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Taliban Vows Terror in Washington; President Obama Visits Europe

Aired March 31, 2009 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And a police officer says he's sorry for standing in the way of a deathbed visit. He's speaking out about his confrontation with an NFL player, all caught on video.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

This hour, a diplomatic guessing game involving Hillary Clinton solved. The secretary of state today revealed that the United States has taken a small, but significant step toward trying to improve relations with Iran. It turns out Secretary Clinton was not directly involved, despite speculation she might personally make a grander gesture.

Our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, is traveling with the secretary in the Hague in the Netherlands -- Jill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it wasn't negotiations, but Hillary Clinton called it a cordial unplanned encounter.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Would she or wouldn't she? No meeting for the secretary of state with Iran's deputy foreign minister, but at an international conference on Afghanistan, Hillary Clinton said there is a lot the U.S. and Iran can follow up on.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The fact that they came today, that they intervened today, is a promising sign that there will be future cooperation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The presence of foreign forces has not...

DOUGHERTY: The Iranian said foreign troops aren't helping security, but said his country is willing to cooperate on issues like drug trafficking from Afghanistan, a major concern for neighboring Tehran.

CLINTON: A lot of those illegal drugs go right through Iran. Iran has a serious and growing problem of drug addiction.

DOUGHERTY: But special representative Richard Holbrooke did have a few words with the Iranian official, and they agreed to keep in touch. The minister also was given a diplomatic note asking for their help with three Americans missing or held in Iran.

At the conference, Clinton laid out the new U.S. strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan. She called the threat from the leader of Pakistan's Taliban to carry out a major attack on Washington, D. C. , a reminder the Taliban and al Qaeda are working hand in hand.

CLINTON: It illustrates exactly why we're doing what we're doing. Anybody who thinks we can walk away from Afghanistan and Pakistan and the border area is forgetting, oh, it happened on September 11, 2001.

DOUGHERTY: But the U.S. believes some Taliban can be reformed because they are only members out of economic desperation.

CLINTON: The Taliban actually pays a higher rate to a young man who joins the Taliban than a young man who joins the police force.

DOUGHERTY (on camera): Coming up, more international meetings on Pakistan and Afghanistan and more chances for some close encounters between the United States and Iran -- Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: All right, Jill, thank you.

Jill Dougherty is traveling with the secretary of state.

Some more information about those three Americans missing or held in Iran right now. Robert Levinson is a former FBI agent. He disappeared two years ago, reportedly while investigating a cigarette smuggling case.

Roxana Saberi is a freelance journalist who was arrested by Iranian authorities in January of this year, after buying a bottle of wine.

Esha Momeni is a graduate student at California State University who was researching the Iranian women's movement. She was arrested in October of last year for an alleged traffic violation.

Right now, President Obama is launching his first overseas trip since taking office. He's in London for the G-20 summit of leaders from the world's largest economies. On Friday, the president flies to Strasbourg, France, for a NATO summit. Saturday, he heads over to the Czech Republic for a European Union conference. On Sunday, he will give a speech in Prague on weapons proliferation.

Then it's on to Turkey, where he will speak to the parliament on Monday, before heading home Tuesday.

Our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, is traveling with the president. He's in London right now.

Ed, the president has certainly got a lot on his agenda right now. What's the most important thing he would like to achieve? ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you mentioned, with the NATO summit, for example, there will be national security on the table. But this is really mostly about the financial crisis, the global financial crisis, and that challenge.

And they say, the White House does, that there are two clear goals for this president. Try to get a concerted effort to deal with the current crisis, but also try to lay the groundwork with new regulations, lay that groundwork to make sure that there is not another crisis down the road.

And they're hoping -- they keep saying that this president will lead and listen, a clear suggestion there will be a break from the Bush years. And they think this new approach may actually deliver some results.

But he's already facing some resistance, which suggests it's going to be a very difficult test for him, his first big test on the international stage -- Wolf.

BLITZER: How real is this supposed friction that already exists between the president of the United States and some of these world leaders?

HENRY: There is some friction out there. You have got the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, saying today that he may walk from this summit altogether if the regulations for Wall Street and other financial institutions are not tough enough.

You also have German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggesting she's not ready for more economic stimulus funds that the president is pushing for. Robert Gates aboard Air Force one, the White House press secretary, tried to address some of that by saying, look, the president understands a lot of these European leaders have already given a lot of money.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If you total up what the G-20 nations have pledged to address the economic downturn, it represents 1.8 percent of GDP for the G-20 nations. That is a significant commitment to addressing the downturn in GDP around the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: And now, as far as financial regulation, the White House says, look, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has already put a tough plan on the table. They're confident it's going to get through Congress. And with these other leaders, they plan to just lead by example, and say, look, we have got a plan on the table. Now it's your turn -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Henry is going to be covering the trip, the president's trip, throughout this week.

