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Thousands Evacuate Fargo Flood; Missile on the Launch Pad; Banks Want Out of Bailout; President Obama's Afghanistan Gamble

Aired March 27, 2009 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, breaking news -- mass evacuations as the Red River rises to the highest level ever recorded. One hundred thousand people facing the threat of a flood disaster. But they're still sandbagging right now and the Fargo mayor is vowing to go down swinging.

Also, U.S. warships at the ready as North Korea prepares to launch a missile it says carries a satellite.

But what if the mission is really more sinister?

The Obama administration could have just minutes to decide.

And Brazil's president ignites a racially charged controversy -- laying blame for the world economic crisis on what he calls -- and I'm quoting now -- "white people with blue eyes." President Lula da Silva explains what exactly he means.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

We're following breaking news from Fargo, North Dakota -- a city of almost 100,000 people on the brink of a record breaking flood. The Red River has now exceeded -- exceeded its all time high. And only dikes and sandbags stand between the city and a catastrophic flood. Thousands of people are being evacuated right now.

Let's check in with CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf.

He's in Fargo right now -- Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Wolf, we are coming to you along the banks of the Red River, where this scene has been playing out for hundreds of miles in this part of the state. And, you know, this is not the only area that's been dealing with the floods or the sandbags.

Earlier today, we were in a community not far from this spot in Oak Grove where we were helping a family do what they could to prevent the floodwaters from damaging their home. The goal was to make those sandbags as high as you could possibly get them. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're probably at least 43-and-a-half and back there. So we're feeling a little more at ease with it. But we've got everything out of the basement. All the drains are plugged down there. You do what you can and then see where it goes.


WOLF: And, Wolf, it's going to be that kind of can-do attitude that's going to help these people deal with what they expect into the rest of this week and into early next week -- those rising floodwaters. That's the latest we've got for you from Fargo.

Let's send it back to you -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Reynolds. Stand by.

I want to bring in our severe weather expert, our meteorologist, Chad Myers -- Chad, I spoke just a little while ago with the mayor of Fargo. And he's keeping his fingers crossed. They're all praying. But he's hoping maybe -- maybe they'll avoid the worst case scenario.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: They are now, Wolf, up to all of their manmade levees that they've had in place, you know, for years now. Every bit of water is now resting against some type of sandbag. And so now it's all up to those sandbags to hold back the water for Fargo and also for Moorhead.

We'll get you all the way down to the river basin. It's a very shallow river. It's a very new river. It hasn't been carved out like the Grand Canyon. But we are right to the top of this levee system. And that right over here is where they're placing all of the sandbags.

So will it last?

We don't know.

Did it last in the '97 flood in many areas?

No. The sandbags just couldn't last. They couldn't hold out that long. And this could be a seven day flood -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Stand by for a moment, Chad, because I want to bring in our Ted Rowlands.

He's in Fargo, right on that Red River, even as we speak -- show us what's going on, Ted.

I know your cameraman over there can pan around and show us the level of this river.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Wolf. There it is. And it -- you can see, it is moving at a pretty good clip. And it is rising. City officials updating us a few hours ago that it has gotten now past the 40.67 mark and it is continuing to rise. They did say it is stabilizing and they credit the cold temperatures. And, Chad, I'm sure, could talk about that -- or already has.

But the bottom line is it hasn't crested. And that, of course, is really the fear. And that's why people -- really, there's a strange nervous tension in this city, because people are literally at home with their things all packed up ready to go if need be and waiting to see how high the Red River is going to get. And right now, you can see it's moving at a clip. And it continues, unfortunately, to rise -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ted, stand by, because I want Chad -- he's got a question for you. You're our eyewitness on the scene -- Chad, go ahead.

MYERS: Ted, it seems odd to me, because the river is now higher than the storm sewers in the -- in the cities.

How is the water not leaving the river and going backwards through the storm sewers and then out into the cities basically under the levees?

How is -- how is that stopping?

How is that not happening?

ROWLANDS: Well, it is happening, actually.

MYERS: Or is it?

ROWLANDS: And they were...


ROWLANDS: Yes. We're getting reports that now there is some major issues with that exact scenario taking place in different areas. People have plugged their drains and they're being told to do that. And also clear their items out of the first floors of their homes and businesses, etc.

