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THE SITUATION ROOM
Who's Russia's Boss?; FBI: Palin Not Under Investigation; Jackson Estate Power Grab
Aired July 6, 2009 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, new deals and old suspicions. The U.S. and Russian presidents reach an important nuclear agreement, but a touchy question gets ducked. Who is really the boss in Moscow?
Also this hour, Sarah Palin's gone fishing and Alaskans are fishing for answers about why she's quitting as governor. The FBI is offering a rare response to some rumors that are out there.
And a congressman urges the news media to stop what he calls the Michael Jackson madness. Bitter words about the pop star on the eve of his massive memorial service.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in CNN's command center for breaking news, politics, and extraordinary reports present around the world.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
You can say President Obama is on a high-level reconnaissance mission in Russia right now. He is using his first summit in Moscow to try to get to the bottom of a very sensitive question -- who is running their show at the Kremlin? Along the way, he scored a new nuclear arms agreement and renewed commitment to leave old rivalries in the past.
Our Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry is traveling with the president. He's joining us now live from Moscow.
An important day in U.S./Russian relations with lots of ramifications, Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Big time, Wolf. We have to stretch, this is not a ratified treaty yet, but White House officials hope that this sets the stage for an historic successor to start, which expires in December.
HENRY (voice-over): From Russia with love. President Obama and Medvedev expressing warm feelings as they inked a preliminary deal to cut each country's nuclear stockpile, warheads reduced to about 1,500 on each side from the limit of 2,200 already planned.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As the world's two leading nuclear powers, the United States and Russia must lead by example. And that's what we're doing here today. HENRY: They also sealed the deal that lets the American military fly troops and weapons over Russian territory to the war in Afghanistan. And both men expressed admiration for each other even as they could not complete work on other issues, like the U.S. missile defense shield in Eastern Europe that bitterly divided the nations in the Bush years.
DMITRY MEDVEDEV, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Now our American partners, unlike what was happening in recent years, have taken a pose and now are studying this situation.
OBAMA: I trust President Medvedev to not only listen and to negotiate constructively, but also to follow through on the agreements that are contained here today.
HENRY: But there are still touchy subjects. Mr. Obama largely ducking a question about who is really in charge, Mr. Medvedev or Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
OBAMA: My interest is in dealing with my counterpart, the president, but also to reach out to Prime Minister Putin and all other influential sectors in Russian society.
HENRY: And he indicated the two leaders argued in private about Russia's incursion into the former Soviet Republic of Georgia last year.
OBAMA: We had a frank discussion on Russia -- on Georgia, and I reiterated my firm belief that Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected.
HENRY: Now, also interesting that U.S. officials reveal that behind closed doors, the topic that really dominated the private talks was Iran. And yet, in public, it was only Mr. Obama that mentioned that. Mr. Medvedev really sort of danced around it, and that's because this press conference was all about trying to highlight where they agree in dealing with Iran's nuclear program, still something where they are not exactly on the same page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I thought it was also significant, Ed, that the president took the first lady and his two daughters with him on this important visit to Moscow right now. A symbolic gesture, obviously interesting to the first lady and Sasha and Malia. But also, it does underscore perhaps the desire to improve this relationship which has been rather strained over the past few years.
HENRY: Absolutely. Bringing the families, getting them involved, that certainly brings it on a personal level to get beyond some of the rancor that really dominated the relationship, especially at the tail end of the Bush years. Obviously, the Obamas have been very careful about not using their kids in a political way, sort of shielding them from the media and the public glare, but in this case they're home from school now because of the summer months, they are not going to miss any time back in the classroom. It seemed like a good opportunity to let them soak in some of this history -- Wolf.
BLITZER: A good education for them. And the next stop will be Italy, and then off to Ghana and Africa, important for the young girls to see what's going on, especially during the summer break.
All right, Ed. Thanks very much for that.
Here is something you don't hear every day -- the FBI revealing who is not under investigation. That would be the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.
It's a rare response by the agency to rampant rumors that have been out there about why Governor Palin is stepping down as the governor with some 18 months left in her term.
Let's go to Anchorage right now. CNN's Sean Callebs is joining us now with more on what the governor is up to.
We've had a chance, Sean, to sort of digest the enormity of what she announced on Friday, but what are they saying in Alaska?
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, how about that? People would really love to hear from her, but right now she is with family members in fishing grounds in Bristol Bay, far from where we are. But you're right in what the FBI is saying, and that is significant, because Governor Palin has faced no fewer than 15 ethics violations allegations. Now, she's been cleared in all of them. There are three still pending, however.