Thanks, Ed.

By the way, President Obama is getting to know a rather colorful group of world leaders. They include, as Ed just pointed out, the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who has very publicly divorced with his wife and remarried the former supermodel Carla Bruni.

Germany's first woman chancellor, Angela Merkel, famously grimaced when she got a shoulder rub from then President George W. Bush. Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is an outspoken who once described Barack Obama as being -- and I'm quoting now -- "young, handsome, and tan."

And the Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, recently blamed the global economic crisis on -- quote -- "white people with blue eyes."

Another wild card, by the way, out there, the Turkish prime minister, Erdogan, who stormed out of a conference on the Middle East conflict in a spat last year with Israel's president, Shimon Peres.

Let's go right back to Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File."

A colorful bunch of characters at this G-20 summit.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: When you do that, it's like "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

(LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: Where are the Churchills and the de Gaulles and the, you know -- very funny.

When it comes to President Obama's plans for struggling car companies, a lot of automakers -- and auto workers, rather, I should say, say that the administration is being much harder on them than they were on the failing banks.

The president of one UAW chapter calls it the age-old Wall Street vs. Main Street smackdown, adding, there's lots of money available to banks that are -- quote -- "apparently too big to fail, but they're also too big to be responsible" -- unquote.

Meanwhile, he says auto manufacturing and middle-class jobs have to meet a higher standard. Many workers even sympathize with General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, calling him a sacrificial lamb or scapegoat or fall guy. They think the government hasn't given the same harsh terms to insurance giant AIG or the banks in which its taken an ownership stake.

And they're absolutely right. But there's a reason. Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm calls President Obama's moves -- quote -- "a bit of tough love" -- that's what she said publicly -- and says she hopes the financial industry gets as tough scrutiny as the auto industry has.

Also, a piece at Politico.com asks why the banks get carrots, while the auto industry gets the heavy stick. They say the White House believes it gave both GM and Chrysler a chance to prove that they could come up with a plan for survival, and they did not. Also, although the collapse of the American auto industry would devastate workers, suppliers and executives, it probably wouldn't destroy the broader U.S. economy, like the collapse of certain other financial institutions could. And the includes AIG.

Here's the question, then. Some autoworkers say President Obama treated the car companies worse than Wall Street. Are they right?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog.

Obama looks really good when you stack him up against that list of people you ticked off right before I got started here.

BLITZER: And we got more, too. Remember, this is the G-20. You want more?

(LAUGHTER)

CAFFERTY: No. That's enough.

BLITZER: We will give you more details on these characters.

CAFFERTY: More later. OK.

BLITZER: All right, thanks, Jack.

It's a horrifying new threat to attack Washington, D.C., and it's coming from the man who took responsibility for a brazen act of terror in Pakistan. Here's the question. Could this happen right here in the U.S. capital?

Plus, an early test of President Obama's plan for fixing the economy. Voters are casting ballots and judgment right now.

And why some flood victims in North Dakota and Minnesota say they feel betrayed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel that our house was sacrificed to save seven or nine houses, something like that, further on down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A terror attack on Washington, D.C., that will supposedly amaze the world, it's a shocking new threat from the commander of the Pakistani Taliban, who says his organization is right now planning to hit the United States.

Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence. We asked him to check out this threat.

What's going on, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this militant leader, Baitullah Mehsud, says he can and will attack American, but he doesn't have to still damage American interests.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): The man who took responsibility for this attack in Pakistan is now taking aim at America's capital.

A Pakistani Taliban leader told the Associated Press, "We will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze the world." While counterterrorism officials don't think he can carry out his threat here, there's little doubt he can launch more attacks in Pakistan and its neighbor.

President Obama plans to give Pakistan billions more dollars to help its government stop attacks like these, which undermine his goal of stabilizing Pakistan's neighbor, Afghanistan.

Senator John McCain says Pakistan is important.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This notion that you cannot succeed in Afghanistan without a success in Pakistan, to a large degree, I don't agree -- I don't subscribe to.

LAWRENCE: And prominent Democratic Senator Carl Levin says, "If I thought we could buy stability, I would buy it."

