was no risk to national security. But, the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal is supposed to be 100 percent secure at all times. No mistakes, no screw ups, no blunders. Now this is the fourth time indeed there has been quite a serious blunder. Wolf?
BLITZER: I guess there's a lot of angry people out there. We'll follow up the story with you. Barbara Starr working it, thank you.
Let's go back to Carol. She's monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What's going on, Carol?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Iraqi Olympic team is being banned from the upcoming games because of political interference. The International Olympic Committee is blaming the Iraqi government for meddling in the sports movement because it suspended its Olympic committee in May and replaced it with a temporary group. The government says the initial committee wasn't following the rules. So there's a chance some athletes may still be able to compete if the government reinstates the original committee.
A former astronaut says aliens exist. Edgar Mitchell who was part of the Apollo 14 mission told a radio interviewer that sources at NASA described the extraterrestrials as quote, "Little people who look strange to us." He says they supposedly have a small frame, large eyes and large head.
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EDGAR MITCHELL, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: I happen to be privileged to have been in on the fact that we had been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomenon is real almost and covered by our government for quite a long time.
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COSTELLO: Mitchell says our technology is not nearly as sophisticated as the extraterrestrials' and warn that had been hostile, we would have been gone by now. NASA praised Mitchell as a great American but said it doesn't track UFOs and is not involved in a cover up about alien life. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, we'll watch this story together with you. Thank you.
A controversial Snickers ad is now being pulled globally after complaints from gay rights groups. Let's go to our internet reporter Abbi Tatton. What's going on Abbi?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, it's this ad for snickers featuring Mr. T. It was airing in the UK, but now complaints here have gotten it pulled. Have a look.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speed walking. I pity you, fool. You're a disgrace to the man race. It's time to run like a real man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TATTON: The advertising website Adage.com posted an open letter calling that homophobic and it got complaints from gay rights groups. The human rights campaign saying that that ad perpetuates the notion that violence against gay people is acceptable. A spokesperson for Mars that makes Snickers say the ad is now being pulled globally adding, "We understand that humor is subjective. It isn't our intent to offend anyone." This has happened before. You might remember this 2007 super bowl ad for snickers in the U.S. It featured two men accidentally kissing and then jumping apart, fighting and doing other things to compensate for that. That ad was also pulled after similar complaints. Wolf?
BLITZER: Thanks very much Abbi for that report.
On our Political Ticker today, among the TV commercials for beer and fast food during the upcoming Beijing Olympics, there will also be some spots for Barack Obama. The Advertising Age reports Obama's campaign has bought a $5 million package of network and cable ads during ABC's coverage of the games. Advertising Age calls it, "The first significant network TV buy of any presidential candidate in at least 16 years." Barack Obama dealt with some weighty topics in his speech in Berlin today. But the atmosphere was much more light hearted. Jeanne Moos has a "Moost Unusual" look. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: CNN's Jeanne Moos has a "Moost Unusual" look at the festive atmosphere in Berlin, before during and after Barack Obama's speech there today.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here comes a walking O-B-A-M-A. And here's the real thing. Flying to Berlin Barack Obama had called his speech a crap shoot. A reporter wondered if a million screaming Germans might show up.
OBAMA: I doubt we're going to have a million screaming Germans. Let's tamp down expectations here. If we get a few tens of thousands.
MOOS: Which he did. Around 200,000, say German police. Mounted on lamp posts, perching on poles, dancing, flying balloons, waving flags, more dancing. Holding Obamas on a stick. Displaying the nerdiest of Obama photos. Eating in. Did we already mention dancing?
Back at his hotel Senator Obama was getting the star treatment. Obama was staying at the Hotel Avalon where Michael Jackson once dangled his baby. But the center made no balcony appearances, saving it for the stage. It was an entirely serious speech.
OBAMA: Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.
MOOS: Not a single intentional laugh line.
OBAMA: My father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father --
MOOS: There was clapping and chanting and yelling.
OBAMA: We know that these walls have fallen before.
MOOS: But compared to the reaction at some Obama speeches --
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I wouldn't want to say that they were euphoric.
MOOS: Hard to know if there was a JFK moment.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The proudest boast is -- [ speaking German ]
MOOS (on camera): Yes, well, (INAUDIBLE) New Yorker. (INAUDIBLE) has been co-opted by critics to mock Obama. (INAUDIBLE) the beginner is getting big play as a poster on conservative blogs. But beginner or not, Obama ended with the usual adulation. Pressed in hungry hands, begging to be touched, but not necessarily washed. OBAMA: Thank you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll never wash my hand.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: Don't forget tomorrow, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, my interview with John McCain. That will air tomorrow we'll be speaking with him. Also Candy Crowley will be speaking with Barack Obama. She's going to be speaking with him in Europe. That interview will also air here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow.
Also, you remember you can check out our SITUATION ROOM screen saver and stay up to date on the latest political news. You can download it at cnn.com/situationroom.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Up next, "Lou Dobbs Tonight." Kitty Pilgrim sitting in for Lou tonight. Kitty?