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Critics Slam President As "Socialist"; Interview with John Boehner

Aired May 20, 2009 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Some Republicans have made similar allegations before.

Where was the outrage then?

We'll talk about that and much more with the House minority leader, John Boehner. He's standing by live.

And a mother and son on the run trying to avoid the chemotherapy a judge says could save his life. Now an arrest warrant is out and the father provides new clues about where they may be hiding.

And the first lady of France sparks an uproar with her remarks about Pope Benedict XVI -- what Carla Bruni said about the pontiff and condoms and how the world is recreating.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


In just four months, he's introduced one of the most ambitious agendas of any president since Franklin Roosevelt -- an agenda his sharpest critics assail as socialism.

But do Americans buy that?

We have some brand new poll numbers that are just coming out right now. And we're going to talk about them in a moment with the House Republican leader, John Boehner.

But first, the background.

Let's go to our CNN senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

He's joining us now live from the Republican meeting over at the National Harbor here in Washington -- Bill, does the public -- the American public believe that President Obama and the Democrats are simply becoming too radical?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Actually, no, because Americans judge policies by practical standards, not ideological standards.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The Sword came up during last year's presidential race.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: He's in the far left lane of American politics. My friends, he's more liberal than a guy that used to call himself a socialist in the United States Senate.

SCHNEIDER: You expect name calling during a campaign. Now, President Obama has laid out his agenda, which has a lot of spending and borrowing and regulation. The name calling is getting louder.

GINGRICH: It is the boldest effort to create a European socialist model we have seen.

SCHNEIDER: Do Americans believe President Obama's policies will move the country in the right direction?

Yes, according to the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.

Do they believe the policies being proposed by Democratic leaders in Congress will work?


Republicans' policies?

No. People think their policies got us into this mess.

President Obama says he's trying to save the free market, not destroy it.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You'll be called to help restore a free market that's also fair to all who are willing to work.

SCHNEIDER: In this March survey, nearly twice as many Americans called President Obama a new-style Democrat who will be careful with the public's money, rather than an old-style tax and spend Democrat.

Americans are pragmatists. Pragmatists believe that whatever works is right. Ideologues believe that if something is wrong, it can't possibly work -- even if it does work.

REP. KEVIN BRADY (R), TEXAS: And I think just generally, he's wrong in the belief that you can tax and spend and borrow our way back to prosperity. It won't work.

SCHNEIDER: Do people think President Obama's economic program is working?

More people say it is than it isn't, but 40 percent don't see any impact yet. It's too soon to tell.


SCHNEIDER: The Republican National Committee meeting here will soon be voting on a resolution that condemns the Democratic Party's "march to socialism."

You know, the cold war is over, but the Republicans are not giving up the fight -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Bill Schneider is over at the Republican meeting at the National Harbor here in Washington.

Bill, thanks very much.

Let's talk about all of this and more with the top Republican in the House of Representatives, the minority leader, John Boehner.

Mr. Leader, thanks very much for coming in.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: Wolf, it's good to be with you.

BLITZER: Do you believe that the policies that President Obama is putting forward amount to socialism?

BOEHNER: I'm not sure that -- that that's a word that I would use. But clearly, his efforts and his policies are going to lead to much higher taxes, much bigger spending here in Washington and trillion dollar deficits, on average, for as far as the aye can see.

Now, I don't know how you can grow Washington's budget and grow the family budget or the business budget at the same time.

And so, at the end of the day, it's about how will American families react to this?

Do they want to pay higher taxes?

Do they want to see our businesses pay higher taxes with money that they can't invest in their businesses?

BLITZER: All right...

BOEHNER: ...and to create new jobs?

And so, as we get into these policies, we're -- we're in a position where sometimes we have to disagree...

BLITZER: Well...

BOEHNER: It's our job to offer a better solution. And we'll continue to offer a better solution.

BLITZER: So far, they're reacting -- if you believe the polls -- at least our brand new poll that Bill Schneider just reported on, they're pretty favorably inclined toward his policies, at least right now.

What is the Republican strategy to try to turn things around for the Republicans right now?

Is there a short -- a short version of what you have in mind?

BOEHNER: Yes. I think so. I think you're going to see us take principled stands on issues like spending, on issues like taxes and deficits, because this is not good for our economy, short-term or long-term.

You'll see us take a stand on health care. We all want to make sure Americans have access to affordable, high quality health insurance. But we believe that maintaining the doctor-patient relationship is important. We're not in favor of a government-run plan or a government-run takeover of our health care.

