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Pervez Musharraf Steps Down; Concerns About Russian Nukes; Fay Lashes Florida Keys; New Evidence in Anthrax Case

Aired August 18, 2008 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the United States says Russia is playing a "dangerous game" in the Republic of Georgia. Along with the cold war rhetoric, there are new concerns right now about cold war weapons -- including nuclear missiles. Stand by.
A key U.S. ally calls it quits -- how the departure of Pakistan's long-time ruler will affect the war on terror.

And an urgent call right now to protect life and property as Tropical Storm Fay slams into the Florida Keys. We have the latest forecast, which has just been released.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


He ruled Pakistan for a better part of a decade and became a key U.S. ally in the war on terror. But President Pervez Musharraf became increasingly unpopular at home. And today he resigned under heavy pressure. Now the United States faces a new reality in Pakistan, even as it faces a stepped up insurgency next door in Afghanistan. The stakes are enormous.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

She's working the story for us -- Barbara, so what's next?

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, since the 9/11 attacks, Pervez Musharraf and George Bush were very close allies. But now that's over and it's a new relationship with Pakistan.


STARR (voice-over): Pakistanis cheered in the streets. Faced with overwhelming opposition, Pervez Musharraf avoided impeachment and stepped down.

PRES. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTAN: Now I have decided that I will resign from the of president.

STARR: The Bush administration had long ago embraced the new government in Pakistan elected earlier this year. Within hours of Musharraf resigning, U.S. officials said they weren't even worried about the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons. But a key priority hasn't changed -- Washington wants Pakistan to crack down on Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in the tribal region. The Bush administration believes Pakistan's intelligence service still is full of Al Qaeda and Taliban loyalists.

ROBERT GRENIER, FORMER CIA OFFICIAL: There's a great deal of frustration on the part of the U.S. government with Pakistan's inability to follow through on what the U.S. sees as its clear commitments.

STARR: As a result, the United States has stepped up missile strikes inside Pakistan.

Dozens of militants have been killed. General Ashfaq Kayani, head of the army, now the U.S.'s closest ally in power, just as General Musharraf was after 9/11. Many doubt Pakistan's civilian leaders can challenge Al Qaeda.

GRENIER: It remains very much to be seen whether this new democratically elected political leadership is really going to be able to follow through in a sustained and coherent way. They haven't demonstrated an ability to do that.


STARR: Now, Wolf, you know, the Bush administration poured nearly $10 billion into the Musharraf regime in Pakistan to help it fight the war on terror. A lot of people now with Musharraf gone asking a lot of questions about what the U.S. got for the money -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, we're going to ask some of those questions and get some answers from the Pakistani ambassador to the United States. He's standing by to join us live later here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

But let me turn to what's going on right now. There's supposed to be a cease-fire a truce between Russia and the Republic of Georgia. And Russian troops had moved in large numbers over the past 10 days or so. They're supposed to be leaving.

What are you hearing right now from Pentagon officials, Barbara?

STARR: Well, Wolf, a senior Pentagon official briefing reporters just a short time ago said as of today, the U.S. sees very little evidence that Russian forces are withdrawing. In fact, they may be digging in even more. The U.S. is noticing -- believes it has information that Russian missile launchers are now moving into South Ossetia. They had been across the border in Russia proper. Many Russian positions now -- there is evidence they're digging in.

And the next step to watch for from the Bush administration is announcement that U.S. Navy warships may be going into the Black Sea. They will be conducting humanitarian relief. They need Turkish permission to cross into the Black Sea. It will not be a military operation. But, nonetheless, it will be making a military statement about U.S. presence in the region. That announcement could possibly come as soon as tomorrow -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Barbara, thanks very much.

Stand by.

Russia's move into Georgia has rekindled cold war rhetoric and fresh concerns about the most feared cold war weapon -- nuclear missiles.

CNN's Brian Todd is looking into this part of the story -- Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it didn't take long for the Georgia conflict to spark long simmering tensions between the U.S. and Russia. Now we're getting the kind of talk we haven't heard since the Berlin Wall came down.


