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Chrysler Closes Dealerships; Pelosi Under Fire

Aired May 14, 2009 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hundreds of car dealers across the country are now on notice. Their days of selling Chryslers are numbered. The bankrupt automaker says it has too many dealerships competing against one another, so it plans to close 789 of them within a month. That's about a fourth of the Chrysler dealerships in business right now.

And it's putting thousands of jobs and livelihoods on the line.

Let's zero in on one dealership in New Jersey right now. That's where we find CNN's Mary Snow -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the news really came as a shock here in Wyckoff. This dealership is owned by two brothers. They own a second dealership not far from here, and they were hit with a one-two punch.


SNOW (voice-over): For brothers Rob and Rick Engel, a business that took 22 years to build unraveled within minutes, when they got a phone call and letter telling them it was over for their two Chrysler car dealerships.

ROB ENGEL, CHRYSLER DEALER: I'm very upset. Shock. No doubt anger may set in. It's a decision that is, for us, very illogical.

SNOW: The Engels expected one, but not both of their dealerships to be on the cutting block. They say they have been profitable through the economic downturn. And, while they plan to appeal, they don't know what comes next.

RICK ENGEL, CHRYSLER DEALER: People ask us what we do for a living, and we don't say that we own a car dealership. we say that we are car dealers. So, it's a little bit of a difference. This is our life. It's all I know.

ROB ENGEL: It's our identity.

SNOW: Their father escaped the Nazi, joined the British Army, and was trained to fix tanks and jeeps. He got into the car dealership, and his sons followed suit, owning two dealerships, employing 60 people. Some have been here from the start.

Throughout the day, they delivered the grim news to workers. As they did, other dealers were in Washington pleading with lawmakers for help. JOHN MCELENEY, NATIONAL AUTOMOBILE DEALERSHIP ASSOCIATION: We understand there's going to be a consolidation of dealers. We just think the process needs to be slowed down.

SNOW: Chrysler, which detailed its plan in bankruptcy court, blamed the unprecedented decline in the industry, saying it plans to make the action final on June 9. And along with jobs lost, communities like Wyckoff, New Jersey, will feel the effects of dealerships no longer sponsoring local teams, charities and businesses.

RICK ENGEL: We're consistently asked by local groups, whether it's a local Boy Scout who's putting together a project and needs $50, to something larger.

ROB ENGEL: Something larger, cystic fibrosis or leukemia.

RICK ENGEL: Or leukemia or any of these things that we support.


SNOW: And the cutting is not over, because the other troubled automaker, General Motors, says it will soon notify 2,600 of its dealers that they are also going to be cut -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Wow. All right, we will stay on top of this story, huge ramifications. Mary's in New Jersey for us.

Even a member of U.S. Congress is on Chrysler's hit list. Republican Vern Buchanan learned today that his Venice, Florida, dealership is getting the axe. Buchanan has owned car dealerships for more than 15 years and says he will be fine, but he predicts more 100,000 jobs will be lost across the United States because of the dealership closings. And he calls that an outrage.

Let's get to the dispute now over alleged torture during the Bush administers. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, says Republicans have put a bullseye on her back, and she's scrambling to try to set the record straight about a CIA briefing she got on the use of simulated drowning known as water-boarding.

But the House Republican leader says Pelosi is raising more questions than she's answering.

Let's go straight to our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.

Dana, this was a day where she came out swinging today.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She did. You know, the only reason why this is an issue, the question of what she knew and when she knew it, is because when Democrats started to call for investigations of Bush officials into harsh interrogation tactics, Republicans launched their own campaign and asked, well, what did the speaker know? And so, you know, over the past month, the speaker has raised more questions with her answers. So, today, she held a press conference. She had a prepared statement, and she had a new admission and an accusation.


BASH (voice-over): Under fire over whether she's been up-front about knowing harsh tactics like water-boarding were being used, the House speaker tried to turn the tables, accusing the CIA of lying to her.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: "We are not using waterboarding." That's the only mention, that they were not using it. And we now know that earlier they were. So, yes, I am saying that they are misleading --

BASH: Pelosi was referring to a September 2002 meeting, her only one with CIA officials. But the speaker also admitted for the first time that, five months later, in February 2003, one of her aides attended a briefing and was told interrogators were using harsh tactics. The aide informed Pelosi.

PELOSI: He said that the -- the committee chair and ranking member and appropriate staff had been briefed that these techniques were now being used.