BLITZER: All right, let's talk a little bit about the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

Here's what the former House speaker, Newt Gingrich, said earlier today on "Good Morning America."


NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I think the Democrats should get a new speaker. And the reason is the speaker is third in line to be president. She has a unique responsibility for national security.

If you were a CIA agent today and you were told go brief Nancy Pelosi, how could you have any sense of confidence?


BLITZER: Do you agree with Gingrich that Nancy Pelosi should resign?

BOEHNER: Wolf, the speaker of the House made a very serious charge that the CIA lied or misled her on purpose. And, well, I've made it pretty -- perfectly clear that if that's the case, she ought to present evidence that that happened and allow the Justice Department to investigate.

And if that's not the case, then she really ought to retract her statement and apologize.

And that's the position I've taken. I think it's a responsible position because at the end of the day, I want to get to the bottom of the truth -- what really did happen here.

BLITZER: Because, I take it -- so at this point, you're not going as far as Newt Gingrich and saying she should resign?

BOEHNER: No. I've been waiting since Sunday, when I did the CNN program and outlined this statement, that she should either come forward with documents that support her or she should apologize. And I'm waiting for Nancy.

BLITZER: Because she said she hopes the CIA will release all these documents. She says once they're released, that will back her up.

She has no authority to declassify the information on her own, does she?

BOEHNER: She does not. But I've got my doubts about whether these documents will support her claim. I don't believe that to be the case at all.

But it's up to her. And I'm waiting for an answer from Speaker Pelosi.

BLITZER: Last year, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, he said this in response to a case that he was watching very closely -- an American citizen who was killed in a plane crash, a cover-up, he alleged, involving the CIA. He said these words

"We cannot have an intelligence community that covers up what it does and then lies to Congress."

That's what Pete Hoekstra said in 2008.

BOEHNER: Pete Hoekstra did say that. And the inspector-general of the CIA did an investigation. And it became clear that some CIA operatives did, in fact, cover this up.

This is not -- we're talking about two different issues here. All the facts in this case are on the table. And the truth is now known to all of -- to everyone. And (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: So based on what you know on that case involving Hoekstra -- the case he was interested in -- do you agree that the CIA then lied to Congress?

BOEHNER: I know a little -- I know as much about this case as Pete Hoekstra does. And the inspector general did, in fact, do an investigation, produced a report and, frankly, supported, I think, Pete's claims.

And all we're trying to do here, in both cases, is to get to the bottom -- get to the truth. And it's the truth that we want here. And the fact is, is that CIA Director Panetta issued a very strong letter to Speaker Pelosi making it clear that in his opinion, they did not mislead her or lie to her.

And so I want to either see the documents or I would like to see the speaker apologize.

BLITZER: I'm going to read to you four names of convicted terrorists serving time in the United States -- Richard Reid, the so- called shoe bomber; Zacarias Moussaoui, the supposed 20th hijacker; Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so-called blind sheikh who was involved in the conspiracy for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center; and Ramsey Yousef, another 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind. All of them are in prisons in the United States right now. If American prisons are good enough for them, why not bring some of those terror suspects from Guantanamo Bay to join them in maximum security facilities in the United States?

BOEHNER: Well, Wolf, what you didn't indicate is under what conditions are they being held?

Some of these prisoners they're -- the entire wing has been cleared out so that we can have one of these terrorist suspects in jail here. When you're talking about 240 prisoners, bringing them to the United States, you cannot provide that type of security -- and because here's the problem, Wolf.

You put these prisoners in a population with other prisoners, all they're going to -- all they're going to do is be in a perfect environment to recruit more people to their cause.

The bigger issue here, Wolf, is what is the plan -- the administration's plan for keeping America safe and dealing with this terrorist threat?

And they've made these announcements that they're going to close Guantanamo, bring those prisoners -- do some -- do something with them.

But how can you make that decision without knowing what you're going to do with the prisoners and what our overarching strategy is?

BLITZER: He's going to be speaking at...

BOEHNER: And I'm hopeful that the administration is going to talk about this tomorrow.


BOEHNER: I want details about what are their plans for keeping the country safe.

BLITZER: He says he's going to be speaking on that tomorrow. We'll find out.

One final question, Mr. Leader, before I let you go. This feud that has now developed between the former vice president, Dick Cheney, and the former secretary of State, Colin Powell -- they worked together for many years.

Colin Powell now saying this

"Rush Limbaugh says, get out of the Republican Party. Dick Cheney says he already left. He's already out. I may be out of their version of the Republican Party, but there's another version of the Republican Party waiting to emerge once again."