But you're exactly right in predicting that one, because that, indeed, is happening at this hour. And it is something that the folks are just having to deal with -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let me ask Chad a question, because it's one that's intriguing to me, Chad.

The fact that this Red River -- it runs north -- does that pose any additional problems?

MYERS: It does, because now this Red River is pushing itself into much colder water, much colder air. And so the water almost becomes slushy the farther it goes to the north. And the temperatures north of Grand Forks are about 16 -- 15 degrees. And so that water is going to want to freeze up. And we're going to have the potential for ice jams. Those ice jams, as they come up -- just blocks of ice -- sometimes as big as Volkswagens. They come up and they bump up against bridges. They all jam up and make a dam. And then that water can come up very, very rapidly from those ice jams -- Wolf.

BLITZER: As we -- as we watch what's going on, let me go back to Ted -- Ted, how is the community doing, based on everything you can tell?

There's nearly 100,000 people who live in Fargo and a lot more who live in the -- in some of the other communities nearby.

ROWLANDS: Yes. And there's a lot of nervous tension, Wolf. But that said, boy, the 100,000 people in this area -- it seems like 100,000 people are volunteering. It's incredible how many people are uniting and coming together to help with this sandbag effort, as they've continued to raise the heights of these dikes.

But you talk to them and they say, yes, yes, we're a little worried, that we're a little worried. So it's a strange mix of this go get them attitude along with some real nervous energy mixed in there -- people waiting and waiting to see how high the Red River is actually going to get.

BLITZER: We're going to ask Ted to stand by in Fargo and Chad to stand by at the CNN Weather Center, as well.

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty, though, right now, for "The Cafferty File."

This is a real -- a real potential disaster. But with a little luck and with the help -- you know, a lot of people building those sandbags -- millions of them -- maybe, maybe the worst can be avoided.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, let's hope.

President Obama, Wolf, stepping up the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, saying that the U.S. will send 4,000 more troops there. That's this addition to the 17,000 additional combat troops he authorized last month -- sort of a mini surge.

Mr. Obama is describing a comprehensive new strategy to confront the growing threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Seven-and-a-half years after the 9/11 attacks, he says Al Qaeda is planning new attacks against the U.S. from its safe haven in Pakistan.

Gee, if we hadn't invaded Iraq, President Bush, I wonder if that would still be the case.

President Obama says up until now, Afghanistan has been denied the resources it needs because of that war in Iraq. He's now pledging those 4,000 additional troops to help train the Afghan Army, the police and new legislation that would help the economies of both countries, as well as more civilian help to help develop Afghanistan's economy and do something about its corrupt government.

As for Pakistan, the president says after years of mixed results, the U.S. will not provide a blank check to them. They'll have to prove that they're committed to rooting out Al Qaeda.

It seems like Mr. Obama has public support behind him here, as he does on almost everything.

A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 63 percent of those surveyed are in favor of his plan to send the additional 17,000 troops into Afghanistan.

However, he also has his work cut out for him. While 62 percent say the U.S. can eventually win the war there, only half as many as that think that the U.S. is winning there now.

So here's the question: Should the U.S. be sending additional troops to Afghanistan?

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

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, stand by.

We'll be back, as well.

A near split second decision with huge international repercussions -- will the U.S. shoot down a North Korean missile allegedly carrying a satellite?

Also, millions of pounds of drugs -- millions of pounds of drugs flowing into the United States from Mexico. We go on patrol with U.S. border agents, their high tech tools. They are amazing. What they're uncovering is stunning.

And our iReporters are weighing in on President Obama's new plan for Afghanistan -- and not everyone is impressed. James Carville and Bill Bennett, they're both here. They're standing by live.


BLITZER: North Korea positioning a long-range missile for an April launch. The North says it plans to launch a satellite, but concerns are rising right now that the possibility that similar rockets could one day carry nuclear warheads.

Let's go to our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty.

She's taking is a closer look at this dangerous situation -- Jill.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this showdown with North Korea has a lot of drama. But the Obama administration is trying to downplay it. And there may be a very good reason.


DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Top nuclear envoys from South Korea and Japan arrive at the State Department for a strategy huddle with the Obama administration's point men on North Korea. The North's missile is on the launch pad, apparently ready for firing as early as a week from now. And the U.S. and its allies are trying to craft a coordinated response.

