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President Obama's Middle East Push; President Obama At Site of Nazi Camp; "Unusual Circumstances"

Aired June 5, 2009 - 17:00   ET


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

Happening now, President Obama steps up his Middle East peace effort, calling out both sides to make difficult compromises.

How far is Israel willing to go?

I'll speak with the deputy foreign minister of Israel, Daniel Ayalon. He's standing by live.

The president visits a Nazi concentration camp with survivor and Nobel laureate, Eddie Wiesel, who delivers a very emotional message and makes a powerful appeal to the president.

And shocking new developments in the death of the actor David Carradine. At first it looked like suicide, but the strange details suggest it may be something else entirely.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


On a day when he came face-to-face with the horrors of the Holocaust at a Nazi concentration camp, President Obama pushed ahead with his effort to get Israelis and Palestinians to make peace. He stressed that will mean two states living side by side. And he said each side will need to make some painful choices.

Our White House correspondent, Ed Henry, is traveling with the president -- Ed?

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the president didn't wait long. Just one day after his speech in Cairo, he's now launching a full court press for peace.


HENRY (voice-over): Visiting the historic German city of Dresden, the president suggested he's moving quickly after his speech to the Muslim world to border momentum for Mideast peace talks.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're not going to happen immediately. But -- but I'm confident that if he stick with it, having started early, that we can make some serious progress this year. HENRY: Mr. Obama is sending his special envoy, George Mitchell, to the region next week to try and prod Israelis and Palestinians to get the process back on track.

OBAMA: I think the moment is now for us to act on what we all know to be the truth, which is that each side is going to have to make some difficult compromises.

HENRY: After recently pressuring Israel to end settlements in the West Bank, Mr. Obama appeared to try and ease tension on the matter.

OBAMA: Keep in mind that all I have done there is reaffirm commitments that the Israelis themselves had already made in the road map. I'm very sympathetic to how hard it will be. But as Israel's friend, the United States, I think, has an obligation to just be honest with that friend about how important it is to achieve a two- state solution.

HENRY: Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel praised Mr. Obama's Cairo speech, saying it will speed the peace process. In fact, she revealed the two leaders privately discussed a potential timetable for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR: We also talked about a possible time frame for possible progress to be made.

HENRY: Asked by a reporter to be more specific about the time line, Merkel did not elaborate and neither would top aides to Mr. Obama.


HENRY: The president also praised his own administration for, in his words, creating the atmosphere for peace talks to get going again. But he noted that the U.S. cannot force peace on the parties. It's going to take heavy lifting by both sides to get it done -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Henry reporting for us, our senior White House correspondent.

Let's get the first official reaction now to what President Obama has been saying from the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Joining us here in Washington is the deputy foreign minister of Israel, Daniel Ayalon. Minister, thanks very much for coming in.


Thank you.

BLITZER: The president was very precise in his words yesterday. On the settlements, he said this.


OBAMA: The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.


OBAMA: This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.


BLITZER: Will you stop expanding, building settlements, natural growth, all these things he and the secretary of State have said to you stop doing it?

AYALON: Wolf, first of all, this is my first time here since being your ambassador quite a few years back. And I was quite amazed and reassured, of course, by the intensity and the scope of understanding and friendship we have with the United States...

BLITZER: But what about the settlements?

AYALON: ...which transcends administrations. We look up to the administration and to the president, Obama. We will work with him together.

As to the settlements issue, quite frankly, we do not see the settlement issue as the crux. I mean there are so many other issues which are really a threat to world security and -- and peace...

BLITZER: But are you going to listen...

AYALON: Absolutely...

BLITZER: Are you going to listen to him on the settlements?

AYALON: Absolutely.

BLITZER: I mean, he says they're illegal right now. He's using the word legitimacy, which we haven't heard from a U.S. president in some time. And he says these settlements much stop.

So the question is, is Israel going to stop with the settlements?

AYALON: We're going to work with this administration, hand to hand, very closely. And quite frankly, Wolf, this is not the first time that we hear an American president relate to the settlement issue. It's been going on for 40 years now. And as friends, sometimes we agree to disagree. But this (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: So you're going to continue building settlements?

AYALON: I'm not saying that. But I'm saying we understand the, really, the critical issue of the settlements as it is conveyed to us by the administration. We understand... BLITZER: But have you told the U.S. government, the Obama administration, you're not going to stop building settlements?