Here's the question -- who's right on this battle over the Republican Party, would it be Dick Cheney or Colin Powell?

BOEHNER: Nice try, Wolf.

I'm for all of them. Listen, I'm for expanding our party. I'm for bringing people together who believe in the principles of the Republican Party. And we're not going to get into -- we're not going to grow our party if we're trying to find ways to exclude people.

And so I'm for all of them. And I hope they'll all be active members of our party, because we need all we can get.

BLITZER: So it sounds like you're agreeing with Colin Powell.

BOEHNER: Listen, I'm for all of them.

BLITZER: All right. You want a big tent Republican Party just like Ron Reagan, is that right?

BOEHNER: I sure do.

BLITZER: Mr. Leader, thanks very much for coming in.

BOEHNER: Thank you.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty has got "The Cafferty File" and he's joining us right now -- Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama facing resistance from his own party when it comes to plans to close down Guantanamo Bay Military Prison in Cuba.

The Senate voted 90-6 this afternoon not to provide the $80 million requested to shut that place down until the administration comes up with a plan for transferring the detainees. That money will be stripped from a supplemental war bill and instead be replaced with language that says no money can be used to transfer detainees from GITMO to the U.S. and no additional money will be approved until 60 days after Mr. Obama submits his plan to Congress.

Similar language in the House version of the bill.

It's a big blow for the president, who, right after he took office, you'll recall, announced he would close GITMO by next January. It could still happen.

You can bet that this is little more than politics, as exhibited in the previous discussion that was being had. The Republicans have been hammering away that it would be a reckless move to shut the prison down before deciding what to do with the terror suspects. They've released statements like this: "Meet your new neighbor, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed." And House Republicans have introduced a bill called the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act.

This is childish.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon says there's nothing to indicate the deadline to close GITMO by January is at all in jeopardy. And today, a top Pentagon official said members of Congress have to rethink their opposition to allowing detainees into the United States. He says closing the prison in Cuba will mean hard choices for everyone.

And my guess is the maximum security prisons in this country can probably hold these guys.

But hey, what do I know?

Here's the question: What does it mean that the president's own party won't give him the money to close the Guantanamo Bay prison?

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

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

Thanks very much.

A nationwide manhunt underway right now, with a teenager's life likely hanging in the balance. There are new developments right now in the search for a mother and son on the run from chemotherapy.

Also, shocking video -- a new controversy over a police beating all caught on videotape. It all happens at the end of this chase. We've got the videotape and it is amazing.

People who work for him, people who visited his White House -- now personal data of thousands of people with ties to the Clinton administration -- that data is now missing from the National Archives -- names, Social Security numbers, addresses and a lot more.

What's going on?

Stay with us.



BLITZER: There are now developments happening right now in an emotionally charged story -- a family refusing chemotherapy for their cancer-stricken son, opting, instead, for holistic Native American healing. But faced with a court order to get that chemotherapy, the mother and the son fled and are now on the run and the father now says there's reason to believe they've actually fled the country.

CNN's Mary Snow and our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, are both working this story.

Let's get the latest from Mary, though, first, on the search for this mother and son -- Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, police in Brown County, Minnesota say they're receiving leads on a local, state and national level and following up on all of them.

And as Daniel Hauser speaks out about his missing wife and son, police say investigators cannot speculate on the sincerity of the information he's provided. Hauser this afternoon says he has an idea of where his wife and son might be, but isn't saying where.


SNOW (voice-over): Anthony Hauser tells CNN he does not believe that his wife Colleen and 13-year-old son Daniel are still in the United States.

Daniel suffers from Hodgkin's lymphoma and is refusing chemotherapy.

A search was launched Tuesday, after Daniel and his mother failed to show up at a court appearance in Minnesota.

ANTHONY HAUSER, FATHER OF MISSING BOY: I will say this, I have left a call to where I think they could possibly be.

SNOW: The Brown County sheriff says Hauser is cooperating with police.

The sheriff's office has also turned to other agencies for help.

By late Tuesday afternoon, the Crime Alert Network said they got a call about the Hausers and issued alerts with images to media, law enforcement throughout the state and businesses. And it targets places like banks and gas stations.

JANELL RASMUSSEN, MINNESOTA CRIME ALERT NETWORK: Many times when a child is missing, obviously, the person who has them is going to have to stop for gas.

SNOW: Along with statewide alerts, the Brown County sheriff also turned to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which, along with getting information out, works with supporting law enforcement, such as searching for background information.

