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Russian Tanks in Georgia; Caught in the Crossfire: Gunmen Threaten Journalists in Georgia; Inside Militant Training Camp; Georgian President Speaks Out;

Aired August 14, 2008 - 17:00   ET


Happening now, breaking news. Russian tanks deep in Georgian territory. More than 100,000 people now displaced and journalists are getting caught in the crossfire. We'll talk to Russia's foreign ministry spokesman about the crisis.

Also, a Western journalist manhandled and detained by Chinese police -- an Olympic-sized controversy over press restrictions boils over in Beijing.

Plus, a CNN exclusive -- inside a Palestinian rocket factory.

Our correspondent blindfolded and whisked away to a mystery location where militants unveil what they say is a new weapon.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We are following breaking news. Russian tanks and armored vehicles moving deeper into Georgian territory. The Georgian embassy here in Washington telling CNN they were moving toward the country's second largest city. But have now stopped in a village in Western Georgia. Russian troops are believed to be in control of two other Georgian cities -- all this despite a cease-fire which Georgian officials accuse Russia of violating.

The United Nations secretary-general says violence continues in Georgia, with civilians bearing the brunt. The U.N. now estimates 115,000 people are displaced.

Our CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon, where Russian troop movements are being monitored.

But first to CNN's Frederik Pleitgen in the Georgian capital.

Fred, what is the latest there? What are you seeing on the ground?

FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, we're seeing more and more of those displaced people pour into the City of Tbilisi. Many of them are telling us harrowing stories of what they've seen on the battlefield in those areas that were under attack in these past couple of days. And what we're also seeing, that it is especially women and children that are bearing the brunt of that human suffering. Here's what we saw when were out today.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Four-year-old Lika didn't have much of a chance. The house she lived in with her dad and her grandmother in Gori was hit by a bomb.

Where is your grandmother, we asked?

"In the hospital," Lika says. But her grandmother is dead.

Lika is being treated in this hospital in Tbilisi. Her doctor says while her wounds are healing, the psychological trauma remains.

"She is not doing well psychologically," the doctor says. "She can't sleep at night and she's always anxious."

As fighting raged between Georgian forces and the Russian Army, many were killed and wounded. Aid agencies say more than 100,000 people displaced. Grizelda Apkhazia and her family fled from Tskhinvali in Southern Ossetia all the way to the center for the displaced in Tbilisi after their house was damaged in the fighting.

"I want to be in my house," she says, "even if the conditions are bad, even if I'm hungry. I don't belong here."

A few clothes in plastic bags -- that's all her family has left. Local residents brought clothes -- the first time these people have received aid since the beginning of the conflict.

Now, the international community is ramping up its aid efforts. The United States sent in two cargo planes with supplies and relief agencies say they're expecting more aid flights soon. The Georgian government is beginning to set up camps like this one.

(on camera): Even though this tent city is still under construction, there are already people pouring in here. These children are looking to get some rest and many of those that we talked to say they have been on the run for days.

(voice-over): Relief agencies like UNICEF say they need more detailed information about the situation in the conflict areas.

BENJAMIN PERKS, UNICEF: I think people coming from the conflict affected areas need to meet the basic family survival needs. This means hygiene, access to basic house services, water supplies -- emergency water supplies and nutritional supplies, particularly for very young children.

PLEITGEN: Little children like Lika -- the smallest and most vulnerable victims in this conflict.


PLEITGEN: And, Suzanne, I want to give you an update on that American aid coming in. We saw that two American aid planes have already landed here in Tbilisi. That aid -- those goods are right now in transition and the Georgian authorities believe they will be able to begin distributing those to people starting tomorrow -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Frederik, it just breaks your heart to see that little girl. Obviously, you have been covering this and you've seen a lot of folks like that.

How difficult is it for those relief agencies to actually get that aid to the refugees now?

PLEITGEN: Yes. They say it's absolutely frustrating, the situation here on the ground. I was talking today to an official from UNICEF. And he was telling me there are still so many areas in this country that his agency can't even get to. They say that they had to pull their people from places like Gori, from places like Tskhinvali and that disputed region of Southern Ossetia, that it's just impossible for them to even get there, let alone trying to bring aid into those areas. And he said bringing in things is one thing and it's very difficult. But he says what's even more important is actually getting people out who are in need of medical attention. And he says it's still very, very difficult to operate in this country, with the security situation as it is, and with the front lines the way they are -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you so much. Frederik Pleitgen in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Thank you.