BASH: Jane Harman, then top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, wrote a letter objecting. Why didn't Pelosi?

PELOSI: No letter could change the policy. It was clear we had to change the leadership in Congress and in the White House. That was my job.

BASH: This fiery Pelosi press conference was about damage control, but she started to walk away before addressing her apparent contradiction.

(on camera): May I ask one last question?

(voice-over): If she was told in February of 2003 that water- boarding was being used, why didn't she admit that in a press conference on the subject last month?

(on camera): The idea that we got from you was that you were never told that water-boarding was being used. But now we know that, later, in February, you were told. It wasn't in that briefing, but you were told. So...

PELOSI: No. By the time we were told, we are finding out that it's been used before. In other words, that was beyond the...


BASH: But why didn't you tell us at that original press conference PELOSI: But I told you what our briefing was. And our briefing was...


BASH: ... that you had been told, just not at that particular briefing.



BASH: You seemed very adamant that you didn't know that water- boarding was used.

PELOSI: No, that is right. The point is, is that I wasn't briefed. I was told -- informed that someone else had been briefed about it.


BASH: Now, a CIA spokesman stood by their records that indicate specifically that Nancy Pelosi was briefed that harsh techniques were being used.

Now, Wolf, as for Republicans, they came out and hammered the speaker, as you can imagine today, not just because they say she continues to change her story, the fact that she did admit today for the first time that she did know about water-boarding back in February of 2003, but also, they really hit her for accusing the CIA of lying.

BLITZER: Dana, thanks very much -- Dana Bash on the Hill.

Listen to some of the examples of what Dana just mentioned, Republicans blasting the speaker Nancy Pelosi's remarks today and the charges she's leveling at the CIA.


SEN. CHRISTOPHER BOND (R), MISSOURI: I think it's outrageous that a member of Congress would call our terror fighters a liar -- or liars.

The -- it seems the playbook is blame the terror fighters. We ought to be supporting them. And, as a member of the gang of four, we know that if the CIA proposes something that we believe is wrong, we can do something about it. We have done things about it. And it's no excuse to say that I was powerless.

REP. PETE HOEKSTRA (R), MICHIGAN: What I heard her say, and I was quite taken aback by it when she said it, is politics are more important than national security.


BLITZER: We're going to be speaking with Dianne Feinstein -- that's coming up -- the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on this very subject. Stand by.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty right now. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: You know, it just occurs to me, if there wasn't a problem with all of this, then Nancy Pelosi wouldn't be running in front of the cameras every other day and changing the story she's telling.

There's a real problem with her account of these events, and -- and now we find out that somebody on her staff was told that they were doing water-boarding, and that that information was conveyed back to her. I mean, she's -- she's got a problem.

Face of the country changing dramatically. Consider these staggering statistics: 47 percent of the kids in this country under the age of 5 are now minorities, as are 43 percent of all youngsters under the age of 20. This is according to the new census data.

There's more. "USA Today" reports the United States is developing a significant generation gap between aging white baby boomers and the younger growing minority population. Minorities now account for just over one-third of the total population.

And although immigration is slowing, higher birth rates among Hispanics make them the fastest-growing group. The Hispanic population's also younger, on average, about 28 years old, than non- Hispanic whites, whose average age is about 41.

Among other things, these numbers mean that many baby boomers will be relying on this younger generation to take care of them, in a lot of ways, soon. In another generation, this will be the work force that's supporting Social Security. That's assuming it's still there.

Already, about 10 percent of the nation's counties have a minority population above 50 percent. One of the counties that just became a so-called majority minority last year is Orange County, Florida, which is home to Disney World. The mayor there says it's not a surprise to him, that the county has always been a snapshot of what America looks like.

So, here's the question: Project ahead a while. What do you think the U.S. will look like 50 years from now? Go to Post a comment on my blog.

I won't be around to see it. You might be, but I doubt it.


BLITZER: Hopefully, we both will be. We will be very, very old, if we are.

CAFFERTY: Doddering old fools. Doddering older fools.


BLITZER: We have got to eat a lot of yogurt, Jack. That will help us.

CAFFERTY: Is that the secret?

BLITZER: Yes, the secret is yogurt.

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

More on that stunning charge from the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, that the CIA routinely misleads members of Congress. Does the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee agree? I will ask Senator Dianne Feinstein.

And the pope visits what's believed to be the hometown of Jesus -- wait until you hear what he told tens of thousands of pilgrims.

And guess what? Bill Clinton is campaigning again.