KRISTEN ANDERSON, CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN: Well, that analyst may perform different types of data searches, trying to provide packages of -- of helpful information, background information, anything that we can find that may assist law enforcement. So you really -- law enforcement will get a team of support from us on every single missing child case that we can take care of.

SNOW: And CNN law enforcement expert Mike Brooks says investigators will most likely be tracking another trail.

MIKE BROOKS, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I would be pulling all -- getting a subpoena for all of her cell phone records, try to track her cell phone, if she has one; any kind of bank accounts to see if she's withdrawing money; all these kinds of things.


SNOW: And law enforcement experts say relatives and friends are obviously top of the list for leads, anyone the mother and son might be turning to for help. In this case, experts say that may mean people who share the religious beliefs who are advocating natural healing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Which raises the question, there are report out there that the mother and son may have company. Others may be working or were involved with them.

What are you hearing about that?

SNOW: Well, police say -- you know, they've indicated they have seen these reports. They say they're following up, but they're not commenting right now.

BLITZER: Mary, thanks very much.

Let's bring in our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, right now.

Chemotherapy, almost all doctors believe, could save this young boy's life.

What's the -- what's going on from the medical perspective -- Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, from the medical perspective, Wolf, doctor says that chemotherapy almost certainly would save this boy; no chemotherapy would almost certainly kill him.


COHEN (voice-over): Daniel Hauser has Hodgkin's lymphoma and treating children with this kind of cancer is one of the great success stories of modern medicine.

DR. MITCHELL CAIRO, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: This is one of the most curable cancers that we've had.

COHEN: Studies show a patient like Daniel has a 90 to 95 percent chance of living if he gets chemotherapy and also, possibly, radiation. Without chemo...

CAIRO: Well, the prognosis would be very dismal.

COHEN: Especially dismal for someone like Daniel, says Dr. Mitchell Cairo, a pediatric oncologist at the Columbia University Medical Center. He doesn't treat Daniel, but he knows the boy's doctor said there was fairly dramatic evidence Monday that his cancer was getting progressively worse. An x-ray showed an enlarged lymph node near his collar bone and a growing tumor in his chest.

CAIRO: It would be highly unlikely that he could live much more than six months to a year without any form of standard therapy.

COHEN: Daniel's parents want him to have alternative therapies -- a natural diet, sweat lodges.

Pediatric oncologists say there are no alternative therapies known to help get rid of Hodgkin's lymphoma and some actually could make it even worse.


BLITZER: Elizabeth, do parents have the legal right ever to reject physician's recommendations?

COHEN: Yes, absolutely, Wolf, they do. When it's not a matter of life and death or when there are alternative -- when there are other treatments -- when there are other treatments that other doctors might consider as -- as viable, as working.

In that case, parents often do have the legal right to say no to what their doctor is recommending.

BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much.

We'll continue to watch this story for you.

Republican on the attack, hammering at the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, with her predecessor, Newt Gingrich, leading the charge -- why he says Democrats need to choose a brand new speaker.

Plus, another child star of that movie, "Slumdog Millionaire," is now homeless -- why authorities destroyed her family's shanty.


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


Another military plane crashes in Indonesia. Officials say the Indonesian transport plane caught fire and crashed into a residential area in East Java today. At least 98 people were killed. Nineteen others were injured, many with severe burns. Several people on board did survive. It's the third military plane crash in Indonesia in the last six weeks. An investigation is certainly underway.

And two Americans have been killed in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan -- one, a soldier; the other a civilian working with coalition forces. U.S. military officials say the two Americans were in a convoy traveling from Kabul when their vehicle hit the explosives.

And a rare glimpse today of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. These pictures were taken on the third day of her trial on subversion charges. She's accused of violating terms of her house address after an American man allegedly swam to her lakeside home. A diplomat at the trial said she looks healthy and in good spirits. Suu Kyi has been detained without trial for years. She was scheduled to be released in one week.

And one of the child stars of the Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire" is now homeless. Rubina Ali watched today as Indian authorities razed that Mumbai shanty where she lives with her family. Officials say the home and several other shanties were built illegally. The home of another "Slumdog" star was leveled last week. While the film grossed millions of dollars, most of the movie's child stars returned to their impoverished neighborhoods.

It's a very sad situation -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very sad.

All right, thanks, Fred.

And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, Iraqi civilians the target of a brutal bombing in Baghdad today. Authorities say a car bomb exploded near several restaurants in a Shiite neighborhood right at dinner time. At least 34 people were killed, more than 70 hurt.