The U.S. military says it has every option on tap. But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tells me shooting down the missile isn't in the cards.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We're not talking about anything like that. We are doing our best to dissuade the North Koreans from going forward, because it is a provocative action. It raises questions about their compliance with the Security Council Resolution 1718.

DOUGHERTY: Getting China and Russia to support new U.N. Sanctions, however, would be tough, if not impossible. And experts on North Korea caution no one knows exactly how the North's leader, Kim Jong Il, would respond to U.S. military action.

ADMIRAL TIMOTHY KEATING, COMMANDER, U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND: Regime survival is his number one and, to a degree, his only concern. And I believe he'll go to any length to be able to try to ensure that.


DOUGHERTY: U.S. officials say North Korea's behavior has become a pattern -- acting out when the U.S. and its allies try to force the North to live up to its promise to denuclearize. But that behavior, they claim, is back firing -- preventing the North from getting what it really wants -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jill Dougherty over at the State Department.

Let's take a closer look now at a possible military response. New video coming in from Japan, where missile defense forces are right now on alert. They're preparing, potentially, to shoot down the North Korean missile, if necessary.

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

She's looking at U.S. preparations -- and, Barbara, we just spent some time with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and he's deeply concerned.

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, North Korea says it's got every right to launch a commercial satellite. But the White House says there's good reason to be worried.


STARR (voice-over): This is the latest satellite image of what the U.S. says is a long-range missile on a launch pad in North Korea. The White House worried enough to keep U.S. warships at the ready.

Pyongyang says it will launch a commercial satellite on top of this ballistic missile sometime between April 4th and April 8th.

When North Korea launches, the Obama administration may have as little as five minutes to decide whether to shoot it down. GEN. WALTER "SKIP" SHARP, COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES KOREA: I know we're ready to defend our territory and our allies.

STARR: The missile's anticipated route would take it over Japan in seven to eight minutes. If deemed threatening, it could potentially be shot down by U.S. Navy warships in the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean -- or, if the missile keeps traveling, by ground-based missiles shot from Alaska or California.

The Navy has already canceled a port call for the USS Hopper. It will remain off the Korean Peninsula. The Navy says it has other ships positioned in the area, equipped with the latest technology for shooting down ballistic missiles.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We believe that such a launch would be provocative and that such is a launch would be in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

STARR: But if it's a commercial satellite, is it a threat?

U.S. officials say the satellite is a cover for Pyongyang's efforts to perfect missile technology. If the launch is successful, North Korea will have gained valuable experience in missiles that could someday reach the U.S.


STARR: The U.S. does not have a policy of shooting down commercial satellites and North Korea knows it. Pyongyang may be backing Mr. Obama into a very interesting corner -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Barbara, thank you.

Barbara's at the Pentagon.

President Obama announcing a new plan for the war in Afghanistan.

Could his entire agenda be at stake?

I'll speak about that and more with James Carville and Bill Bennett. They're standing by live.

And the Brazilian president at the center right now of a racially charged controversy, as he lays blame for the global financial crisis.


BLITZER: Zain Verjee is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Zain, what's going on?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, pictures now coming in from Indonesia, where survivors of a flash flood near the capital are calling it a suburban tsunami. At least 52 people died when a dam on the outside on the outskirts of the city just gave way after heavy rains.

Dozens are reported missing and nearly 1,500 people have been displaced.

The International Olympic Committee says it will do away with the international leg of the torch relay.


Yes. Instead, the Olympic Flame will be carried through communities in the host nation only before igniting the Olympic caldron at the opening ceremony. Protests disrupted several legs of the international portion of the torch relay last year. But the IOC says that that's not the reason for the decision.

Rap star T.I. Was sentenced today to one year and one day in prison on weapons charges. A federal judge in Atlanta also ordered him to pay more than $100,000 in fines. T.I. Was arrested in 2007 for trying to buy machine guns and silencers. Under a plea agreement, he remained out of jail for the past year, performing a lot of community service.

And it was called The Freedom Tower -- the tallest skyscraper, being built at New York's ground zero. But now planners say that the building will be known as One World Trade Center. In all, five buildings are planned for the site where the Twin Towers were destroyed on 9/11 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Zain.

Stand by.

Thank you.

President Obama met with some top bankers over at the White House today, encouraging them to do more lending to businesses and consumers across the country.