TODD (voice-over): Russian leaders still chaffing at a new deal for a U.S. missile shield in Poland -- something they consider a threat to their security. But there are new questions about how far the Russians will go in response.

The Sunday "Times of London" quotes senior Russian military sources saying Moscow is thinking about putting nuclear weapons on its Baltic Sea fleet for the first time since the cold war. Contacted by CNN, Russian officials deny the report.

LT. GEN. NIKOLAI UVAROV, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: Russia is not going to rearm its naval ships there with nuclear weapons.

TODD: Experts say Russia doesn't have to rearm the vessels in the Baltic to threaten Poland or the Baltic nations. Russia's land- based nuclear missiles could easily hit them.

Russia's Baltic fleet runs out of Kaliningrad, right between Poland and Baltics. And nuclear armed shipped and subs could patrol right off their coasts. But Russia's Baltic fleet has been scaled way back since the cold war. And under an early '90s agreement between the first President Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev, Russia and the United States stripped their Navy of tactical or short range nuclear weapons. But that agreement does not have the weight of a treaty and Russia could theoretically renege on the deal and rearm. But that would constitute a very real threat against Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia -- all now full-fledged members of NATO.

JONATHAN ELKIND, FORMER NSC OFFICIAL: They sit under the umbrella of an Article Five obligation that is part of the North Atlantic treaty that says that if any member of the treaty organization is attacked, then the obligation is for all members of NATO to protect that country.


TODD: That may be one reason top U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, call it loose rhetoric when Russian leaders talk of considering Poland a potential target in the event of war. But we're hearing this talk, nonetheless, and it's put Russia and United States in a position they haven't been in since the end of the cold war -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, thank you.

The U.S. Navy, by the way, says it has 14 fleet ballistic missile submarines, each capable of deploying Trident 2 missiles. The Navy also has 52 attack submarines and four guided missile submarines which don't fire the Trident. Trident missiles can be launched from hidden locations almost anywhere in the world's oceans. The missile is launched by a steam generator system and is ejected from the tube through the water and to the surface. At that point, the missile's first stage rocket motor ignites and sends the missile on its way.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He's joining us right now with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack Cafferty.

Unfortunately, Jack is not there. But he will be there and we'll go to him after our break.

In the meantime, let's take a look and see what's coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

An urgent call -- a very urgent call to protect life and property, as Tropical Storm Fay slams into the Florida Keys.

How bad will it get?

We'll have the latest forecast that has just been released.

And Barack Obama in the middle of an abortion battle. Now he's pushing back after an extraordinary claim against him.

We're going to examine the record.

And an anti-war group says it plans to raise a ruckus at the Democratic Convention. But mass protests may be greeted with mass arrests, as police make plans of their own.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: We'll have the latest on Tropical Storm Fay in just a few moments.

But let's check back with Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Russia says it's begun withdrawing from Georgia, but there's no indication that that's actually happening. The Kremlin said yesterday it agreed to the troop withdrawal as part of a cease-fire agreement. But Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev, hasn't specified how fast that withdrawal will happen or how many troops they're talking about.

Instead, Medvedev says troops would withdrawal to South Ossetia and the so-called security zone around it -- whatever that means. You've got to love the Russians.

The City of Gori is still under Russian control. The Russian military has apparently been moving launchers for short range ballistic missiles into South Ossetia, even as they promise to start pulling troops out. They've been carrying out bomber training missions over the Black Sea and there are reports that Russian soldiers blew up a key railroad bridge just outside Tbilisi, thus cutting off east/west transportation routes throughout the country.

The U.S. and Europe are wary of what exactly Russia is up to in Georgia. There are serious and political implications to all of this.

And U.S. official say they've seen no rapid pullback so far -- or any pull back, for that matter. They describe the situation as status quo. The White House keeps talking tough, saying that Russia needs to start the withdrawal without delay. But it doesn't appear that Russia is paying much attention to what Washington has to say these days.

The Pentagon sees all of this as a signal from Russia that it considers its fear of influence to include Georgia and neighboring regions, like Belarus and Ukraine. It's a way of Russia flexing its muscles, if you will, and so far, the rest of the world cannot do anything about it.