The chairman of the Armed Services Committee says the U.S. should not send more money or weapons to Pakistan until that government proves it will take on extremists in its own country. Levin says, so far, Pakistan has been trying to buy peace "with people I don't think you can buy peace with."

Military analysts say the money could help Pakistan conduct counterinsurgency operations.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, SENIOR FELLOW IN FOREIGN POLICY STUDIES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Better equipment, better weaponry, better night-vision technology.

LAWRENCE: But even American military leaders admit the U.S. needs to keep a closer eye on the money it sends to Pakistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There needs to be an audit trail and understanding where it's going and what it's doing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: And some military analysts say these insurgent attacks inside Pakistan indirectly help the U.S. because it makes the Pakistani leaders realize the personal threat not only to themselves, but to their government -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon for us, thanks very much.

Let's talk about this latest Taliban threat to attack Washington, D.C.

Joining us now, our CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend, the former homeland security adviser to President Bush.

This guy, Mehsud, is he a -- is he -- and we know he's the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, but is he a real serious threat to a homeland attack in the United States?

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he's a tribal leader in the region. And what you have seen is, he's been linked to the Marriott bombing in Islamabad.

BLITZER: The Marriott Hotel bombing.

TOWNSEND: That's right.

And so he's got real capability in the region, particularly in north Waziristan, in that federally administrated tribal area. The question is -- he's been providing protection to al Qaeda leaders over the last number of years and so he's got strong relationships.

While he doesn't directly command tribals who could launch an attack here, what you worry about is his relationship and ability to leverage al Qaeda capability here inside the U.S.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: So if he in effect said, look, you guys got to move against the United States, against the target in Washington, D.C., while he might not necessarily be able to do that, he has al Qaeda allies who might? Is that what you're saying?

TOWNSEND: That's exactly right.

And that's exactly why intelligence officials and law enforcement officials here will take the threat seriously. But, on the other hand, Wolf, let's remember, this is the same guy in 2008 who threatened to burn down the White House. And, obviously, that didn't happen.

And you have got to ask yourself, al Qaeda doesn't normally signal when they are going to launch an attack. They didn't signal...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Although bin Laden used to boast that we're going to come after you in the United States, economic targets, specifically.

And, as we all know, on 9/11, he did.

TOWNSEND: That's right.

And that's why I said, yes, this is -- Mehsud is a guy who has got proven capability, the blood of Americans and Pakistanis and Afghanis on his hands, and proven capability. The question is, will he link arms with al Qaeda and try to leverage their capability here in the U.S.?

BLITZER: So, just because Mehsud is making this boast right now that he says, we're going to attack a target in Washington that will amaze the world, does that automatically mean that homeland security officials in Washington should elevate security?

TOWNSEND: No. What they ought to do is take the threat seriously and evaluate the credibility of the threat. What is the intelligence behind it? What is the -- he has clearly got the intent, but does he have al Qaeda's capability to launch an attack here in the U.S.?

And I imagine that my former colleagues across the government, DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and CIA, are all looking at this intelligence.

BLITZER: When Carl Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, says no more aid to Pakistan, and President Obama wants $1.5 billion a year for the next, what, five years, at least, no more aid until they really step up to the plate and go after the Taliban and al Qaeda elements in Pakistan, when you hear that, what do you think?

TOWNSEND: Well, it's not in our interests to cut off all aid.

What is in our interests is to tie it to discernible results. What we want to know is, what are we buying? The American people are entitled to know, what are we getting for that billion-and-a-half dollars a year over five years.

And we ought to be able to -- the administration needs to make perfectly clear what our expectations are of the Pakistani government and whether or not they're delivering on their promises.

BLITZER: Fran, thanks for coming in.

TOWNSEND: Thank you.

BLITZER: Fran Townsend is our homeland security adviser.

It's set to strike on April Fools' day, but it's absolutely no joke. Will a malicious computer worm damage millions of computers, maybe even yours?

And looking for answers to a global meltdown, President Obama meets leaders of the world's biggest economies. What he needs to show success.

And a key U.S. envoy shakes hands with an Iranian. Is that an earth-shaking move, diplomatically speaking? The best political team on television is standing by to weigh in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (NEWS BREAK)

BLITZER: A police officer who prevented a deathbed visit is speaking out right now about the confrontation that led to death threats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT POWELL, POLICE OFFICER: I can screw you over. I would rather not do that. Your attitude will dictate everything that happens. And, right now, your attitude sucks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. Stand by. You are going to hear the officer's apology to an NFL player and his family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: I'm sorry for everything that has happened. I'm sorry to the Moats family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Also ahead, why voters in New York State may be delivering an early verdict on President Obama and his economic policies.