But behind-the-scenes, some of those bankers are pretty furious with the Obama administration because they were forced to take that bailout money.

Our senior correspondent, Allan Chernoff, is following the story for us.

All right. Explain what's going on -- Allan.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there's a growing sense among bankers that the Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP, has become toxic. And as a result, the bankers want to give the money back.


CHERNOFF (voice-over): The requests are piling up at the Treasury and Federal Reserve. Some bankers want out of the bailout program.

PAUL MILLER, FBR CAPITAL: What these bank managers are saying, listen, I want the government out of my back -- out of my backyard. I just want to give back the TARP and I just want to run my company by myself.

CHERNOFF: Goldman Sachs, Bank of New York Mellon, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America -- all mega banks that the government forced to take bailout money -- say they want to return taxpayer funds as soon as practical. Some smaller banks are saying they want out now. TCF Financial, Bank of Marin, IBERIABANK and Community Bank of the Bay, among others, have informed the government they'd like to bail out of the bailout program. Bank of Florida has just decided to withdraw its application for TARP funding.

MICHAEL MCMULLEN, CEO, BANK OF FLORIDA: The more limitations placed on us and how we can run our business and how we can compete, really, the less -- the less value we think we can deliver to our shareholders in the long-term.

CHERNOFF: Bankers complain the rules have changed. Indeed, they have. Treasury last month imposed restrictions on executive compensation. And now no one wants to become the next AIG -- the target of public outcry over compensation.

But will Treasury allow bankers to return taxpayer money?

Maybe not any time soon.

MILLER: The government has to maintain confidence throughout the banking sector. These banks are all interconnected.


CHERNOFF: The main purpose of TARP is to stabilize the banking system to prevent a run on a bank. That much it has done. If the Treasury begins taking money back from healthy banks while the economy is still in trouble, the weaker banks may appear to be even weaker and the confidence that TARP brought may suddenly disappear -- Wolf, the bankers may not like the government interfering in their business, but right now, those who have taken TARP money -- they have little choice -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Excellent explanation.

All right, Allan.

Thank you.

"The Economist" magazine suggests that President Obama needs to take a stronger leadership role. James Carville and Bill Bennett are standing by.

And the most expensive house for sale in the United States of America.

How much do you think it costs?

We're going to give you the answer, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


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

Happening now, the stock market rally stumbling. The Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 148 points, or nearly two percent. The market is still up around 20 percent since hitting its low back on March 9th.

Parts of North Dakota are threatened by record floods. The governor, John Hoeven, is standing by to speak with us live from the scene.

And President Obama unveiling his new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. But Democratic Senator Russ Feingold says parts of it still misguided. He's here to explain.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


President Obama announcing what he calls a comprehensive new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, including thousands of additional troops. He's hoping to turn around the conflict.

But will the American public back him?

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is joining us for more -- Bill, how do Americans feel about this war in Afghanistan?



SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Two wars. In Iraq, the U.S. is ramping down. In Afghanistan, the U.S. is ramping up. The war in Afghanistan has a clearer justification.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States of America did not choose to fight a war in Afghanistan. Nearly 3,000 of our people were killed on September 11th, 2001.

SCHNEIDER: And a more threatening enemy.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a clear and focused goal -- to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

SCHNEIDER: Nevertheless, the American public has been wary about the war in Afghanistan. Last month, Americans were almost evenly divided between those who support the war and those who oppose it. Opposition to the war in Afghanistan is more muted than opposition to the war in Iraq. Two thirds of Americans oppose the war in Iraq.

But it's not so muted among Democrats. Sixty-four percent of Democrats oppose the war in Afghanistan. The anti-war movements in Vietnam and Iraq helped define what the Democratic Party stands for.

REP. LYNN WOOLSEY (D), CALIFORNIA: If we don't learn from our Iraq experience, we are doomed to repeat it.

SCHNEIDER: Why are Americans wary about Afghanistan?

The recession, Iraq War fatigue and frustration. Only 31 percent of Americans believe the U.S. is winning the war in Afghanistan. Fifty percent believe the U.S. is winning in Iraq -- the highest number in at least five years.

But Americans still want to get out of Iraq. Last month, when President Obama said he would send 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan, the public was willing to give the new president the benefit of the doubt. Democrats were willing to go along with their president, but were less enthusiastic than Republicans.