AYALON: We have not said anything yet. We are now working on a serious effort, from our part, to find accommodation that, you know, would be workable for all of us...

BLITZER: But in the meantime, in these immediate days and weeks ahead, the settlements are continuing?

AYALON: Well, there is no reason to stop anything which, you know, we have been doing so far. On the contrary, there are some things that we have committed. We will abide by all our commitments.

The settlements, as such, were never -- I would call it the legal settlements or the authorized by successive Israeli governments for the last 40 years, where 300,000 people live there...

BLITZER: Were you surprised he raised...

AYALON: ...for three and four generations.

BLITZER: ...he suggested they were illegal, that your settlement activity -- when he used the word legitimacy?

AYALON: Well, this was not the first time we heard that language from an American president. You know, over the years...

BLITZER: It's been a long time since you've heard it.

AYALON: Well, this is true. But, you know, we do understand -- you know, the president has spoken. The reaction to the Israeli government was quite positive to this speech.

BLITZER: Let me ask you another -- another sensitive issue which he's saying please, please, Israeli government, he's saying accept a two-state solution.

Listen to this.


OBAMA: We discussed my recent trip to the Middle East and the need for all of us to redouble our efforts to bring about two states, Israel and a Palestinian state that are living side by side in peace and security. I think the moment is now for us to act on what we all know to be the truth, which is that each side is going to have to make some difficult compromises.


BLITZER: Are you ready to accept a two-state solution -- Israel along a new state of Palestine?

AYALON: We are accepting everything that was agreed upon -- everything that the Israeli governments in the past took upon themselves. There is no change in that.

However, Wolf, I think it would be much easier for everybody to look at the broader context and not just emphasize on what Israel must do, but also on what the Palestinians should be doing (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: But you're not willing to say you accept the two-state solution?

AYALON: We are not ruling -- we are not ruling out anything. You know, Prime Minister Netanyahu was here and in Israel, he has asked repeatedly for -- from Abu Mazen to meet with him...

BLITZER: Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president.

AYALON: Mahmoud Abbas. Exactly. To meet with him, to start a political dialogue without preconditions. Everything could be on the table...

BLITZER: All right...

AYALON: ...and simultaneously with other issues, like capacity building, economic issues and many, many other things that the Arab (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: Two questions, because a lot of concerns are being felt and heard in Israel.

Do you trust this president of the United States?

AYALON: Absolutely, yes.

BLITZER: Do you regard him as a friend of Israel?

AYALON: Absolutely, yes.

BLITZER: Even though you have disagreements with him on settlements and a two-state solution?

AYALON: Wolf, this is not the first time we have disagreements with administrations. You know, in the last 40 or 50 years, we have had these things. But it has never, never went down to the core issue of the understandings or the basis of our -- our, I would say, bond and friendship, which is quite natural.

The United States is our best friend and ally. It will continue to be the best friend and ally. How -- you know, our world view is not changed. We're cherishing the same values. We face the same threats and interests. This will correspondent and we will work together with this administration. We'll look up to the leadership of this president on all issues, including Iran, including bringing together the Arab world.

And I think this was very fresh, what he said, that the Arab world also should also come and put their money where their mouth is, in terms of helping the Palestinians and the Israelis moving forward.

BLITZER: We've got to leave it there.

Mr. Minister...

AYALON: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: used to be Mr. Ambassador in Washington.

Thanks very much for coming in.

AYALON: Thank you.

BLITZER: With President Obama at his side, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel returns to the concentration camp where his father died, recalling the horror and challenging the new American leader.

Also, the president calls on allies to help him close the Guantanamo Bay detainee camp.

Will they step in?

CNN's Michael Ware and Candy Crowley -- they're both standing by live to discuss.

Plus, an unforgettable day for one fourth grader -- a surprise return from war and a very emotional father-daughter reunion.


BLITZER: We're about to hear from the Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel. The Holocaust survivor speaking in his own words today at the Buchenwald concentration camp.

But first, a closer look at some of the raw images of the president's visit to Buchenwald.


BLITZER: President Obama stepped into those barbed wire fences at Buchenwald, the Nazi concentration camp, where tens of thousands of Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

Joining the president, the Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel, who was a prisoner at the camp himself. So was his father, who died there shortly before it was liberated.

Elie Wiesel spoke movingly today.

Listen to this.


ELIE WIESEL, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: Ladies and gentlemen, as I came here today, it was actually a way of coming and visit my father's grave. But he had no grave. His grave is somewhere in the sky.