The Pentagon is weighing U.S. options and they are coming up very light. CNN's Barbara Starr joining us.

And, Barbara, what are you hearing there? What can be done?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, the military picture on the ground, by all accounts, still remains mixed, because while the Pentagon today was saying that they do see Russian troops withdrawing, in the latest assessment this afternoon, I have to tell you, they still believe there are about 2,000 Russian troops in the vicinity of that embattled City of Gori.

And a furious Defense secretary, Robert Gates, made clear he believes the Russians have been lying to him.


STARR (voice-over): As long as Russian forces leave Georgia, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made clear he sees no need for U.S. troops.

ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I don't see any prospect for the use of military force by the United States in this situation.

Is that clear enough?

The United States spent 45 years working very hard to avoid a military confrontation with Russia. STARR: But it's not business as usual with the Kremlin.

GATES: Russia's behavior over the past week has called into question the entire premise of that dialog and has profound implications for our security relationship going forward.

STARR: Gates, a CIA chief during the cold war, still showing a wariness of Russia and its motives.

(on camera): And do you trust Vladimir Putin anymore?

GATES: I have never believed that one should make national security policy on the basis of trust. I think you make national security policy based on interests and on realities.

STARR: Words now that could not be more different than President Bush back in 2001.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I looked the man in the eye and I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.

STARR: The U.S. hopes international pressure will make Russia withdraw and convince Russia's neighbors to permanently align themselves with the West.

GATES: My guess is that most of those countries, if not all of them, probably have a higher incentive to stand with us now than they did before, now that they've seen what the Russians have done in Georgia.


STARR: And to underscore that point, Suzanne, the U.S. and Poland have just reached an agreement that will put U.S. missile defenses on Polish soil -- a move that has again infuriated the Russians -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Barbara.

Our Jack Cafferty is in New York with "The Cafferty File." Jack, what are you following?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: "In the 21st century, nations don't invade other nations." That's John McCain speaking -- part of his tough talk about Russia's attacks on Georgia.

In calling for Russia to get out, McCain says he doesn't think we'll reignite the cold war, but that you cannot justify the "extent and degree of Russia's intervention in Georgia."

The presumptive Republican nominee insists we need to make sure that in the 21st century, we all have respect for the sovereignty and independence of nations. Say what?

The United States invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq more than five years ago and you, Senator McCain, were all for the idea. You voted for the war, remember?

At the time, McCain insisted the United States needed to act before Saddam Hussein could develop more advanced weapons. And since then, McCain has steadfastly maintained his support for, arguably, the biggest foreign policy blunder in the history of this country. At one point, McCain said U.S. troops could remain in Iraq -- a sovereign nation -- for a hundred years.

When it comes to punishing Russia for its actions, the Arizona senator says its potential membership in the World Trade Organization should be reviewed, along with its membership in the G8 group of industrialized nations.

McCain believes an international peacekeeping mission should be sent to Georgia and that NATO should reconsider adding Georgia and Ukraine to its alliance.

Here's the question: Is John McCain being hypocritical to condemn Russia for invading Georgia when he voted to invade Iraq?

Go to You can post a comment on my blog -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Jack.

Some of the stories we are working on in this hour, controversy raging at the Beijing Games over media restrictions.


JOHN RAY, ITV CORRESPONDENT: These people are arresting me. I've been arrested by the Chinese police for doing -- just trying to cover the protests here.


MALVEAUX: One Western journalist in a scuffle and detained by Chinese police, while a journalist in Georgia is caught in the Georgia/Russia crossfire -- her injury caught on camera. We get the latest on the conflict from the Russian foreign ministry.

Also, CNN's Paula Hancocks blindfolded and whisked away for an exclusive look at what may be a new weapon inside a secret militant rocket factory.

Plus, the little spider with a big bite enough to kill. They're living right next to millions of people.


MALVEAUX: A Georgian journalist shot on live television, guns pointed at other members of the media -- despite the cease-fire, parts of Georgia remain potentially deadly places for anyone to be. Our CNN's Brian Todd has some dramatic video to show us.

