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President Obama's Global Goals; Libyan Leader Praises Extremists; Former White House Official Paints Embarrassing Portrait of President Bush in New Book

Aired September 23, 2009 - 17:00   ET


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

Happening now, a combative leader visits the United States and the United Nations and rages at the U.S. and the U.N. The Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi, praises extremists -- even suggests the military -- the U.S. military is using swine flu as a weapon.

A book paints embarrassing portraits of then President George W. Bush and his top staffers. It claims Bush admitted, at times, to being arrogant and says Karl Rove was insufferable.

How does the author, a former Bush White House official, defend against criticisms he's engaging in backstabbing and betrayal?

The author is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And CNN's top doctor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he catches the H1N1 virus and gets very sick. He's here to describe how he survived the disease in a war zone.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


All that coming up. We're also waiting. We're about to get videotape -- the president of the United States and the prime minister -- or, excuse me -- the president of Russia -- the two leaders, the U.S. and the Russian leaders, they've been meeting in New York. And we're going to hear what they have to say, President Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev. We'll get that tape and share it with you. That's coming up very soon. Stand by for that.

Meanwhile, we're seeing some of the biggest spectacles ever over at the United Nations. Outside, some supported the Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi. Others branded him -- and I'm quoting him -- I'm quoting those protesters now -- as a murder.

Inside, Gadhafi essentially hijacked part of the session, holding the floor about six times as long as the typical United Nations General Assembly speech. He said the secretary -- the Security Council, that is -- should be called -- and I'm quoting now once again -- "the terror council," said swine flu is a military tool and a weapon of proliferation and he called President Obama, "My son."

He even said the Taliban, by the way, are not the enemy and should form their own territory, much like the Vatican.

Let's go straight to our senior United Nations correspondent, Richard Roth.

He's got more -- Richard?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the colonel has spoken and spoken. The Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi, telling the world, in effect, almost everything that's on his mind.


ROTH: (voice-over): It took 40 years for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to make it to the United Nations. The unpredictable Gadhafi apparently had saved up thoughts to say.

First, Gadhafi sat in the audience and listened to President Obama's message to the world.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is easy to walk up to this podium and point figures -- point fingers and stoke divisions. Nothing is easier than blaming others for our troubles.

ROTH: Gadhafi refused the advice. He named names and took his time doing it. It was one of the most bizarre presentations in United Nations history.

Gadhafi criticized President Obama for leaving before his speech, but did praise him as, "a glimpse in the dark."

MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): We are content and happy if Obama can stay for as the president of the United States of America.

ROTH: However, he ripped the United States for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the West for dominating over smaller U.N. countries. Gadhafi ad-libbed his way through the one hour and 36 minute rambling speech. Some diplomats seemed bored or exasperated. Many simply chose to depart. At times, Gadhafi held up and leafed through the U.N. charter and even flipped aside another book. He accuses the United Nations of bias against those who don't have a voice. Gadhafi says there is too much power in the hands of the Security Council, despite the fact that Libya is a current member.

GADHAFI (through translator): It should not be called the Security Council. It should be called the Terror Council.

ROTH: It was Libya slapped with sanctions by the Security Council after one of history's worst acts of terror -- the downing of PanAm Flight 103, which killed 270 people.

Gadhafi's topics ranged from Manuel Noriega, jet lag and even who killed JFK.

GADHAFI (through translator): The president of the United States of America, why? We want to know who killed -- who killed him. Somebody who by the name of Lee Harvey and then -- and then another, Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey.

Why did -- why did he kill him?

ROTH: Gadhafi stopped speaking eventually, but only after he was handed a note from his own delegation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excellent speech. He's speaking from the heart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that speech was quite confused and confusing.

ROTH: Gadhafi left, but not before telling the U.N. it should move out of New York because the city's security is too restrictive -- instead, setting up in India or China.


ROTH: Gadhafi did not set a speaking record here. Fidel Castro of Cuba in 1960 went over four hours. And, also, Wolf, he brought his own interpreters. And it took at least two to get through the speech. They were not United Nations interpreters -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Richard Roth.

He's busy this week at the United Nations.

Speaking of Moammar Gadhafi, there's been a development involving the tent, Moammar Gadhafi and Donald Trump.

Let's go to Mary Snow.

What are you learning -- Mary?


Wolf, that tent for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on Donald Trump's property is now coming down. The Trump Organization released a statement just a short time ago and it says this, "We have requested that the tenant occupying the property in Bedford, New York remove the tent that was erected. They have complied with this request."