This has become, in those years, the largest cemetery of the Jewish people.

The day he died was one of the darkest in my life. We came sick, weak. And I was there. I was there when he suffered. I was there when he asked for help, for water. I was there to receive his last words.

But I was not there when he called for me, although we were on the same block, he on the upper bed and I on the lower bed. He called my name and I was too afraid to move. All of us were. And then he died.

I was there, but I was not there. And I thought one day I would come back and speak to him and tell him of the world that has become mine. I speak to him of times in which memory has become a sacred duty of all people of goodwill, in America where I live or in Europe or in Germany, where you, Chancellor Merkel, are a leader with great courage and moral aspirations.

What can I tell him?

That the world has learned?

I am not so sure. Mr. President, we have such high hopes for you because you, with your moral vision of history, will be able and compelled to change this world into a better place. That people will stop waging war. Every war is absurd and meaningless. That people will stop hating one another. That people will hate the otherness of the other, rather than respect it.

But the world hasn't learned.

When I was liberated in 1945, April 11, by the American Army, somehow many of us were convinced that at least one lesson will have been learned -- that never again will there be war, that hatred is not an option, that racism is stupid and the will to conquer other people's minds or territories or aspirations, that will is meaningless.

I was so hopeful, paradoxically, I was so hopeful then -- many of us were, although we had the right to give up on humanity, to give up on culture, to give up on education, to give up on the possibility of leading one's life with dignity in a world that has no place for dignity.

We rejected that possibility and we said no, we must continue believing in a future, because the world has learned. But, again, the world hasn't. Had the world learned, there would been no Cambodia and no Rwanda and no Darfur and no Bosnia.

Will the world ever learn?

See, that is why Buchenwald is so important.


BLITZER: That powerful appeal from the Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel.

Later in THE SITUATION ROOM, we're going to hear at length from President Obama, his words -- what he said at Buchenwald today, as well.

Two Americans on trial in North Korea -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is watching closely and now speaking out on their plight.

Plus, the mystery of the so-called Montauk monster -- is it finally solved?

And what was that strange creature that washed up on the Long Island shore?


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


The trial of two journalists held in North Korea has begun. The reclusive nation's highest court is hearing the case of Euna Lee and Laura Ling. North Korea is accusing the two women of entering the country illegally and spying. Today, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the case.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The concern that we feel for these two young women who are in prison in North Korea has been driving our efforts. We want to strike the right balance between expressing our deep concern, our belief that these two young women should be released immediately. The trial, which is going on right now, we consider to be a step toward the release and the return home of these two young women.


WHITFIELD: If convicted, the women face 10 years in a labor camp.

A man convicted of setting a Southern California wildfire that killed five federal firefighters back in 2006 has been sentenced to death. A judge imposed the death penalty on Raymond Lee Oyler after the victim's relatives made emotional statements in court. The blaze occurred in Riverside County, about 90 miles east of Los Angeles. The victims were San Bernardino National Forest firefighters.

And 3,000 -- at least 3,000 people in San Francisco are without power after an underground explosion. There are no immediate reports of injuries. The blast sent thick black smoke and flames out of a manhole, as you see there. Authorities say the explosion was apparently caused by an electrical transformer. There have been no evacuations from the surrounding area.

And you may remember the stir that was caused last summer when an unidentified creature washed ashore dead on a beach near Montauk, New York. It was called the Montauk monster. Well, a resident of neighboring Shelter Island says it was actually a raccoon. The man says he and his friends discovered the dead raccoon on Shell Beach and decided to give the animal a Viking funeral. They put the animal in a watermelon, set it on fire and then sent it out to sea -- Wolf, pretty gruesome...

BLITZER: Now we can...

WHITFIELD: matter what the story is.

BLITZER: Now, we can call it a Montauk raccoon.

WHITFIELD: Yes, we can.

BLITZER: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: It doesn't sound as interesting, though, does it?

BLITZER: No. Not really.

Thanks very much.

President Obama wants to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay by early next year.

Can he convince U.S. allies to help?

CNN's Michael Ware is standing by.

And they look like snapshots taken just days ago -- color pictures of the Nazi, Adolph Hitler, hidden for decades and never seen before.

Plus, shocking new developments in the death of the actor, David Carradine. At first, it looked like suicide. But the strange details now suggest something very different. That's coming up.