SCHNEIDER: Americans say they believe the U.S. can win a military victory in Afghanistan. But Afghanistan has become a political war. Winning depends not just on what the United States can do, but also on what Afghanistan and Pakistan can do. And Americans have far less confidence in them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

Let's assess -- discuss what we just heard. Joining us, our CNN political contributors, Democratic strategist James Carville and Bill Bennett, the host of the national radio talk show, "Morning in America," a fellow over at the Claremont Institute.

Is the war in Afghanistan shaping up to be, for President Obama, James, what the war in Iraq was for President Bush?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, CLINTON SUPPORTER: No. I mean I think they're -- they're two entirely different wars. And as President Obama pointed out in our pieces, this was the result of 3,000 of our citizens being killed on September 11th, which was planned from Afghanistan. And the government there -- the Taliban knew exactly what was going on.

But having said that, it's -- it's a rather sticky wicket over there. And, you know, that place has been very, very tough in history. And we've got a lot of good people over there and, I mean, it seems that we've got a new strategy here. One can hope and believe that this thing can work and we can get a better result over there.

-- with the exception...

CARVILLE: Hopefully we will.

BLITZER: With the exception of a few lines, Bill -- and I'm sure you paid attention -- the speech that the president delivered today is a speech that the former president could have delivered, as well. Let's assess, discuss what we just heard. Joining us our CNN political contributors, democratic strategist James Carville and Bill Bennett, the host of the national talk show "Morning in America" fellow at the Clairmont Institute. Is the war in Afghanistan shaping up to the, for President Obama, James, what the war in Iraq was for President Bush?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No. I think they're two entirely different wars. And as president Obama pointed out in our pieces, that this was the result of the 3,000 of our citizens killed on September 11th, which was planned from Afghanistan and the government there -- the Taliban knew exactly what was going on. But having said that, it's a rather sticky wicket over there. That place has been very, very tough in history. And we've got a lot of good people over there. I mean, it seems that we've got a new strategy here. One can hope and believe that this thing can work and we can get a better result over there. I believe we will.

BLITZER: With the exception of a few lines, Bill -- and I'm sure you paid attention -- the speech that the president delivered today is the speech that the former president could have delivered as well.

BILL BENNETT, NATIONAL TALK SHOW HOST: Yes, sir. Yes, sir, you're right. And I salute the president for it. I was tough on the president earlier this week with that press conference and the economics stuff. But I think he's right here and doing the right thing. I'm not sure what he's done is enough. But those numbers that Bill Schneider cited, Wolf, he's going against his own party but doing the right thing absolutely. We'll see where things go. It's interesting the cut from Lynn Woolsey from the floor saying let's not have history repeat itself. We have a victory in Iraq. Let's hope we have victory in Afghanistan. But I'm not going to treat president Obama the way President Bush is treated reflexively. People gave him the back of the hand and criticized him. I think he's done the right thing and I support him and admire what he did.

BLITZER: Listen to a comment from an I-reporter, Jimmy Deol of Chicago.

JIMMY DEOL, I-REPORTER: President Obama's strategy in Afghanistan and his new commitment to providing Pakistan economic and military aid is a step in the right direction. This is a cause that must continue to be followed. Pakistan cannot, must not be allowed to fail as a state.

BLITZER: Because a lot of the experts, as you know, James, they believe that the al Qaeda and Taliban have really moved their sanctuary from Afghanistan into these tribal areas, the rugged areas of Pakistan and the Pakistani regime is apparently not doing enough to go in there and try to clean it up.

CARVILLE: Well, yeah. The president immediately dispatched Ambassador Holbrook who is probably one of the most competent people in modern American a foreign policy to deal with that. Secretary of state Hillary Clinton was there today. Trying to deal with this frantically. But Pakistan was a pretty big mess and you're right -- Afghanistan and Pakistan, as I understand it, the problem is the central government doesn't have a lot of control over what happens in large, large areas of that country and they're having to deal with this. It is a big problem and I think that the gentleman from Toronto is right. It's probably not going to be solved in the next couple of three weeks or the next months. We have to deal with it.