Brian, obviously this is quite surprising and shocking. BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Suzanne. These video clips give viewers a real window of the dangers of reporting war.

And check out this video of a Georgian correspondent. She takes a bullet while reporting live from Gori, but the camera keeps rolling, she keeps reporting.

Here's the dramatic moments.

The bullet appears to have only grazed her. She said she believed the shot was fired from a Russian-controlled area. But remember, this reporter does work for Georgian state TV.

Some other video to show you, as well, also from Georgian TV -- a confrontation between a group of armed men, who apparently tried to steal a car from a camera crew. When they realized they were being filmed, the men aimed guns at them and fired in the air.

Now, the reporter said Russian soldiers looked nearby looked on, doing nothing -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Clearly, despite a cease-fire, a very dangerous situation for residents, as well as reporters.

TODD: It sure is. Absolutely.

MALVEAUX: Thank you very much, Brian.

China has spared no expense in its quest for global glory as host of the Summer Games. Beijing also promised the media complete freedom to report in China.

But outside the Olympic venues, there are complaints of harassment.

British journalist John Ray shows what happened to him as he tried to cover a protest.


RAY: China promised to welcome the world. But today, it slammed the door in its face. A day that began with a brief moment of protest soon snuffed out. The banner is illegal, but our presence as journalists permitted -- a commitment made by Beijing in return for the Games. But it seems no one has told the police.

At the entrance to a park close to the Olympic Stadium, activists chained themselves together. The authorities are in a fury. Its campaigners (ph) proclaim the cause of Tibet.

PEMA YOKO NORBU, STUDENTS FOR A FREE TIBET: We're so lucky that we have all these Western supporters to fight for us, because this is a non-violent war and we will continue and we will go on. And we will be strong, because we won't give up. This is our right.

RAY: And this is the moment I encountered the Chinese response. I'm bundled away, pushed to the floor and pinned down. For perhaps 15 minutes they hold me, then I'm forced into a police van -- a brief taste of Chinese law and order.

I've been arrested. These people are arresting me. I've been arrested by the Chinese police for doing -- just trying to cover the protests here. I was inside the park. I was physically manhandled to the ground and dragged out. And then three or four more police came and wrestled me into the restaurant here.

Now, they've taken my shoes off me. They've taken my equipment back. They've taken all the equipment that I've got and they won't tell me why I've been arrested.

Are you arresting me?

(voice-over): It's not a time for cool reflection.

A Chinese colleague tells him I'm a journalist.

(on camera): I'm a journalist and you're arresting me.

Why are you arresting me?

(voice-over): And I show my Olympic accreditation, little good does it do.

(on camera): I'm a journalist. I hope to see you later.

(voice-over): We drove only a few yards. In the back, I was questioned about my views on Tibet. I told them again and again I had come only to report a protest. Eventually, that won me my freedom.

John Ray, ITV News, Beijing.


MALVEAUX: Watching and worrying far from home -- tens of thousands of Georgians here in the United States wracked by the fighting in their native land. Some now taking their anxiety to the streets.

The U.S. Navy charges six Americans with mistreating detainees in Iraq. Find out what happened next.


MALVEAUX: Our Carol Costello is monitoring the stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Carol, what are you watching?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, if you're having trouble paying your mortgage, you are not alone. In July, banks foreclosed on more than 77,000 homes. That's up 8 percent from June. The numbers include delinquency and auction notices and bank repossessions. One of every 464 U.S. households received such a notice. In the meantime, the median house price has dropped more than 7 percent, to $206,500.

A female suicide bomber targeted Shiite pilgrims south of Baghdad, killing 18 and wounding 75. That's according to an Iraqi government official. The pilgrims were traveling to a religious festival in Karbala, about 60 miles southwest of the Iraqi capital. The victims were reportedly resting on the side of the road when the woman approached.

NASA is pushing back plans to look for good landing spots on the moon. A robotic moon mission was to leave in early December to scout future destinations for astronauts. This means NASA will miss President Bush's goal of exploring the moon by robot in 2008. The delay will cost the space agency up to $7 million a month.

