Return to Transcripts main page


Anthrax Researcher Commits Suicide; Safety in America Seven Years After the Anthrax Attacks; Leak on U.S. Nuclear Sub in Japan

Aired August 1, 2008 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, a truly stunning turn of events in the deadly anthrax scare that claimed five lives, panicked Washington and shook the entire nation shortly after 9/11.

A radioactive leak from a United States Navy submarine -- Navy officials downplay it, but it's the latest in a series of nuclear mishaps in the U.S. military.

And New York City police want citizens to use cell phone cameras to help fight crime. But in some cases, it's the police who are being caught on tape.

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

There has been a major development in one of the biggest investigations in American history. Sources say the FBI was closing in on the main suspect in the anthrax attacks that terrorized the nation. And this week he committed suicide. It started when America was in a low point right after the 9/11 attacks.

On October 5th 2001, a tabloid editor died of anthrax. More letters with anthrax were sent out over the next two weeks, one of them to Tom Brokaw made an NBC employee sick. Others were mailed to United States senators. It shut down the entire U.S. Congress. And a post office here in Washington, D.C. was closed for anthrax exposure and two mail carriers died.

Now, sources say federal prosecutors were planning to indict and seek the death penalty against that top anthrax researcher. But that expert, Bruce Ivins, committed suicide this week.

Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's joining us from Frederick, Maryland, where Ivins lived.

You've been speaking to a lot of his associates. You're getting some inside information, Brian, on who this Bruce Ivins was and what this case is all about.

What are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're learning a lot about who Bruce Ivins was. And just being here gives you kind of reflection of that. He's got a very unassuming house here on a very small street. But we're going to give you an illustration. We're going to pan past the crush of media folks here and show you, this house is just a few feet away from the entrance to Fort Detrick, where former colleagues describe this man as very committed, but very intense about his work.


TODD (voice-over): From home, where his window spoke to police, but no one else, to his church, where friends say he was a good keyboard player, a portrait emerges of Bruce Ivins as an awkward, unassuming man who was under enormous strain in the final months of his life. Norman Covert, former spokesman at Fort Detrick, says he knew Ivins for 15 years. He doesn't believe federal officials had the right suspect in the anthrax attacks.

NORMAN COVERT, FORMER FORT DETRICK SPOKESMAN: I never heard Bruce say anything political ever. He always talked science and that was what was on his brain. He was a brilliant man.

TODD: Brilliant and intense, according to Covert, who says Ivins could be abrupt when grilled about his science. But his intensity also came through in his kindness.

Neighbor Bonnie Duggan recalls one time when she needed help cutting down trees in her yard.

BONNIE DUGGAN, NEIGHBOR OF BRUCE IVINS: And we asked Bruce if we could borrow his chainsaw. And instead of loaning it to us, he came down to cut them, you know, wearing his full protective gear -- the helmet, the eye protection, the ear protection.

TODD: But near the end, Bruce Ivins seemed emotionally tortured. His attorney and a doctor who worked with him at Fort Detrick tell CNN they believe the pressure of the federal anthrax investigation broke Ivins. The FBI has no comment on that.

CNN also obtained a copy of a restraining order sought by a woman who had recently accused Ivins, who was married with two grown children, of stalking her -- harassment, making threats and violence. The woman told the court that Ivins had spent time at a mental facility and said she was scheduled to testify to a federal grand jury about him today.


TODD: But for now, former colleagues say they just want to be -- want Bruce Ivins to be remembered for the positive aspects of his life. Norman Covert told us he thinks that Ivins should be remembered for the work he did protecting U.S. troops in places like Afghanistan and Bosnia. Covert says that Ivins did a lot of work developing vaccines to protect U.S. troops from disease in those areas. But even that carries a little bit of a contradiction. A U.S. official with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN that authorities are looking at whether Bruce Ivins might have released anthrax as a way of testing his vaccine -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Now, that would be sick, indeed, if that were true. Did he have any problems, as far as we know, Brian, with his bosses?

TODD: One former colleague told us that he did chafe under one particular boss, who she says micromanaged his work, but not in a very serious way. And she says that other people also chafed under this gentleman. So, you know, you're getting portraits of a man who was kind of intense and could be abrupt and give snappy answers to people who questioned him. But nobody had any indication that he was capable of something like this. And the news of the restraining order also came as a surprise today.

BLITZER: All right, Brian.

Brian is working his sources there on the scene for us.

Just last month, the Justice Department cleared Ivins' colleague, Steven Hatfield, a former civilian anthrax researcher, who also worked at that biodefense lab at Fort Detrick. Early in the probe, the then Attorney General John Ashcroft publicly identified Hatfield as a "person of interest."