Happening now, the maker of the Air France plane that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean issues a new directive about flying that jet model. Airbus says a critical device could be sending pilots conflicting signs about flight speed.

A former State Department official and his wife accused of spying for Cuba. The espionage allegedly took place for 30 years.

Shocking details are emerging about the actor, David Carradine's, death and they're raising more questions than answers.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


The body of the actor, David Carradine, will be flown back to the United States tomorrow, according to a senior police source in Thailand. But questions still surround what authorities are calling the unusual circumstances of his death.

CNN's Diana Magnay is in Baghdad.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A grim end for an actor whose "Kung Fu" heyday propelled him to stardom. David Carradine was found dead at this luxury Bangkok hotel early on Thursday morning. Police say his naked body discovered by a maid in a closet in his hotel room, a rope tied around his neck and genitals.

SOMPRASONG YENTHUAM, BANGKOK POLICE (through translator): From our investigations around the incident area, our preliminary assumption is that the cause of death was suffocation because there was a rope tied to his neck.

MAGNAY: Police say there was no sign of forced entry into Carradine's room. The actor, who was 72, had arrived in Bangkok just a few days earlier to begin work on a new movie called "Stretch." Thai authorities carried out an autopsy on Friday citing the unusual circumstances surrounding his death.

NANTHANA SIRISAP, CHULALONGKORN HOSPITAL (through translator): For this case the police have reported to us that the cause of his death was not clear. So we can assume that his death was not normal which by law we have to perform an autopsy.

MAGNAY: Carradine rose to fame in the 1970s in his role as the monk the TV series "Kung Fu." After years of straight top video releases --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You and I have unfinished business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Baby, you ain't kidding.

MAGNAY: His career gained a huge boost when he played the title role opposite Uma Thurman in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" films. Fans on Hollywood Boulevard paid their respect to an icon of the martial arts movie scene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bruce Lee came one the "Kung Fu" series and at the time he wasn't able to be on TV because of the stereotypes going on so they got David Carradine and he did a great job and I'm really shocked.

MAGNAY: Police in Thailand say it may take some time before their investigation results. But what at first looked like a case of suicide now appears as though it could have been an accident.

Diana Magne, CNN, Bangkok, Thailand.


BLITZER: Quinton Tarantino directed the "Kill Bill" films in which David Carradine played the title character. Last night he spoke with CNN's Larry King about Carradine's death. Listen to this.


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Quinton, how did you hear about it?

QUINTON TARANTINO, DIRECTOR: I'm still in a state of shock, I heard about it at noon today. I got it very recently. So I know pretty much what you just read on the front.

KING: What was he like to direct?

TARANTINO: He was a dream.

KING: Because?

TARANTINO: He was one of those wild man actors and there was few of them. David Carradine was definitely one of them and it was just a pleasure to work with him.


BLITZER: Tune in to "LARRY KING LIVE" later tonight 9:00 p.m. eastern for more coverage of the death of David Carradine.

There are now some never before seen pictures of Adolph Hitler that have never been revealed. Let's go to CNN's Mary Snow. She's taking a closer look at this story that's causing a lot of buzz out there.

What are you seeing and what are you learning, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is out there, Wolf. says it decided to publicize these photos to coincide with the 65 anniversary of D-day. An editor says it gives a new look at the blind following of the Nazi madman and also serves as a reminder of what allied soldiers were fighting against.


SNOW: Unlike most images of World War II that are in black and white, these never before publicly seen photos of Adolph Hitler are all in color.

BEN COSGROVE, LIFE.COM DEPUTY EDITOR: The immediacy of these photographs is one of the most chilling aspects of it. They look like they were snapshots taken four days ago.

SNOW: deputy editor Ben Cosgrove says Life bought some 2,000 pictures in the 1960s, from Yugo Yeager, a Nazi himself and Hitler's personal photographer. Cosgrove says an interview transcript reveals Yeager hid negatives like these for decades after allied troops confronted him in 1945 near Munich.

COSGROVE: They went down to the basement in a house he was staying. There was a large leather suitcase in which he had his entire archive, thousands of color photographs. Along the way, they came across and opened a bottle of cognac that Yeager claims he was going to wash down the cyanide that he was going to take when the allies came.

SNOW: The photographs, which were in negatives, went unnoticed when the soldiers were said to have taken more of an interest in the cognac. Yeager reportedly buried his negatives in 12 glass jars for a decade before moving them to a bank vault and then selling them to Life for $50,000. Until now, only a few were published. Asked about the decision to make them all public now.