And scenes of controversy unfold in Iraq that have shades of the detainee abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib. Some American sailors are accused of abusing detainees. The Navy has charged six guards for allegedly assaulting those detainees at a U.S. detention center in Southern Iraq. In an incident on May 14th, they allegedly beat detainees and sealed them in a cell filled with pepper spray. This allegedly happened after some detainees attacked Navy guards, spitting and throwing items at them. The accused sailors will now face courts- martial -- back to you Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Carol.

When will Russian troops withdraw from Georgia?

Well, the Russian foreign ministry spokesman offers a time frame. And he's here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Also, extreme measures for an exclusive look inside a weapons factory. Our CNN correspondent had to be blindfolded and driven to the secret location.

Plus, a medical mystery. A little boy clinging to life -- how doctors solved this case, up ahead.



Happening now, condemnation of Russia from Georgians far from home -- what they're doing to help their loved ones get out of harm's way and have their voices heard.

Also this hour, a Moscow official talks to CNN about strained U.S./Russian relations.

During the current cease-fire in Gaza, Palestinian militants say they prepared a powerful new weapon. A look inside a secret rocket factory -- an eye-opening report you'll only see here on CNN.

And a small spider with a big and venomous bite. Those bites may be on the rise. And it's more common than you might think.

Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tens of thousands of Georgians live here in the United States. And they are watching and worrying about the situation in their homeland. Some are compelled to take whatever action they can.

CNN's Jim Acosta is outside the Russian consulate in New York -- and, Jim, what is happening there?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, they are Georgians, they are fired up and they are standing in the pouring rain, trying to get the world's attention. But they are also feeling helpless, many of them spending much of their time making frantic phone calls back to their homeland.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Near the United Nations, members of New York's Georgian community sounded off in one voice that it's time for the Russian military to go. At Tbilisi, the restaurant in Brooklyn, not the capital in Georgia, Hajpuri (ph) and Hunkali (ph) are two native dishes served up comfort food. Comfort is what these New Yorkers are seeking from their family and friends in Georgia.

SHORENA SHARKASHIDZE, CHILDREN IN GEORGIA: They In July, terrified. Actually, everybody is extremely terrified in Georgia at this moment.

ACOSTA: The restaurant's owner, Khatuna Baghaturia, stays in touch with a friend in Georgia online.


ACOSTA: Her three kids are in Georgia visiting their grandmother. Calling them five times a day, she urged them to flee to Western Georgia to get out of harm's way. We listened in as her son insisted they're staying safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not afraid of the war and we want to go home.

ACOSTA: But others are spending their time doing just the opposite -- calming nerves over there. Beka Jandieri's 14-year-old sister is in the Georgian capital with their mother.

BEKA JANDIERI, MOTHER, SISTER IN GEORGIA: The last time I spoke with my sister was like 15, 20 minutes ago. She was crying, you know. She doesn't believe that she's, you know, we're still going to be together.

ACOSTA: This woman has stayed on top of the unfolding violence with her parents and sisters on the phone. MAIA MAMISASHVILI, PARENTS, SISTERS IN GEORGIA: They heard some bombing close by and they're scared. They don't know what's going to happen.

ACOSTA: As for Khatuna Baghaturia, she's finding support with neighbors who hail from the other side of this conflict -- her Russian customers.

BAGHATURIA: We have still got like maybe hundreds of phone calls telling us that they are really sorry and they want to be with us in these hard times.


ACOSTA: And New York is home to the largest contingent of Georgians here in the U.S. Some live in the same communities as Russian immigrants. It's a reminder that even here in America that this war is not so far away -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you -- Jim Acosta in New York.

The Georgian consulate in New York tells us that there are between 80,000 and 100,000 Georgians living in the United States. The majority of them, up to 50,000 are in New York/New Jersey area. There are also sizeable Georgian populations in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

The crisis in Georgia is straining relations between Washington and Moscow to Soviet-era levels. Andrei Nesterenko, Russian foreign ministry spokesman, had this to say.


MALVEAUX: Mr. Nesterenko, thank you so much for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We appreciate your time.

Your government -- the foreign minister essentially gave the Bush administration an ultimatum, saying that we're either with Russia or Georgia. I want you to hear Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's response.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States has made very clear that it is standing by the democratically elected government of Georgia.