These have been costly to her, costly to the state. And a source close to her who knows her frame of mind now says she feels just beaten up, pummeled by the media, by political commentators, and by the state legislature. And that's the reason she is walking away from this job a year and a half early.
CALLEBS (voice-over): It's a shocker that upset the summer serenity of the last frontier.
NANCY HAYES, ALASKA RESIDENT: And I heard Sarah Palin resigned and I was like, "What?"
CALLEBS: It's all people here are talking about, what's next for her and why?
At diners and on the street, I found it's easy to weigh in on Sarah Palin. And some believe if she has aspirations of putting Alaska in the rearview mirror for a shot at Pennsylvania Avenue, why not walk away now?
BRIAN ARNOLD, ALASKA RESIDENT: She's had a lot of people here file ethics complaints. And if she's getting set up for 2012, I believe that she's probably going ahead and cutting her losses down to make her less of a liability in the future. CALLEBS: The FBI is making the unusual declaration that Palin is not under investigation following accusations on the Internet that she was stepping down because she may be facing charges. Palin is fishing with her family far from Anchorage, but getting her side of the story out on Twitter and on Facebook, saying, "How sad that Washington and the media will never understand it's about country. And though it's honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling, and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies to decisions I make."
But it's not just Washington and political commentators criticizing her for walking out on the job. Some of the loudest voices are her constituents.
RON CLARK, ALASKA RESIDENT: My personal opinion, that there will be some consequences to pay for that because people in general, they don't like quitters. And they look at this as being a quitter.
BRIAN MANGOLD, ALASKA RESIDENT: She has a commitment to the people of Alaska that she made a contract with. And I was kind of surprised that she took that avenue.
CALLEBS: Yes. And everybody wants to know what her next avenue is going to be. Perhaps TV, perhaps a speaking tour, perhaps politics. People here want to find out.
Wolf, it's a beautiful day here in Alaska's largest city. We found plenty of people willing to talk about the governor. To a person, they all said they support her as a governor, but to a person, they all say they're very disappointed that she's walking away from this job. Most of them simply calling her a quitter -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Another two or three weeks left for her in that job, as you point out.
Sean, thanks very much.
Let's check in with Jack Cafferty right now. He's got "The Cafferty File" for us -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Once again, Sarah Palin back in the headlines. This time for that abrupt announcement Sean was talking about, that she is going to leave the governor's office.
If you want to make an announcement that you hope doesn't get a lot of media attention, you pick a late Friday afternoon, right before a summer holiday, and you do it without the benefit of having a live capability to cover that thing. She kind of outfoxed all the media.
Anyway, see says she is quitting her job effective the end of July, going to hand the thing over to the lieutenant governor at some sort of a picnic. She called a news conference at the last minute. Even her closest aides said they were unaware of the news, didn't know what will come next. Critics and supporters alike perplexed. No time wasted starting the debate other whether this is a move to better position herself for a presidential run in 2012 or if she's throwing those chances away by quitting.
Palin, who was thrust onto the national stage as John McCain's running mate against President Obama, defended her decision as a move to avoid becoming a lame duck.
Love her or hate her, Sarah Palin is able -- she's already lame. Sarah Palin is able to electrify the conservative base of the party like no other Republican in the country. And this was not a good time, not good news for the GOP, which is already reeling in the wake of these sex scandals -- Senators John Ensign of Nevada, Mark Sanford of South Carolina. They were both considered possible nominees for president in 2012.
So, it's time for the spin doctors once again to try to come to the rescue and explain why, what Sarah Palin did was a good idea. Good luck with that. It's like what they were called on to do after the interviews with Katie Couric on the "CBS Evening News." That was another good idea.
The deal is this: real conservatives don't quit. The question is: How does Governor Sarah Palin's resignation affect her chances for 2012?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog.
I will miss Governor Palin for purely selfish reasons. She generates more e-mail than any other single subject on "The Cafferty File."
BLITZER: But you have no doubt that even after she retires as governor, quits as governor of Alaska, we're going to still be hearing a lot from her and seeing her a lot on TV? She is not going away, is she, Jack?
CAFFERTY: Well, I don't know what she's going to do, but it won't have the same impact if she doesn't carry the mantle of governor of Alaska and if she's not considered any longer a serious contender for a presidential nomination. She becomes in the vernacular a thumb sucker.
BLITZER: All right, Jack. Thank you.
Good to have you back, too.