Iran says it has successfully tested a surface to surface missile with a 1,200 mile range. That's far enough to reach parts of Europe, Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East. The White House calls the development -- and I'm quoting now -- "concerning."

And another down day on Wall Street. The Dow well 53 points, closing at 8422.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he wants the current House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, ousted over her accusation that the CIA was misleading Congress.

Let's turn to our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, to update us on this developing story -- Jessica?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has said that he believes that the Republican Party will only come back by focusing on new policy ideas. But he seems to be changing his own approach -- right now ratcheting up pressure on Nancy Pelosi and calling for her to step down.


YELLIN (voice-over): Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is slinging arrows.

GINGRICH: I don't see how she can serve as speaker.

YELLIN: His target -- the woman who got his old job.

GINGRICH: I think that with Speaker Pelosi's comments last Thursday, particularly the ones in which she alleged that the Central Intelligence Agency routinely lies to Congress, that she really disqualified herself to be speaker.

YELLIN: Gingrich is increasingly becoming the front man in his party's assault on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, suggesting not only should she step down, but also face censure.

GINGRICH: Under the rules of the House, you can't serve if you've -- if you've been censured.

YELLIN: Pelosi's Democratic supporters call the attacks outrageous. And one says Gingrich's efforts are backfiring -- galvanizing Democratic support around the speaker.

REP. JOHN LARSON (D), CONNECTICUT: He's an empty, clanging horn that nobody is paying attention to. They hope that it serves as a distraction. But let me tell you, it's helping unite us even more.

YELLIN: Democrats point out that Gingrich quit the speakership under an ethics cloud and that he refuses to criticize Representative Pete Hoekstra, a member of his own party, who has also accused the CIA of telling lies to Congress.

The former speaker, who is considered a possible presidential candidate, insists this is more than just politics, he writes in the current edition of "Human Events" magazine: "The controversy swirling around Speaker Pelosi isn't political. She may think it is. Other liberal Democrats may think it is. And the media may want it to appear that way. But this isn't about politics, it's about national security."


YELLIN: And, Wolf, as you might guess, Nancy Pelosi's office insists that this is just a distraction from the bigger issues, which are health care and passing the president's agenda -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jessica Yellin, thanks very much.

Let's talk about this with our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley; the Democratic strategist, Steve McMahon; and the Republican consultant, Alex Castellanos. He's a CNN political contributor, as well.

What do you make about Newt Gingrich now coming out and formally saying Nancy Pelosi should step down?

Is Newt Gingrich the face that the Republicans want to emerge as their new leader?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think we all want to -- all Republicans want to address this issue, from Newt Gingrich on down.

You know, in Washington, we always think that a crisis is -- it's political -- somebody's political future is in jeopardy. No. A crisis is actually a moment in government when things are at stake. This is a crisis in government. The leader of the U.S. Congress says that the intelligence agency routinely deceives the leaders of our government. That's an important charge. If that's true, we have got a crisis in government. The Obama administration needs to step in and she needs to back that up. If she actually believes that and it's not true, it puts her in a position that makes it difficult for her to lead the Congress.

BLITZER: Can she do that effectively? Can she back up that charge without getting all that classified information from the CIA?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It would be difficult for her to do that that's why she called a -- I think she's saying she was misled. This is an administration that's famous for selectively leaking or selectively cherry picking intelligence that supports its point of view. Would I be surprised that the Bush administration CIA director or CIA staff people went in there and misled the Congress at all? I wouldn't be surprised at all. Neither by the way would Pete Hoekstra, a Republican Congressman.

BLITZER: Given the mood of the country, Candy, right now, from the Republicans perspective, a truth commission, is that what they really want to sort of rehash all of the Bush administration?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Neither does President Obama or Senate Leader Harry Reid so you've got two leading Democrat who is say this is a bad idea and have told speaker Pelosi that they don't want to. In fact she began to back off it about a month ago and now she's back on it.

BLITZER: You've got to be careful, Alex, what you wish for because if you go through that whole truth commission right now, they may dredge up even a lot worse stuff that was happening during the eight years of the Bush administration.

CASTELLANOS: I'm not prepared to say right now to judge that the Bush administration had a policy to do what's wrong for America. They're Republican, that doesn't mean they're evil people. They did a great job; let's assume that they're honest people that tried to serve their country. I sure do. The question is the speaker of the house has gone farther and said that they routinely deceived Congress. That's a big charge and if she actually believes that and it's not true, she's not fit to serve.