And Hillary Clinton didn't do it herself, but a new U.S. overture to Iran could be the start of something big.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Happening now: The wife, sons, and brother of the Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff have now had their assets frozen, a Connecticut judge barring them from selling their homes or transferring funds.

Also, both of Chicago's major daily newspapers are now operating under bankruptcy protection. "The Chicago Sun-Times" joins "The Chicago Tribune" and a number of other U.S. papers struggling to keep on printing.

And French employees of Caterpillar protesting proposed layoffs by holding company executives hostage, it's the third time it has happened. The other incidents ended peacefully, all of this coming up, plus the best political team on television.

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

A vote under way in Upstate New York right now, it may be an early verdict on the president's policies. It's a special election to fill the House seat left open when Democratic Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand replaced Hillary Clinton in the United States Senate. It pits Democrat and venture capitalist Scott Murphy against longtime Republican state lawmaker Jim Tedisco.

Officials at the highest levels of both parties are trying to influence this race.

Let's walk over and bring in our chief national correspondent, John King, the anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION," which airs Sunday mornings.

This is a race, potentially, John, that could show us the mood of the country right now.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bragging rights at stake, Wolf.

Let's zoom in on New York. This is the presidential election of 2008. And you see President Obama won 62 percent of the state. New York was never in doubt.

But let's go over and look at House races, because this is an interesting district. This is the district Mr. Murphy and Mr. Tedisco are playing right here. It's Congressional District 20. It runs from the northern New York suburbs all the way up near the Canadian border.

I'm going to outline it for you, because you see it here and now Senator Gillibrand won it with 62 percent of the vote. So, you might say, well, this is easy. This is a Democratic district, should go Democratic.

But it's not always been that way. Remember, look at all the blue here now. Let's go back in time. I need to come down here and pull out the map. We will bring in the race for president. Barack Obama carried the district by about three points, 51 percent.

But let's go back in time -- 2004, look at all that red up here. George W. Bush actually carried this 20th district in New York, even though he lost the state. He won that district in 2004. And back in 2000, Wolf, President Bush also then in his first race for president carried this district, while losing New York State.

So, this is what I would say about the results tonight. This is a very competitive district, again, Obama 51 percent, Bush 54 percent, Bush 51 percent. It is a very competitive district, has been represented by Republicans more often than Democrats in recent years. Someone will have bragging rights tonight. Is it any sign of a huge shift in the country?

Not if somebody wins, either Democrat or Republican, by two or three or four points. If they have a much bigger margin, then you might read something into it.

BLITZER: And no matter what happens, we will read something into it, I'm sure.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: We always do. John, thanks very much. KING: All right, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, I want to go right up to CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

She's getting new information about -- what is going on Dana? Yet another nominee for a critical Cabinet post has some tax issues?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. By our count, the sixth Obama nominee with tax issues. And that is the HHS secretary -- at least the nominee to fill that slot, Kathleen Sebelius, the governor on Kansas. We just learned that she has just paid $7,918 in back taxes and interest. And we just learned this from the Senate Finance Committee. That is the committee that is going to be in charge of actually confirming her as HHS secretary.

And, basically, in the letter that we got today to the committee, she said that she made mistakes with regard to charitable contributions, with regard to interest she deducted on her taxes for a home that she sold and also for business expenses that they found out actually should not have necessarily been claimed as deductions.

So those are three issues that she says that she found out about because when she was nominated or at least tapped by the president, she hired a CPA -- she and her husband did that. And they found these errors.

Now, $7,918 is obviously far less than the nearly $150,000 that Tom Daschle, the first nominee to be HHS -- HHS secretary -- that he had issues with. So that may be why the chairman -- the Democratic chairman of this committee is already putting out a statement saying despite these tax errors, he still supports her nomination.

BLITZER: Yes. All right. Well, let me just remind our viewers, Dana -- hold on for a second. Some of the other nominees who have had some tax issues so far.

Hilda Solis -- she was confirmed as the secretary of Labor -- $6,400 in tax issues.

Timothy Geithner confirmed -- he had $34,000 in tax issues. He's the Treasury secretary.

As you point out, Tom Daschle -- he had to withdraw his name as the secretary of Homeland -- of Health and Human Services -- $140,000 in tax issues.

And Nancy Killefer, she withdrew her name -- only $947 in tax issues -- as a performance officer for the White House.