Control of Michael Jackson's estate is changing hands on the eve of his big memorial service. The legal tug-of-war, we have details coming up.
And a congressman blasts the news media's coverage of the Jackson death. Did Republican Congressman Peter King of New York cross the lines in his remarks about Jackson?
And a top spy outed. His pictures posted on Facebook. Wait until you hear who is to blame.
BLITZER: On the eve of Michael Jackson's memorial service, his mother has now lost control of her son's estate, at least for now. This hour, new legal wrangling and 11th hour planning for the big event in Los Angeles tomorrow.
CNN's Ted Rowlands is over at the Staples Center in L.A. with more on what's going on.
I guess the anticipation is building, Ted.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. The anticipation building outside the Staples Center here. And you mentioned that court ruling. That was taking place, obviously, in a courtroom here in Los Angeles.
And this was a big decision by this judge, basically taking away the power of Michael Jackson's mother and giving it to his long-time attorney, John Branca, and a personal friend, John McClain. These were the two individuals that were named as executors in the 2002 will that surfaced.
The judge went along with the argument that Jackson, at the time that he wrote that will, wanted them to control the estate. So, he says at least in the short term, until August 3rd, when they have another hearing on this, those two, not Katherine Jackson, will control the Jackson estate.
Meanwhile, you look at the crowd here, it is starting to build outside the Staples Center. A lot of these people will be moved out of the area for security reasons tomorrow. Only people with valid tickets and wristbands to get them into this vicinity will be able to come in. But today, you could see a large crowd of people coming, and they're signing a mural that's been erected in Jackson's honor, taking turns one by one, going up there.
Also, in force, the media has come down to central Los Angeles in anticipation of the memorial service tomorrow. Networks from around the world are setting up shop here.
We're getting some more information, too, Wolf, within the last hour about what is expected tomorrow during the public memorial service here. Some of the people that are slated to take part include Kobe Bryant from the NBA; Berry Gordy; Jennifer Hudson, Magic Johnson; Martin Luther King, III; Bernie King; John Mayer; Lionel Richie; Smokey Robinson; the Reverend Al Sharpton; Brooke Shields, Stevie Wonder; and Usher. A list that was just released by the family on what to expect during that worldwide television event that people will be monitoring, of course, around the world here.
It will take place in the Staples Center. Some people also -- some people have tickets for the Staples Center presentation, and then some people will be across the street at the Nokia Theater. They have won tickets online to participate by coming to the Nokia and watching it on a big screen.
So, like you said, a lot of anticipation for tomorrow's event.
BLITZER: It sounds, Ted, like that event could go on for a few hours. Do we have any idea how long it's going to go on for?
ROWLANDS: They won't give us anymore details about that. Initially, they said it was expected to last "over an hour." But when you hear the list of people taking part, one would think that it could go on, like you say, for hours, at a minimum, giving everybody a chance to either perform or say a few words about Michael Jackson.
BLITZER: All right, Ted. Stand by. We're going to be checking back with you.
Thousands of Michael Jackson fans, as you see, are picking up the most sought-after tickets in Los Angeles and around the world right now over at Dodger Stadium. They are the winners of a random drawing to get into Michael Jackson's public memorial service tomorrow.
Let's go to CNN's Kara Finnstrom -- Kara.
KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, out here at the Jackson family compound in Encino there's been a tremendous outpouring of support for Michael Jackson and his family. We've talked to lots of folks out here today who were tremendously disappointed they didn't get the information to go to Dodger Stadium today to get the wristbands, to get the tickets, and to go to that public memorial that's set for tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. at the Staples Center.
However, we did spot someone with one of those shiny wristbands.
Sonia Mata (ph) is out here.
You came directly from picking up your tickets to the memorial. What did you think when you realized, hey, you were one of those lucky few?
SONIA MATA (ph), LOTTERY TICKET WINNER: I thought it was a joke. I didn't realize what it was until I saw that it said Staples Center. And I clicked on it and I opened up the e-mail, and there it was, "You're invited to Michael Jackson's memorial."
FINNSTROM: Why did you sign up for tickets? What has Michael Jackson's music meant to you?
MATA: Well, it was a big part of my childhood. Me and my sisters, we really enjoyed his music when we were young. And I have a lot of good memories of my childhood because of his music. So, I wanted to be there.
FINNSTROM: And you said no guidance given on how to combat the crowds tomorrow. I mean, what do you do in the morning? MATA: Nothing. I don't know. They didn't tell us -- give us any instructions. They just gave us our tickets and we were on our way, and I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow. I don't have any idea.
FINNSTROM: Well, good luck to you tomorrow.
Sonia (ph) one of the many that will be going to pay their last respects to Michael Jackson at the Staples Center -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Kara. Thanks very much.
Let's get some more now on the arena where tomorrow's big event will be taking place. The Staples Center opened back in October of 1999. It's hope to two basket ball teams, the Lakers and Clippers, as well as the NHL's L.A. Kings. It's also played host to performances by musical legends including Madonna, Prince, The Rolling Stones, among lots of others.
The center was the site of the 2000 Democratic presidential national convention where that memorable kiss -- there it is right there -- that kiss took place between the then-Democratic presidential nominee, Al Gore, and his wife Tipper. What a kiss it is.
Streets turned into killing scenes. A fiery scene and more than 150 people dead. The protest in China that led to this.
And after one of the longest Senate races in history, Minnesota's Al Franken is finally up on Capitol Hill. Why his arrival couldn't have come at a better time for Democrats.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, another challenge to Iran's election and its leadership, but not from the protesters. This time, it's coming from important members of the country's clergy.
Plus, turning to children to carry out suicide bombings. New video shows what could be the Taliban's latest weapons -- kids taught to be terrorists.
And some people point to Canada as a model for America's health care reform, but if Canada is better, why are some Canadians coming to the United States for surgery?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"Glorifying a low life," that's precisely the way a New York congressman views the coverage of Michael Jackson's death. Representative Peter King of New York says Jackson was a pedophile and does not deserve all the attention he's getting.
Let's go to New York. CNN's Mary Snow is following this story for us.
All right, Mary. Some pretty explosive words from Peter King.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Wolf. Congressman Peter King is slamming the media, saying 10 days of coverage is going too far. He says he understands Jackson's impact on pop culture, but says he doesn't deserve to be glorified.
REP. PETE KING (R), NEW YORK: This is crazy. This is insanity.
SNOW (voice-over): Congressman Peter King says the media has disgraced itself with its extensive coverage of Michael Jackson's death. And the New York Republican says he felt it was his public duty to post this message on YouTube.
KING: Let's knock out the psychobabble. This guy was a pervert. He was a child molester. He was a pedophile. And to be giving this much coverage to him day in and day out, what does it say about us as a country?
SNOW: Jackson was acquitted in 2005 of child molestation charges, but reportedly paid $20 million to settle another case.
We asked King about that and he stood by his comments.
KING: Whether or not he was convicted of a precise crime by his own admission, and also by cases he settled, lawsuits he settled against him, there's an admission that he acted very, very inappropriately with young kids.
SNOW: King says he felt compelled to speak out after attending Fourth of July parades and questioned why more attention isn't given to members of the armed forces and public servants such as teachers and police officers.
But Bryan Monroe, the former editorial director of "Ebony" and "Jet" magazines, and CNN contributor, says King went too far by bringing up charges Jackson was acquitted of.
BRYAN MONROE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Once you are proven innocent and not guilty, that's it. That's it. That's the case closed. And so, for him to put those charges out there, whether or not he likes the performer or not, whether or not he even has a sense that the coverage has been over the top, I think he crossed the line.
SNOW: And Wolf, Reverend Al Sharpton is also responding, e- mailing out this statement just a short time ago saying, "The statement by Congressman Peter King represents a small element of people who have no respect for the courts of law." He adds that, "The allegations were found baseless in courts," and adds, "Thank God millions of people openly disagree with Mr. King and his comments."
A lot of reaction, obviously, Wolf, also on blogs, as people are posting their reaction to it.
BLITZER: Yes. I know he's going to get a lot of reaction to this. And he told me just a few months ago he's thinking of running for the Republican senatorial nomination next year to challenge the incumbent Democrat in New York State. I wonder how this is all going to play out, if in fact he goes that far.
All right. We'll stand by and get some more on this.
Mary Snow, thanks very much.
As you just heard, pretty harsh words from the New York congressman, Peter King. Let's discuss this and more with two guests.
Bryan Monroe, you just saw him. He's a CNN contributor, the last person to interview Michael Jackson. And Jim Moret is the chief correspondent for "Inside Edition" and a good friend of all of ours.
Jim, let me start with you. Did Peter King go too far?
JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": You know, look, the fact is, I covered the trial. Michael Jackson was acquitted on all counts.
He was found not guilty, and he was able to walk out of that court a free man. I talked to his attorney last week, Tom Mesereau, and he said that the jury spoke so loudly, it was basically saying, this guy did nothing wrong.
There are a lot of people who think Michael Jackson's weird. Al Sharpton, though, went further. He said, the media have -- have really painted a horrible picture and there is a double standard, in Al Sharpton's view. If you look the way Frank Sinatra was dealt with when he passed away, when Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, he says, is being treated differently.
And he went so far as to say the U.S. Postal Service should waive its five-year moratorium after a death, and honor Michael Jackson today.
BLITZER: We're going to speak with his former attorney, Thomas Mesereau, in the next hour, Bryan.
But let me ask you this. Do you think the media have been fair to Michael Jackson in its coverage?
MONROE: Well, you know, there's been a range of sides shown in the -- in the last week or two, Michael Jackson the musician, the entertainer, the -- the father, the son, and also the issues and controversies surrounding his personal life.
But, look, I have got to say, what Representative King said, I -- I really do feel he crossed a line. It's one thing to -- to have that concern about the coverage and whether it's been excessive. It's another thing to call him what he called him, a pedophile and a child molester, after the man was acquitted of all the charges, not narrow charges, as you said, but 14 counts, including 10 felony counts and four misdemeanors.
That was just wrong.
BLITZER: What about this other development today, a significant development, Jim, and I know you are an attorney as well, the fact that the courts decided now that these two business associates of Michael Jackson would have control of the assets, not his mother?
The family wanted his mother to be the executor of -- of all of these assets. How significant of a legal setback is this for Michael Jackson's mom?
MORET: It's not a terribly big setback. And I will tell you why.
They have to go back to court on August 3. Basically, these folks are the two named executors in the will, will be in control of all the assets for the next month. They still have to determine and present a valid will. It has to be deemed valid.
But the two executors named in that will are given control. And, basically, what they are doing is, they are trying to make sure that the assets aren't depleted. You know, there are a lot of business dealings that Michael Jackson has. There are certain contracts with AEG specifically. That's the promoter for this concert.
And the estate now has to make sure that they can maximize the return on all of these 100 hours of AEG footage, if they want to get new albums out, because they want to minimize the potential loss to the estate for failing to -- to pull off these concerts.
BLITZER: Because there is...
MORET: So, it's not that big a blow for -- to -- to Katherine Jackson.
BLITZER: But there is a lot of money potentially at stake here, Bryan. We have no idea how much money. Supposedly, there was great debt, but there's enormous potential to make a whole lot of money even after his death.
MONROE: Indeed. If you look at the catalogue that Michael Jackson bought, the Sony/ATV catalogue, he bought for $47.5 million, it now is worth easily a billion dollars.
You look at the -- just to take the revenue that's been generated in the last week over the new sales of -- of old albums and -- and MP3s online via iTunes and Amazon, and additional revenue that is going to happen out the -- of the tapes and the -- the clips from the rehearsals that I'm sure will be turned into a DVD or something.
There's -- there's going to be a lot of revenue that's going to be generated over the next 30 days. And I think someone needs to watch over that.
BLITZER: Jim, set the stage for tomorrow's memorial service. What are you hearing about what we can expect 10:00 a.m. Pacific time, 1:00 p.m. Eastern?
MORET: You know, Wolf, I have been thinking about this.
And -- and -- and, if you think back to Princess Diana's funeral, and then you add in a bit of -- oh, I don't know -- Elvis Presley, I think this is going to be huge. It -- it -- it is not a performance, per se. This is supposed to be a memorial.
But I think that there will be an amazing amount of huge stars paying tribute, either in speaking or in performing. And I think it's going to be on the magnitude, frankly, that we have never seen before. So, it's really hard to even imagine, because I don't think we have seen anything of this magnitude.
BLITZER: Bryan, they just -- the organizers just put out a list of all those who are now scheduled to either speak or perform. And this could go on for at least an hour, maybe two or three.
We -- we have seen Stevie Wonder will be there, Mariah Carey, Usher, Lionel Richie. The celebrities that are showing -- that will be showing up, it's going to be amazing just to watch. And if they can hold this down to an hour or two, it's going to be -- be -- be amazing.
BLITZER: Yes, I suspect it's going to go on and on and on. People will want to just participate.
And -- and we will, of course, have live coverage here on CNN.
Guys, thanks very much for coming in.
MONROE: Thanks for having us, Wolf.
BLITZER: We are going to count on you guys tomorrow as well.
The funnyman-turned-senator-elect arrives on Capitol Hill and leaves his sense of humor at the door. Al Franken's agenda, that's ahead.
And the Facebook photo that could prove deadly for a top spy's career.