BLITZER: They're closing some schools in New York City because of the swine flu once again.

Let's go to Fredricka Whitfield. She's getting details just coming in.

What are you learning there?

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, according to the Associated Press, it is being reported that, again, because of another swine flu outbreak in New York, three schools have been closed. And we understand that those three schools are in Queens, according to an unidentified source, according to the Associated Press.

Four students and a staff member have testified positive for H1N1 at one of the schools, and we also understand they are categorizing the staff member as in critical -- we're not sure what to degree that means -- critical condition.

And we understand in less than a minute or so, Mayor Bloomberg of New York is scheduled to hold a press conference concerning these school closures and this latest H1N1 outbreak.

As you know, Wolf, in the past month or so, it has been documented, according to the World Health Organization and CDC that there are confirmed 6,672 cases worldwide, a majority of those cases taking place in Mexico and, of course, here in the U.S. as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we will monitor the news conference statement from the mayor of New York.

Thanks, Fred. We will get back to you.

Let's get back to that storm now that has blown up over the CIA water-boarding and the briefings provided to members of Congress.

I spoke with Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California. She's the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.


BLITZER: And joining us now, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California. She's the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senator, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, says that, when she was the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, she was misled by the CIA. She goes further. She says members of Congress are routinely misled by the CIA in their briefings on sensitive intelligence-related matters.

You have been a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee for a long time. You're now the chair of that committee. Do you -- do you believe the CIA routinely misleads members of Congress about sensitive issues?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I will answer that.

But let me say something, first of all, about the speaker. I have never known her not to tell the truth. And I have known Nancy Pelosi for at least the past 30 or 40, 50 years. So, this is a longstanding knowledge. And I have never seen her not tell the truth. So, I think that's worth saying.

Secondly, with respect to the briefings, I obviously was not present. I was not briefed until some four or five years later. These briefings, the ones I have been in, are very bland. They're antiseptic. They are given in the most benign way. You are generally alone. You cannot take notes. You have no staff. You have no one really to discuss it with, other than perhaps if you're being briefed with another person.

I think all of this should be relayed to the full committee, with the classified staff that's present, so there can be a back-and-forth, questions can be asked, questions can be answered. And I'm going to seek to change it in an intelligence bill that we will be doing very shortly.

BLITZER: So, I take it you basically agree with her that, over the years, at least in your personal experience as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I don't know if you want to go as far as to say you have been misled, but you certainly feel that you haven't been satisfied in the kinds of briefings that you have received; is that right?

FEINSTEIN: Well, that's right. As a matter of fact, I did have a follow-up briefing with General Hayden when I heard. I did indicate my concerns, but it took some time, and time to understand what was happening.

BLITZER: General Hayden when he was the CIA director?

FEINSTEIN: That's correct.

BLITZER: And do you feel now, with Leon Panetta, someone you know very well...

FEINSTEIN: That's right.

BLITZER: ... former member of Congress from California, former White House chief of staff, do you feel that you are, right now, getting the information you and your colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee need to know to conduct proper oversight?

FEINSTEIN: We have a commitment from Mr. Panetta and from Director Blair, who oversees all 16 intelligence agencies, that we will have every cable, every document, every piece of paper that is relevant unredacted.

So, we -- and every e-mail -- so, we will have a complete dossier of everything that happened to and about every high-value detainee.

BLITZER: This is what "The Wall Street Journal" is now reporting. Let me read it to you: "The Obama administration is weighing plans to detain some terror suspects on U.S. soil indefinitely and without trial as part of a plan to retool military commission trials that were conducted for prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

What do you know about this?

FEINSTEIN: I know of no plan, right now, to put anybody on American soil. That has not been shared with me. I will inquire and see if there is such a plan.

However, I do know this. There are probably some people at Guantanamo who need to be classified, if they aren't already, as enemy combatants, and a process set up to review their detention. And they should, in fact, be kept in detention, and not released into the community at large.

BLITZER: In detention in the United States, on U.S. soil?

FEINSTEIN: Look, there are a whole raft of major terrorists that are in high-security prisons in the United States.

There's all the 1993 World Trade Center bombers that are there. There are at least 12 to 15. And I will be making those names available. They don't escape. They are held in solitary. The prisons are designed for that.

And, so, this shibboleth, which is largely used by Republicans, to say, oh, the Democrats want terrorists in your -- in your neighborhood, in your community, that is a lot of baloney. That is not true. And that's the message that is being pushed, because it frightens people.

We have very good maximum-security prisons. They are isolated. Their security is high. The individuals are kept virtually incommunicado. And there are more than a dozen terrorists in these facilities now. And no community, no neighborhood is affected by them in the least.

BLITZER: They're called supermax, some of these penitentiaries.

FEINSTEIN: That's exactly right.

BLITZER: All right.

FEINSTEIN: And one was built specifically for this.

BLITZER: Senator Feinstein, thanks very much for joining us.

FEINSTEIN: You're very welcome. Thank you.


BLITZER: President Obama says many of you deserve a break. He's talking about those credit card bills that keep showing up in your mailbox -- what the president wants to see on his desk and fast.

Plus, the reality of the job sets in -- the challenges President Obama is facing when it comes to candidate Obama's ideas.

And ding-dong-ditch -- Ashton Kutcher puts a celebrity twist on a childhood prank. The target? CNN. We will explain.


BLITZER: Enough is enough, that's what President Obama says regarding your struggle to pay credit card bills. He's railing against high fees and some interest rate hikes.

Today, at a town hall meeting in New Mexico, the president called on Congress to act to protect you from those credit card company abuses.

Our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, is in New Mexico and has more -- Suzanne.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the president's here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, obviously to push forward what he is calling a credit card bill of rights that he wants to sign on his desk by Memorial Day.

And obviously the push here is to get these credit card companies to give consumers a break. There was about 2,000-plus in the audience, but 50 or so hand-collected, because they sent e-mails or letters to the president expressing their own frustration about their credit card debt, so the president obviously using this occasion to push that forward and to make the case here that credit card debt has increased by 25 percent over the last 10 years.

We're talking about a whopping $963 billion in credit card debt, the latest figures showing that 78 percent of families actually own credit cards and about 44 percent of them carry some sort of debt.

Two weeks ago, the president hosted credit card executives, asking them to voluntarily cooperate to make sure that they do not jack up interest rates or add unexpected fees or impose unreasonable penalties, all of these points that he made today to say, look, this is something that consumers have to deal with, credit card companies have to deal with, in these tough economic times.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Enough's enough. It's time for strong, reliable protections for our consumers. It's time for reform.


OBAMA: It's time for reform...


OBAMA: It's time for reform that's built on transparency and accountability and mutual responsibility, values fundamental to the new foundation we seek to build for our economy.

MALVEAUX: Some of those companies, Discover, Bank of America, getting billions and billions of taxpayer dollars, bailout money. The feeling is here is that consumers want these companies to be held to account -- Wolf.


BLITZER: All right, Suzanne, thanks very much.

Suzanne's in New Mexico for us.

Bill Clinton -- yes, Bill Clinton -- he's back on the campaign trail right now. He seems to be forgiving and forgetting. That's coming up.

And the CIA says no to the former Vice President Dick Cheney. We will explain what's going on.

And, later, former Pentagon Chief Donald Rumsfeld ambushed when his defenses were down.


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

Happening now: The crew of that airliner that crashed in Buffalo, New York, in February might have known there was trouble if there had been a speed warning system. That's the word from a cockpit expert who testified at the NTSB hearing. Investigators say the captain and co-pilot were distracted as the plane's airspeed dropped.

Health experts are dismissing claims that the swine flu was mistakenly released from a lab. The World Health Organization says evidence shows the H1N1 virus likely emerged naturally.

And astronauts today carried out one of the riskiest space repair missions ever. They replaced a camera on the Hubble telescope while working in an orbit littered with space junk.

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

The former Vice President Dick Cheney is getting word today from the CIA, request denied, at issue, the debate over harsh interrogation tactics and whether they work.

Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry.

Ed, the CIA is spelling out its decision to Cheney: You're not going to get these documents.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, denied, Wolf. And there's a very specific reason, the CIA saying, look, there's an executive order that says you cannot declassify documents like this if it's potentially tied to ongoing litigation, obviously, a lot of litigation out there having to do with terror suspects, interrogation techniques.

I'm told by the former vice president's office, though, that he's already building and putting together an appeal of this decision. So, he's not going to give up easily.

The stated reason why he wants the memos is, he wants to include it in his memoirs, which are in progress, but, you know, the bigger reason is that he wants to try and vindicate his support for these enhanced interrogation techniques, like water-boarding, which simulated drowning. He wants to try to prove, not just to the Obama administration, but the world, that he was right -- Wolf.

BLITZER: The president seems to be irritating some of his liberal friends in the Democratic Party by some of these recent decisions, isn't he?

HENRY: Absolutely. And we're getting word that there may be another decision coming soon that could frustrate liberals, as well. Yesterday it was those photos that now the administration wants to block. Now we're hearing they may restore these military commissions to try terror suspects. The president, on week one, suspended those and was very harshly critical of the Bush administration for using them.

But now we're hearing they may restore them with some changes. And the administration will justify this, I'm told by officials, by saying, look, we're adding more rights for terror suspects. But people on the left are going to be angry and say this is just sort of a -- an attempt to have a new, improved version of a flawed system and that some of these policies are moving too far to the middle -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed, thanks very much.

The former Bush, Sr. adviser Karl Rove is scheduled to be interviewed tomorrow into an ongoing criminal investigation in to the firing of U.S. attorneys. A source familiar with the case tells CNN Rove will be questioned by a Connecticut prosecutor appointed to conduct the probe.

A Justice Department report last year found the firing of some of those U.S. attorneys back in 2006 were influenced by political considerations.

Rove's lawyer won't confirm the interview is tomorrow, but he notes his client has agreed to cooperate.

Bill Clinton ran for president twice. He's campaigned for a lot of Democrats running for various offices, especially, most recently, of course, for his wife. It seems he loves the back and forth of political contests.

And guess what?

He's back at it right now.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is standing by.

He's campaigning for a very old and dear friend -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. And the message here is let bygones be bygones.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Virginia never voted for Bill Clinton, but it did go for Barack Obama last year, twice -- once in the Democratic primaries, then again in November. So look who is in Virginia this week campaigning for his friend and longtime political ally, Terry McAuliffe.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hillary and I love him. And now that President Obama has given her a job that requires that she not ever participate in politics as long as she's secretary of state, I'm the only one who can say that we love him.


SCHNEIDER: McAuliffe is competing in Virginia's Democratic primary for governor next month.

CLINTON: He was born to lead at this moment and I want you to elect him. SCHNEIDER: Bill Clinton has been out there campaigning for McAuliffe three times so far. That can only mean one thing -- all is forgiven.

You can see it in the polls. Positive opinion of Mr. Clinton dropped last spring, when he was campaigning for his wife -- sometimes awkwardly, like when he challenged Obama's claim to be more anti-Iraq war than his wife.


CLINTON: Give me a break.


CLINTON: This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen.


SCHNEIDER: Some Obama supporters called that comment racist.


CLINTON: Once you accuse somebody of racism or bigotry or something, the facts become irrelevant. There are facts here.


SCHNEIDER: After losing the nomination, Bill and Hillary Clinton were good soldiers and his positive ratings went up. The old Bill Clinton is back.

Asked about Dick Cheney's comment that the country is less safe under the Obama administration, Mr. Clinton couldn't resist.

CLINTON: I wish him well. It's over. But I do hope he gets some more target practice before he goes out again.



SCHNEIDER: This year, Bill Clinton has participated in fundraisers and campaign events in Florida, Ohio, New York, Nevada, Arkansas and North Carolina, as well as Virginia.

Yes, Wolf, he's back.

BLITZER: Yes. Bill Clinton never left, but he's certainly back.

All right. Thanks very much for that.

The pope mixed with pilgrims and political leaders as he continued his visit to the Holy Land. The highlight for many -- an open air service in the town where it's believed Jesus was raised. CNN's Paula Hancocks has the story from Nazareth in Israel -- Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pope Benedict XVI is holding mass here for 36,000 people on the Mount of the Precipice in Nazareth. There are people here from all across the world -- from India, from Argentina, from Italy, from New Zealand. For many pilgrims here, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. And for one gentleman we spoke to, he had gotten here at 1:00 in the morning to make sure he got a good seat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the first time I have seen such a thing. You know, I know that we -- we don't do -- I mean this is, as I said, once a lifetime. We don't have this every day. So, yes, it's really exciting.


HANCOCKS: The main theme of the pope's speech was the importance of family. And that would resonate here for Christians in Nazareth. It is believed that Mary and Joseph lived here and Jesus grew up here.


POPE BENEDICT XVI: Here is the hometown of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. We have gathered to mark the conclusion of the Year of the Family, to be greeted by the church in the Holy Land as a sign of hope for the future.


HANCOCKS: Next, a more political flavor -- the pope met with Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. It could have been a difficult meeting considering the pope has effectively endorsed the two-state solution. But the prime minister has not. But we understand that wasn't really discussed.

What was discussed is Netanyahu's fear of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Netanyahu mentioned Iran by name when talking about that Holocaust denial.

Politics over, it was back to religion and a meeting with religious leaders here in Nazareth and then a visit to the Church of the Annunciation. This is where it's traditionally believed that the Angel Gabriel told Mary that she'd be giving birth to the son of God.

So the penultimate day for the pope's trip to the Holy Land is over. Tomorrow, he'll be visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where it's traditionally believed that Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for that, Paula.

Paula Hancocks reporting from Jerusalem -- from Nazareth, actually, in the Upper Galilee.

The House of Representatives here in Washington today passed a war resolution -- a war funding bill, that is -- for Iraq and Afghanistan. It's a $97 billion measure to pay for military and diplomatic efforts for the rest of this year. The bill passed on broad bipartisan support by a vote of 368-60. Nine Republicans and 51 Democrats voted against this war funding bill.

We're going to talk about that and more with the best political team on television.



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Contrary opinions within the executive branch concluded that these interrogation techniques were not legal. However, those opinions were not shared with Congress. We also know now that techniques, including waterboarding, had already been employed and that those briefings made in September of 2002 gave me inaccurate and incomplete information.


BLITZER: Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, defending her record on what she knew, when she knew it about those harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding.

Let's discuss what's going on with our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley; our chief national correspondent and the host of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," John King; and our CNN political analyst, Roland Martin.

She came out swinging, as I said today -- Candy.

She's trying to defend the record and her honor.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. This is a push and a pull now -- a political story as much as it is about the fact of who knew what when.

If they -- if the Republicans succeed -- and they are trying to keep this story going, obviously -- in keeping it going, there is a chance that this, then, undermines the speaker -- or at least distracts her from the business at hand, which would be the Obama administration's agenda for the next 100 days.

So this is very definitely something where you can -- something that you can almost feel the politics going on here.

BLITZER: She actually accused the CIA of misleading her and other members of Congress -- John.

And she didn't rebut a reporter when that reporter said, you know, are you saying the CIA actually lied to you?

Is it smart for her to be picking a fight with the CIA right now?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, many members of Congress -- you just had Senator Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee -- many members of Congress have questioned the veracity or the full context of CIA information received over the years, Wolf, especially back at the beginning of the Iraq War debate.

But if you ask a political consultant in either party what happened today, they would use the term deflection. All these other issues may be legitimate issues. But the question for Speaker Pelosi right now is what did she know, when did she know it and when she did learn about the use of waterboarding, did she say or protest or do anything about it?

That is the challenge facing the speaker. And her answers have been inconsistent and they have evolved over time. And so every time she is put in a forum now where she is asked, let's just talk about you, she talks about the CIA misled us, the Republicans are trying to distract you.

And as long as that goes on, these questions are going to continue, including there are many committees in Congress who want to look back at all of this debate. And the Republicans are saying, fine. But if you look at what the Bush administration knew, we want you to look at what Speaker Pelosi knew, as well.

BLITZER: Yes. And she says, Roland, she wants this truth commission to take a look at everything, let it all come out. The president of the United States, on the other hand -- and others -- are saying you know what, we've got enough problems looking ahead, forget about looking back right now. I don't know where you stand on this.

ROLAND S. MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, she can talk all day about a truth commission, but when you have the president who says, you know -- the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, saying I'm not for it, as well, then it's going to be a problem.

But, look, as John said, what she has to do is come up with a consistent answer -- this is the reality. And so when you have an aide saying one thing and then you have her saying another thing and the next thing the next day, all of a sudden it looks like she's changing her story.

So there has to be some kind of level of consistency here. And you can talk about Bush and the CIA, but if she does not get her story straight, she is simply giving her opponents more ammunition. And that's the last thing she wants right now.

BLITZER: As far as the president, Candy, is concerned, he's learning what all U.S. presidents have learned very early in their respective administrations -- it's a lot more difficult to govern than it is to campaign, especially on some of these really sensitive national security issues. He's finding himself irritating some leading members of his own party by what he's doing in Afghanistan, refusing to release the photographs, now saying maybe these military commissions that President Bush endorsed -- maybe there's something to that.

These are tough decisions for him.

CROWLEY: They absolutely are. And he is not the first president to get into office and find that there are complications to what sound like solutions to things that they have opposed. It's not just that now they're looking around and saying, well, if we close Guantanamo, what are we going to do with these prisoners?

There are many countries that don't want them back. So now they are resurrecting the whole idea of the military tribunals which, of course, was what George Bush wanted to do.

But it's -- it's not just that it gets complicated. It's also that things take longer. So you now have the less sort of looking and saying wait a second, you know, we wanted to get out of Iraq sooner; we didn't really want to go into Afghanistan this big.

Now comes the military tribunals -- when will GITMO be shut down?

Fortunately, for President Obama, like other presidents before him, he has four years to deliver before people really do hold him accountable.

BLITZER: OK, John, is he going to have a problem from the left of his party?

KING: Well, in some ways, Wolf, having a problem from the left helps him politically with people in the middle, whose votes he will very much need when he runs for re-election. And that will be the big contest, of course -- can the Republicans win the Independents back?

So, in some ways, in the short-term, it helps him politically.

But it is a big deal when the ACLU sues a Democratic president in court. They will continue to do that. It may be a bigger what happened in the House today, when 51 House Democrats -- 51 House Democrats voted against the Obama request for funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. They don't want the troops in Iraq, period. We've all known that for some time.

But more importantly, Wolf, they don't think this president has a plan in Afghanistan right now. They do not think he has an exit strategy. We heard that a lot about Bush in the Iraq War. We're beginning to hear it from his own party when it comes to Afghanistan. Remember today. As we go forward, it could turn out to be significant.

BLITZER: Yes. There are only a handful...

MARTIN: And, Wolf...

BLITZER: ...or so, as you remember, Democrats who voted against his economic stimulus package, Roland. But he's got 50 -- as John says, 51 of his fellow Democrats voted against him today.

MARTIN: But the real challenge, I think, is for those people on the left and for those Democrats.

And they have to ask themselves the question -- am I more concerned with conviction and principle or am I more concerned with pleasing the president?

KING: Right.

MARTIN: And I think -- look, he appealed to them in the campaign. They said we're going to buy your version. We believe in change. And they need to hold his feet to the fire if they believe that he is going against his word and what he promised during the campaign. Whether you want to say he's a politician or not, that's the challenge, not whether or not they're going to challenge him. And frankly, they should.

BLITZER: All right, guys. We'll continue the conversation tomorrow.

Thank you.

Let's check in with Lou Dobbs to see what's coming up at the top of the hour -- Lou.


Tonight, breaking news from New York -- what could be a major new outbreak of swine flu. An assistant school principal reported to be critically ill tonight. Three public schools have been closed. We'll have the very latest for you.

Also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admitting she knew about waterboarding six years ago. We'll have complete coverage of the speaker's tense news conference today on Capitol Hill.

And rising questions about the Catholic Church's policy of priests and celibacy, after a celebrity priest in Miami admitted having an affair with a woman. That's our face-off tonight.

And the new drug czar says he wants to ban the phrase "the war on drugs" -- political correctness or real policy?

We'll have that, all of the day's news and much more, at the top of the hour -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see you then.

Thank you, Lou, for that.

Ambushed by protesters, the former Defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld -- the tactics so extreme, even some liberal -- liberal groups are squeamish about them.

CNN's Jeanne Moos will take a Moost Unusual look.

And Kanye West says he's been a victim of identity theft online -- who's really Tweeting on his Twitter page? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right. After punking CNN on Twitter, the actor, Ashton Kutcher, along with his wife, Demi Moore, showed up at CNN headquarters in Atlanta for a victory lap. Kutcher followed up on a promise to ding dong ditch founder Ted Turner's home after winning last month's race to attract one million followers on Twitter.

Kutcher's Twitter page, by the way, is very, very real. But fake celebrity Twitter pages plague the Web site. And the entertainer Kanye West is speaking out about one imposter page claiming his identity.

Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.

All right. What's Kanye West doing about all of this -- Abbi?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, Kanye West is slamming Twitter for allowing or not stopping somebody else -- an imposter -- from using his name and then sending out posts. Posts like this one going out to hundreds of thousands of fans who think they're hearing from the entertainer. A post about President Obama, a post about Kanye West's mother smiling down from up above and then this one: "Who the heck is Stephen Colbert?"

All of these are fake posts, not by Kanye West. And it's just not the first that's happened on Twitter.

You might remember when the Dalai Lama joined Twitter back in February. Well, 20,000 people jumped aboard that when they heard about it, when these were posted -- posted an official page, it said, administered by the office of His Holiness, offering such commentary as China's Internet policy are fake -- taken down by Twitter when the company got wind of it.