COSGROVE: The fear is that there might be a glorification or even a perceived glorification of these people in this era by putting out these images. So we discussed it and very quickly and unanimously said no, of course we have to publish these. It captures an entire era like nothing else that I have ever seen.


SNOW: Wolf, says part of the reason why they're becoming public is because it's digitizing millions of photographs. If you think about it, for years, all of these photographs sat in storage for years in file cabinets.

BLITZER: Very, very eerie stuff. All right. Mary, thank you.

President Obama calls on allies to help the U.S. close the Guantanamo Bay detainee camp. Will they step in? CNN's Michael Ware and Candy Crowley are here to weigh in.

Plus, naked photos from wild parties at the heart of a growing scandal swirling around a world leader.


BLITZER: When he addressed the Muslim world, President Obama said he'll make good on his pledge to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The sticking point, what to do with the prisoners held there. The U.S. wants its allies to take some of the detainees to help out. The president spoke about that at a news conference earlier today with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Listen to this.


OBAMA: In terms of the issue at Guantanamo, look, this is a very difficult issue. It's difficult in my country, it's difficult internationally. We have a facility that contains some people who are very difficult to deal with. Some of them probably should not have been detained in those facilities in the first place. They should have been processed and tried and convicted.


BLITZER: You get the point that what the president's saying, let's talk about this and more with CNN's Michael Ware and our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.

Michael, why is it so hard for the allies to come in and help the U.S. and take some of these guys?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's actually a good question. And one wonders. Now clearly it's in everyone's shared interest to take on the issue of the international terrorists. Because we have seen all throughout Europe, there have been a variety of al Qaeda or Islamic militant cells that have been disrupted, that have been intercepted and that have been jailed from Britain to France to Italy. Now, each country has been dealing with those cases as their own and rightly so. Now it's about perhaps sharing the burden of the spillover of Gitmo. One would think that there's some way, some accord that could be found given the commonality of the interests of the west in battling these terrorist cells and these organizations.

However, I would say none of the things, I don't think America should be so gun shy from taking some of these prisoners on to U.S. soil. I mean for these prisoners, that would mean taking them into the belly of their beast, into the heart of their enemy, they're American prisoners, hold them on American soil, maximum security, put the living fear into them of knowing that there is no escape and that they're not going anywhere. I don't think America is public or it's security infrastructure has anything to fear from holding these men on true American soil, Wolf?

BLITZER: You know Candy, as we were looking at the president from that news conference in Germany today, I don't think it's fair to say that he was squirming, but this is a really, really complicated issue for him. It's one thing to make a commitment, close Guantanamo as a candidate, even to make that commitment early in his presidency on January 21, but it's another thing to actually deliver.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's in the details. And the fact is he set his own kind of deadline, 2010, it doesn't sound like the way he's talking right now he's going to be able to do it.

BLITZER: He said deadline is January 21 or January 22, 2010, although yesterday he said early 2010.

CROWLEY: Right so it begins to march on. But the fact is if he wants allies to take some of these terrorists, he's going to have to come home and do some diplomacy, already on capitol hill, they're working on something that would limit where the president could put some of the most dangerous prisoners. The diplomacy has to start here, because the allies are saying, wait a second, you won't take them on your soil and you want us to take them. So the diplomacy has to start back here and I think it will take him longer than January of 2010.

BLITZER: Establishing a dialogue with Iran is also a very sensitive issue. I want you to listen to this exchange that President Obama had today with Tom Brokaw on the "Today Show." Listen to this.


TOM BROKAW, TODAY SHOW: What do you think Iranian President Ahmadinejad could learn from your visit to Buchenwald?

OBAMA: He should make his own visit. I was very explicit yesterday. I have no patience for people who would deny history. And, you know, the history of the holocaust is not something speculative.


BLITZER: As you know Michael, there are elections in Iran next week and the Iranian President Ahmadinejad running for re-election, facing a stiff challenge right now. Anything the U.S., for example, does could affect that election outcome. So this is really, sensitive ground for the president of the United States.

WARE: Absolutely. And the best advice to the United States in terms of the Iranian election of course, Wolf, would be to be hand off, as it is. Let the natural events take their course in Iran. And I think that we're going to see that happen next week. Obviously America is not playing a hand.

But we saw as President Obama chastised President Ahmadinejad on the issue of holocaust denial, we saw that in Iran just this week, from one of his most fierce candidates in this election, President Ahmadinejad caught the same kind of flak. And let's be honest, arguing this ridiculous point with the Iranian president over holocaust denial is truly a side show. A side show to the real interest at stake in the Iranian election and truly a side show to America's real interest, America needs to get Iran talking, but it needs to be from a position of strength.

America needs to be able to provide some leverage and with Iran's interest vested so deeply inside Iraq, with their interest vested so deeply inside Lebanon, where we're also seeing an election and with their interest so deeply invested in Hamas and the Palestinian issue, President Obama really does need to find some traction with which he can bind the Iranians and force them to come to the table. Because at this point, the Iranians can sit there and go, well, what's the point? Go ahead and make me. And short of sanctions which we don't yet have international approval for, it's clear that President Obama can't beat the Iranians so it's either come to the table or meet them there.

BLITZER: Candy, what if anything should we make of the fact that in his carefully crafted addressed nearly a one-hour speech yesterday, the president avoided using the word terrorist, he said extremists throughout that speech. Yet today in his news conference in Germany, all of a sudden he's speaking about extremists and terrorists. What do we make of it?

CROWLEY: I think it's tough to visit a concentration camp and sort of couch your language about anything. I think this is as simple a parent's advice which is, I always said to my kids, look, there is the language you might speak in the football locker room and the language you speak to your grandmother with. This is the art of diplomacy here and he is here, he is now moved on, he's going to go to the 65th anniversary of D-day. It is a different situation and a different place, and I have not seen him shy away from that word, but certainly in the audience yesterday, it was better -- extremist was a better word. If you put flash words in that immediately turn people off, they're not listening to you and I suspect that's why they put that in the speech.

BLITZER: Michael is that how you read it as well?

WARE: Indeed I did. I thought it was a sage move on the president's part and his speech makers to defer from using the word terrorist because it is so inflammatory and given that there's so many other terms to use which are equally accurate, be they militants, be they insurgents, these semantics can be very, very important. Even if the Arab street, middle of the road, you know, constituency does not favor these militants, by using a word such as terrorist, you're still risking flagging a red rag to a bull. It's unnecessary provocation that does not gain you anything. So I really do believe that it was a wise move on the part of the president to steer away from that world, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Michael, thanks very much, Candy, thanks very much to you as well.

Wild parties, naked guests, Italy's leader defending himself after some racy photos are published in a newspaper.

And a father makes good on a pledge to come home from Iraq before his daughter's last day of school. We have their emotional reunion, you're going to want to see it right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: One of the senators on the judiciary committee weighing Judge Sotomayor's decision was rejected years ago over alleged racism. That would be Jeff Sessions of Alabama. He's the ranking Republican, the top Republican on the committee. Our senior Congressional correspondent Dana Bash had a chance to catch up with Senator Sessions.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I did and you know what? 23 years ago on this very day Wolf the Senate Judiciary Committee took a rare step and they voted to keep a Reagan judicial appointee off the federal bench. As that very same committee considers President Obama's first Supreme Court pick, the man it once blocked is back big time.


BASH (voice-over): Listen to what Republican Jeff Sessions told the Democratic president Supreme Court's nominee.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: You will get a fair hearing before this committee. BASH: He is so empathic because of his own experience. 23 years ago, Sessions was nominated by Ronald Reagan to be a federal judge, but was rejected.

SESSIONS: I am sorry that the Senate Judiciary Committee did not see fit to find me qualified for it.

BASH: He's now the top Republican on that very committee.

SESSIONS: That is a very odd thing. Somebody says it gives new meaning to the word, irony.

BASH: Irony bringing back memories he tries to forget.

SESSIONS: This was not a pleasant event. I've got to tell you. It was really so heartbreaking to me.

BASH: Then the 39-year-old Alabama U.S. attorney, Sessions was accused of racial insensitivity, calling a black lawyer boy, a white lawyer a disgrace to his race and civil rights groups like the NAACP un-American. He was pounded by Democrats like Joe Biden.

SESSIONS: They may have taken positions that I consider to be adverse to the security interest of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that make them un-American?

SESSIONS: No, sir, it does not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that make the positions un-American?


BASH: Some Democratic senators Sessions now serves with called him racist.

SESSIONS: That was not fair. That was not accurate. Those were false charges and distortions of anything I did and it really was not. I never had those kind of views and I was caricatured in a way this was not me.