And remembering a key architect of the Vietnam War, for better and for worse.
BLITZER: Al Franken says he's ready to go to work as the new United States senator from Minnesota. And he is potentially the Democrats' new filibuster-breaker. The former "Saturday Night Live" funnyman is taking the job he begins tomorrow very, very seriously, as he should. Let's go to our congressional correspondent, Brianna Keilar. She's up on Capitol Hill watching this day.
He arrived there, and he was well-received by his fellow Democrats.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Wolf, this was not Al Franken the comedian that we saw here on Capitol Hill today. It was a very different person, Al Franken the senator-elect.
KEILAR (voice-over): Al Franken donned his trademark smile and a Washington power suit at a press conference with Democratic Leader Harry Reid.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: He is going to work hard and be an outstanding senator.
KEILAR: It was the refrain of the day.
AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA SENATOR-ELECT: I am going to work day and night. And I'm ready to get to work.
KEILAR: The former "Saturday Night Live" funnyman left his sense of humor the at the door and talked about the issues.
FRANKEN: Minnesotans want a rational health care system that provides health care for all Americans. Minnesotans want an economy that works for working families, and that means jobs.
KEILAR: Back at Franken's new Capitol Hill office, up went his nameplate, already a tourist attraction. Furniture arrived, and office supplies were delivered.
In the Senate, where it takes a 60-vote supermajority to pass contentious legislation, Franken will be the 60th senator aligned with Democrats.
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: We're pleased he's here.
KEILAR: But, walking by Franken's office, Senator Byron Dorgan from neighbor North Dakota downplayed expectations that Democrats will get everything they want.
DORGAN: People make a lot over this number 60, but, frankly, it's hard to find 60 people of like mind on any issues here in the United States Senate.
KEILAR: Franken lowered the bar as well.
FRANKEN: The number I am focused on is the number two. I -- I see myself as the second senator from the state of Minnesota.
(END VIDEOTAPE) KEILAR: Why all of this downplaying from Democrats? Well, this is a diverse group of 60 senators, Wolf. They don't always agree. And two of them, Senators Kennedy and Byrd, are ill and away from Washington.
BLITZER: We will watch what's going to happen with Al Franken. Thanks very much. Congratulations to him, though, on his election to the United States Senate.
The man known as the architect of the U.S. role in Vietnam has died. Robert McNamara served as defense secretary under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. She's joining us right now.
He is going to have -- he's be remembered, his legacy, sure, not only for the Cold War, but also for Vietnam.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely, Wolf.
You know, the legacy of Robert McNamara really couldn't be underestimated at this point. He was with President Kennedy, of course, during the disastrous failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba -- of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, during those mid-century years of the Cold War, fighting the Soviets over missile policy and doctrine.
But it was Vietnam for which Robert McNamara certainly is remembered through the decades. You know, in his later years, he talked about it more and more. He sat down for a number of interviews for a 19 -- 2003 film documentary "Fog of War." He wrote a book.
He finally talked about how he felt he had been wrong about the so-called domino theory, that one had to fight communism across Southeast Asia, or the entire region would fall. He talked about how he had been wrong about not pressing military commanders here for rigorous analysis of their strategy, their discipline.
Vietnam, under McNamara, certainly wound up being a match between the world's strongest military at the time, between those charts and statistics and weapons, and very -- a very expensive endeavor, in which more than 50,000 American troops lost their lives, against a Vietnamese guerrilla insurgency movement that simply did not go away. If it sounds familiar, McNamara also, in later years, came out against the war in Iraq.
BLITZER: And he...
BLITZER: He certainly did.
Ninety-three years old, Robert McNamara has passed away.
Barbara, thanks very much. So, what were some of those personal details and photographs of the incoming chief of Britain's international spy agency doing on Facebook? Guess what? You can ask his wife.
Our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, is here.
Abbi, some pretty revealing photos of the new head of MI6.
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Yes, Wolf.
This is MI6. This is the British spy agency that, until recently, was so secretive, that the British government wouldn't even acknowledge it existed. Well, now take a look at it.
This is the incoming chief of MI6. This is Sir John Sawers. He is there in his shorts all over the Internet, thanks to his wife and her Facebook account.
Britain's "Mail on Sunday" yesterday posted the photos that Sir John Sawers's wife, Lady Shelley, had been sharing for anyone to see on Facebook. There is the spy on the beach, some pictures of good family from, posts from members of the family on his appointment as the new spy chief, and they're all -- also the location of the couple's flat in London, according to "The Mail on Sunday" -- all now taken offline, as members of Parliament in the U.K., Wolf, call this a security lapse.
BLITZER: What was she thinking?
TATTON: Well, she just wanted to share these photos out there.
And it -- it was accessible to anyone who was in London. She was posting this stuff here for members of the family. And anyone could see it. But, according to the government, there is nothing to see here.
To quote the foreign secretary, David Miliband, "It's not a state secret he wears Speedo swimming trunks, for goodness' sakes."
Well, fair enough. But this is hugely embarrassing. And I'm pretty sure the foreign secretary didn't want to be discussing Speedos on a Sunday morning on the BBC.
Wolf, MI6 in the last years has really tried to open up a little bit. They have got a Web site. They have been recruiting people online, but I'm guessing that this isn't the kind of progress that they were going for.
BLITZER: No. It's a huge, huge embarrassment for the British government.
Thanks very much, Abbi, for that.
President Obama, he's taking some steps as far as Russia is concerned. He says he sees his Russian counterpart and trusts him. What is going on? Will that come back to haunt him, like President Bush's famous glance into Vladimir Putin's eyes?
Donna Brazile and Alex Castellanos, they're standing by for our "Strategy Session."
And how does Sarah Palin's resignation affect her possible presidential chances in 2012? Jack Cafferty is going over your e-mail right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: ... who also have enough common sense to acknowledge when...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our CNN political contributor the Democratic strategist Donna Brazil, and our political contributor the Republican strategist Alex Castellanos.
A big story today, the U.S.-Russian summit, what's going on. I want to play two clips. This was early in the Bush administration, June 16, 2001. The then president, President Bush, met with the then president of Russia, Vladimir Putin. And Bush said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 16, 2001)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That was at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, early in the first year of the Bush administration.
All right, today, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, went to Moscow. After their meeting, he said this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I trust President Medvedev to not only listen and to negotiate constructively, but also to follow up -- follow through on the agreements that are contained here today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Are those words potentially going to come back to haunt him, as Bush's words eventually came back to haunt him?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I -- I hope not.
Look, the president is trying to reset our relationship. It's been strained. He sat down. They have negotiated a reduction of nuclear missiles by 25 percent. And they would like to see most of this work done by December 2009, before the START treaty expires.
So, I think the president will have to, as former President Reagan said, trust, but verify, but the devil is still in the details, of course.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think President Bush looked into Putin's eyes, saw his soul. President Obama looked into Medvedev's eyes, and I think President Obama blinked.
This is still a very aggressive global competitor here. Soviet Union II, the sequel, is coming back. Russia wants to rebuild those border states that have also buffered it, protected it from powerful European nations.
The less -- the less Russia has to spend on nuclear deterrents, the more it frees Russia up to be aggressive on its western front. This was a bad day for Western European nations. What President Obama may be doing here is giving us a more aggressive Soviet Union II.
BLITZER: They were both pretty effusive in their respective praise of each other, if you watched that 45-minute-or-so news conference.
BRAZILE: Well, no only did I watch it, but I also listened very closely to what the president was trying to put in motion, not just reduction of missile -- missiles -- but also cooperation with Afghanistan, and working with the -- the Russian president on, you know, lasting peace in the Middle East.
So, I think the president will have an opportunity, not to blink, but to really...
BLITZER: He -- he did -- he did win a commitment from Russia to allow U.S. military to fly over Russian airspace to resupply U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. That was significant.
CASTELLANOS: That's significant.
But, you know, the -- the Russians also see Afghanistan as a trap for us, as it was for them. So, that may be no favor. But, more than that, I think what they are seeing here is that, again, this liberates them to be much more aggressive.
For example, Russia wants to count their missiles in storage in the reduction. They want to count our missiles that are not in storage. So, this is not exactly a fair equation.
BLITZER: All right. Let me switch gears and talk...
BRAZILE: Those are details we can work out.
BLITZER: Let's talk about Joe Biden, the vice president. He was on ABC yesterday in an interview that he did in Iraq.
But, on the economy, he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS")
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth is, there was a misreading of just how bad an economy we inherited.
Now, that doesn't -- I'm not laying the assignment -- we -- it's now our responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Because, early on, in the Obama administration, they thought the unemployment rate would go as high as 8 percent. It's now 9.5 percent and climbing.
BRAZILE: Well, look, it took us almost 19 months of being in a recession to have an economic plan that clearly is reducing some level of unemployment, because, back in January, 700,000 people were losing their jobs every month. Right now, it's 400.
It's still unacceptable. That is what the president has stated. That's what the vice president has stated. And that's why, today, the vice president was on a conference call with governors, saying, look, let's get this money moving.
CASTELLANOS: We are going to start a new group: Republicans For Joe Biden. Go, Joe.
This is not just a misreading of the economy. This is a trillion-dollar misreading of the economy, investments -- quote -- "that are supposed to get jobs back on the table." And, of course, they are not. And all people are seeing are -- are mistakes made in Washington and trillions and trillions going out the door.
BLITZER: Because a lot of people, Donna, are frustrated that the $700 billion, nearly $800 billion economic stimulus package, that still only a very small percentage of that money has been spent to create jobs.
BRAZILE: Well, Wolf, as you know, 25 states are now in a recession. In California, they are issuing IOUs. In Arizona, they are having to close down state parks.
So, while, you know, the Republicans would like to blame all of this on President Obama's doorstep, the truth is, is that this is the deepest recession we have had since the Great Depression. And, look, the last recession, it took us 42 months to get out of that -- that recession and for the jobs to come back.
So, I think this stimulus program will work. And I hope I'm using up all your time, because you...
BLITZER: Go ahead.
BRAZILE: ... you -- you just don't make no sense.
BLITZER: She's trying to filibuster.
CASTELLANOS: The real dilemma here for President Obama is that Americans are growing increasingly concerned he is just going way too fast here, throwing trillions out the door.
And now we're hearing, well, we misread this. The stimulus money is not out there yet. We are going to tackle health care and spend trillions on that.
Slow down, President Obama. Have a cigarette. Let's look at this before we spend another trillion.
BRAZILE: That's what happened.
BLITZER: He's trying to -- he's trying to quit smoking. So, I don't think...
BRAZILE: Well, that's what happened. Someone took their hands off the switch, and we got into this mess. So, he's not going to take his hands off the switch.
BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much. Don't go too far away.
We are getting some new details coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now about the plans for Michael Jackson's memorial service tomorrow. We are going to go live to Los Angeles. A lot of people are wondering, also, about Sarah Palin. What is she thinking? What is going on, on that front? Will her resignation as Alaska's governor help her chances of running for president or dash them? Jack Cafferty is stand buying with your e-mail.
Also, reason to fear a second round of political confrontation in Iran -- how clerics are now stoking the fire.
And cross-dressing insurgents -- how they actually fooled the United States military in Afghanistan.
BLITZER: Let's go right to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: The question this hour is, how does Governor Sarah Palin's resignation affect her chances for 2012?
David in Texas says: "If I quit my job at a smaller company, wait until 2012, and then go down the street to the larger company, I'm not going to get the job, either as an hourly worker, a manager, or a CEO. Palin has ended her political career." Larry in Texas: "I was always taught, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, in all areas of life. It is when things are tough that the true character is exposed. And, in her case, she is a quitter, and always will be. Regardless of her political aspirations, her goose is cooked now. Maybe people will realize, those that supported her, how fortunate we are she isn't one heartbeat away from being president."
David in Virginia says: "It depends on who you ask. I don't think it drastically hurts her chances of being the Republican nominee, especially among the rapidly thinning field. But it makes being a viable national candidate nearly impossible"
Diane in Pennsylvania has a theory: "Something's very wrong with this picture, Jack. She is not finishing her current term, not going to run again. Somebody got something on her, and I don't think it's going to be pretty. Think about it. If these guys are not resigning after playing footsies in bathroom stalls or having a friend in Argentina, what the heck could she have done?"
Jeff in Hawaii says: "Who cares? Caribou Barbie has shown consistently she is not only unaware of the nuances of global and domestic policy; she is unwilling to learn. To end her term early because the job is too hard or too demanding just shows she is in over her head."
And David in California: "Her chances in 2012 for president are negative numbers. Her chances in 2012 for a show competing with yours are pretty good."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile.
As is always the case with Sarah Palin, there is a lot of e-mail to go through. So, knock yourselves out.
BLITZER: Have a good time.
All right, thanks very much, Jack, for that.
To our viewers, you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: Taliban militants exploiting new rules for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. They are dressing as women to walk right past American troops who had them surrounded.
And children being trained to become suicide bombers by the Taliban in Pakistan, even sold like commodities to other militants -- now disturbing new video confirms the worst fears.
And the lineup for Michael Jackson's memorial has now been announced, as a few lucky fans line up to collect their tickets to what will be a star-studded event, with sports legends, celebrities, and other famous public figures now slated to take part.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.