Now, yesterday when that controversial tent first came into view on property belonging to Trump that's in a suburb north of New York City, Trump's office said it was unaware of a Gadhafi connection, that it had leased the property on a short-term basis to Middle Eastern partners. The town was furious and gave The Trump Organization a deadline of 5:00 today to break down that tent.

Now, Westchester County executive office confirms that Gadhafi is pulling his tent.

Our crews also in Bedford report seeing parts of the tent being dismantled. But this comes -- you know, just an hour ago we were reporting that the Westchester County executive had said that the Secret Service told him Gadhafi would be in Bedford at some point today. We're just now trying to confirm whether he is still going to make that trip to Bedford.

BLITZER: He might go to Bedford. He might stay there overnight, is what you're suggesting. But he won't sleep in a tent, he might just sleep in the house.

SNOW: And -- well, no, the State Department said even yesterday that he was staying at the Libyan mission in New York City. And all along they had said that that tent was not intended for him to be staying there, but to have -- to have meetings there.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Mary.

I know you're going to have a lot more coming up in our next hour.

Mary Snow is working the story involving Gadhafi, Trump and the tent.

Minutes before Gadhafi's speech at the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama spoke. What he said was very different from what former President George W. Bush often said when he addressed the United Nations.

Let's bring in our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty.

She's taking a closer look at this part of the story -- Jill?


President Bush wanted the United Nations to be more transparent. President Obama thinks it can be a place to chew over old grievances or it can be used to solve problems -- two men, two different views of what the U.N. can do.


DOUGHERTY: (voice-over): From President Barack Obama to the United Nations, an admission.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust.

DOUGHERTY: And a challenge.

OBAMA: Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems alone. We have sought in word and deed a new era of engagement with the world. And now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.

DOUGHERTY: One year ago, when George W. Bush addressed the U.N., the fundamental challenge of our time, he said, was...

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A global movement of violent extremists.

OBAMA: Our efforts to promote peace, however, cannot be limited to defeating violent extremists.

DOUGHERTY: Barack Obama's world is filled with other threats.

OBAMA: Protracted conflicts that grind on and on, genocide, mass atrocities, more nations with nuclear weapons, melting ice caps and ravaged populations, persistent poverty and pandemic disease.

DOUGHERTY: How do you solve them?

OBAMA: Non-proliferation and disarmament, the promotion of peace and security, the preservation of our planet and a global economy that advances opportunity for all people.

DOUGHERTY: Here's President Bush's to-do list.

BUSH: Together we confront and defeat the evil of terrorism. Together we can secure the Almighty's gift of liberty and justice to millions who have not known it. And together we can build a world that is freer, safer and better for generations who follow.


DOUGHERTY: These two presidents seem miles apart on so many issues that, ironically, the challenges haven't changed that much in a year -- Afghanistan, the Mideast, Iran, North Korea -- the same problems and no solution yet -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A full agenda there, as you say.

Thanks very much, Jill Dougherty.

Let's go back to Jack.

He's got The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Sarah Palin spoke to Asian bankers, investors and fund managers in Hong Kong in what's being billed as her first speech outside North America. The former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee spoke for about an hour-and-a-half. The speech was closed to the press. Reports say -- that leaked out say that Palin addressed everything from Reaganomics, China and human rights, Tibet, the Asian and American economies to international terrorism, energy independence, family and fishing and moose in Alaska.

In her speech, Palin reportedly said she was talking as, "someone from maybe street USA." She highlighted concerns about massive federal bailouts and growing government deficits. She criticized President Obama's plans to give the Federal Reserve power to monitor risks to the financial system, questioning if that was meaningful reform. The reviews on her speech mixed. Some people say she was articulate, well prepared and compelling. Other people got up and walked out in the middle of it, calling her speech boring. It was seen as a first step in Palin's attempt to boost her foreign policy credentials, which at last glance could use a little boosting. Keep in mind, she never even had a passport until 2007. And when she came under criticism during the campaign for her lack of foreign policy expertise, she attempted to make up for it by saying she could see Russia from her home state of Alaska.

Here's the question -- if you were a money manager, would you make investment decisions based on what Sarah Palin says?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, thank you.

Thank you very much.

The virus you know as the swine flu hits one of CNN's own.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Doctors aren't always the best patients, Wolf. I'll be the first to concede that. And I'll tell you, in the beginning, I was trying to explain it away with anything. But eventually, I -- I woke up one morning and I just simply couldn't hardly walk.


BLITZER: Our top doctor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, catches the H1N1 virus in a war zone. And he's going to describe how he survived what he says hit him like a ton of bricks.