Here's the question -- when it comes to Georgia what are Russia's intentions, do you suppose?

Go to and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jack.

Thank you.

Those, by the way, who didn't get out in time are now hunkering down as Tropical Storm Fay lashes the Florida Keys. The latest advisory is just in from the National Hurricane Center.

Let's get the latest from our severe weather expert, Chad, Myers.

He's joining us right now -- so what are they saying?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's still 60 miles per hour, Wolf, but intensifying as we speak.

The Florida Keys are not really -- they're not a land mass. They're just a bunch of islands about 10 feet tall. That's not enough of land to kill this storm. In fact, it's getting stronger as we speak, heading into the Fort Meyers and maybe the Naples or even Tampa area for tomorrow.

The center, the eye of the storm right now right over Key West. That's why John Zarrella has no weather whatsoever. He's right in the middle of the nothing that is an eye. We are watching a lot of wind blow onshore to the Middle Keys -- Grassy Key, Marathon -- all the way back down to the Seven Mile Bridge. That is getting an onshore flow now -- a lot of flooding and probably quite a bit of erosion. Not big beaches because of the offshore reefs, but all of this water now heading into the land mass there.

And farther to the north, there's a tornado threat -- even for Miami proper and for all of the big cities -- for Boca, Fort Meyers, all the way up to Melbourne. Every time one of these big cells comes onshore, some of the cells are going to be spinning. And we could see more tornado damage with this hurricane, Wolf, than wind damage proper. We'll have to see.

We do expect it to become a small hurricane, a category one. Still, it may be a very strong tropical storm as it comes on shore tomorrow morning anywhere in the cone now, from Tampa to Naples, and then right up the spine of Florida, making great rainfall. I know you're going to get winds to 30 or 40 miles per hour, but making fantastic rainfall all the way up into Florida and then up into a very parched Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. This could be the best part of Fay, maybe breaking some droughts -- major droughts -- up there in the Southeast.

BLITZER: So as of right now, Chad, we don't expect it to reach actual hurricane proportions?

MYERS: It probably will. It will be very close to 75 miles per hour. If you can tell the difference between a 70 mile per hour gust and a 75 mile per hour -- 75, then I give you a lot of credit.

We have to really thank Cuba. The Dominican Republic and Haiti for taking the brunt of this storm. Because it made land mass -- landfall so many times across these islands, this storm got torn up. It got killed by these islands. Where if it was in the Atlantic the whole time, this could easily -- easily have been a category three or a category four hurricane by now. But that didn't happen because of the land that it got in the way.

BLITZER: Well, let's thank those countries right now.


BLITZER: Thank you.

MYERS: Well, you're welcome.

Thank you.

Chad, Thank you, to you, as well.

MYERS: (INAUDIBLE). BLITZER: There's new information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now about the anthrax investigation. The FBI brought in experts to answer some nagging questions about whether the scientist, Bruce Ivins, really was behind the anthrax attacks. He committed suicide a few weeks ago.

Jeanne Meserve has emerged from a briefing.

What are we learning -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this was quite extraordinary, to have this panel of scientists put before us. They told us that they found four unique genetic markers on the anthrax used in the attacks. They looked at more than a thousand samples of anthrax collected from all around the world and found the markers only eight of them.

All of those eight derived from flask in Bruce Ivins lab called RMR 29. But when they examined the sample from that flask, which Ivins had submitted, it did not have the same markers and that raised questions. Authorities knew that Ivins had submitted another, earlier sample, which the FBI discarded because it hadn't been prepared properly. However, a duplicate sample had been saved by a scientist in Arizona who was assisting in the investigation. That sample did have the markers.

Then the FBI seized the flask from Ivins lab. Again, a match.

Did Ivins intentionally mislead investigators?

If so, why did he submit a genuine RMR sample the first time and not the second?

Scientists couldn't or wouldn't say.

They did say the anthrax used in the attacks was not given a special coding to make it airborne. And that it could be produced in five to seven days by one person using the kind of equipment at Fort Detrick, where Ivins worked.