And then the "L.A. Times" investigated fake posts from the poet, Maya Angelou -- also a fake.

Now, the Kanye West posts have been taken down. The account suspended by Twitter. And the co-founder of the company said Twitter is looking at how best to implement an account verification system to make sure that people are who they say they are -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Excellent idea. I hope they do it and do it quickly.

Thanks very much for that, Abbi.

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

CAFFERTY: What does ding dong ditch mean?

BLITZER: I don't know. You know, it's sort of a children's game, you know?


The question -- what will the U.S. look like 50 years from now?

Forty-seven percent of all of the kids under five years old, according to the Census Bureau, are minorities right now. So things are changing.

Stephen in Pennsylvania writes: "I was born and raised in Roseville, California. My second grade class looked like the U.N. -- Latinos, Italians, Chinese, Japanese and a lot more. We used to celebrate each other's holidays -- Cinco de Mayo, One by one, Chinese New Year, Fourth of July, Veterans Day, Lion's Club picnics, etc. What has happened that we can't do this anymore? Have we become so separate that we cannot be together? I hope we can go back to the past in order to become the future."

Ron in San Antonio: "Jack, I'm very much afraid it will look a lot more like the town I live in -- San Antonio, Texas. Have you heard the old commercials -- Texas, it's like a whole other country? Si, they are right."

Janelle in Missouri: "Fifty years from now, the U.S. will look like an impoverished Third World country. It will have absolutely nothing to do with anyone's ethnicity, but it will be the result of our government bankrupting itself and every business in the country. The government won't be able to support the population when there's no one left to tax to pay for it."

Matthew in California: "The gene pool of the U.S. is really a minor factor in the face of issues like education, health care, employment, national security, immigration and self-responsibility. These factors will determine whether the future majority will live in a comfortable community or a slum."

D. in Florida says: "If we can learn to live with one another in peace and harmony without any one ethnic, racial or social group being ostracized or depressed, then I think the U.S. will be a nice blend of the people of the world and it's about time."

And Andy says: "Chances are the U.S. will be the diverse melting pot it always has been -- just maybe without all the old white guys running it."

Bet on that.

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 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Will do, Jack.

Thanks very much.

Jeanne Moos right after this.


BLITZER: CNN's Jeanne Moos has the story of a Moost Unusual ambush.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A former Defense secretary with his defenses down...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, enjoy your evening, sir.

MOOS: On his way to a black tie event which suddenly became eventful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: War criminal! War criminal! War criminal! Arrest this man!

MOOS: And while Donald Rumsfeld proceeded to autograph a baseball, a second protester in a white sleeveless top addressed Mrs. Rumsfeld.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wish I had some handcuffs right now to arrest this man.

MOOS: Joyce Rumsfeld was still smiling...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Arrest this man! War criminal!

MOOS: ...while the first protester went toe to toe with her husband, like a manager with an ump -- and a sympathizer clapped.

Conservative blogs were livid, saying Rumsfeld had been harassed, accosted, attacked by Code Pink psychos -- Code Pinkos, as the right prefers to call the left-leaning women's peace group.


MOOS: The last time Desiree Fairooz got in someone's face like this...

DESIREE FAIROOZ, CODE PINK: The blood of millions of Iraqis are on your hands.

MOOS: She was waving fake bloody hands at a cool as a cumber Condoleezza Rice. That photo landed in newspapers and on blogs everywhere.

FAIROOZ: It was an opportunity to see her face-to-face and let her know what I thought of her.

MOOS: Critics let Fairooz know what they thought of her after the Rumsfeld video surfaced on the Web. Code Pink says members were planning a low key protest, but when they saw Donald Rumsfeld, they spontaneously erupted.

Medea Benjamin made Rumsfeld's grand entrance indication.

MEDEA BENJAMIN, CODE PINK: Here comes the war criminal, Donald Rumsfeld. War criminal! MOOS: Even a liberal Web site like Gawker pronounced itself conflicted about the Code Pink tactics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wish I had some handcuffs right now to arrest this man.

MOOS (on camera): Actually, no one ended up in handcuffs. One of the protesters -- the loudest one -- was detained for an hour or so, but neither one was arrested.

(voice-over): And the man who needs no introduction...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense.

MOOS: ...sure got one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here comes the war criminal, Donald Rumsfeld. War criminal!

Jeanne Moos, CNN...


MOOS: ...New York.