BLITZER: In the last hour, Bill, we heard from the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, who confirmed there are elements within the ISI, the Pakistani Intelligence Service that, to put it bluntly, are part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

BENNETT: Very serious, Wolf. You remember back, we were talking about Iran and Iraq, people said you couldn't win the Iraq effort without going after Iran. You remember all the troops coming over, all the personnel and materiel coming over. These two are more connected probably more intimately Afghanistan and Pakistan. What you see in the northwest regions such as the swat region and elsewhere very troubling. You see the restoration of Sharia law there. But the president doesn't have a lot of cards. We don't have a lot of cards there. I'm glad we have a seasoned guy going over. He has Afghanistan and Pakistan -- lord knows, North Korea and the Mexico problem. And you have got to get that Pakistani government to push back against those Taliban elements. Otherwise, the situation will get worse. It's a tough deal.

BLITZER: I'm going to put, James, the cover of the new issue of "The Economist" on the screen, the "The Economist," there it is, "Learning the Hard Way." Among others, it says this -- and then the editorial goes on to say Hillary Clinton's most effect quip in her long struggle with Barack Obama for the democratic nomination last year was that the oval office is no place for on the job training. Might Mrs. Clinton been right about her foe? And then the editorial goes on to say in a subhead, a Lead Damit, the magazine, don't subcontract your strategy to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party in the house and the senate.

CARVILLE: One the things that he did was put Senator Clinton as secretary of state and put together truly remarkable people. I might add that piece accused him of bending to the liberal democrats in threatening to pull out of Afghanistan on a day it comes out he announces we're changing strategy and send 4,000 more people there. They have an opinion, a booster street for Wall Street in the city of London. I don't think they really understand our constitution, that it gives congress a great deal of power here in domestic affairs. It's a colorful rag. I like to read it every now and then myself.

BENNETT: Look, it's a pretty good magazine, actually. And I like it. I read it, learn from it even when I don't agree with it. But what's happening for Barack Obama is -- on the budget stuff, he's not just getting criticism from conservatives and republicans. You've got people from Howard Fineman to Robert Samuelsson to Stewart Taylor, the economist and 16 modern democrats in the senate saying this just won't fly. We are now beginning to appreciate the enormity of what it is that he's proposing, and it is enormous. The Congressional Budget Office points out in 20 months Barack Obama will exceed all the deficits of George Bush, which, you know, again, was a major campaign issue, accumulated in eight years. Too much. There's just too much.

BLITZER: Two more issues I want to go through, one for James and a different one for Bill. James, Monday, we expect the white house to go forward and make some announcements on the auto bailout business. GM and Chrysler specifically. This is a really sensitive issue for especially a democratic president of the United States.

CARVILLE: Boy, I think it's a pretty sensitive issue -- President Bush went ahead with it against the wish of his party. I'm going to be as anxious as anybody to see what happens on Monday. But, you know, look, GM has won these reliability award probably making some of the best cars in the world right now. And Ford make -- we're making some terrific cars here in the United States. And if we can get through this thing, you know, and demand comes back -- I mean, demand for autos is way down. And, you know, I drive American cars. And I think they're better than any other cars that are made. If we can just -- if these guys can hold on, we might be able to get this thing done.

BLITZER: Bill, you like what the president is doing in Afghanistan. What about what he's doing as far as member could he is concerned sm.

BENNETT: I like that. So far, so good. He's going to need more, though. This is a big, big thing. I'm also glad to hear secretary Clinton said as I what said, people using drugs in the United States provides fuel for this fire. Nothing gets these vicious cartel leaders off the hook. But sending $20 billion for people's drug habits, to support their drug habits from the U.S. down there is killing people and people need to realize it. People who use drugs and know this kind of thing aren't victims. They're part of the problem.

BLITZER: Bill Bennett and James Carville; guys, thanks very much.

By car, by truck, by foot, a surging river of drugs flooding into the United States from Mexico every day. How dogs the border patrol keep up? We're going on the hunt with them to find out.

And are white people with blue eyes to blame for the world's financial crisis? That's the charge from Brazil's president. He explains what exactly he means.


BLITZER: Brazil's president is causing quite a stir with some colorful language literally on why poor countries should not have to pay the price for the international financial crisis. Let's bring in Zain Verjee with the details. I see some beautiful blue eyes behind you.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva certainly doesn't think they're beautiful. Brazil's president is blaming the worldwide economic crisis on people that look like this, white people with blue eyes, he says. The Brazilian president adds that black people shouldn't have to pay for white people's mistakes.