The experts the FBI brought before the press today say the science used in this case is solid, blind tested, peer reviewed, but they acknowledge it will not erase all doubts that Ivins was responsible for the attacks. In the words of one scientist, "There will always be a spore on a grassy knoll." -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much for that, Jeanne.

Jeanne Meserve reporting.

The search goes on -- helicopters are still scanning the Grand Canyon for missing tourists after this weekend's flooding.

And separated and lost -- how rescuers are helping a baby hump back whale get back to its mother.

Much more coming up right here 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?

COSTELLO: Well, Wolf, helicopters are searching for 11 people still unaccounted for after flooding in a gorge at the Grand Canyon. But officials say they may have left on their own. A dam burst yesterday after heavy rain, stranding dozens of tourists, campers and local residents. Most have been evacuated, including about 120 more today.

In Eastern Afghanistan, a suicide bomber blew up himself and his car outside of a U.S. base, killing 10 people. The U.S. commander in Afghanistan warns that intelligence suggests militants may be planning to attack military, civilian and government targets during the country's independence day celebrations.

Lost and very confused -- a baby humpback whale off the coast of Australia actually bonded with a yacht it seems to think is its mother. The calf even tried to suckle it. The yacht was used to lure the exhausted whale out to sea, where rescuers hope it will find its real mom or another pod of whales so that it can feed properly -- back to you.

BLITZER: That's a sad story.



COSTELLO: I hope he finds some kind of mom out there.

BLITZER: I hope so, too.

All right, Carol.

Thank you.

A hot button issue prompts some sharp words from Senator Barack Obama.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: Let me clarify this right now because what they...

QUESTION: Because it's getting (INAUDIBLE).

OBAMA: Well, and because they have not been telling the truth. And, you know, I hate to say people are lying, but here's a situation where folks are lying.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Senator Obama blasts opponents for distorting his record on abortion-related legislation. We're checking the facts.

A power shift in Pakistan. The president resigns rather than face impeachment. We have a live interview coming up with the Pakistani ambassador to the United States. Stand by for that.

And political unrest abroad and fuel alternatives right here at home. The candidates talk about their energy policies in their own words. That's coming up.


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

Happening now, John McCain in his own words -- he spells out how the unrest in the Republic of Georgia could have far reaching implications for the United States and its energy markets.

Barack Obama blasts abortion opponents at last weekend's Faith Forum, saying that they're lying about his stand on infant protection legislation. Stand by for details.

And how Denver plans to handle protesters at the convention -- critics are calling it the detention facility modeled after GITMO.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


But let's get back to our top story right now -- a key U.S. ally in the war on terror calls it quits. Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, stepping down under heavy pressure after nearly a decade in power. That comes as the war against insurgents in neighboring Afghanistan is heating up big time.

Let's discuss what's going on with Husain Haqqani. He's Pakistan's ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: I think you're happy that Pervez Musharraf has decided to call it quits.

HAQQANI: Well, I think it's a happy occasion for Pakistan, that Pakistan can now move forward without the shadow of dictatorship.

BLITZER: So what happens to him?

Does he stay in Pakistan, does he leave the country, does he get safe passage to go live someplace else?

HAQQANI: I think that the good thing that we have seen in Pakistan over the last several months is that Pakistan is now being run according to the constitution and under rule of law. I think nobody wants anything that is vindictive. Nobody wants to punish General Musharraf just for being General Musharraf.

However, there will be a process -- and I think the process will be handled by parliament -- without trying to deliberately set out to cause any personal physical harm to General Musharraf.

BLITZER: So right now, he's not going to go to jail, he's not going to be arrested?

He's going to be allowed to live out his life in Pakistan?

HAQQANI: One hopes that Pakistan is beyond the stage where anybody who was removed from office was immediately put into prison. General Musharraf did that with his predecessor. Several times Pakistan's political leaders ended up in prison after being in power.

I think Pakistan needs to break that link between power and prison for people coming out of prison and going into power and vice versa. I think Pakistan now needs to be run according to the constitution and in a democratic way and. And that is going to be good for Pakistan. It's going to be good for Pakistan's allies.

BLITZER: So when Pervez Musharraf overthrew Nawaz Sharif as president, he kicked him out. He got exiled in Saudi Arabia. That's not necessarily going to happen to Pervez Musharraf.