Hatfield was never charged, strongly denied any involvement. He sued the Justice Department and he reached a settlement only in June. He is to receive a one time payment from the U.S. government of $2.8 million, another $150,000 a year for life. That's estimated, that entire package, to be worth about $5.8 million for Steven Hatfield.

Five dead, many others sickened, tens of thousands of people put on antibiotics.

With all the counter-terror precautions put into place since the anthrax attacks, could America still be at risk for a mass poisoning?

Let's go to CNN's homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve. She's looking at this part of the story.

Jeanne, are we any safer now, almost seven years later?


But could there be another attack with anthrax or another biological agent?

You bet. Because these substances can be relatively easy to get and move, the government has been concentrating its efforts on detecting an attack and lessening its effects.


MESERVE (voice-over): Doctors and nurses are better trained to recognize the effects of a biological attack. The number of laboratories and technicians capable of identifying biological agents has grown. Biosurveillance systems which can detect outbreaks of illness are now deployed. The federal government's stockpile of medicines and vaccines is larger, and state and local governments have practiced distributing medicine in a crisis.

BRIAN JACKSON, RAND CORPORATION: Those general purpose investments are situations where we can get a benefit every day, even if we're not attacked, which is attractive from the perspective of getting most benefit for our money that we're investing.

MESERVE: Experts say there is further to go and some government programs are met with skepticism. Critics say increased security around laboratories and people who deal with biological agents could stifle important research and they point out, the rules don't apply overseas.

TOM INGLESBY, CENTER FOR BIOSECURITY: You could make a large supply of anthrax or other kinds of biological pathogens elsewhere in the world and bring them across borders without detection. There's no way that we're going to be able to stop these kinds of things from coming across the border.

MESERVE: The Postal Service has biohazard detection devices in its processing and distribution centers and irradiates mail to some Washington zip codes, but its effectiveness has been minimized. A new report says some government agencies bypass the process by having their mail delivered elsewhere.


MESERVE: The government has deployed sensors to detect biological agents, but they're only 30 cities, sniff out a limited number of pathogens and are slow. A new generation is in the works. Although our protection is far from perfect, experts say it might be enough to deter the use of a biological weapon like anthrax -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jeanne, for that update.

Let's go back to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File."

You and I, we lived through that horrendous period of those anthrax attacks. I remember it oh so vividly. You know, let's hope case closed. But, you know what, the problem is that people have lost so much reassurance or assurance in what the government doing nowadays, there's going to be some people who are going to always ask questions about this.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, but I'm impressed that the FBI stayed on the case. And apparently they were getting close to busting this guy. I mean good for them.


CAFFERTY: I mean that was one of the biggest and most bizarre mysteries to come around in a long, long time. And I think they deserve a lot of credit for the diligence and hanging in there.

And you know what, good, he killed himself. Because if he was the guilty guy, it saved the taxpayers millions of dollars. More bad news about the economy. The nation's unemployment rate rose to a four year high of 5.7 percent last month. Employers cut another 51,000 jobs in July, making it the seventh straight months of declines.

The Labor Department reports that 463,000 jobs have been lost this year. And as Wolf was reporting earlier, the company has to generate about 150,000 jobs a month just to keep up with our population growth.

And yet the numbers today don't even tell the whole story. The unemployment rate today does not include those who have been discouraged looking for a job or those who took part-time work when they really wanted to work full-time.

If you count the unemployed and the underemployed, the rate jumps to 10.3 percent.

As another troubling sign is it's taking the unemployed longer now to find new jobs. Some of the hardest hit industries included those affected most by the housing and credit and financial crises, things like construction and manufacturing.

It comes as no surprise, then, that a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows Americans are downright disgusted with where the country is headed. Only 24 percent of us think we're on the right track. That's the lowest number since 1980. Only four presidents have seen this number drop below 30 percent while in office -- Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and the first President Bush. And in each case, their party lost the White House in the next election. Not exactly a good sign for John McCain and the Republicans.

Here's the question: What will the country's sour mood mean for the election?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

A tough year to be a Republican -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It certainly is. Just ask any members of the House and Senate.

We'll see what happens on the presidential race, as well Jack. Good question.

Some of the stories we're working on right now, another nuclear mishap. Yes. A CNN exclusive. That's coming up.

And whether a major U.S. ally might be responsible for a deadly bombing.

Plus, it looks like an official document, maybe even a tax return. But it's really a ploy to get you to donate to a political party -- what to watch for.