Ron Kirk, he has been confirmed as the special Trade Representative -- $10,000 in back taxes.

So it's been a problem, Dana, for -- for this administration. And we'll see what happens with the Kansas governor, Kathleen Sebelius.

Dana, thanks very much.

And this just coming in right now -- a new ruling in that long drawn out U.S. Senate recount in Minnesota. A court has just ordered further review next week of 400 absentee ballots in the contest between the Democrat, Al Franken, and the Republican, Norm Coleman. The order may be a setback for Coleman, though, because his lawyers had hoped for about 1,300 ballots to be counted. It may now be tougher for Coleman to overcome Franken's post-recount lead of only 225 votes.

Coleman is likely to appeal, by the way, to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Let's talk about all of this and more with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; our CNN political contributor, Steve Hayes, of "The Weekly Standard;" and CNN's political analyst, Roland Martin. They're part of the best political team on television.

The tax issue for the Kansas governor, Gloria, about $10,000. And they've scrubbed her taxes. She's going to, I'm sure, pay that back taxes.

How big of a deal is this?

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think it's a huge deal for Kathleen Sebelius. As Dana Bash just said, this is far less than the $150,000 or so for Tom Daschle. These seem to be kind of innocent mistakes that a CPA would catch that perhaps their accountant hadn't caught beforehand.

So I don't really think it's a big problem.

The larger problem is that it gives Republicans an opening to say, oh, look at all of these Democrats who haven't paid their taxes.

BLITZER: And I'm sure they'll do that, Steve, right?

STEPHEN HAYES, SENIOR WRITER "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Yes, if they're smart, they'll do that.

(LAUGHTER)

HAYES: I mean it's -- you know, I don't think it's going to end up being a big deal. It's not going to sink her nomination. But the Obama administration must be thinking, thank goodness we had Tom Daschle first, because he really set the bar high in terms of -- of failure to pay taxes. I mean it was such a huge number that this stuff looks like a rounding error by comparison. But it's not helpful. I mean this is -- you know, I think people take this seriously. You talk to people outside of Washington and this comes up all the time -- why haven't they paid their taxes?

BLITZER: It's a -- it's -- you know, it's partly, Roland, the -- the result of an enormously thorough vetting process. They have accountants scrubbing everyone's IRS -- all their returns. And you know what, all of us go and meet with accountants and they come up with numbers. And then another accountant can take a look at the exact same return and say you know what, you missed this, you missed that.

ROLAND S. MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, there's a significant difference, I think, between making an error in terms of miscalculating something, not being able to find a contribution letter as opposed to knowing that you have a tax problem and still not paying the taxes.

And so, yes, there is a difference there. And so sure, people -- look, people make mistakes. I think that even the average American out there, if they actually had an accountant go through their taxes, they would say well, you know what, you took a deduction there and you shouldn't have or they might just say you could have taken more.

And so, yes. That's why I think you have to have somebody who's a CPA plus. You can always write the -- write the expense off, as well. So a little tax tip for our folks (INAUDIBLE).

HAYES: Yes, but what if...

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: What if you just can't afford a CPA?

I mean a lot of people in this country can't afford a CPA. And if there's anything, this is the best argument for tax simplification I've ever heard.

BORGER: I was just going to say that. I totally agree with you. I mean this really points to the fact that the tax code is so complicated that you need someone to explain it to you. And you may need two people to explain it to you. And they're going to disagree.

BLITZER: All right. That's a good -- a fair point.

BORGER: It's a problem.

BLITZER: And $7,918 in back taxes at issue for Kathleen Sebelius -- Steve, what do you think about this gesture -- it was dramatic. Richard Holbrooke, the special U.S. representative, actually meeting with the deputy foreign minister of Iran today in the Hague. Hillary Clinton, the secretary of State, was there. She didn't attend this meeting, also she did make some conciliatory comments about how useful it is.

Some say this is appeasement. Others say this is smart, strong diplomacy in trying to deal with Iran.

What do you think?

HAYES: Well, I'm not sure it's appeasement yet. But what I'm afraid is that it sets up appeasement to come. You know, I think, basically this was for symbolism. I think they, you know, shook hands. They might have had a brief chat.

But what we're going to get, coming -- going forward, is a much more conciliatory policy toward Iran and one that I think is going to lead strongly toward appeasement. I don't think there's any other way to put it.

And, look, he won the election. This is what Barack Obama told us he was going to do. He won the election. This is fair. But I still think it's a mistake.

BLITZER: Yes, I was going to say that, Gloria.

BORGER: Well, I don't...