HAQQANI: I am not going to commit myself to saying what will happen to General Musharraf. But I will say this much. It will not be something that is vindictive. It is not going to be something that is going to be seen by the world as vindictive. It's going to be something that will uphold the rule of law.

BLITZER: I know two people would like to be the next president of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto's husband. He's very much involved in all of this, as well as the former president, Nawaz Sharif.

Who do you think is going to be the next president of Pakistan?

HAQQANI: Wolf, I wish I could say here who is going to be the next president. The candidates haven't declared. Pakistan's president is elected by an electoral college of parliament and the full provincial legislatures.

I think that what is going to happen is we are going to go through that process. We will find out the who candidates are and the majority will prevail.

What I want to explain to viewers through you today is that most Americans see this as a simple change of individuals. It isn't. It's a change of systems.

Instead of a dictatorship, which was run by a man who came to power through a military coup with the military jumping scaling the walls of the then prime minister's house to take over government, this is something that has happened according to constitution and according to the will of the people. And that's a positive.

BLITZER: And as unpopular as he has become, President Musharraf, in Pakistan, he was still very popular with a lot of Bush administration officials and others here in Washington, for his willingness after 9/11 to cooperate with the United States in going after Al Qaeda and the Taliban, reversing Pakistan's strategy.

There's deep disappointment, as you well know, Mr. Ambassador, right now, that the new government in Pakistan is not doing enough to go after the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

HAQQANI: Wolf, that disappointment is misplaced. The disappointment should be with the legacy of General Musharraf. Toward the end of his period in power, Pakistan had too many domestic political crises to remain focused on the war against terror.

I think now that we will regain our focus. We will go with renewed vigor against the terrorists.

BLITZER: And go into those areas along the border with Afghanistan and take those kinds of steps?

HAQQANI: The process has started, Wolf, if you see what's been happening over the last one week, ten days, since the improvement process started and it became clear there's not going to be conflict within government, the president and prime minister are not going to be fighting with each other, the government and the military have focused their energies on fighting the terrorists. We have killed several people from the Taliban and al Qaeda in the border areas in the last ten days and I think the process will continue.

BLITZER: How concerned should the world be about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, now that Musharraf has stepped down, that there is deep concern as you well know?

HAQQANI: Well, the concern is often misplaced. It's a journalist story. Having been a journalist I can say that. There are certain stories we always take out of the computer and recycle. The truth is, Pakistan has a very effective command and control system which the United States knows the details of and arrangements are in place that make it very secure. And Pakistan's nuclear arsenal will continue to remain secure irrespective of who is president and who is prime minister.

BLITZER: Last week there was a report of a strike inside Pakistan against the suspected terrorist targets and the report suggested the CIA used these unmanned drones to go in and kill some of these suspected terrorists. I know Pakistan doesn't like it when the United States infringes on its sovereignty like that, but I'm sure you've discussed this issue with U.S. officials.

HAQQANI: I would only say Pakistan wants terrorists to be fought, Pakistan wants to use all technical means available to its allies and to its itself, Pakistan would like greater capacity to take action on its own against terrorists inside Pakistani soil but there are concerns about Pakistani sovereignty and we will find a way. The most important thing is that Pakistan's new elected government wants to work with the United States in fighting the war against terror in a more effective way than was done in the past and with the support of the people of Pakistan.

BLITZER: Good luck to all the people of Pakistan. I know this is a critical moment in your history right now. We'll be watching.

HAQQANI: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Husain Haqqani is Pakistan's new ambassador to the United States.

The unrest in Georgia and how it might play into the energy crisis is on the candidate's radar. Right now, here's John McCain in his own words questioning Barack Obama's experience in dealing with Russia.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Behind all of these claims and positions by Senator Obama lies the ambition to be president. What's less apparent is the judgment to be commander in chief and in matters of national security, good judgment will be at a premium in the term of the next president as we were all reminded ten days ago by events in the nation of Georgia.

It's been a while since most Americans, including most of our leaders and diplomats, have viewed Russia as a threat to the peace, but the Russian government's assault on a small democratic neighbor shows why this needs revising.

As I have long warned, Russia under the rule of Vladimir Putin, is becoming more aggressive toward the now democratic nations that broke free of the old soviet empire. Russia, as we know, also holds vast energy wealth and this heavy influence in the oil and gas market has become a potential weapon that Russia is clearly prepared to use. Georgia stands at a strategic crossroad in the caucuses, Tbilisi pipeline, which brings oil from the Caspian to the points west, traverses Georgia and if that pipeline were destroyed or controlled by Russia, global energy supplies would be even more vulnerable to Russian influence, with serious consequences on the world energy market.

For some time now, I've been making the case for a dramatic acceleration of domestic energy production, with high prices and growing demand for oil and gas, Americans cannot remain dependent upon others for the most vital commodities. We should drill off shore and we should drill now.

Congress should come off their five-week vacation and go to work for us. In case you hadn't noticed, they never miss a recess or a pay raise.

Now we are reminded that energy policy is also a matter of the highest priority, not only for our economy, but for our nation's security. We can't keep sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much and some of that money ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations. It's got to stop.

Disruptions of supply abroad can suddenly raise energy prices, inflicting great harm on our economy and on American workers. And in the term of the next president, skillful handling of such a crisis would be the difference between temporary hardship and far reaching disaster.


BLITZER: Barack Obama says abortion opponents are lying about his position. Listen to this.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It defies common sense and it defies imagination and for people to keep on pushing this is offensive.

BLITZER: As the democratic candidate pushes back at his critics, we're going to take a look at the actual record.

And they're planning mass protests at the Democratic Convention in Denver but anti-war activists are upset at the response planned by local authorities. Why they're comparing it right now to Gitmo.


BLITZER: Barack Obama's talking about energy today and how John McCain simply hasn't done much to find alternative sources of energy. Here's Senator Obama in his own words on the energy crisis.


OBAMA: I met with T. Boone Pickens yesterday. Now, T. Boone Pickens, this guy is the billionaire oil man. Not a liberal by any means. I mean, this is a guy who, you know, I mean frankly he's gone after democrats, including John Kerry in the last presidential election in some very tough ways. But, the reason we met was because he shares an interest that I share in and a sense of urgency about energy.

We have to fundamentally change how we use energy this country. We have to do it because we're sending $700 billion to foreign nations. It's a huge transfer of our wealth. It oftentimes leads us to funding both sides on the war of terrorism because we're sending a bunch of that money to the Middle East and countries that don't necessarily like us and it is fundamentally impacting our environment. Climate change is real and we're starting to see the effects of it in profound ways and it's effecting people's pocketbooks.

So, the only way that we are going to solve this problem is if we fundamentally change how we use energy. Now, I think that we can actually take some steps now using existing technology that will have a profound impact. A couple of things that I've talked about, making sure that we've got production tax credits that incentivise companies building solar and wind and those prices for those energy sources are going down steadily, but we need to give the tax breaks to those companies so that they can invest the capital that's required to start building up some of the infrastructure. That's step number one.

Step number two, transportation, we've got to have energy efficient cars built here in America and frankly, if we had been working on this 20, 30 years ago, we'd be in a much different position than we are now.

John McCain said the other day, he said, the reason that we have this energy crisis is for 30 years, politicians in Washington haven't been doing anything. I thought, well, John McCain and I agree, except he's been there for 25. And he opposed raising fuel efficiency standards on cars, opposed a lot of the measures that would actually give a boost to alternative energy.


BLITZER: Denver officials are preparing for a protest that are expected at next week's democratic convention but the facility they'll be using to detain anyone arrested is being compared by some of the critics to a dog pound.

Let's go to Carol Costello. She is working the story for us.

Carol, what are the complaints?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can't exactly hear you, Wolf, but these are the complaints. Protesters call this facility a secret facility with security cameras that guard the exterior. On the inside they claim chainlink fences and barbed wire form the cells. They liken it to Gitmo. City officials say, that is simply not true.


COSTELLO: Anti-war group Code Pink is on it ways to Denver. Its goal, to raise a ruckus at the democratic national convention. Something Code Pink has been very good at.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To my fellow citizens.

COSTELLO: Code Pink's mantra to attract attention, hence the pink, but in Denver, their movements along with other protest groups will be controlled by police. The latest perceived blow in the form of this giant warehouse quickly dubbed by protesters Gitmo on the platte. Yes, they're likening it to that Gitmo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looked like a kennel and from what I understand, just a fence which can hold hundreds of people.

COSTELLO: Denver authorities insist the warehouse will not function as a jail but as a processing facility, a place where those arrested will be fingerprinted, photographed and able to post bonds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only people that will ever be there are people who broke the law and were arrested. The only time they will spend there are the hours it takes to get processed.

COSTELLO: The city promises they will be processed at a rate of 30 to 50 per hour.

The American Civil Liberties Union is still concerned. In a letter to Denver authorities it says, "If 300 people are taken to Denver's temporary facility, processing those persons at the rate of 30 to 50 per hour will take at least six to ten hours." And groups like Code Pink say that smacks of what happened during the republican national convention in New York.


COSTELLO: In '04, police arrested hundreds of activists holding some for hours or even days for minor infractions. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 90 percent of those arrests resulted in acquittals or dismissed charges.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just going to be very well aware of our rights. I can't imagine going to prison for peacefully resisting and standing up for free speech.

COSTELLO: Denver authorities insist there is no hidden agenda. In fact, next week, this warehouse, this so-called Gitmo on the platte, will open its doors for public tours.


COSTELLO: And also, Wolf, arrested protesters will be given brochures that explain how a processing center works.

Now if you're wondering how protesters are going to be controlled by police, Denver has laid out some rules. It will provide a 50,000 square foot public area within sight and sound of the delegates and that area will be complete with a stage and an amplifier so the delegates can hear the protesters and will allow demonstrators to get their pamphlets to delegates and arranged for a parade route through downtown free of charge for protesters.


BLITZER: Ample opportunity to protest if they want. All right. Carol, thank you.

Barack Obama in the middle of an abortion battle, now he's pushing back and pushing back hard after an extraordinary claim against him. We're going to be examining the record. Mary Snow standing by.

And Russia says it started pulling its troops out. The Pentagon, though, sees absolutely no sign of that. I'll be speaking about that and more with Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili. He's standing by live in Tbilisi.



BLITZER: Let's check back with Jack. He's got the Cafferty file.


JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question this hour is when it comes to Georgia, what do you suppose are Russia's intentions?

Robert in North Carolina says, "Russia is sending a clear signal that they'll not sit idly by while former break away republics are courting a relationship with NATO and missile batteries placed on their door steps. Russia seems to be struggling for relevance and grasping at their glory days of power. It's a place the United States could find itself unless we get our own house in order."

Mike in Syracuse writes, "Russia really has no intentions with Georgia other than to use it as a warning to the west and Eastern Europe. They're telling us to stay out of their back yard and keep NATO out too. Europe is so dependent on Russia for energy they will toe the line. Without the EU or NATO there's not much we can do alone. Pretty good play for Moscow for a cheap invasion they altered the strategic balance."

Matt writes, "It's pretty obvious, Russia wants to control its neighboring nations, deep paranoia created by centuries of history marked with invasion and destruction is hard to dispel from any nation, much less Russia. The old fears are still there. That being said, now is a good time to make really nice with the Chinese. We need the dragon to counter the bear."

Andrew says, "I don't think Russia has any intention of leaving Georgia. They will continue their simple nods at our paper mandates until they have completely absorbed that nation. Why? Because we are overextended and dependent on international opinion to stop them. I'll sleep well knowing we the people have squandered our moral authority in this world bringing democracy to a people that don't want it, while a nation that had the courage to take it is being destroyed."

And finally, Kevin in Sparks, Nevada, "Go right through it seems obvious they're going straight to Iran in order to back them before Israel has a chance to destroy Iran's nuclear sites. It's a direct route from Russia to Iran. They could have 100 missiles ready to go in no time."

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BLITZER: All right. Thanks, Jack. We'll have more on the story.

Is Russia planning to keep its iron fist grip on Georgia? Georgia's president, Mikhail Saakashvili, is standing by live to join us in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll ask him if he's satisfied with the U.S. and NATO response so far. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Barack Obama's clear on his support for abortion rights for women and he restated that position at this weekend's faith forum out in California. But he also says abortion opponents are lying about his stance when it comes to some specific legislation.

Mary Snow has been working the story for us.

Mary, it goes back several years. What do we know?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this goes back to when Barack Obama was an Illinois state senator. Abortion opponents, as you mentioned, have been focusing in on a measure he opposed and they're trying to paint him as being extreme. Obama is now firing back.


SNOW: Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama had strong words for abortion opponents leveling sharp criticism at his record. He was asked about it in an interview with a Christian broadcasting network.

OBAMA: They have not been telling the truth, and you know, I hate to say that people are lying, but here's the situation where folks are lying.

SNOW: At issue, a proposed law in Illinois to protect infants who survive unsuccessful abortions. As a state senator, Obama opposed it in 2003.

OBAMA: That bill also was trying to undermine Roe Versus Wade. By the way, we also had a bill, a law already in place in Illinois that ensured life-saving treatment was given to infants.

JOHN PATTERSON, THE DAILY HERALD: Sponsors claimed that law didn't go far off enough.

SNOW: John Patterson has covered Illinois state capital since 1996.

PATTERSON: Democrats and other proponents of the proposal said you're going too far with this. You're interfering with a woman's right to choose.

SNOW: In 2002, President Bush signed a born alive bill into law. Obama had said he would have supported that bill. The National Right to Life Committee says the language in the bill was the same and accuses Obama of a "four year effort to cover up his full role in killing legislation to protect born-alive survivors of abortions."

Looking at the bills, the language is similar but the Obama camp says while there were concerns about undermining Illinois abortion law, those concerns didn't exist in the federal bill, since there is no federal abortion law.

In 2005, the Illinois legislature did pass a born alive bill, but a provision makes clear that it does not affect existing federal or state law regarding abortion.


SNOW: Now by 2005, Obama left the state senate, but his campaign points out that that added provision in that 2005 bill was a measure he had wanted in the past.


BLITZER: Just a recap, Mary, what is the basic difference between these two bills?

SNOW: Well, 2003, the National Right to Life Committee will say the language is similar but what the Obama camp pointed out is that it lacked a provision to protect Roe V. Wade, that measure was added two years later, so that is the explanation why the campaign says and Obama said that he opposed that 2003 law.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Mary Snow, working the sensitive subject for us.

The pay-for-performance plan for teachers in Denver public schools is now on the verge of collapse. Lou is working on that story.

It's a system that was supposed to be a model, Lou, for the rest of the country. I guess it hasn't really worked out that way, has it?

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's a great model, and the fact is it's an idea that I support vigorously, pay for performance. Our public school teachers in particular are not paid nearly enough for the work they do for our young people and should be doing but in Denver, Wolf, the idea that the teachers union would fight this plan to protect the youngest teachers, to give them a financial incentive to move into the most difficult and troubled schools, working with some of the neediest students in their districts, to give them the best education possible and a bonus for that, to fight it, because they want this money for bonuses for older teachers, for some reason, unrelated to performance, it's a disaster.

And for this to be happening with the Democratic National Convention in Denver, the alliance of the FTA and the NEA with the democratic party is profound long-standing, this is a huge embarrassment, could be for the democratic party and for the FTA, for the NEA and for the teachers union certainly in Denver and furthermore, it is a real, real slap in the face to the young people that this teachers union really should be working to help, and whose teachers do work to help each and every day.

BLITZER: What about for Senator Obama personally?

DOBBS: Senator Obama personally, you -- he's got an opportunity here to show some leadership, doesn't he, with the democratic national convention shows up, he's got every right to intercede and suggest that there be an approach, one that could be a model, a template.

By the way, what about Senator John McCain? Would he even be a better political stroke for him to do in Senator Obama's party ground.

BLITZER: I know Lou is going to be working on the story. He's got a lot more coming up in an hour at 7:00 p.m. eastern. Lou, thanks very much.

DOBBS: Thank you.