And imagine a pill that takes the place of exercise. It actually seems to work in mice. We'll show you how, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: And now a CNN exclusive. The United States Navy has notified Japan that an American nuclear attack submarine may have leaked a small amount of radioactive water in a Japanese port. The amount is considered negligible, but it's the latest in a string of incidents involving U.S. nuclear ships and weapons.

Let's go to our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre. He's getting this exclusive story for us.

Jamie, what are you learning?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as nuclear incidents go, this one ranks probably near the bottom. Nevertheless, it is serious enough for the U.S. Navy to give official notice to Japan and Guam.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): CNN has learned that two weeks ago, the fast attack submarine USS Houston was found to be leaking a tiny amount of radioactive water after it pulled into Hawaii for a routine maintenance. The Navy confirms a sailor's leg was doused with the water, which officials insist contained an extremely low level of radiation, when a leaky valve allowed a gallon of the liquid to gather in a discharge pipe.

Tests on the sailor revealed no measurable exposure, but Navy policy requires any unusual event involving nuclear reactors to be fully reported. And because the Houston may have been leaking when it stopped in both Japan and Guam before going to Hawaii, all three ports were notified of the potential problem.

In Japan, the issue is particularly sensitive because Tokyo only recently agreed to ease its ban on nuclear ships, to allow the U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington to be based in Yokosuka beginning next month.

Already, U.S. Navy officials have had to assure the Japanese government that strict accountability was being enforced following a fire on the G.W. back in May that did not involve the nuclear power plant. The 12-hour blaze caused by unauthorized smoking near improperly stored flammable materials, did $70 million damage. Both the ship's captain and executive officer were sacked.

The relatively minor leak on the USS Houston probably would have attract little notice, except it follows a number of embarrassing lapses in the United States Air Force. In one case, nuclear fuses were inadvertently shipped to Taiwan and in another, six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles were mistakenly flown cross-country aboard a B-52 from Minot Air Force Base. And just this week, an unarmed Minuteman booster rocket was involved in an accident at the same base, when heavy rains apparently caused the road to give way under a truck transporting it to a launch site. (END VIDEOTAPE)

MCINTYRE: Now, Navy officials insist the amount of radiation that leaked was so tiny, that is posed no risks. They say it measured less than one half of a microcurie -- less than the amount of radiation that might be found in just a typical bag of garden fertilizer. But, the Navy says when it comes to nuclear safety, no standard is too high -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And, as you say, it's especially sensitive in Japan, this whole issue, where this is causing quite a stir.

All right. Thanks very much.

Jamie McIntyre reporting for us.

Let's get some more now from the campaign trail raw and unfiltered. In St. Petersburg, Florida, Senator Barack Obama defending his $50 billion proposal to jump-start the economy, which now includes a $1,000 rebate for Americans to offset energy costs.


QUESTION: How do you continue to pay for the stimulus money that you keep -- we keep getting? You know, we -- aren't we borrowing this money from China? Where is the money coming from?

Are we borrowing money -- everybody is excited about it, but that money has to be repaid. And if our country is headed toward a Third World country right now because we're not making the appropriate changes, how do we look to continue to get the money and just say, yes, we're getting the money, but nobody is thinking about where is it coming from.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: Yes, that's a good question.

QUESTION: Everybody wants to spin it, but nobody's thinking how are we going to replace that money that we owe that country?

OBAMA: That's a good question. You know, let me just talk about fiscal policy. When George Bush took office, we had surplus and our national debt was about $5 trillion. That's a lot of money, but it was manageable. And it was being paid down because we were in surplus.

Since George Bush took office, we are now over $9 trillion in debt. So, you know, the first 42 presidents over 200 years added up to about $5 trillion. George Bush by himself, number 43, almost doubled it. Which is why when these folks call themselves fiscal conservatives, it's just a lie. It's just not true. They haven't been conservative at all when it comes to managing the federal government budget.

Now, in fairness, some of that had to with 9/11 and the fact that that was a big blow to the economy and we had to go after the Taliban in Afghanistan. Iraq, though, was unnecessary and ended up -- has cost us -- it will have cost us well over a trillion dollars.

Not only that, but Bush cut taxes, not only for ordinary people, but for the wealthy, at the same time as were going into war. It's never been done before. We've never cut taxes, particularly for the wealthy, at a time when we were at war.

So you combine all those things and it's made for a fiscal disaster. And we've got to -- we're in a hole now financially.

We're going to have to dig ourselves out.

Now, the reason that it may make sense -- and I believe it does make sense -- the first stimulus package made sense and I think a second stimulus package makes sense -- is that if the economy goes into a complete tailspin, what happens is so many jobs are lost, sales on businesses drop so much that you actually start losing so much tax revenue that you get deeper into the hole. So if we can prime the pump a little bit, just to keep the economy from going down real far, then net, you end up probably better off than you would if you did nothing.


BLITZER: Senator Obama speaking earlier.

A letter to Republicans from fellow Republicans now has some people steaming mad.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I actually tore it in half and threw it in the trash can. I'm not normally a bitter person, but I did feel like they tried to dupe us.


BLITZER: We're going to show you what was in that letter that had them feeling like they were tricked.

And battling crime in the Big Apple -- how your cell phone pictures may become New York's new weapon in the battle of crime.

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


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

Carol, what's going on?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, war crimes suspect and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is accusing the United States of going back on a deal to shield him from trial. In a letter to the U.N. tribunal at the Hague, Karadzic claims he made a deal with U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke in 1996 to disappear from public view so that the Dayton Peace Accord ending the Bosnian civil war could be implemented. Holbrooke tells CNN his claim is "a flat out lie."

There may be new hope for patients with the degenerative disease, ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. For the first time, scientists were able to turn skin cells from ALS patients into stem cells and then reprogram them into brain cells that cause the illness. This had only been done before with samples from healthy people. Researchers say it could lead to new treatments for ALS and other diseases, like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

And Israeli girls paying a painful price for apparently sneaking into a zoo at night. Officials say a male elephant attacked the 17- year-old after she and a friend went into the elephants' enclosure at the Safari Nature Park near Tel Aviv. Her friend helped her escape. She's hospitalized with injuries to her chest, stomach and pelvis.

And take a look at this stunning video off the -- of a Coast Guard rescue sent to us from CNN I-Reporter Ed Spicuzza. A fellow crew member aboard the iron ore carrier, the S.S. American Valor, became ill. His shipmates helped put him in a basket you see there, dangling from a Coast Guard helicopter hovering above the vessel off Manitou Island. He was then flown off to a hospital.

And thanks, Ed, for sending us this incredible video.

Back to you -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We get incredible stuff from our -- from our viewers out there.


BLITZER: Thanks to these I-Reports. It's really amazing, Carol. Thank you.

The campaign trail isn't an easy road and John McCain is finding that out for himself.


QUESTION: Back in 1983, why did you decide to vote against Martin Luther King's birthday as a holiday?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me answer that one, if I could.


BLITZER: You're going to hear what Senator McCain said in response in his own words, unfiltered.

Plus, losing weight -- no exercise required. Well, it seems to work for mice. But will it work for us? And a couple of years ago, it was one of the coolest rides on the road. Now, not so much. Why we might soon be saying goodbye to the Hummer.

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


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

Happening now, Senator Barack Obama says he's got the prescription for the country's economic woes. But some want to know who will pay for it all.

And your immediate attention is required. It looks like -- a lot like an IRS form. A lot of the voters are receiving it, but it turns out the letter wasn't from the IRS after all, but from closer to Capitol Hill. And it's what else it said that has some people throwing in -- throwing it in the trash and are very angry.

And just two years ago, more than 70,000 Hummers were sold across the United States. But right now, sky-high gas prices may spell their entire demise.

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

Trying to make a fundraising plea stand out can walk a fine line between creative and flat-out deceptive practices. Case in point -- a Republican mailer looks very similar to an IRS tax return -- perhaps way too similar.

Carol Costello is looking at this story.

How official-looking is this mailer?

COSTELLO: Well, take a look at the envelope behind me. It looks pretty much like, you know, your tax rebate check in the mail, but it's not. It's what some call a heavy-handed tactic to raise more for Senate Republican candidates. And it's got some Republican voters crying foul.


COSTELLO (voice-over): The envelope does catch your attention. It looks like a tax return. At the bottom it reads: "return enclosed."

Inside a letter with the National Republican Senatorial Committee seal at the top and below it Republican U.S. Senator John Ensign's name, and an urgent command "Your immediate attention is required."

JESSICA WILLIAMS, REPUBLICAN VOTER: I thought a survey from Republican Party, and I thought oh great, you know, they're interested in, you know, maybe my opinion, so thought I'd fill it out.

COSTELLO: The Williams who are conservative Republicans were excited to note the envelope also contained a GOP survey printed on what looks like an official government document complete with these instructions, "Do not destroy your survey. It's registered many your name only and must be accounted for."

MICHAEL WILLIAMS, REPUBLICAN VOTER: These words that they were using that made it sound, you know, as if it were specifically targeted at us.

COSTELLO: So they filled it out only to their discover their opinions would not be counted unless, A, they returned the survey along with a donation of up to $500, or, B, they didn't participate but still donated up to $500, or C -- and C is what really irked the Williams.

It reads: "No, I do not wish to participate nor do I wish to make a donation to help the Republican Party. I am returning my survey document along with a contribution of $11 to help cover the cost of tabulating and redistributing my survey."

J. WILLIAMS: I actually tore it in half and threw it in the trash can. I'm not normally a bitter person but did I feel like they tried to dupe us and the overall language at the end of the form where you could pay or choose not to pay, in a sense, disregard your opinion. I really felt like they were treating us like we were morons and I didn't appreciate that.


COSTELLO: The National Republican Senatorial Committee does not use tax dollars to fund their survey and the campaign sent me an e- mail saying, "We apologize if anyone was offended by the letter. That was not our intention at all. The survey is completely optional and a very common fundraising technique for both parties."

BLITZER: I hate it when they do those things and make you -- try to trick you into thinking this is something that it isn't. Your husband received one of these letters, right?

COSTELLO: My husband received it and he thought it was a tax rebate check so he was pretty excited to open it and he found the survey and the Republicans asking for a lot of money there.

BLITZER: No rebate there.

COSTELLO: No rebate. Darn.

BLITZER: Thanks. All right. Carol working the story for us.

Senator John McCain picked some serious questions today out on the campaign trail in Orlando, Florida. He spoke before the National Urban League which works on behalf of African-Americans that are against racial discrimination.

Here's Senator McCain in his own words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCAIN: Affirmative action is in the eye of the beholder. I think the United States of America has reached a point where we should provide equal economic opportunities for all Americans. And I do not and Americans reject -- have rejected a quota system, and that, frankly, is something that I don't think helps anyone and has not helped anyone.

But I want to assure you that I don't believe that any of these initiatives that we're talking about in any way eliminates our ability to assist small businesses, the economic disadvantaged and others.

And I will continue my fight for equal opportunity for every American, and I'm happy to tell you that I think still the best equal opportunity employer in America today is the United States military, and I think that Colin Powell is an example of that, and I think that the fact that the United States army just had a woman promoted to four-star general, the highest rank.

And I'm proud of the equal opportunity the United States military provides to everyone. And we don't do it by quarters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back in 1983 why did you decide to vote against Martin Luther King's birthday as a holiday?

MCCAIN: Let me answer that one if I could. Because I was wrong. Because I was wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One more question on top of that.

MCCAIN: But let me just say if I could. I also am proud to have led in my home state of Arizona -- one of the last states in America to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King -- I am glad to have led in that fight to recognize him in my home state of Arizona.

I am proud to have fought for equal opportunity. I am proud to have served with men and women from all backgrounds. I am proud of my work to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans.

I'll be glad to look at whatever vote you're referring to, but the fact is I'm proud of my fight to recognize not only Dr. Martin Luther King but to do everything in my power to make sure there's an equal opportunity for all Americans.

That's my job, that's my vocation, and that's my mission as president of the United States, and I believe that I have a strong record to stand on of doing everything in my power to make sure that every American, every citizens of -- every citizen in this country has an equal opportunity and a bright future.

And I'm proud to be in your company, who have dedicated your time and your efforts and your love on behalf of that cause.

Thank you very much.


MCCAIN: Thank you very much.



BLITZER: Senator McCain speaking earlier before the National Urban League in his own words.

Another important story we're following today involves a key U.S. ally. That would be Pakistan. The government there is denouncing a report in "The New York Times" that says its spy service, the Pakistani spy service, helped plan last month's bloody bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Let's discuss this and more with the former defense secretary, William Cohen. He heads the Cohen Group here in Washington.

This is a really serious charge that you -- the U.S. allies, Pakistan, the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service, was directly involved in blowing up the Indian embassy in Kabul.

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: It's a very serious charge and it's unclear because of the allegations coming back and counterarguments being offered by the Pakistanis in terms of the actual truth of the allegation, but one thing is clear.

Pakistan is a country of 165 million people. 97 percent are Muslim. There is, however, a division. The majority are moderate Muslims. There is a minority that's more radical and more radical and more militaristic as such.

And so they're at a something of a cross roads coming up here in terms of what Pakistan is going to do. We have always suspected and I would suggest known that the -- there is sympathy on the part of the Pakistani with elements within the Pakistani intelligence service within the Taliban and now with al Qaeda.

And the question is whether they went over and actually aided them in carrying out this terrorist activity is something that needs to be sorted out very quickly.

BLITZER: So -- I going to say so when I interviewed the Pakistani -- the new Prime Minister Gilani the other day here in THE SITUATION ROOM, and he said, you know what, if the U.S. has information about where the Taliban or al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden might be hiding, share it with us, we'll take care of it.

What you're saying is the U.S. government, the U.S. military, the intelligence service doesn't necessarily have all that much confidence in the Pakistanis.

W. COHEN: We've always had concerns about them. I'll give you one example. When it came time for us to try to get at Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, we had to overfly Pakistan. We did not forewarn the Pakistanis under those circumstances for fear of compromising that mission. So we sent General Joseph Ralston to go and be there at the time the missiles were actually flying over and then alert the Pakistanis because we didn't dare take a chance of that mission being compromised. It didn't work out. We missed him. But nonetheless, that was a concern of ours, not to be able to...

BLITZER: General Ralston, the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, he was there basically to hold the Pakistanis' hands during this sensitive period.

W. COHEN: Very sensitive, because missiles flying over Pakistan at the time when India and Pakistan were certainly at odds with each other. It continue to be at some odds with each other so it was very dangerous.

BLITZER: Let's not forget they're at odds over Kashmir and these are two nuclear-powered countries.

W. COHEN: And a mistaken apprehension or a misapprehension on the part of the Pakistanis that the Indians might be attacking them could have set off a very dangerous situation. That's one of the real secret -- not so secret anymore -- stories of what took place back when we tried to get at him.

BLITZER: We know General Ralston. He works for you now at the...

W. COHEN: He does.

BLITZER: ... the Cohen Group. He's a really smart guy, a very nice guy.

Let me switch gears very briefly.

Jamie McIntyre reported earlier about these nuclear mishaps that are happening. Now one off the coast of Japan where they're very sensitive to letting any nuclear powered submarines or aircraft carriers even come in.

How big of an issue is this?

W. COHEN: Well, it's a big issue when you're dealing with nuclear power under any circumstances.

First we have to say this, that the young men and women who serve us do an extraordinary job on the nuclear carriers and certainly on the nuclear submarines. Perfect is what we have to achieve because of the danger of nuclear waste and any kind of a nuclear accident.

So we demand strict accountability. We've seen the fire that broke out on the George Washington, the captain and the executive officers were removed from that command and really -- and had to retire, as I understand it. But at least they hold them strictly accountable.

No human errors can be tolerated under these circumstances. You may have a malfunction, but this case they were all involved in human types of mistakes.

BLITZER: The Japanese, as we know, are very sensitive to anything involving nuclear weapon.

All right. Thanks very much, Secretary, for coming in.

It once was a source of pride.


GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I'm going to get the whole collection of Hummers just to make sure that someone out there doesn't have something that I don't have.


BLITZER: Now the ultimate gas guzzler may be destined for the antique show -- the antique shows of the future.

And wanted by the police department, your cell phone videos. How one big city is hoping a high tech habit might help fight crime. Mary Snow is all over the story.



BLITZER: The new weapon in the battle against crime. The New York City Police Department wants people to send in their cell phone pictures of crimes taking place.

Let's get the specifics. Mary Snow is working the story for us.

I guess it's sort of part of the YouTube phenomenon but it takes on a new level, Mary.


New York City's police department has been working on a system that will allow people to transmit pictures to the police that could be used as evidence in cases. Now the NYPD says it's getting closer to rolling it out but the announcement comes at a time when cameras have been turned on the police.


SNOW (voice-over): Before this video was posted on YouTube, the cyclist pedaling through New York's Times Square was charged. After the video emerged the New York City Police Department disciplined the police officer involved.

In a separate incident an NYPD police beating ended up caught on tape surfaced, prompting a police investigation.

Now that it's easier than ever to take pictures and record video on cell phones, cameras and other handheld devices, the New York City Police Department is gearing up to involve ordinary citizens in solving crimes.

RAY KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER: Generally speaking it's helpful when people can record an event taking place that helps us during an investigation. It's helpful.

SNOW: The New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly says people will soon be able to transmit images directly to the city's police department.

Until now the department had to rely on surveillance cameras like this one that was fixed on the military recruiting station where an explosive device went off in March.

The move to have citizens fighting crime is not a bad idea says the head of New York's Civil Liberties Union but she says, in light of the two videotaped incidents involving police officers...

DONNA LIEBERMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NYCLU: If I were to witness police wrongdoing and whip out my cell phone to capture it on tape, there's no chance in hell that my first act would be to send it to the police department.

SNOW: Donna Lieberman says she would put the video on YouTube.

How do New Yorkers feel about the potential for more cameras eying them than ever before?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it will help with the crime rate but it could also be an invasion of privacy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If a picture would help and it would be admissible in court, then I think it would be helpful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it might make things a little more chaotic.


SNOW: Now, Wolf, next week for the first time the NYPD says it will have a system that will enable people to text message the police explaining it could be used for people who are in a position where they can't talk on the phone but need to contact police.

Now the department expects to start having people send in images within the next two months -- Wolf?

BLITZER: A fascinating new development. The key question, will any of it be admissible potentially during a trial?

It was once a king of the road but now soaring gas prices are sidelining the Hummer and putting the brakes on sales.

Our special correspondent Frank Sesno is watching the story for us.

I guess the question, Frank, is, does the Hummer have a future? FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very hard to say but not much of one by all indications. And the Hummer is just a slice of GM's pain.

Take a look at this, Wolf. How hard -- how high can you count?

GM announced its losses for just three months today. The numbers are staggering. $15.5 billion of red ink in just three months. Meanwhile it announced that sales of pick-ups, crossovers, and, yes, SUVs, in that quarter fell 35 percent.

So if you want to take a look at GM's pain, let's get personal.


SESNO (voice over): What if you're trying to trade in a Hummer at Marvelo(ph) Super-size Engineering. Happy hunting. You're about to discover just how much the economics and car culture of this country have changed.

With gas selling for about $4 a gallon, just about no one wants to buy one of these. GM says sales shriveled nearly 60 percent in June. Just 2,000 Hummers sold nationwide.

The brand is on the blocks. GM wants to dump it. It's quietly buying out Hummer dealerships, says "Automotive News," because it doesn't want lawsuits from furious dealerships who suddenly don't have anything to sell.

It seems GM hopes Hummer, like a good soldier, will just quietly fade away.

That's not likely to happen, though. There's too much emotion here. People have loved it. Yes, that's the Governator.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I'm going to get the whole collection of Hummers.

SESNO: And hated it.

"Newsweek's" obituary puts this way. The Hummer, it says, now seems overbearing, overweight, militaristic, narcissistic.

How's that for free media?

So if you're wanting to trade one in, not much sympathy from the neighbors or the dealers. One dealer told me the resale price heat off are now is about 50 percent of what he would have offered just a couple of years ago. He says he preferred not to have one of these on his lot at all.

But if Hummers become the poster child of automotive excess, it's not altogether fair. The Toyota Landcruiser, for example, gets about the same mileage, leaves about the same carbon footprint. It's just that the Toyota can use the green glove of its hybrids to divert attention from its dinosaurs. It must be that the Hummer is an icon and the first of its species to face extinction.


SESNO: Wolf, it's not to say that the Hummer is gone yet. There is an Indian company and some others that are apparently interested in buying it. But, it could be -- and we'll put some pictures up here -- remember the Hudson, put a Hudson...

BLITZER: Could be a classic.

SESNO: It could be a classic and maybe it's only value. But looking pass is not the harbinger of things to come. And here's where the story gets more complicated.

Poll today that shows people are decidedly bearish about their prospects at the pump which doesn't spell good things for SUVs and other things. Only 22 percent, one in five, think gas will go down over the course of the next year.

And look at this one in terms of rising gas prices causing hardship for you -- three-quarters say yes, Wolf. If they have a big car, they're driving it less, feeling the pain, and they're not buying it.

BLITZER: It's like an unofficial tax that's been imposed on everyone who drives a car.

SESNO: You pull one of these up to the pump, if you have to fill them up, especially if it's taking premium, you're now shelling out $100, $120, $130. That bites.

BLITZER: That's a lot of money.

SESNO: Lot of money.

BLITZER: Frank Sesno, thank you.

SESNO: Sure.

BLITZER: Barack Obama used to allow cheers as we all know but today dealt with some loud protesters. You're going to want to here what this one small group is saying and how Senator Obama responded.

Plus tired of the treadmill? How about a pill that can do the same thing for you? It actually increases endurance in mice. What about us?

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


BLITZER: It's a couch potato's dream. You get a lot of the benefits of a workout without working up a sweat. And a little pill, a little pill just might make this a reality. Let's go to our medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen. She is joining us.

Elizabeth, this pill seems to work in mice. But what about us?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I want to tell you. This is truly exciting news if you're a mouse.

Let's take a look at what happened when they gave this drug to mice. Mice, who were given this first drug -- without the drug they could run for 29 minutes before becoming exhausted. With the drug, they could run for 37 minutes. That's a 44 percent increase.

And then let's take a look at the second drug. Without the drug, the mouse could run for 71 minutes. But with the drug, they could run for 204 minutes. That's a 77 percent difference.

Now the big question that you posed, Wolf, what does this mean for you and me? Well, one of the drugs -- they're not even studying it in humans. It turned out to be toxic and they had to stop the trials.

The second one, researchers tell us, it would be at least 10 years before they could get it in a form that could be useful for people in this way -- Wolf?

BLITZER: It seems like some athletes would love to get their hands on a pill like this.

E. COHEN: Wolf, you are not the only who is thinking that. Even the folks who are doing these studies, they became so concerned that athletes would want to start abusing this they immediately called the World Anti-doping -- Agency, WADA, and said we've got to come up with a way to test this drug. And they've already come up with urine and blood test to test for the presence of this drug in athletes.

BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.

E. COHEN: Thanks.

BLITZER: It works in mice. Not so sure about us.

New pills that show many Americans aren't happy with the direction of the country.

Jack asked, what will this mean for the election? Your e-mail coming up.

And Barack Obama does something that both presidents Bush did before they won the White House. Stay with us.



BLITZER: On our "Political Ticker" today, it was milk shakes all around as Senator Barack Obama visited a Folk County, Florida farm market.

The Democratic candidate bought 50 strawberry milk shakes for his staff and the press corps and 50 pounds of peaches.

The shakes are said to be good luck. Both President -- both presidents Bushes reportedly drank the shakes before winning elections.

Obama didn't have enough cash to pay the entire $125 bill so he borrowed some money from a staffer, promised to pay it back, so the press corps wouldn't go after him. He tipped, by the way, the cashier, $20.

Nice tip.

Remember, for the latest political news anytime check out

Let's go to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File."

I love those milk shakes. But, you know, don't drink that many now days.

CAFFERTY: How come these guys don't carry any money? And it's not -- he's not the only one. There's a lot of rich and famous and powerful people that go through life with nothing in their pockets.

BLITZER: That's why they're rich and powerful and famous because how much people...

CAFFERTY: How much money have you got in your pocket right now?

BLITZER: I've got a couple of hundred dollars.

CAFFERTY: All right. I've got a couple. I mean he's -- he's running for president of the United States. He ought to have enough to buy a milk shake, right? I mean come on.

BLITZER: Right. Right.

CAFFERTY: All right.

The question this hour: What does the country's sour mood mean for the election?

Barry writes: "Jack, you chose the write word, sour. I'm sick of being taken for a fool by our elected leaders. Bush stands in the Rose Garden with his matching rose-colored glasses, tells us the economy is strong. We're winning the war on terror. And it's those pesky Democrats who have been out of power for eight years who have caused all the problems, as well as our high gas prices. John McCain has now borrowed Bush's glasses, his policies and his tactics as he attacks Obama for being popular, intelligent, good looking and hopeful."

Angelina, New York, writes: "I see two scenarios. Either there's going to be a huge election turnout or everybody just stays home. We're tired of fighting, Jack. Democrats are idiots. Republicans are idiots. I thought this was a democracy. Who's going to be the voice of the people? Everybody has ulterior motive. It's pathetic."

Frank writes: "What it means is I won't be voting for Obama. Why on God's green earth will I vote for someone who will raise my taxes and not allow us to drill for much needed oil? Obama's recipe for America would put us in a downspin."

You mean as opposed to what we're in now, Frank?

Brian writes: "The country's sour mood will make people remember the fact the country would not like to be this -- would not be this bad had a Democrat been in office the last eight years. Therefore, people will finally understand that electing another Republican in these hard times would be the worst possible thing to do. I'll see you on inauguration day, President Obama."

Steve in Tennessee: "It means whoever wins better hit the ground running."

Yolanda writes: "We'll throw our hands up in the air again and say, here's another idiot for the next four or eight years."

And Sarge in Indianapolis: "It means we the people are going to open up the doors of that stinking barn and clean it out. And the smell is going to be foul."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at and look for yours there among hundreds of others -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Tough crowd. Tough crowd indeed, Jack. See you in a few moment.

And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, a truly shocking twist, almost seven years after poison-laced letters scared Congress and the nation. The main suspect in the anthrax case is now dead.

Plus Barack Obama's remarkable confrontation with some hecklers. The sensitive issue, he responded to it at length.

And John McCain's stand by his allegation that Barack Obama played the race card, then insists he's now ready to move on.

All that and the best political team on television.

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