BLITZER: He did promise he would start a dialogue with Iran and that's...

BORGER: He did.

BLITZER: ...that's what's happening.

BORGER: He did. But I don't think it's quite fair to call it appeasement. I mean if you look at the last policy, the last policy toward Iran was regime change.

So is this regime change?

No, it's not.

But is it, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today, looking for areas where there are mutual concerns, for example, the drug trade?

Yes. There is a mutual concern about the drug trade at the border in Afghanistan.

And is that something that, perhaps, we could work with the Iranians on?

Absolutely.

BLITZER: What do you think...

MARTIN: And, Wolf...

BORGER: So why not go for that?

MARTIN: Well, first of all, let's also remind people that from a historical standpoint, that we used to get along with Iran when we hated Iraq. And then we hung out with Iraq and we hated Iran.

So the reality is we've always had relationships with different people that have changed over the course of time.

You cannot move toward any kind of diplomacy or any kind of resolving disputes in the Middle East if you don't deal with folks like this.

And so having conversations and contact makes absolute sense. We hate Cuba and we talk about them all the time. And we've even revealed that we've had some different conversations with them on various issues that have been to our liking.

So it does happen all the time. We should be in conversation with them.

BLITZER: And the proof will be in the pudding. And we'll see what happens in the weeks and months to come.

All right, guys, thanks very much. See you all back here tomorrow.

We'll see Roland coming up in a little bit more than an hour from now. As many of you probably know, he's guest hosting "NO BIAS, NO BULL," 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Among the stories you're going to want to see tonight, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, Roland is going to be talking about how the first lady, Michelle Obama, plans to win over her critics in Europe. Remember, Roland Martin is up at 8:00 p.m. Eastern tonight only here on CNN.

Tomorrow, President Obama will meet with the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, in London.

What do you want President Obama to tell the Russians?

You can submit your video comments to ireport.com/situationroom. Watch tomorrow's show to see if your video gets on the air.

A police officer is now under fire for preventing an NFL player from reaching a dying relative in time. Now the officer is breaking his silence and explaining why he did what he did.

And flood evacuees returning home to heartbreak -- everything they had now in ruins. And they're sending a powerful message to Washington -- bail us out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We have an update now on an encounter that's received national, indeed, international attention. This month, a Dallas police officer on a routine traffic stop prevented an NFL player from entering a hospital to say good-bye to his dying mother-in-law. Until now, the officer has said little.

But CNN's Ed Lavandera tells us that has now changed -- Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Dallas Police Officer Robert Powell has been trying to, in his words, "lay low." But that doesn't mean he's been able to escape the stinging criticism.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERT POWELL, DALLAS POLICE OFFICER: Your attitude sucks.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): That's this voice of Dallas Police Officer Robert Powell on this infamous dash cam video from March 17th, pulling over NFL running back Ryan Moats and his wife. The couple was racing to the bedside of her dying mother. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY CBS11TV.COM)

OFFICER ROBERT POWELL, DALLAS POLICE: The first thing I want to say is that I'm sorry for everything that has happened. I'm sorry to the Moats family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: But now, Powell sounds much different.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY CBS 11 TV.COM)

POWELL: I used poor judgment and if any other offers and any else that is going to watch this interview, I want them to understand that that is not me, that is not every officer that is out there on the streets across the country. And I hope that anybody watching this -- officer or not -- can see my mistake and know that, you know, hey, this is not the way to handle this kind of situation.

LAVANDERA: Powell is currently on paid leave from the Dallas Police Department. He's received death threats and is worried about the safety of his two small children after the dash cam video was released.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: I need your insurance.

RYAN MOATS: I don't have anything. I don't have insurance.

POWELL: You don't have insurance?

MOATS: (INAUDIBLE) whatever.

POWELL: Well, if I can't...

(CROSSTALK)

POWELL: Listen, if I can't verify you have...

MOATS: My mother-in-law is dying!

POWELL: Listen to me.

MOATS: Right now!

POWELL: Listen.

MOATS: You're wasting my time.

POWELL: And if I can't verify you have insurance, I'm going to tow the car. So you need to find it or I'm going to tow the car.

(CROSSTALK)

MOATS: Take me to jail. POWELL: You can either stand there and cooperate or I can take you to jail.

MOATS: I'm cooperating.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: Ryan Moats and his wife say Powell pointed his gun at them. Powell says he did not. But the officer is unable to explain why he didn't just let Moats go inside the hospital.