BLITZER: Did she go too far in making that accusation?

MCMAHON: It's not as clear to me that she made it as clearly as my friend Alex suggests. She definitely said that she was mislead. I think she said it's routine for the CIA to mislead.

BLITZER: She was lost asked by a reporter, are you saying that the CIA lied to you? And she answered, she began her answer by using the word yes.

MCMAHON: Yes, she did do that.

It's not Democrat or Republican, but there's no question that this administration and the CIA selectively picked intelligence. The problem that they have is that too many people believe that the CIA and the Bush administration didn't tell the truth which is why we're in Iraq. So Nancy Pelosi in effect has the public behind her on this, when she says they didn't give me all the facts, I think the public knows that that's what happened during the Bush administration and they're not surprised to hear it.

CROWLEY: There's no political intent here. OK, let's accept that, but there is political implication, and I think the political implication is regardless of where the public is, that this has watered downing what may come out or has not come out about what the Bush administration did or didn't do. It has diluted that in a serious way.

BLITZER: Let's move on to the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, she's now released a statement. The transition from candidate Obama to President Obama has been as predictable as Alaska's winter snow. Change in this administration has met rapid movement toward massive government growth, huge tax burdens on future generations and an unprecedented reliance upon foreign countries, Sarah Palin, issuing that statement. Is she -- give me your gut instinct right now, none of us knows for sure, do you think she's trying to set the stage for a presidential run in 2012?

CASTELLANOS: I have no way to know personally, but I'll tell you this, with the support she seems to be getting from a certain segment of the Republican electorate, she'll be a player and she'll have that option. You can almost see the trajectory; she'll go out and give a big speech. You can see how she grows as a potential candidate on the right. She'll be an influential player.

BLITZER: She also says she's aligning herself effectively with the embattled chairman of the RNC, the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele. She said, "Today, we have a friend in RNC Chairman Michael Steele and his bold and courageous speech defines his leadership goals that will guide us through this most difficult time for our nation." She likes the guy.

MCMAHON: She likes the guy. She senses that there's a political crisis in the Republican Party and I think there's a serious brand problem. If you have has your spokes people, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, I'm not sure that that's going to win you many elections. I hope she runs Alex and I hope she's as strong as you believe she will be.

CASTELLANOS: Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi for those.

MCMAHON: Listen we'll take Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi all day long. At least they are taking the country in a different direction from the Bush administration.

BLITZER: There's no doubt if she goes out there and starts speaking across the country, thousands of people will show up.

CROWLEY: Absolutely and regardless of whether you think the Republican party ought to expand or ought to be truer to its base, let's say you go to expand because that's how you win elections, Sarah Palin keeps that core of the party together. She doesn't have to be running for president, I think we call that leaving your options open. But she can move the party, she certainly --

BLITZER: And she does have a very different face than Newt Gingrich or Dick Cheney or Rush Limbaugh for that matter. Sarah Palin's much younger and she's certainly a fresher face.

CASTELLANOS: But the new face for the Republicans this week was Michael Steele who had a knockout appearance on "MEET THE PRESS" and whooped Tim Kane who had a great op ed in Politico and who then gave a terrific speech this week.

BLITZER: She's a fresh face. We'll leave it right there. Thanks very much.

Some are calling it a duo. Tomorrow President Obama and former Vice President Cheney will each be giving speeches on national security. Who do you think will win? This is what you can do. Submit your video comments to Watch the program tomorrow to see if your video makes it on the air.

The chase is amazing enough, but what happened next is so shocking it cost five police officers their job. We have the dash cam video that recorded the entire incident.


BLITZER: Shocking dash cam video catching a police chase and then a beating and now there's a new development in this case. It all happened in Birmingham, Alabama. CNN's Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATION ROOM, watching it was pretty amazing as we saw it unfold.

All right. Walk us through what happened.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. Well Wolf, the chase and the accident are frightening enough. Then what comes next is very disturbing. The five officers involved have been fired. That was announced today, even though this incident occurred more than a year ago.

Now we have to warn viewers this video is indeed very graphic. And this happened in January 2008 on a stretch of interstates near Birmingham, Alabama. This is all captured on a dashboard camera of a police cruiser. You see the suspect there; he's in the white van, he swerves there, almost hits a police officer who tried to throw up a barricade. All right. He had zigzagged very tightly between some cars. Now the chase continues up a ramp, again on an interstate just outside of Birmingham. You're going to see the officers chasing him up the ramp. Watch on the right-hand side of your screen, they're going to nudge the suspect in his van. They nudge him. His van rolls over, you'll see him fly out of the van here, there he is, his unconscious, watch him, he is not moving, the officers converge on him, start to beat him, he does not resist, you see that there, he is not moving, the beating takes place over the course of 11 seconds. Five officers involved, you see the one pummeling him it looks like in the head there, then the tape is stopped, the tape is then turned off.