MALVEAUX: The United States has made its position very clear, it is standing by Georgia in this conflict. Is there any consequence?

ANDREI NESTERENKO, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MIN. SPOKESMAN: We're not definitely pleased with such statements of the secretary of state, Madam Condoleezza Rice because it's rhetorical, I believe, which is aimed just to show us as the party which should be blamed for everything what happened.

I could clearly say that the aggression against the people have been launched by the leadership of Georgia, with the consequences which we all see on the television screens, huge devastating effects. Everything is ruined. People cannot live anymore in most of the places. So really people could see what happened. What happened as the aftermath of those absolutely unjustifiable barbaric actions which have been undertaken by the Georgian side against the people whom they considered to be part of the Georgian nation.

MALVEAUX: So, sir, you say that you are displeased with those comments from Secretary Rice. Is there anything that the Russian government is going to do about that?

NESTERENKO: Well, we're not going to do anything. We are ready for the dialog, as we said, on many occasions. We're ready to continue our discussions about the situation, and our foreign minister is in constant contact with Madam Condoleezza Rice on the telephone and they are discussing most of the aspects of the whole situation. They've been talking during the period of conflict and they are talking currently, and I believe that they have a lot of things to discuss and they do.

So we are trying to show to our American colleagues and partners that we cannot show the picture of what happened only from one side. We definitely understand that Georgia had been proclaimed as an ally of the United States. That's the right of the United States to say that. But what we heard from our American partners, before the conflict took place, that American colleagues cooperating with the Georgians on the military side, they could guarantee that leadership of Georgia and Mr. Saakashvili would never undertake anything which would threaten lives of the ethnic nationalities leading on the territory of Georgia, meaning South Ossetians. But the actions taken by Tbilisi of military character gave us a lot of signals that they are not in this line of thinking.

And finally, they launched the aggression and that shows that unfortunately American colleagues of Georgians could not do effective measures just to stop them, and to eliminate the aggression which took place.

MALVEAUX: Sir, obviously the stakes are very high on both sides. I want you to listen to what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said today about the situation between Russia and the United States, the relationship.


ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: If Russia does not step back from its aggressive posture and actions in Georgia, the U.S./Russian relationship could be adversely affected for years to come.


MALVEAUX: Is Russia willing to jeopardize its relationship with the United States over Georgia? NESTERENKO: Never we're going to jeopardize our relations with the United States. Even at this moment, when we have absolutely different, or even to say opposite approach to the description of what happened in South Ossetia. We are ready for the dialogue. We are ready to continue our exchange of views. And I believe that this -- well, let's say not too pleasant rhetoric is not contributing to keep our relations in the good shape, and to have a dialogue in a civilized manner, which we did in the past. We are ready to do it now. And we will continue to do it in the future.

MALVEAUX: Sir, right now --

NESTERENKO: Definitely.

MALVEAUX: I'm sorry. Sir, right now there are American men and women who are on their way to the region, a part of a massive humanitarian mission. Your government has said it will not block that mission. They will open up the ports, the sea, the borders, et cetera. But what kind of assurances can you give us that they will be protected, their safety?

NESTERENKO: Well, we will keep definitely all our promises on that kind. And I would remind you that one out of six points of the settlement which is now going to Tbilisi for the signature, contains reference to the freedom of delivery of humanitarian assistance to the troubled area.

We cannot say anything about the territory of Georgia, because it's a territory of Georgia and Tbilisi should fully, you know, realize their authority there. But as far as the part of South Ossetia and North Ossetia, through which they are also deliveries of the humanitarian aid, we could guarantee definitely 100 percent.

MALVEAUX: Mr. Nesterenko, thank you so much for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

NESTERENKO: My pleasure. Thank you.


MALVEAUX: It's the kind of story you'll only see here on CNN. A reporter blindfolded and led into a secret Palestinian rocket factory. The powerful new weapon they're working on.

And he's only 5 years old. He almost died; the medical mystery that started with a bite.



MALVEAUX: Now turning to a remarkable piece of reporting from CNN's Paula Hancocks, in which she was led blindfolded into a secret weapons factory in Gaza. In more than a year since Hamas took control of Gaza, Palestinian militants have fired more than 5,000 rockets into Israel. The recent cease-fire between Israel and Hamas is largely holding, but at least one militant group, the popular resistant committees, is still building rockets. Here's Paula's exclusive report.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The cult of prayer in Gaza, in tandem with the training of a militia. The armed wing of the Palestinian militant group, the Popular Resistant Committees, shows us its new recruits. Masks hide their identity. Considered freedom fighters by many here, terrorists by much of the west.

The training is tough. There's little room for error or fear. Each night these men do marching drills, target practice, and learn to overcome any obstacles. The tactics feared by Israel, hostage taking.

The PRC was one of the groups involved in the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit two years ago.

(on camera): This kind of training can only take place at night so the Israeli forces can't see it, and they burn tires all around the training area so there's thick smoke making them invisible from the air.

(voice-over): Only one man shows his face on camera. Ibrahim Dahman is already wanted by Israel. He tells me that preparing for an Israeli incursion, saying we have been under siege for the last two years. The only thing left is for them to invade and kill us.

The next morning a 20-minute warning and a meeting point. We are blindfolded and driven in the back of a van to the group's rocket factory. Our phones and the phones of the other camera crews are taken. The factory is in fact a small room. The tools are basic. Only a gas leak from the canister convinces the rocket makers to move to a more ventilated area. Even as a fragile truce with Israel holds, the production of rockets does not slow down, a fear voiced by many Israeli officials.

Hamas says it is the responsibility of each of the 16 factions that agreed to a truce with Israel to respect it, that includes the PRC. The PRC supports Hamas, but one spokesman said last week, if nothing improves within three weeks, such as the opening of border crossings, it would return to the cycle of violence.

Thousands of rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza over the past year, killing four civilians, injuring many more. Materials used in the rockets are kept secret. The rocket heads have been prepared beforehand, we're not told where.

(on camera): These men want this to be filmed. They want the world to see it. They specifically want Israel to see them still building rockets. But they don't want to give away their location.

(voice-over): A PRC spokesman, Mohammed Abdul Aal, looks on as a new rocket, Nasa Four is unveiled. He says Nasa Four has doubled the range of Nasa Three from 12 kilometers to almost 25 kilometers. If true, this would put larger Israeli cities like Ashkelon and Ashdod under greater threat of attack. Without that, this is a demonstration choreographed for the camera. But also, a rare glimpse into what happens behind the scenes of a truce.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Gaza.


MALVEAUX: Israel says it would hold Hamas accountable if anything happened to break the current truce. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev says everyone wants the cease-fire to continue except for extremist elements in Gaza.


MARK REGEV, ISRAELI GOVT. SPOKESMAN: The cease-fire that was negotiated through Egypt was very specific, that the Hamas movement and the other terrorist groups can't use it to import more weapons, more explosive, more rockets into the Gaza strip. And so that sort of activity is a clear violation, a clear violation of the cease-fire understanding. Of course we reserve the right to act if need be to protect ourselves. We don't want this current quiet just to be the quiet before the storm.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

MALVEAUX: This just in. Breaking news. Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian president is at the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi. He joins us with the very latest in what is going on in the ground in your country.

Mr. President, we have heard conflicting reports. We have spoken earlier with the spokesman from the Russian foreign ministry who said Russian troops are pulling back from the major cities. We've gotten reports from your government that that is not true, that in fact there are hundreds of vehicles and that they are moving forward. What is happening on the ground?

MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA: Well, I mean, we have a situation at this stage, Russian troops are in charge of about one- third of my country southern territory. And they are in charge of -- they control the town of Gori. This is the closest big town to Tbilisi, the capital. And they are -- they've been moving at night to the second biggest city, but they hold it there for a moment.

But the point here is that it's not only the troops that worry me. What is extremely worrisome and very, very difficult development, a hard development for us, and especially for this to break the spirit of our people, is the Russian army brought with it a huge number of irregulars. These are people who go around and loot, rape, they kill. You know, they, most of them wear military fatigues, although some of them are without uniform, but they are armed. And so that it's not like a blame game, he said, she said, the Russians said, we say.

I want you to read the human rights report. This is brave people who got into the area which Russia occupied. And I'll tell you what they are doing. I read their report. Terrifying scenes of destruction and looting by militias in Georgian villages of the region.