POWELL: I did believe that there was an emergency. For why I didn't let them go in, I don't know. And I should have. And I don't know why I said all that. It was my mistake. I was wrong.

LAVANDERA: Whether the apologies will save his job at the Dallas Police Department is unclear. He's been on the force three years and right now the department is in the midst of an investigation.

POWELL: To say that I'm scared of being fired, I would say it's an understatement.

I'm terrified. I have a family. I have two young children. They are my life and I work hard for them.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

LAVANDERA: Powell says he still hasn't been able to speak with Ryan Moats and his wife. He would like to apologize to them in person -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Lavandera, thank you very much.

Some flood evacuees are returning to find their homes in North Dakota and Minnesota destroyed.

Let's go out there.

Ted Rowlands is on the scene for us.

Some pretty heartbreaking stuff coming up -- in fact, going on right now -- Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Wolf. The Red River continues to drop, which is great news for a lot of people. But for those folks that have lost their homes, it is the beginning of a very painful chapter in their lives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Breaking down with emotion, Pam and Jon Johnson returned to their Moorhead, Minnesota home to find it underwater.

Pam Johnson, flood victim: It's horrible.

JON JOHNSON: It's very hard to take.

P. JOHNSON: It's horrible. We've been crying for two days, since we left.

J. JOHNSON: The closest...

P. JOHNSON: And that's why we had to get out of town for a day.

J. JOHNSON: The closest thing I can compare it to is like when you have a close relative die. That's the feeling.

P. JOHNSON: We just have a hard time getting through any conversation on this.

ROWLANDS: The Johnsons fled just after midnight Thursday, after pleading with city officials to include two more homes in a contingency dike. Instead, the dike was constructed next to the Johnsons' house, leaving it unprotected.

J. JOHNSON: My dike is good and my neighbor's dike is good. We've worked -- you know, we're going to be good. Let's put that dike down there and let's save these two houses, too. And they said this is the best spot. We're going to put it right there.

I feel that our house was sacrificed to save seven or nine houses, something like that, further on down.

ROWLANDS: Seeing a neighbor, Pam breaks down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I'm sorry. OK.

ROWLANDS: The Johnsons have been here on and off for decades. They were married across the street in the backyard of the house Pam grew up in and raised two children in Moorhead. They say most of their savings were in this house and they had recently paid off the mortgage. The Johnsons say they most likely won't stay here anymore, but they hope the area gets help to build permanent dikes.

J. JOHNSON: If anybody out there in Washington is watching, you know, cut us some slack. Give us a break. Bail us out. You know, AIG is one thing, but Moorhead is a little -- it deserves some breaks.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ROWLANDS: And the Red River continues to drop, which is great news here. This event virtually over because the river level now, Wolf, is below 38 feet, which is below the permanent dike system for most of the dikes in this area. The problem, the Weather Service now predicting another flood event in a couple of weeks. And they're saying, hey, folks here may have to go through this thing all over again.

BLITZER: Ted Rowlands on the scene for us.

Thank you very much.

Did you know you can drive a barstool and did know you can get arrested for drunken driving while doing it?

One man found out the hard way and CNN's Jeanne Moos is standing by to take, as she always does, a Moost Unusual look.

Plus, we have details of the worm, as it's called. It's threatening to unleash havoc on millions of computers tomorrow -- what it does, who's at risk. We have details -- information you need to know.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Coming up at the top of the hour, complete coverage of the president's visit to Europe. President Obama trying to sell his plan for a global New Deal to Europeans who just aren't buying those proposals. All of this as the president pushes what many call a socialist agenda here in the United States. We'll have complete coverage.

Also, as the world focuses on North Korea's imminent missile test, we'll tell you about a dangerous new kill weapon that Communist China has built to destroy U.S. aircraft carriers.

And Democratically-controlled Congress votes to spend billions of dollars on community service programs. Critics say taxpayer dollars will be channeled to ultra-liberal activist groups, including the left-wing activist group, ACORN, which is under investigation in 13 states.

We'll have that special report, all the day's news and much more at the top of the hour.

Please join us.

THE SITUATION ROOM with Wolf Blitzer continues in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack Cafferty.

He has The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Wolf, some of the automakers are saying President Obama has treated the car companies worse than he treated Wall Street.

Are they right?