Now investigators say this suspect identified as Anthony Warren didn't even know he had been beaten. He believed he had gotten his injuries only from the crash. This was taped more than a year ago as we said, but someone kept it under wraps until this past March when the district attorney's office brought it to the attention of the chief of police. Now Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper has just told us that there is an internal investigation underway into who knew what and when. That suspect, Anthony Warren, now serving a 20 year prison term. He had been charged with attempted murder for allegedly trying to run that officer over as you saw on the page. But he pleaded to aggravated assault. An amazing stretch of tape there. You know these dash board cameras in these police cruisers are there to protect them. You can see sometimes they can incriminate them.

BLITZER: It's amazing what's going on. You don't see video like that everyday. Now there's some suggestion that's out there, as you know Brian, that there was a racially motivated element in this whole case.

TODD: There has been that suggestion. We spoke to the mayor, we spoke to the chief of police. At this point, they're saying they do not think this is racially motivated. One of the officers is black, the other four are white. At this point, they don't really believe that it was racially motivated but the mayor of Birmingham Larry Langford did say look this city does have a history of the racially motivated police violence; we don't want to go back to that. He's being very, very aggressive at this point in this investigation.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much. Amazing video from that dash cam, thanks very much.

A long distance call, President Obama is getting ready to speak with the astronauts 350 miles above Earth. We're going to plug you in as the president rings up the shuttle "Atlantis."

And a treasure trove of confidential information from the Clinton administration lost, the result of an apparent security breach over at the national archives. How could this have happened? We'll have a live report.


BLITZER: A computer hard drive with a lot of personal information on Clinton administration staffers and visitors now missing from the national archives. Elaine Quijano is here in THE SITUATION ROOM investigating what's going on. It's a pretty shocking story.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know it is shocking. Officials are not sure, Wolf, just how much information was lost. But this hard drive can hold two terabytes of information, the equivalent some say of millions of books.


QUIJANO: It's the nation's caretaker of historical documents. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and until recently, a national archives building was home to a computer hard drive, filled with copies of Clinton era information, including social security numbers and addresses of then white house staff and visitors. Now that's missing. Congressman Darrell Issa is the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: If they can't handle a hard drive that may be sensitive properly, we need to ask the question of will they handle the most secret materials properly.

QUIJANO: A National Archives spokesperson says the two terabyte hard drive the size of a book went missing from an annex outside of Washington sometime between October of last year and March. Officials aren't sure whether it was lost, misplaced, or stolen. The archives inspector general is conducting a criminal investigation. The National Archives declined to say whether the hard drive was encrypted to safeguard its contents, but experts say they wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't.

KEVIN BEAVER, PRINCIPLE LOGIC: I think it's in the realm of possibility that it has no encryption, because by and large I see that people aren't encrypting their mobile devices.


QUIJANO: Now officials say they do have copies of the information that's missing. There is a $50,000 reward leading to the recovery of the hard drive. Congressman Issa who was briefed by the inspector general said more than 100 people would have had access to the area where this hard drive was kept.

BLITZER: That's an amazing story and very shocking. All right, thanks very much for that Elaine.

The U.S. military burning bibles, a sacrilege to some but U.S. military officials say the books had to be destroyed. You're about to find out why.

And Colin Powell takes on his critics within the GOP who say he should leave the Republican Party.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's go right back to Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack?

CAFFERTY: Wolf, the question this hour, what does it mean, the president's own party, the Democrats will not give him the money he needs to close the Guantanamo Bay prison?

Lou writes: "It means midterm elections are next year and none of the cowards can get re-elected with Republicans telling voters their representatives are going to move these detainees to jails in their states. We don't have a government for the people anymore. We have a government for the upcoming election."

Bob in Argentina writes: "You have to have a plan, plain and simple, and complete stupidity, to close a confinement facility. If you don't care, move them all next door to the people who suggested this."

Matt writes: "Rule one, do and say anything to get elected. Rule two, ignore what you did and said before you got elected. Rule three, now that we know what we know, we can't do what we said we were going to do."