And a former White House insider bashing the Bush administration. And some think he's backstabbing. I'll ask the new book's author to explain his embarrassing claims and defend himself against the criticism.

And Democrats want to move along with health care reform, while some Republicans angrily say slow things down.


SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE (R), MAINE: I want to do my job. And our job is to sit here and do it as long as it takes.



BLITZER: Let's go right to our senior Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.

There are new developments on health care reform in a key Senate committee -- Dana, what's going on?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what is going on is the deep mistrust of Washington and disbelief that senators know that Americans have that they can actually do this right has spilled into this -- into this committee room, especially coming from Republicans, who argue that they really need ample time to read this legislation before they vote on it.


SNOWE: But I want to know what the final number is.

BASH: (voice-over): For two hours, a fiery debate over a Republican demand to slow things down.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: I've heard a lot of -- a lot of discussion at town hall meetings and elsewhere -- people mad about Congress voting on things that we haven't even read.

BASH: Republicans pushed for a guarantee that they'd get three days to read the official health care legislation and know its costs before the final committee vote. An irate Democratic Finance Committee chairman called it a delaying tactic.

SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D), MONTANA: The effect of this amendment will be this -- that after we have completed action on the bill here, we have to wait another two to three weeks before we can vote on it.

BASH: That infuriated Olympia Snowe, the one Republican Democrats hope to get.

SNOWE: I want to do my job. And our job is to sit here and do it as long as it takes.

People in this country are rightfully worried as to whether or not we can possibly get this right.

BASH: Democrats eventually defeated Republicans on that issue and GOP senators turned to another flashpoint, arguing nearly $500 billion in savings and cuts in Medicare to pay for reform would reduce seniors' benefits.

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: What senior wouldn't be concerned that cutting over $210 billion, by cutting payments to hospitals and nursing homes and home health and hospice, might not adversely affect their care?

BASH: The chairman insisted his plan helps seniors by lowering overall health care costs and blocked several GOP attempts to stop cuts in Medicare.

BAUCUS: The amendment is out of order.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that a debatable motion, Mr. Chairman?

BAUCUS: The amendment is out of order. BASH: But Republicans showed no sign of letting up -- seizing on testimony from the Congressional Budget Office that seniors in managed care plans and Medicare Advantage could lose benefits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be a reduction of roughly 2.7 million people or 20 percent of the enrollment that we project under current law.


BASH: And that seems to contradict repeated assurances from President Obama and even Vice President Joe Biden today that under this plan, seniors would not lose any Medicare benefits. And as far as what's going on in here, that has gotten some Democratic senators worried -- Democratic senators that the finance chairman absolutely needs to pass this health care overhaul -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dana Bash, thank you.

The Baucus plan, by the way, would require Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. That requirement is causing some concern out there. People fear they won't be able to afford the plan or the penalty.

Let's go to our Congressional correspondent, Brianna Keilar, who's on Capitol Hill -- how are the lawmakers, Brianna, addressing these concerns?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Chairman Baucus has already made some changes, decreasing the penalty that Americans would pay if they didn't buy insurance and also increasing those subsidies that are supposed to help low income and middle class Americans purchase health insurance.

But there are still many Democrats and a key Republican, Senator Olympia Snowe, who are fearful those changes don't go far enough.


HONESTY BRACKETT, CONCERNED ABOUT HEALTH CARE COSTS: Hey, poodle. Want me to carry your coat?

KEILAR: (voice-over): Honesty Brackett is a single mom in Richmond, Virginia trying to make ends meet. She's also one of the millions of uninsured Americans who would be required to buy health insurance under the proposals now before Congress.

BRACKETT: I think everyone should have insurance, but I mean it's really a catch-22.

KEILAR: On an annual salary of $26,000, Brackett doesn't see how she can pay a monthly insurance premium. She already cuts back on child care costs by bringing her 7-year-old daughter to work with her.

BRACKETT: How many ways can you make ten? KEILAR: The Senate Finance Committee is considering a bill that would help low and middle income Americans afford health insurance by limiting the amount they would have to contribute -- the more they make the more they would pay. A family of four with an annual income of about $88,000 would be responsible for up to $882 per month. A family that makes about $55,000 would pay up to $436 per month. And a family of four with an annual income of $22,500 would have to contribute $38 per month.

Honesty Brackett says even that is too much for her.

BRACKETT: I get paid every two weeks. And by the time I pay day care and pay -- get the groceries, I would have to just cuss -- cut back on food.


KEILAR: Keep in mind, co-pays and deductibles are additional expenses, though they are capped under the Senate finance plan. And further decreasing the amount of money that low income and middle class Americans have to pay for insurance creates a whole host of other problems, Wolf, because the Senate Finance Committee would have to make up for that added cost either through cuts or with additional taxes.

BLITZER: Brianna, thanks very much.

An excellent explanation.

A diplomatic drama hits a new climax -- an ousted president back in his own country holes up in a safe place. But if he leaves, he faces almost certain punishment.

And a twist in the case of a man accused of kidnapping and keeping a girl for 18 years. We're learning about an early parole release way back for the suspect, Phillip Garrido.


BLITZER: Fredericka Whitfield is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

right now -- Fred, what's going on?

WHITFIELD: Hello again, Wolf.

Well, Brazil is asking the U.N. Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on a diplomatic standoff at its embassy in Honduras. Ousted Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya is holed up in the embassy. The Honduran government is threatening to arrest him if he leaves. And they threaten to cut power, water and phone lines to the building. It has also closed -- the country, rather, has closed the border crossings, the airports and the businesses and has imposed a curfew.

Winning the hearts and minds of Afghan civilians -- General David Petraeus says that is critical to beating Taliban militants in Afghanistan. Petraeus, who heads the U.S. Central Command, talked about war strategy during a speech to the National Press Club in Washington.


GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: Believe it or not, we were so antagonizing the public with how we drove in Afghanistan, that just the act of driving down the streets in some of the areas over there. So this is what General McChrystal has talked about when he's highlighted the need to change the culture, in fact, of how we operate, so that there's one that does not thrust the -- the friendlies, the civilians, the neutrals into the arms of the Taliban by the actions that we take.


WHITFIELD: A major archaeological find in Jerusalem. Israeli antiquity officials say they have uncovered a ritual bath believed to have been used by Jewish pilgrims 2,000 years ago. The stone bath was found in a tunnel complex under homes near the site of the ancient temple in Jerusalem's Old City.

And a little levity at a ceremony welcoming the Dalai Lama to Memphis, Tennessee. The city's mayor greeted the Tibetan spiritual leader with a fist bump. The Dalai Lama appeared slightly confused until Mayor Myron Lowery showed him how to return the greeting. Lowery then said, "Hello, Dalai," a joking reference to the 1960s musical, "Hello, Dolly." The Dalai Lama was reportedly was very amused at both the joke and the fist bumps.

So, see, not always so serious. He has a great sense of humor, as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I wonder how many times people have said to him, "Hello, Dalai."

WHITFIELD: I know. He's heard it before, I'm sure.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

A book bash -- a former White House insider blasting Bush administration staffers, like this claim about their qualifications.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was very well meaning, nice people who ended up being in positions that they didn't seem to be well qualified for.


BLITZER: And that's just the start. Wait until you hear what this author is saying about then President Bush. The author, by the way, is also accused of backstabbing by some of those Bush administration officials. And he's going to be defending himself here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A controversial leader praises President Obama. Moammar Gadhafi says he wishes the American president -- get this -- could remain president forever -- sort of like Moammar Gadhafi's been in Libya.


BLITZER: Yet another book painting the former president, George W. Bush, in less than a very flattering light -- this one from a former White House insider who's making some stark and sometimes embarrassing claims. Now the author is defending himself against claims of backstabbing.

And joining us now, Matt Latimer. He's the author of the brand new book entitled "Speechless: Tales of A White House Survivor."

Matt, thanks very much for coming in.

MATT LATIMER, AUTHOR, "SPEECHLESS: TALES OF A WHITE HOUSE SURVIVOR": Thank you very much for having me, Wolf. I've been a big fan of your show for many years.

BLITZER: All right. Thank you very much for that.

Let's talk a little bit about your time in the white house. You served as a speech writer for President Bush, and in this book you say some things, some not so flattering, others flattering, about the former president of the United States, but one thing you say this. You quote him as saying this, "Look, I know this probably sounds arrogant to say, but I," referring to President Bush, "Redefined the Republican Party." What was he talking about?

LATIMER: Well, we -- I was -- I was helping the president on a speech for the conservative political action committee in Washington, and I was writing a speech about the conservative movement and the Reagan and Buckley and Goldwater movement that I thought we all believed in advance when I came to Washington from Michigan years earlier, and the president said that that -- that that stuff wasn't really that important and he said, you know, I redefined the Republican party, and I wasn't quite sure what we redefined the party into.

BLITZER: And he goes on to trash Gary Bauer, at least according to your account?

LATIMER: Yeah, he said something to the effect, you know, that I kicked Gary Bauer's behind in 2000, Gary Bauer being a social conservative and apparently that meant the conservative movement had been whipped as well.