PRES. LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA, BRAZIL (through translator): This crisis was not created by blacks, nor Indians, nor poor people. It was a crisis that was created and spread throughout the world due to the irresponsible behavior of white people, blue-eyed people that thought they knew everything but are now showing they knew nothing.


VERJEE: Lula Da Silva also says that there shouldn't be any trade barriers, saying that protectionism is like taking drugs. He says, quote, why do people use drugs? Because they're in a crisis and they think that the drug will help them but the effects will pass quickly. Very colorful language.

BLITZER: The G-20 summit is coming up soon. What else does Brazil want?

VERJEE: They're really demanding quite a few things. Brazil is a key economic player on the world stage, and it's really looking to have much more of a say, a bigger voice in the global financial table. Brazil also wants a permanent seat at the U.N. security council but so far it's been lobbying and campaigning but hasn't been successful.

BLITZER: I wouldn't hold my breath at least not yet. Thanks very much, Zain, for that.

The Brazilian president, by the way, sits down for an exclusive interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria. Watch that this Sunday 1:00 p.m. eastern on "Fareed Zakaria GPS." Only here on CNN.

Drugs are flowing north from Mexico into the United States at a staggering rate. CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman got a firsthand look at what border patrol agents are up against.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Handcuffed to a bench in the U.S. border control in Arizona, this Mexican man is under arrest. He was driving a huge semi truck through a checkpoint 30 miles north of the border. I asked him what was in the vehicle. He says tomatoes. And he's right. His truck impounded by the border patrol is full of tomatoes. But this dog smells more than produce. He smells dope, and lots of it. Bale after bale of marijuana, 40 bales, 908 pounds. At 800 bucks a pound a street value over $720,000. It's believed this man is doing transport work for a Mexican drug cartel, just another night for border patrol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point there's not much that surprises us anymore.

TUCHMAN: About 2.8 million pounds were seized in 2008. Almost half of that just in this part of Arizona. We follow Sara, the drug- sniffing dog through hilly brush near the border wall. Two men were seen jumping over the wall in backpacks. The men are gone but Sara is on to something. He's trained to sit if she finds the target. She sits, and then jumps.

You wouldn't know it as a human being, but she smelled it. It looks like a Christmas tree or Bushes. You turn it around. And inside there is the marijuana. Agent Ray Rivera has been with Sara for two years. How many pounds of marijuana has she found with you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost 100,000. 6,800.

TUCHMAN: It didn't surprise you?


TUCHMAN: Agents also have great technology. This is an x-ray truck. It drives up to vehicles, taking images that can reveal hidden drugs. Cameras and sensors watch along the border fence. Agents monitor the video in a control room. Hundreds of people are arrested every day in this region mostly for immigration violations but also for weapons. An unknown but large number of people and drugs make it through. John Fitzpatrick is the division chief here. This job is more dangerous now than ever.

JOHN FITZPATRICK: Yes. We had our agents assaulted over 280 times last year.

TUCHMAN: These narcotics nabbed over the last couple of days. 74,000 pounds of pot will be removed soon by the DEA. The drug traffickers are incredibly motivated and in most cases pretty strong. This right here is 64 pounds of marijuana, worth about $50,000 on the street. The typical scenario is this person is carrying this across the border on their back like this and they're walking. Typically when they see U.S. law enforcement officials, they drop it and run away. There's no way they could run with that. But how do they get over the border with all the agents, the dogs, the wall? Right now I'm standing in Mexico behind the border fence. I don't want to say exactly where I am because of a loophole you're about to see. Let's say this gigantic rock is a bundle of marijuana. At this point of the border fence, all I need to do is take it, walk around the fence where it's discontinued. And now I'm in the United States. But just minutes later four border patrol agents showed up one pointing his rifle at my crew mate concerned we were criminals. We were spotted on one of the video cameras. They let us go after we explained who we were. But it was a tense few moments. On the border these days nothing is left to chance.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Arizona.


BLITZER: It's the most expensive house for sale in the United States. We're going to show it to you and we're going to tell you how much it costs. Take a look at that picture.

And you can call it a very chilly relationship. A son allegedly puts his dead mother on ice. Jeanne Moos tells us why right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: A real estate market meltdown? You'd never know it judging by the price of one Hollywood mansion. Here's CNN entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson with a closer look.


BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tourists flock to get a glimpse through the wrought iron gates. The Spelling mansion in Los Angeles is the largest home in L.A. County and it can be yours for a cool $150 million, the most expensive house for sale in the U.S. Just down the street from the playboy mansion, the exclusive holy hills area, the late Aaron Spelling's sprawling residence called the manor is now on the market publicly. Spelling's widow Candy is unloading the 18 year old 56,000 square foot home. Among the lavish features, a bowling alley, wine cellar and wine tasting room, gift wrapping room and a humidity controlled silver storage room. The finished attic alone is 17,000 square feet complete with a barber shop. Outside you've got a waterfall, pools and a sports and space for 100 cars, perfect for entertaining, something the popular Spelling did with ease.

Aaron Spelling who died in 2006 was one of the most prolific television producers of our time. He made a string of hits including Charlie's Angels, Beverly Hills 90210 and Dynasty leaving a lasting legacy on screen and now in real estate.


ANDERSON: One realtor we spoke to feels that due to the sluggish economy, this home may be extremely difficult to sell at this price given the fact that another home in the same neighborhood listed for $125 million and sat on the market for the last two years. back over to you.

BLITZER: All right. thank you.

We just received a statement from Candy Spelling. It says this.

So much love and care went into building this house and made it a home. I am fortunate to be able to carry these wonderful memories. She's selling the manor because she's entering a new phase in her life and does not need all the space her home provides, she's moving, by the way, into a new two story condominium, reportedly that cost a mere $47 million.

Abbi Tatton is looking into the neighborhood surrounding this mansion out there on Google earth.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: You're going to spend $150 million on your house. We have a look from the skies in Google earth. Behind you you've got the Los Angeles country club, if you want a quiet day of golf. Just up the street, literally just up the street, three doors down is Hugh Hefner. This is an exclusive neighborhood, if you see it from this bird's-eye view, manicured lawns, we did find that one that was a little bit cheaper, if you can't quite stretch to $150 million, that's an estate in the style of a French palace, looks a little bit like Buckingham palace.

BLITZER: Just think about the monthly payments.

TATTON: It would be nothing. Just a couple.

BLITZER: Thank you.

The breaking news, the North Dakota flooding, right now on the brink of a flood disaster, right now in North Dakota, a desperate effort to keep the Red River from overflowing.


BLITZER: Right back to Jack Cafferty for the Cafferty file.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question this hour is should the U.S. send additional troops to Afghanistan?

Joyce in Kansas City writes, "Hell no, Jack. We should stay out of Afghanistan. This is a campaign unlike any other especially Iraq. History says that several large countries have been brought to their knees in Afghanistan. There are numerous shady factions absent any form of government. We have problems at home and further military conflicts will surely bankrupt the country."

Jim in Alabama says, "To me the key is: are we going to continue with our efforts to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda? If that's the case, then yes, we need to have another surge in Afghanistan just like the one in Iraq. We are weak in numbers there and additional troops are needed."

Rita in Sebastian, Florida, "My son just did 15 months there after two combat tours in Iraq. His unit is on notice they'll deploy again this fall when his enlistment ends but he may be forced to stay under stop loss. We've sacrificed enough. Those who have already done two plus tours need to be let go."

Michael in New York says, "Sure if they send them from Iraq or from an overseas base like the one in Turkey. We should not send any more troops from here in the U.S. because those troops are needed to deal with the drug cartels in Mexico."

Dennis in North Carolina, "Yes we need to finish what we started and do it correctly so we do not have to go back."

And Bill says, "No Jack. Enough is enough. It's time to stop being the world's police force and get serious about using our resources to begin solving our problems here at home. Our time to deal with Afghanistan was immediately following 9/11. Let's not turn this into another Iraq."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at and look for yours among hundreds of others. BLITZER: A lot of people look for those comments and yours.

And you're THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, breaking news, an historic flood disaster could be just hours away, a river rising to record levels and worried residents are turning to sandbags and to prayer.

Plus President Obama makes the war on terror his own. He's unveiling his new battle plan in Afghanistan, saying bullets and bombs simply aren't enough. I'll talk to a top senate democrat with some doubts about the president's strategy.

Plus, many lawmakers say they share your anger over corporate greed, but they have been taking a handout of their own from employees of those bailed out companies. We want to welcome our viewers from the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're THE SITUATION ROOM.