BASH: Sessions went on to win a Senate seat in 1996, but the allegations still sting.

SESSIONS: I think it was hard on hill.

BASH: The parallels to today, some Republicans charging Sotomayor as a racist is eerie.

(on-camera) When you hear that, do you hear Ted Kennedy and other Democrats going through your head, Jeff Sessions is a racist?

SESSIONS: You know that's a loaded word and I don't think that's it's appropriate.

BASH (voice-over): Sessions will ask tough questions about differences with Sotomayor on judicial philosophy, but also hopes to use her hearing to close the door on a painful part of his past.


BASH: Until recently, Arlen Specter was the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and it is only because Specter switched parties from Republican to Democrat that Sessions was bumped up and now has a position of influence over the Supreme Court nomination. Specter may have inadvertently helped Sessions now but get this Wolf, 20 years ago today, Arlen Specter cast the decisive vote against Jeff Sessions and his life long position on the federal bench.

BLITZER: Lots of history. Good report, Dana. Thanks very much.

It's a scandalous mix of power and parties and nudity. The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is having to defend himself after some racy photos of naked guests in his private villa were published by a Spanish newspaper. Our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton has been looking at these photos.

They're pretty racy stuff, I must say.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: It really is and we should start off by saying Wolf we can't show you these racy photos because of Italian privacy laws, so let me paint a picture for you. This is Silvio Berlusconi's private villa. In one photos you'll see Berlusconi fully clothed with some young women, also fully clothed. But it's in later photos, there's a couple of almost naked women at the pool, no Berlusconi in that. And in another picture, you've got a fully naked man. All the faces are pixilated but the bodies are not. Berlusconi had blocked the photos from being published in Italy, but a Spanish newspaper got a hold of them and put them in their newspaper and now they're also online. The background is complaints that have been made in Italy that Silvio Berlusconi was using a government plane to fly people to parties he was having at his villa, including which according to the Associated Press was in honor of the then Czech prime minister. The Italian prime minister has denied doing anything wrong.

BLITZER: He's had a rough few weeks lately.

TATTON: And this is someone who's had soaring approval ratings, but yes in the last few weeks his wife filed for divorce and also talked publicly about his flirtations with younger women. Silvio Berlusconi has been defending himself against that in the last few weeks and now, you've got this.

BLITZER: A lot of material there for the tabloids. Thanks very much for that, Abbi.

He worked for the state department for decades and now, the government says for much of that time, he and his wife were spies for Cuba. We're uncovering details of a shocking espionage case. Stand by.

And it's a day at school one fourth grader will never, never forget, her father's surprise homecoming from Iraq.


BLITZER: He's an airman and father who vowed to be home from Iraq before his daughter's last day of fourth grade and now, it's mission accomplished. Reporter Tiffany Wong of CNN affiliate KABD in San Antonio, Texas, has the emotional reunion.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really is. He's not on the computer.

TIFFANY WONG, KABD REPORTER: He had been in Iraq for the past 350 days. Master Sergeant Joseph Myers was anxious to make it home to his daughter Addison.

MASTER SGT. JOSEPH MYERS, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: I missed my daughter's first steps. I missed her first words.

WONG: That wasn't the only daughter he missed. Hannah thought today was going to be a regular school day.

MYERS: Where's my daughter? Hey, baby. Come here.

WONG: But was anything but.

MYERS: I love you. Oh, I missed you so much. Oh, I missed you. Surprise.

WONG: It was a surprise Hannah wasn't ready for.

HANNAH MYERS, JOSEPH MYERS' DAUGHTER: I was just so excited. I couldn't believe it. And I don't really remember what happened because I was so happy.

MYERS: Hi, Hannah's class. How are you? Sorry I missed fourth grade.

WONG: Master Sergeant Myers said his biggest hero is his oldest daughter.

MYERS: The things she's done, you don't think a normal 10 year old would do it, stepping up to the plate, changing diapers, getting up in the middle of the night when mom's sick and baby's sick to help mom out.

WONG: For Hannah, it's all about having her daddy home.

MYERS: I want to go to Fiesta Texas with him because that's the thing that we used to always do together.

WONG: The Myers family is just grateful they can see each other again.

MYERS: Every one of us in uniform, out of uniform, think about you every day and we know the sacrifices you've had to take on and I'm sorry.


BLITZER: What a nice story. And there's another surprise for Hannah Myers. Her dad is taking her to a Jonas Brothers concert this summer.

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