Michael writes: "It means people are starting to have doubts that everything's going to fall into place. I honestly believe this could work and I wish Obama's party would give him the support he deserves. If any president needs support right now, it's Obama. He was thrown into a garbage pile of bad decisions that have to be corrected."

Steve writes: "They are terrified they'll end up in their districts. John Boehner on this program a little while ago said they have cleared out whole wings of prisons for four convicted terrorists? Why? Let them stay together, recruit each other, where the hell are they going to go anyway?"

And Roger in Palm Desert, California writes: "What it means is the Democratic Party needs some guts. We've kept the Unibomber, John Wayne Gasey, Charlie Manson and others of their ill off the streets. If there's one thing we know how to do, it's imprison people. Shut Gitmo down and deprive al Qaeda of one of its best recruitment tools."

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

The Republicans played the Democrats like a fiddle on this thing and it worked.

BLITZER: So far. We'll see what happens in the next few weeks. So far they're, from their perspective, they're doing a pretty good job.

CAFFERTY: Yes, they are.

BLITZER: Higher interest rates, fewer perks and that's just the beginning of what critics say is in store under the credit card reform bill Congress is considering. We're about to get a reality check from a money expert.

And President Obama hammered by members of his own party over closing Guantanamo Bay ahead of a major speech on terror tomorrow. We're following a growing problem for the new president.


BLITZER: Startling allegations this morning from a military attorney who represented an inmate at Guantanamo Bay. She says to get information her client was tortured. She calls waterboarding just the tip of the iceberg. CNN's Jim Acosta has more -- Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, government documents show 28 CIA detainees were subjected to harsh interrogation techniques. But a military attorney for one detainee, who was freed from Guantanamo, told us in her first on-camera interview in the U.S. she believes there may be more. We should warn our viewers, some of what you're about to hear is graphic.


ACOSTA (on-camera): What you're saying that waterboarding is only the beginning?

LT. COL. YVONNE BRADLEY, AIR FORCE: Absolutely. It's the tip of the iceberg.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Air Force Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Yvonne Bradley says she came to that conclusion as a lifelong Republican who never had questioned the war on terror when she was appointed the military attorney for Guantanamo detainee Binya Mohammad.

(on camera): You thought, this is a terrorist?

BRADLEY: Absolutely. My government was saying these were the worst of the worse.

ACOSTA: A British resident originally from Ethiopia, Mohammad was detained by U.S. authorities in Pakistan right after the 9/11 attacks. Bradley says Mohammad may have attended an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.

So he may have been to a camp?

BRADLEY: He may have been to a camp.

ACOSTA: After Mohammad's arrest, Bradley says he was flown to Morocco where he was drugged, beaten, and worse.

BRADLEY: In Morocco, he also reported that they started this treatment where they would come in with a scalpel or razor type of instrument and slash his genitals with small cuts.

ACOSTA: Bradley says Mohammad was eventually shipped back to Afghanistan where he wrote out this confession, admitting to training at an al Qaeda camp and discussing plans for a dirty bomb. When asked if he had been abused, he wrote, no.

You think he confessed to all of these things after he was tortured?

BRADLEY: There was no reliable evidence that Mr. Mohammad was going to do anything to the United States.

ACOSTA: Late last year, a military commission's judge dropped the charges against Mohammad. On his third day in office, President Obama ordered Mohammad released from Guantanamo, a move blasted by one group representing military families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we release these detainees, when we release these terrorists, we put America and we put America's allies in more danger.

ACOSTA: Mohammad told the BBC, he is trying to move on.

MOHAMMAD: It's been seven years of literal darkness that I have been through with that. Come back to life is taking me some time.

ACOSTA: Yvonne Bradley believes there are other former and current detainees on the same journey.

(voice-over): You feel comfortable saying that in a U.S. military uniform?

BRADLEY: I do. Because I raised my hand to protect the constitution of the United States. This has nothing to do about national security. It has to do with national embarrassment.


ACOSTA: The judge in Mohammad's case did not give a reason for dropping the charges and the Pentagon is not commenting on the matter. The Justice Department did refer us to its statement on Mohammad's release, that it's consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice. A special task force is now reviewing whether to release dozens of other detainees -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

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

Happening now, fellow Democrats blow up the president's plan to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. Right now the president is likely to get hammered again by the former vice president, Dick Cheney.

Plus, Iran launches a test missile and a new red alert about its nuclear threat. This hour, we'll map out the long-range danger to western targets including U.S. bases in the region.

And credit card reform or headache? The best hopes and worst fears about a bill President Obama is ready to sign into law.

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