Katie writes from Massachusetts: "He ought to be tougher on the car companies. They haven't had a viable business model in years. So why should we hard-working Americans bail them out? If G.M. tanks, it really doesn't affect me, as I don't work in a related industry. But if Wall Street fails, that affects every facet of our economy -- jobs, pensions, businesses, banks, everything. G.M.'s failure is G.M.'s problem. Wall Street's failure is everyone's problem." Jerry in Encino, California: "The car companies -- and especially G.M. -- have been begging for this for years. Successive management steeped in the seemingly inescapable corporate culture of failure have guided G.M. downhill for years, while the likes of Toyota have taken successively larger shares of the market. The autoworkers enforcing their unrealistic demands are complicit in G.M.'s failure."

Paul in South Carolina: "Whatever happened to American Motors, Packard, Studebaker, Nash or, for that matter, Montgomery Wards? They came and went and due to various circumstances, their time was over. A company comes to an end because of its refusal to change or its inability to meet the demands and needs of a changing public. The auto industry, with its overpaid, arrogant workers and executives, has come to the end of the line."

Jim in my hometown, Reno, Nevada: "Jack, I don't know. It looks about the same to me -- and especially in light of the pounding AIG took over those bonuses.

If some Wall Street companies seem to get away with more, maybe it's because they are too big to fail. That phrase seems to apply to AIG, but not to G.M. I don't really understand why." And Shirley in Ohio says

"If the automobile industry got one penny of taxpayers' money, then I think they were treated fairly. The banks got off easy because they were the first panhandlers in line. President Obama had to draw the line somewhere."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile and look for yours there among the hundreds that are posted -- Wolf, see you tomorrow.

BLITZER: See you tomorrow, Jack.

Thank you.

Will a malicious computer worm damage millions of computers on April Fool's Day?

That would be tomorrow. It's called the Conficker worm and it's absolutely no joke.

Our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, has been looking into this -- this worm, it's causing a lot of angst out there.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, Wolf, right now, for the last two or three months, it's just been sitting there -- sitting there on five or 10 million PCs around the world, waiting for instructions.

Now, if your PC has the latest security updates, then you're likely fine. But over the last couple of months, the Conficker worm has been quietly spreading where security is weaker -- spreading onto computer networks, spreading onto PCs that don't have strong security measures. And once it's there, it's hard to get off because this worm is actually going to disable your security updates, block access to anti-virus Web sites. And that's one way that you're going to know if you have it.

BLITZER: So what happens tomorrow if your luck is bad enough and it affects your computer?

TATTON: Wolf, researchers just don't know. They think something's going to happen. There's going to be some kind of update. They're saying don't panic. It could just be that -- an update that you won't even notice.

But down the road, this worm could be told to collect all your information. It's a serious concern. And Microsoft just put up a quarter of a million dollars reward if anyone has any information about where this came from. They just don't know.

BLITZER: It might be a good idea to back up some information tonight before tomorrow.

TATTON: Change your password.

BLITZER: All right. That's a good idea, as well.

Thank you, Abbi.

Cited for drunken driving after wiping out on a bar stool -- make that a motorized barstool. Only Jeanne Moos -- only Jeanne has this Moost Unusual report.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Being cited for driving under the influence in your car is bad enough. But when you're driving a barstool, it's downright ridiculous.

CNN's Jeanne Moos checked out this Moost Unusual traffic stop.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It sort of raises the bar on bar stools -- motorized barstools.

(VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Proudly posted on YouTube. But not so proud is this guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it was just an accident -- I mean a little minor accident.

MOOS: Kyle Wygle was cited by Newark, Ohio, police for drunken driving on a barstool. Neighbors saw him go by.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought, gee, that's strange.

MOOS: And then he wiped out. He told the arriving officer: "I wrecked my barstool." Asked how many beers he'd had, he answered: "More like 15," according to the police report. That's more than this guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had four beers in me.

MOOS: Another Ohio man busted a few years ago for operating a vehicle under the influence -- his lawnmower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What can I say?

I think it's ridiculous.

MOOS: But Ohio police say you can get cited for operating any type of vehicle while intoxicated, even a bike if you're on public property. And this was at least his fourth DUI.

One of the most famous drunken driving lawnmower arrests wasn't even real.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you turn that off?

MOOS: But everyone thought it was when it was first posted online a couple of years back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, the wife said if I didn't get her another beer, she was going to stab me in the face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't need to be drinking. And then you're littering on top of that.

MOOS: Guess it's funnier if you think it's real. And sometimes it is.

(VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: As for those motorized bar stools...

(VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: ...we suggest no tipping.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: It looks pretty dangerous to me.

Thank you, Jeanne.

We want you to check out our political podcast. To get the best political team to go, you can subscribe to CNN.com/situationroom.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou.