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North Korea to Reactivate Nukes; Obamas Get a Dog

Aired April 14, 2009 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: North Korea now vowing to reactivate its nuclear sites and relaunch fears around the world.

And meet the newest member of the Obama family. Bo the dog is settling in at the White House right now. And the dog whisperer, Cesar Millan, he is standing to give the Obamas a few tips.

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

President Obama may see the light at the end of the tunnel, but he knows he can't afford to sound too upbeat about the economy while so many Americans still are hurting, the delicate balancing act for the president as he closes in on his first 100 days in office.

Our White House correspondent Dan Lothian is joining us now.

Dan, the president clearly wanted to remind the American people today that the economy remains issue number one.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It does remain issue number one.

The administration really billed this as a major economic speech, but there were no new initiatives, no policy shift. What the president was trying to do with his speech today is to give in some ways a progress support and also a pep talk.


LOTHIAN (voice-over): Economic crisis 101. President Obama reminded Americans how the free-fall started...

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was caused by a perfect storm of irresponsibility and poor decision-making.

LOTHIAN: ... and what his administration has been doing to turn things around.

OBAMA: We've had no choice but to attack all fronts of our economic crisis simultaneously.

LOTHIAN: The president laid out what he called the pieces of the recovery puzzle: stimulus money, housing and auto plans, the bank bailout plan, unfreezing credit markets. While Mr. Obama cautioned that the nation is not "out of the woods just yet," he sounded cautiously optimistic. OBAMA: From where we stand, for the very first time, we're beginning to see glimmers of hope. And beyond that, way off in the distance, we can see a vision of an America's future that is far different than our troubled economic past.

LOTHIAN: But the road to that destination is dotted with more hurdles. Retail sales numbers for the month of March were down more than one percent, worse than expected. At the same time, Hallmark announced it was reducing its work force by six percent to eight percent over the next six months. And John Deere plans to cut another 200 employees by fall.

THOMAS "DANNY" BOSTON, GEORGIA TECH DEPT. OF ECONOMICS: We're not at the bottom, and we are going to see some ups and downs over the next couple of months. But the important point is that we don't see the steep declines that we were seeing towards last quarter and then the first month or so of this year.


LOTHIAN: Now, senior aides say the president through his speech was trying to give Americans some optimism, while at the same time remind them about some of the challenges that are still ahead -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We're going to have more on this story coming up.

Dan, thank you.

North Korea, meanwhile, vowing to restart its nuclear facilities, provoking new fears around the world, the communist regime also booting nuclear inspectors and promising to boycott international disarmament talks for good. It's a very defiant response to the United Nations Security Council, which condemned North Korea's recent missile test launch.

The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, offered this warning to North Korea just a short time ago.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are viewing this as unnecessary response to the legitimate statement put out of concern by the Security Council. And, obviously, we hope that there will be an opportunity to discuss this, not only with our -- our partners and allies, but also eventually with the North Koreans.


BLITZER: The White House says North Korea is taking a serious step in the wrong direction and should stop its provocative threats.

We're also getting new information right now about the daring rescue of a U.S. sea captain held by pirates. It drives home the danger of the operation and the challenges involving cracking down on piracy.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence.

Chris, you have got some new pictures that are just coming in.


The latest information we have is that that fourth pirate that gave himself up remains on the USS Boxer getting medical attention in the custody of the U.S. Navy. We're also getting some new photos just released today that really give a very clear picture of the ships involved in that daring rescue.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Released for the first time Tuesday, these photos show it looks like bullet holes in the lifeboat, when the Navy says SEALs shot and killed three pirates. The SEALs fired from the rear of the USS Bainbridge, which was towing the lifeboat through rolling waves 80 feet away.

CAPT. POTTENGAI MUKUNDAN, INTERNATIONAL MARITIME BUREAU: If all flag states were to take that kind of robust action against the pirates, we would not have the problems of Somali piracy to the extent that we have today.

LAWRENCE: Three died in the Maersk lifeboat, but that isn't stopping pirates from attacking merchant ships. Pirates have seized four boats in the last two days, including this Greek freighter. The Irene was taken during a rare attack at night, which suggests the pirates now have new capabilities.

CHAS HENRY, U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE: They make money from ransoms. We've seen them get better equipment. We can assume that they'll probably get better at accomplishing the tactics of piracy.

LAWRENCE: The U.S. military is considering using troops, planes and ships to go after pirates more aggressively, but some say the companies have to help protect their own ships, even if it's installing non-lethal defenses.

BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT (RET. ), MILITARY ANALYST: Long-range acoustical devices, barbed wire around the edge of the decks, sticky foam, setting up safe rooms on the ships themselves.


LAWRENCE: Some say the companies have got to do more.

As for the rescued American crew, we know that the captain is still on the USS Bainbridge. He's going to join the rest of the crew very soon. That crew has been relaxing at a resort in Kenya. They're all going to fly back to Andrews Air Force Base tomorrow. And they will be reunited with their families tomorrow night -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Chris Lawrence, thanks very much. We will have coverage tomorrow when they come back here to Washington to Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington. One of the crew members spoke out earlier today in Mombasa.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laying there 12 hours in total darkness in heat and fear. Do you understand that? Can you imagine that? I didn't know if they were going to find us or not find us.


BLITZER: All right, let's go to Jack Cafferty right now. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Most Americans, Wolf, disagree with Dick Cheney. Now, there's breaking news. They disagree when Cheney says that President Obama's actions have increased the risk of another U.S. terror attack.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 72 percent of those surveyed disagree that the new president has made the country less safe. Only 26 percent agree with Dick Cheney. The poll shows a pretty significant partisan divide, as you might expect -- 53 percent of Republicans agree with Cheney -- 90 percent of Democrats -- 90 percent -- are behind President Obama.

Cheney recently suggested the Bush administration anti-terror policies were -- quote -- "absolutely essential" to preventing further attacks after 9/11. He called it a great success story and added that, as president, Obama rolls back some of those policies, he is increasing the risk of another attack on this country.

The current vice president, Joe Biden, fired back at Cheney, called him dead wrong. Biden insists the country's safer now. He says the Bush administration left the U.S. in a weaker position than we had been in since World War II, less respected and stretched more thinly. And it seems like most Americans are on the same page as Vice President Biden when it comes to the issue of national security.

Here is the question. Is the United States less safe under President Obama than it was under President Bush? Go to and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

One man says, why punish the children? A disturbing new study highlights what happens to children born in the United States when their parents are deported for being illegal immigrants. Will immigration reform be a major topic on President Obama's upcoming trip to Mexico?

And in the White House, he is the top dog. The new presidential pooch makes his debut. And the dog whisperer, Cesar Millan, trainer to many celebrities, he's here with some advice for the first family.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Millions of American children are living a life on the edge right now, at risk of losing either their parents or their country.

According to a new poll released by the Pew Hispanic Center, four million American children have at least one parent who is undocumented.

As CNN's Thelma Gutierrez show us, if that parent is arrested and deported, the kids are faced with a very tough choice.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Julie Quiroz is American. She was born in Washington state. In one day, she says, she lost everything. Her friends, her school, even her country. Last year, immigration agents arrested her two older brothers and her mother, Anna, who was working illegally cleaning hotel rooms to support four children.

JULIE QUIROZ, DAUGHTER OF DEPORTEE: I was there when they handcuffed her. I was there when they took her down.

GUTIERREZ: Julie's family was deported to Mexico City. She and her little sister, Charice (ph), also a U.S. citizen, had no choice but to follow.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): How did you do in school?

QUIROZ: Really bad. I would just come home, sit down, cry and say, mom, I can't do it.


QUIROZ: I can't read or write Spanish.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): At 13, Julie was a stranger in a foreign land.

QUIROZ: I felt like there was no more dreams for me.

GUTIERREZ: Then Joe Kennard, a land developer from Texas, heard about Julie's plight.

JOE KENNARD, LEGAL GUARDIAN: You can make the argument that, you know, she deserved what she got because she was an adult, she made the choices, she knew the consequences, et cetera. But why the children? They're innocent.

GUTIERREZ: The Kennards reached out to Julie's mother in Mexico and arranged for her to move to Texas to continue her education.

But Julie's mother, who entered the U.S. illegally before Julie was born, didn't want her teenager to pay for it, so she made the painful decision to implore Julie to go.

QUIROZ: The thing I like about Texas is that it's so beautiful, wonderful.

GUTIERREZ: Julie now lives with Joe's family near a lake. She's a freshman in high school and adjusting to all the changes.

When she's alone, she says, it still hurts.

QUIROZ: I want to be in my mom's arms.

GUTIERREZ: Julie last saw her family at Christmas. She says she talks to her mother almost every day. She tells us that she is most worried about her 7-year-old sister, Charice (ph), who's also an American citizen. She says after two years of living in Mexico, her sister is losing her ability to speak English. And because she's not fully proficient in Spanish, Julie worries her little sister is not getting an education.

But, for now, her sister must stay in Mexico with her mother -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Thelma Gutierrez, thanks for that story.

We're hearing that the president of the United States might soon jump into this fight over comprehensive immigration reform.

Let's bring in our chief national correspondent, John King, the anchor of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."

This is not an easy decision for the president, because he's got so many other issues right now, to say, you know what, it's time for immigration reform.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Even some his own allies, Wolf, say, why don't you put this one on the back burner, maybe deal with that in the second year?

But the Obama administration says, no, it will go forward with this and ask its allies in Congress to push the legislation this year. It's an interesting fight. President Bush made this a top priority. It went off the rails. It caused him a lot of hurt within his own Republican Party.

Reached out to a lot of people on Capitol Hill today. They say the president has the votes as of today. They do think there will be opposition by some conservative Democrats, opposition among some conservative Republicans, and a loud argument.

At a time of 9 percent, near 9 percent unemployment in the United States, do you want to be doing this, the argument will be, for immigrants who are illegally, who are taking jobs away from Americans?

So, it will be a loud argument. As you know, it's a very polarizing and a divisive political argument. But even Republicans on Capitol Hill concede right now the president has the votes. And, Wolf, one subplot. It's a chance to work with his campaign rival, John McCain, who, as you know, has pushed this issue and pushed it quite hard.

BLITZER: Of course, President Bush tried. He had John McCain. He had Ted Kennedy. He couldn't do it. But you think, at least the experts think right now that he has a shot?

KING: By, mathematically, the votes were there even for President Bush in the end. And the Bush administration's view was that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid simply would not give President Bush a victory. So, there were some amendments at the end, and it was derailed in the Senate debate.

I checked in with Democrats in the Senate today, Democrats in the House, Republicans on both sides. They say there would be a big fight about it, but if you just did the math today, barring some big shift in the political dynamic, the president has the votes.

BLITZER: We will see if he -- I heard earlier in the week they were going to discuss it, and talk about it a lot this year, may not necessarily come up for a vote this year, but they're going to work on it because it's a high priority.


KING: That depends on the Congress.

BLITZER: OK. Thanks very much, John.

There's room for one top dog over at the White House, and his name is Bo. The first presidential pooch for the Obamas is ready for his closeup.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: We don't have a treat.

B. OBAMA: We have got no treats. That's the problem.


M. OBAMA: Go get some Kibbles from Don.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think?

B. OBAMA: There's too many people around.


BLITZER: The dog is a Portuguese water dog and is said to be very active.

So, what advice might the Obamas need? We spoke to Cesar Millan. He's also known as the dog whisperer. And he's a dog trainer to many celebrities.


CESAR MILLAN, THE DOG WHISPERER: Well, you know, right away, it's best to take him for a good long walk, and really not to use a lot of excitement.

As I'm hearing, there's a lot of excitement going on, which that only makes a dog very excited. It doesn't really relax him. You want a relaxed dog, you know, who is a Portuguese water dog, because that's what's going to give you access to tell him what to do.

Excited dogs don't really listen to people as much as the calm- state-of-mind dog. So, very important to right away, after they do the media, they go into fulfilling the needs of animal dog breed Bo.

BLITZER: How smart are these Portuguese water dogs?

MILLAN: Portuguese water dogs, like any other breed who is a working type, are very smart.

But, at the same time, you have to fulfill the needs of. So, I would do is exercise, discipline, then play with the breed. The breed is what gives you access to the genetics. So, that means they're water -- that means you can throw the ball in the water, retrieve and -- on land.

But the most important part was, what gives people trouble is not the breed, as much as is the dog. So, if you don't fulfill the needs of dogs, they -- they can go into nervous behavior, excitement, digging, barking, pulling, you know, the president of the United States.

And those are the parts that can be prevented.


BLITZER: All right, here's a question. What would Bo say if he could talk? Wait until you see and hear what Jeanne Moos thinks about that. That's coming up later this hour.

Do you have an alcohol problem? There's startling new information right now that may make you pause the next time you go out for a drink. Some people have alcohol addiction and don't even know it. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to explain.

And tomorrow is tax day in the United States. Guess who pays the most in personal income taxes? It may surprise you.

And New York could soon join history. The governor of that state will urge the state legislature to legalize gay marriage.


BLITZER: It's estimated that 23 million Americans are struggling right now with some sort of chemical addiction. Alcohol is by far the most common, but many people don't even realize they have a very serious problem.

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has been looking into addiction.

How do you, Sanjay? And it's a sensitive issue. How do you know if someone you care about actually has an alcohol problem?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, there are some specific criteria which psychologists and psychiatrists, other doctors will use to try and determine that.

But as we were working on this documentary, something sort of struck us. And that is that there's not this bright line, sort of defined line between someone who's an alcoholic or an addict vs. being not an alcoholic or an addict. It is more sort of this continuum.

And that's sort of an important point as doctors try and figure out how to diagnose this very early. There is an institute called the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse that after studying this issue for a long time, studying 43,000 people, they have come up with what they believe is a pretty good screening test to figure out who is most at risk of developing addiction.

So, just very quickly, for men, the question they ask, again often in primary care offices, any day in the past year, have you had more than four standard drinks? Now, think about that question for a second as you think about they question they ask for women, which is, on any given day this year, have you had more than three standard drinks?

They consider this a screening question. And what they find, Wolf, fascinating, is that, if you answer affirmative, being a man or a woman, that you fall into the top 20 percentile of people -- top fifth, rather, top 20 percent of people who are likely to develop an addiction problem some point later in life.

So, there is a quick screening test involved here -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So, in other words, if a man, let's say, goes to a ball game and has four beers or a woman goes out to dinner and has three glasses of wine, there's a problem there; is that what you're saying?

GUPTA: Well, it's an indication that there might be a potential problem later in the future. It's not saying they're an alcoholic. It's not even saying that they're a problem drinker.

But it does show some degree of impulsivity that could possibly lead to problems with addiction later on.

But the real crux here, Wolf, and this was the challenge, how to target potential addicts early on in life. That was the challenge posed by this particular institute. And they decided that a lot of that could happen in primary care doctors' offices, sort of the first- line defense.

They went so far as to create a video, hiring actors to sort of teach doctors how to start addressing these issues. Take a look at one snippet.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Do you think I'm an alcoholic?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Based on what you said, you do have signs of alcohol dependence. Your depressed mood, insomnia, and fatigue may well be caused by your heavy drinking.


GUPTA: So, yes, so that's just one -- maybe not the best example, certainly, of how these doctors are trained. But again, this idea that you can catch the potential of addicts early on in life is sort of what's driving all this -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Amazing stuff. And I know you have worked hard on this new documentary that we're releasing this weekend, Sanjay. Thanks very much.

GUPTA: Thank you, Wolf.

Sanjay's special, "Addiction: Life on the Edge," will air this weekend. He follows the lives of four addicts trying to stay sober for a year. The special debuts Saturday and Sunday 8:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN. I think you're going to want to see this.

The New York governor right now on the brink of a big push to allow same-sex marriage in his state. Will voters reward him or turn against him? The best political team on television is standing by.

Plus, the former governor of Illinois officially responds to his indictment on corruption charges.

And with just hours to go until the tax filing deadline, we will give you the real deal about who's paying most to the IRS and where all the money is really going.


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

Happening now: The ousted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich pleaded not guilty today to charges he tried to auction off President Obama's former Senate seat. Blagojevich, who was impeached earlier in the year, appeared in federal court.

For a sixth day, hundreds of protesters jammed the streets in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, calling for the president there to step down. Demonstrators are angry over his handling of last summer's war with Russia.

And former Cuban leader Fidel Castro says Cuba won't beg America to lift the economic embargo. Castro praised President Obama for lifting some travel restrictions to Cuba yesterday, but says the policies that remain create, in his words, "painful suffering." I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Many of you are scrambling right now to get your taxes filed by tomorrow night's deadline here in the United States. This time of the year, it's hard not to wonder exactly where all your hard-earned money is going. CNN is bringing you the real deal on your tax dollars.

Our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is joining us.

Jessica, you're taking a closer look at who pays the most in taxes and how that money is being spent.


I think everyone feels they pay a lot in taxes, but the question is, who pays the most? Well, fortunately, the Tax Foundation crunched the numbers and here's what they show.

Now, the federal government estimates it will take in almost $2.7 trillion this year. That includes personal income tax, business taxes, and other fees. The majority of personal income taxes are paid by a really very small number of the nation's top earners.

In fact, 40 percent of all taxes are paid by the top 1 percent of earners, people who make $389,000 or more. Now, digging even deeper, more than 70 percent of income taxes are paid by the top 10 percent of earners. That's folks who make $109,000 or more.

So, lately, the rich, as we have been reporting, have been getting richer, and along with it, they have been paying for taxes as their incomes grow.

Now, there's one other note. The bottom 50 percent of taxpayers, they pay just under 3 percent of the nation's income taxes. Remember, the Obama tax plan, which would go into effect two years from now, they would have the richest Americans paying even more -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, break down for us, Jessica, where all that money goes.


Twenty percent of the federal budget is going to the -- to national defense. Just over 8.5 percent of it is going to pay interest on our national debt. And then the nation's entitlement programs -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- they make up about 44 percent of our budget, a huge chunk -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A huge chunk, indeed.

All right, Jessica.

Thanks very much. Stay with CNN this week to get the real deal on your taxes. We're digging deeper to give you the facts about what you're paying and where the money is going.

It was billed by the White House as a major speech on the economy by the president of the United States, but was it also a preemptive strike?


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: From where we stand, for the very first time, we're beginning to see glimmers of hope. And beyond that, way off in the distance, we can see a vision of America's future that is far different than America's troubled economic past. It's an America teeming with new industry and communicate, humming with new energy and discoveries that light the world once more, a place where anyone from anywhere with a good idea or the will to work can live the dream they've heard so much about.

That is the house upon the rock -- proud and sturdy, unwavering in the face of the greatest storms.


BLITZER: All right. Let's bring in Gloria Borger, our CNN senior political analyst; our CNN political contributor, Steve Hayes, of "The Weekly Standard"; and our CNN political analyst, Roland Martin -- it's interesting the president decided today to deliver this lengthy speech here at Georgetown University here in Washington, Gloria, the day before a tax deadline.

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And, you know, Wolf, he's also in between foreign trips. He's had some criticism that he's spending too much time abroad. He needed to talk about the economic crisis.

And in talking to folks at the White House today, they say that he considers his role kind of like the national explainer. Think of FDR's fireside chats. These are Barack Obama's version of FDR's fireside chats.

And what he's trying to do, I'm told, is say to the American public, look, these are the decisions I've made. These are the reasons I made these decisions. And I'm going to continue to update you as we go along in this crisis because the decisions I make affect your lives.

BLITZER: He certainly seems, Steve, to have the upper hand right now. In our most recent poll, do Republicans have a plan for solving economic problems?

That question was asked. Only 24 percent of the American public said yes. Seventy-four percent said no.

STEPHEN HAYES, SENIOR WRITER "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Yes, I think that's because, you know, Republicans are in the minority sort of everywhere they look. And as Gloria said, the president is positioning himself as the great explainer.

And I think when he does what he did in the speech today, he does this quite well. I mean even for those of us who disagree with his policy prescriptions, when he's -- when he takes the time to actually walk you through what he's doing, he's very good at explaining these things.

Now I will say that the one part of the speech that I found either muddled or deeply troubling, depending on which interpretation you give it, was the part that you just played, where he talked about America's troubled economic past. And that seems to me a totally warped view of American economic history.

This is the richest country in the world. It has been the richest country -- created more wealth than any country in the history of civilization. We've had some blips. We've had some problems. We're in one now.


HAYES: But I don't know what he's talking about...


HAYES: ...America's troubled economic past.

MARTIN: You know, Steve, if I was one of the eight and a -- that 8.5 percent of folks who don't have a job, the people -- we've lost, what, some two million -- I wouldn't necessarily be thinking of that as a blip.

So when he talks about the history, I think he's talking about the short-term history. And that is, looking at what has taken place over the last several years.

If you're sitting at home right now and you're without a job and you've been looking for 15, 18 months; if you're sitting here, a small business owner, and you can't get credit, trust me, you don't -- you're not thinking of what happened 60, 70 or 80 years ago about how rich we are. You're thinking about right now how broke you are.

HAYES: Well, I understand...

BORGER: You know...

HAYES: I understand that. I mean that's fine. You, of course, emotionally, you would think of it as a blip. But that doesn't at all change the actual facts...

MARTIN: No. Not emotionally. It's called financially.

HAYES: Well, that doesn't at all...

MARTIN: That's financially.

HAYES: That doesn't at all change the facts of American economic history. Now you may have a different interpretation. Certainly, somebody with -- without a job is struggling right now and is going to look at this differently. But it doesn't change the history of the country based on the economic history.

BORGER: You know, and also in terms of history, you look at what Obama is doing, it's very unusual. I mean not since FDR have we really had someone who has made a decision to go before the American public and to answer his critics. Because what he said today was, look, you know, there are some people who are criticizing me for spending too much money, some people who are criticizing me for taking on health care and energy when I ought to just be focusing on the economy.

But let me explain to you the reasons why I am doing all of these things and you decide for yourself.

And he was very clear that they believe that President Obama is the best economic spokesman they have and so they're going to use him this way.

BLITZER: There's no doubt about that.

Guys, I want you to all stand by, because we have more to discuss, including some global hot spots -- they're flaring up once again.

Can President Obama tackle them all?

I'll ask the best political team on television.

Plus, dog days at the White House with the arrival of the new first pet. CNN's Jeanne Moos -- she'll give us a Moost Unusual look, as only she can.


BLITZER: Let's get right to our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry.

The president deciding he needs, what, a border czar?


We've heard about a lot of different czars -- climate czar, drug czar, now a border czar. We're told by administration officials it will be officially named on Wednesday by the Homeland Security secretary, Janet Napolitano, who's going to be visiting the U.S.- Mexico border.

This czar -- the border czar focused on that drug cartel violence that has exploded in recent months on the U.S.-Mexico border. We're told it's going to be Alan Bersin, a former Justice Department official.

My colleague, Jeanne Meserve, also hearing that the Homeland Security secretary will be discussing other issues like immigration -- obviously, a whole host of very important, tough issues to deal with along the Mexico border. The significance, of course, is this is coming on the eve of the president's first visit to Mexico as president. He'll be heading there Thursday on the way to the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad. As you know, he's going to be visiting with Mexican President Calderon.

Obviously a lot on his plate during that meeting -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly.

All right, Ed.

Thanks very much.

We're going to get back to the best political team on television in a moment.

But a growing hot spot for violence just got a little more uncertain. The Pakistani government has struck a deal with the Taliban. And they're calling it a peace deal. But U.S. leaders, including Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, they say it could set a very dangerous precedent.

CNN's Reza Sayah has the latest developments -- Reza.

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, on his visit to Pakistan, Senator John Kerry said Islamabad and Washington are committed in the fight against militancy. But he says a recent deal by the Pakistani government could be a step in the wrong direction.


SAYAH (voice-over): These are among the militants the Pakistani government hopes will lay down their weapons and stop their brutal regime under a controversial peace deal that U.S. Senator John Kerry says he doesn't like.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The peace deal, it's what I have said it before. I have serious concerns about it.

SAYAH: Senator Kerry expressed his concern on a visit to Islamabad 24 hours after Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari signed the peace deal with the Taliban in Pakistan's troubled Swat region. The agreement allows the Taliban to implement Sharia -- a strict interpretation of Islamic law. In return, the Taliban promises to stop a campaign of brutality that has included destroying girls' schools, public floggings and beheadings.

Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says the deal could set a dangerous precedent.

KERRY: I don't think it's going to serve the ultimate purpose. I think that it may even undermine the capacity to achieve some of what I suggested has to be achieved.

SAYAH: Kerry says both Washington and Islamabad agree the Taliban's influence is spreading. Both U.S. and Pakistani officials say the Taliban have crept east into Punjab, Pakistan's most populated province, scene of last month's attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team.

KERRY: There is a movement and already you're seeing an increase of events in Islamabad, in other parts of Pakistan.

SAYAH: Islamabad and Washington have yet to stop Pakistan's growing insurgency, but insists the right strategy is in place.


SAYAH: Senator Kerry acknowledges much of the billions of dollars Washington gave to Islamabad over the past eight years was not used in the fight against insurgency. But he says based on what he saw in this visit, he's confident the money will be now put to good use.

But the Obama administration not taking any chances, attaching conditions to future military funds -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Reza.

Thanks very much.

Reza is in Islamabad.

Let's get back to the best political team on television.

Gloria is still here, Steve and Roland -- Gloria, so many of these hot spots around the world -- let me just show our viewers what's going on. North Korea, clearly a major issue; Pakistan; Afghanistan; Iraq; Somalia; Mexico -- fears of what's going on along the border with the U.S. These are enormous problems. It's almost breathtaking when you think of how many challenges this new president is facing.

BORGER: Not to mention an economic crisis at home, Wolf.

I think that's one of the reasons, in a way, that you saw the new president decide to appoint somebody with a lot of credibility -- Hillary Clinton -- as secretary of State. And also, we've seen that he's got kind of divided up important regions with special envoys -- George Mitchell to the Middle East; Dick Holbrooke, for example, to Afghanistan and to Pakistan. Because those people can focus specifically on those issues and then report back to the secretary of State and to him.

BLITZER: It's a -- it's an enormous challenge, Steve.

HAYES: Yes, it certainly is. I mean it would be a greater challenge, of course, if Iraq hadn't turned around the way that it has. But I think -- you know, the verdict is out. The jury is out on whether appointing all of these special envoys and sort of dividing up in the White House, as it were, these kinds of responsibilities will ultimately be helpful or harmful. I think there's a significant case or a persuasive case to be made that they sort of mucked up the interagency process and could end up having -- causing more problems than they solved.

BORGER: It worked with the pirates.

BLITZER: Well, I was going to say, they're pretty talented...


BLITZER: ...these guys like George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke -- Roland.

MARTIN: Well, first of all, it's a huge world. And, you know, as you laid out, there are a ton of problems. And the bottom line is we've always had diplomats. We've always had folks in the State Department, the Pentagon, in various areas trying to deal with some of these issues. So it's not like, frankly, that we all of a sudden have more issues in terms of -- than previous presidents, because we've always had issues with these countries, whether it was North Korea, whether it was Bosnia, whether it was what was happening in the Sudan, in Somalia.

And, so, look, Somalia goes back to even President Clinton. I think the difference here, also, is that when you add in the economic situation in terms of how we have expanded our global reach, as well, so when you add that on, you're now seeing us operating in a far different world, frankly, than previous presidents.

BLITZER: All right...

MARTIN: So I think you need additional voices and their experience.

BLITZER: All right, guys.

Thanks very much.

But, Roland, I just want to congratulate you, Roland Martin, for being mentioned in "Ebony" magazine as one of the 150 most influential black Americans. The magazine is on the newsstand.


BLITZER: But take a look at the that picture, Roland. That's Roland Martin and his mother Imelda.

MARTIN: My mother...

BLITZER: She's one proud mom. And she should be.

MARTIN: Well, that was a different piece they had on moms of different folks. But, yes, I had a great time. And, of course, you know, a spitting imagine there so.

BLITZER: Yes. You should be very proud of her, as well. MARTIN: Absolutely.

BLITZER: I know you are.

Roland, by the way, is going to have a show coming up a little bit more than an hour from now, "NO BIAS, NO BULL," 8:00 p.m. Eastern. And he'll have a lot more on all of these subjects.

Tomorrow, Captain Richard Phillips and the crew of the Maersk Alabama, they're expected to arrive back here in the United States.

Going forward, what do you think the U.S. should do to address the pirate problem?

Submit your video questions to We'll try to get some of them on the air tomorrow.

Our question to you this hour, is the U.S. less safe under President Obama than it was under President Bush?

Jack Cafferty is standing by with your e-mails.

Plus, Bo's big day -- the newest resident of the White House meets the press. And CNN's Jeanne Moos looks at what might be on his mind.


LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Coming up at the top of the hour, we'll be telling you about a bizarre warning from the Department of Homeland Security about the threat to the United States from those concerned about the issues of illegal immigration, Second Amendment rights and, oh, yes, returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Also tonight, important new developments in the legal showdown over white and Latino firefighters charging the City of New Haven, Connecticut with racial discrimination. Serious and unanswered questions remain about the conduct of the courts in this case, as well, more than five years after the case was brought.

And many states reasserting their sovereignty, defending their Constitutional rights under the Tenth Amendment, trying to manage their own affairs and keep Washington out of those affairs.

We'll have that special report. And I'll be joined by three of my favorite radio talk show hosts.

Please join us for all of that, all the day's news and much more, coming up at the top of the hour.

THE SITUATION ROOM continues in just a moment.


BLITZER: New York may soon be the fifth state to legalize gay marriage. CNN has learned that the governor, David Paterson, will announce on Thursday his intention to introduce the controversial legislation. Former Governor Eliot Spitzer introduced the same bill back in 2007. It passed in the state assembly, but died in the state senate.

Similar measures have been approved by courts or lawmakers in Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts and Iowa.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty.

He's got The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour, is the U.S. less safe under President Obama than it was under President Bush?

Bill writes from Champaign, Illinois: "That question is absurd. We were attacked -- successfully, I might add -- under the less than watchful eye of George Bush. Dick Cheney did nothing to prevent those attacks and he has the nerve now to criticize the man elected to clean up the Bush-Cheney mess? Dick Cheney should be awaiting trial somewhere, shouldn't he?" Ronnie in Abilene, Texas: "We're much safer. Mr. Obama's approach is to take care of the problem. During the pirate standoff, he was precise and surgical. Bush would have responded by invading Peru. Obama's approach is less swagger and has more positive implications for our long-term safety."

Tom in Libby, Montana says: "It's already easy to see we're in trouble with Obama at the helm. He's already shown we can't count on most things he promised. He'll end up leaving our borders open, like they have been for how long? And it will take a nuke going off and killing, perhaps, millions of our people before something is done to keep the country safe."

Mark in Houston writes: "When people around the world respect America more, hate America less, how can we be less safe?"

Dean in Pennsylvania: "I feel we're equally as safe under Obama as we were under Bush, but I do not feel we are or were totally safe from another attack. With the borders still wide open and port security weak, it's a matter of when, not if, we'll be attacked again."

Sue in New York writes: "Yes, we are less safe with Obama. Bush was strong. Obama panders to everyone."

And David in Brooklyn: "Yes, we are dangerously exposed to bold new ideas, intelligence and optimism. Hold me, Jack."

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

And I'll see you tomorrow.

BLITZER: You certainly will, Jack. Thanks very much for that.

It's certainly an exciting arrival that occurred at the White House today. And we're going to show you what happened.

Our Jeanne Moos thinks she knows what the first new dog has been thinking.

And protesters on the fence in our Hot Shots.



B. OBAMA: What do you think, (INAUDIBLE)?



BLITZER: All right. There they are, the president and the first family with their new dog. You saw it first here on CNN -- the Obamas' dog arriving at the White House earlier today. Now imagine seeing it all through the eyes of Bo.

CNN's Jeanne Moos channels the first pet in a Moost Unusual way.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You can see who comes first in this first family.


MOOS: All these reporters came just to see me. They're the one who had to be restrained, not the first dog.




MOOS: The press was asking dumb questions like whether I've had an accident yet and where I'll sleep.

QUESTION: Are you going to be in a bed?

B. OBAMA: Not in my bed.


MOOS: My new master thinks his economic speech Tuesday was the big news.

B. OBAMA: The stakes are too high. MOOS: Did my master say steaks too expensive?

I thought I could eat anything here at the White House -- it being a Portuguese Water Dog, I've had to put up with a lot of jokes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, no. Now he's going to get a damn foreign dog.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Worse than foreign, Jackie. European.


MOOS: My breed has been examined from every angle, though what Sasha says is true.

SASHA OBAMA: He doesn't know how to swim.

MOOS: Guess I'll learn in the White House pool. My breeder even posted my alleged baby picture. My relatives have been harassed by the press.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got exclusive access to Chrissy, Bo's sister.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the mother.


MOOS (on camera): Throw those press hounds a bone.

(voice-over): Malia said this about me to the president.

B. OBAMA: She's perfect.

MOOS: But the press insists on exposing other Portuguese Water Dogs' bad habits.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He steals all the magnets off my refrigerator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She used to get in my sink and pull the drain out of the sink because food gets stuck in there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They will eat your house.

MOOS: Or at least vegetables from the White House garden.

B. OBAMA: Portuguese Water Dogs like tomatoes.

MOOS: People are complaining about the name Sasha and Malia gave me. They say I'll be confused, that Bo is too close to no.

(on camera): No, Bo. Bo, no.

(voice-over): She should whack the humans impersonating me on Twitter. People are already cashing in with Bo t-shirts and even a Bo Obama -- a dog we can believe in mouse pad.

At this point, Sasha's more interested in me than her big deal dad.

S. OBAMA: Well, bye, daddy.

B. OBAMA: Well, I'm telling you.

MOOS: No matter what, this first dog is never going to wear one of these lion cuts. And I don't care if my master is the president. Speak doesn't mean I'm saying his name.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: We, of course, wish the first family all the best with Bo. I know they're going to love this little dog. And that little dog is going to love the entire family -- the president, the first lady and Sasha and Malia. And we're going to be watching them very, very closely.

Let's take a closer look now at some Hot Shots coming in from our friends over at the Associated Press -- pictures likely to be in your newspapers tomorrow.

Let's go to Germany right now. The retail chain Woolworths filing for bankruptcy as sales fall.

In Georgia, supporters of an opposition party stick a toy rabbit on a fence to protest the president. I'm not sure what that means.

In Bolivia, a supporter of the president, Evo Morales, takes pictures of him during a rally.

And take a look at this shot. Over in the West Bank, an orthodox Christian immerses herself in blessed water from the Jordan River.

Some of this hour's Hot Shots -- pictures often worth a thousand words.

Tomorrow, the captain, Richard Phillips, and the crew of the Maersk Alabama -- they're expected to arrive here in the United States at Andrews Air Force Base just outside of Washington, D.C. .

Going forward, what do you think the U.S. should do to address the pirate problem?

You can submit your video questions. Go to room. We're going to have extensive coverage tomorrow of the arrival at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C. It's probably going to happen around the hours of THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll have full coverage here tomorrow.

We also want you to check out our political podcast. To guess the best -- to get the best political team to go, you can subscribe at

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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

DOBBS: Wolf.

Good evening, everybody.

President Obama strongly defending his ambitious economic agenda today, declaring his policies are generating signs what he called signs of economic progress. But President Obama also warning that tough times and tough decisions lie ahead. We'll assess the president's speech.

And the president tonight also facing tough decisions on North Korea's escalating threats and defiance. North Korea defying the United States, the United Nations and the rest of the world and today announcing it will restart its nuclear reactor. We'll have the very latest for you.