Most of the villages have been thrown out. There was basically an ethnic cleansing. The remaining residents, only those are left who couldn't leave because they are old or they're incapacitated. So the remaining residents of these destroyed ethnic Georgian villages are facing desperate conditions with no means of survival, no help, no protection, and nowhere to go.

And then the same thing, you know Russians have been claiming that Georgians have been -- have killed 2,000 people. Here again human rights watch says, our findings so far do not in any way confirm the Russian statistics. On the contrary, they suggest that they are exaggerated. And they are grossly exaggerated and simply not true. I mean, the torture -- why the Russians are saying that Georgians have been responsible for killing people. And here again, it is said the torching of the houses in the village is some way a result of massive Russian propaganda machine, which constantly repeats claims --

MALVEAUX: Mr. President?

SAAKASHVILI: -- And exaggerates the casualty. What we have now is mass crimes. We have crimes against humanity. We have people killed in my country under the control of Russian soldiers. And there is nothing Georgian government can do about it.

MALVEAUX: Let me ask you this. We heard earlier from the U.S. secretary of defense, Robert Gates, who said there is no intention by the Bush administration, the Pentagon, to have some sort of U.S. military operation on the ground there. It is strictly a humanitarian mission. Do you think this is enough? Do you want the Bush administration, the United States, to take more aggressive action here?

SAAKASHVILI: Well, first of all, I'm grateful for President Bush's very strong statement yesterday. I think that statement was greatly responsible for turning Russian advance upon the capital. Because they were coming upon the capital. Remember, Russian officials told U.S. officials before, as well as French president, as well as other leaders, that their purpose was regime change in Georgia. That in this circumstance amounts to an independence of my country in killing Georgian democracy.

MALVEAUX: Would you like to see military forces on the ground, a military operation?

SAAKASHVILI: It was never suggested to us. What Secretary Gates said today at this stage he said he sees no need for it. What the U.S. announced is this is a humanitarian mission by the pentagon. They were talking about coming into our sea ports. They were talking about coming into Georgia's airports because sea ports have been ravaged by the Russians. But you know what we are witnessing now, and we're appealing to the conscience of the world, not just a desire to break and kill my democracy or to undermine my country, which was very prospering country prior to this Russian invasion, but it's also -- what we are seeing, and these are not my preparations, this is a report that they're describing here something like what is happening in the Balkans. And how can one in the 21st century after what happened in the Balkans, after we got so much --

MALVEAUX: Mr. President.

SAAKASHVILI: To get away with it.

MALVEAUX: Excuse me. If you can help us understand, what is it that you are seeking from the Bush administration, from the international community here to resolve this conflict, to move forward here?

SAAKASHVILI: We need, first of all, Russian occupying troops here go back and forth, back and forth to break the state of the country. So the main thing, to stop their advance. And to get this occupying troops out of Georgia. Let them go out of my country. My country is civilized European nation. These people act like real barbarians, as described in this report. We need to get them out. International opinion can break strong pressure on that.

Russia used every possible weapon in Georgia. They shot at us. The whole arsenal of weapons of the missiles, or they have this tactical missile, medium ranged missile, SS-21. These are exactly the missiles that Gorbachev withdrew under Reagan. The point is they're shooting us. They bombed us from 200 planes.

But one thing I can tell you, no matter how many missiles they throw at us, no matter how much part of my territory they come in, no matter how people they kill and rape and ravage and loot, there is no way any Georgian would ever leave this occupation. My people is united as ever.

MALVEAUX: Mr. President, I'm --

SAAKASHVILI: It's very clear that we will never surrender. We will never give up our freedom. We will always, always fight for our freedom, no matter what.

MALVEAUX: Mr. President, thank you so much. We have to leave it there. Thank you for joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM and the president of Georgia.

The crisis in Georgia is also the topic of "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight when Larry talks with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. That is tonight at 9:00 on "LARRY KING LIVE."

Some of the stories we are working on this hour. One of the most feared spiders in the world with the potentially deadly bite. Now doctors are seeing even more of these cases.

And Julia Child, a spy? How the French chef and a Supreme Court justice helped America in a time of war.


MALVEAUX: A potential silent killer whose attacks remained undiscovered until it's too late.

CNN Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us live.

Sanjay, what is going on here?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a story of the Bowling family from Kansas, who had no idea how alarmingly close they were living to danger until one day their 5- year-old son got sick. It was a mystery. Take a look.


GUPTA (voice-over): One night last fall, 5-year-old Barron Bowling suddenly woke up feeling a little sick to his stomach.

ELISA BOWLING, BARRON'S MOTHER: I asked him what was wrong, and he said I ate too much dinner. And then by morning I heard him in the bathroom again. He was still sick. I said, what's wrong, buddy, you're still sick? I noticed his ear, with a little bit puffy, and a little bit of his cheek.

GUPTA: Ear infection, a little cold. Common childhood problems. All these things ran through Elisa's head. But she was about to get a surprise.

BOWLING: When we first got to the E.R., it wasn't that bad yet, you know. It was just the ear part and the cheek. Nobody knew what was wrong.

GUPTA: Then Barron started to get worse.

BOWLING: It went from just the ear, underneath the chin, to all the way, halfway across his face. His eye swelled closed. There's no answers. I didn't sleep for three days. And sitting by his bedside. They him intubated and on the life support.

GUPTA: Elisa thought she might lose her child. Then finally it started to make sense. Blisters on the face, body rash and a painful area that looked like a bite. Take a look at this. A brown recluse spider, the culprit.

BOWLING: Just a little tiny spider turned into such a big ordeal, you know. It's amazing.

GUPTA: Amazing indeed. Pound for pound, the brown recluse spider has one of the most toxic venoms known to man.

DR. GARY WASSERMAN, TOXICOLOGIST: In the last few years, we've been admitting to the hospital twice as many of the reactions as we've previously seen.

BOWLING: To come to find out you've got tons of them everywhere is just the scariest part.

GUPTA: There is no specific test for the spider bite. But you definitely know it when you see it. Now almost a year later, the wounds have healed. And future plastic surgeries will help fix his ear. But his mom, Elisa, won't soon forget about the horror.

BOWLING: It's scary. It really is. After all that they put him through, he wants to be a doctor.


GUPTA: Now to be clear, this is a particularly severe reaction, Suzanne, to a brown recluse bite. Most of them, about 90 percent of them don't require any medical attention. Also, they're typically located in the Midwest, Missouri and Kansas. They don't come out during the day. So if you see one during the day it's probably not a brown recluse, probably something else.

MALVEAUX: OK. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks for the warning.

Time to check back with Jack Cafferty. -- Jack?

CAFFERTY: The question this hour: Is John McCain being hypocritical when he condemns Russia for invading Georgia when at the same time he voted to invade Iraq?

Norm in Alabama writes: "Of course he's being hypocritical about this, just as he is about everything else. Example, all the pontificating about Obama being presumptuous, and then McCain goes on TV to speak for America as though he were in fact its leader. Hypocrisy runs through his veins along with nastiness and dishonesty."

Josh in Illinois: "Of course, he is. I'm glad somebody in the media's finally pointing that out. In the 21st century, nations don't invade other nations. Clearly Senator McCain needs more nap time."

Dave in Missouri disagrees: "Absolutely not. Iraq was controlled by a controlled by a dictator. Georgia has a legally elected president. The two should not be considered in the same category."

Donna in Wisconsin says: "Of course. Same with Bush telling Putin to back off. Excuse me? You wouldn't listen when anybody told you to back off on Iraq. Our nation's image and credentials have been severely damaged by Bush and McCain will only make it worse."

Stan writes: "Of course McCain is being hip accurate cal. He's a Republican after all. The Bushies lecturing the Russians on the sovereignty of nations analogous to the weasel lecturing the fox on the rights of chickens."

James in Prescott, Michigan: "Absolutely. The Russians are only surging and continue their surge in McCain's surgeable tradition."

Vince writes from Carson City, Nevada: "Is a Pope -- fill in the blank? Does a bear -- fill in the blank? Duh. If you didn't see your email here, you can go to my blog at and look for yours there along with hundreds of others. But watch out for those brown reckless spiders - Suzanne?


MALVEAUX: Thanks, Jack.