BLITZER: Speaking about behind, he had some unflattering things to say according to your account of the current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

LATIMER: Yeah. You know, what I wanted to do is for the American people is to sort of do something different for this memoir, sort of be a recorder, tape recorder for them to see the president and other figures in the administration who are historic figures just as they were, and the president did use some salty language when he talked about Hillary Clinton. He said something to the effect, you know, wait until she gets her big behind in this chair, talking about the oval office because most people thought Hillary Clinton would be the next president of the United States, and, you know, he didn't use the word behind, but lots of presidents have used salty language before and the president was a very blunt person and I think I captured that quite well.

BLITZER: Did they know you were taking notes and that you were planning on writing a book?

LATIMER: Well, I wasn't planning on writing a book at that point but every speech writer takes notes. That's sort of our job. In fact, you know, there's a long history in politics about other presidential aides, other presidential speech writers writing books about their time in the white house, and their experiences with presidents, and I'm looking forward to having the American people see what I saw because I was a front row seat to some of the most important times in our recent history, including --

BLITZER: We'll get to that in a moment. One other quote you had, former president Bush saying this of Sarah Palin. Once she got the Republican vice presidential nod, you quote him as saying "This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for." Were you suggesting or was the then president suggesting she was not qualified to be vice president?

LATIMER: No. What I took that to mean is, you know, Sarah Palin had just been announced. She was a relatively unknown person in the national stage, and I thought the president made a smart political assessment which is, you know, this is something that the Governor Palin and her family weren't prepared for, the spotlight that was going to be thrust on them, and I don't know if it was, you know, a concern or criticism of the McCain campaign for the way they brought her out, but it was a warning, and the president said, you know, let's wait a few weeks and see if the bloom is off that rose, meaning, you know, it's too soon to tell how Governor Palin will come across to the American people.

BLITZER: One thing that really comes across in your book is so many top white house officials who worked for president Bush in your opinion were way over their heads, were simply not qualified to be working in the white house. You paint a picture of Karl Rove as someone who was, quote, acting so insufferable that people avoided him. This wasn't the work of an evil genius. Karl was like the "West Wing's" version of Maude.

LATIMER: You know, a speech writer tends to use -- tries to use some colorful and interesting language. You know, I do compare the white house, at least in my experience, you know, Doris Kearns Goodwin had that book "Team Of Rivals" and I saw too often a team of buddies and it was very well-meaning nice people who ended up being in positions that they didn't seem to be well qualified for. BLITZER: And you name names. Josh Bolton, the white house chief of staff, you say this, meeting him. It was like getting a proctology exam from a doctor with cold hands. "There was one thing I knew about Bolton, however. If I ever need a ruthless divorce lawyer he'd be the first person I'd call." Was he way over his head?

LATIMER: I thought he was a very skillful, competent chief of staff. My -- my characterizations just of his personality, he tended to be someone who had not a particularly warm demeanor, and I described him that way, and I think that that's a very accurate description of him.

BLITZER: I've spoken to several Bush white house officials, and needless to say they hate what you've written and they say you were basically a low-level staffer. You had limited access in your time at the white house. Dana Perino, the white house press secretary, told the National Review "I'm pretty sure that almost everyone who worked in the white house could not pick Matt out of a lineup." Ed Gillespie, the former counselor to the president told the "Politico, "A lot of us are going who is this guy again?" They are saying basically you were -- you were way over your head and you write in this book stuff that you simply were not qualified to write.

LATIMER: Well, you know, I've worked on -- you know, I've paid my dues to the Republican Party for many years. I went -- I went to the 1996 convex and supported bob dole even though, you know, most people didn't think he had a chance in the world to win. I worked on Capitol Hill and the pentagon as chief speech writer to Rumsfeld and I worked in the white house and I actually ended up being one of the speech writers in the end who was writing the address to the nation during the economic crisis. I was promoted and in fact in October when I left the white house president Bush personally called me and asked me if I would stay a little bit longer and it was a very cordial phone call.

BLITZER: How much face time did you actually have with the president?

LATIMER: Oh, gosh it really depended, but as -- as one of the deputy directors of speech writing would I see him at least weekly for speech writing meetings and often many more types. It depended on the speech. He would often call us a couple times a day to go through the speech.

BLITZER: Because what they are saying is this book, and you're right, there are a lot of former white house officials who have written these kind of tell-all books, but what they are saying the Bush white house officials, this was an act of betrayal on your part and it's not just Bush officials. Paul Begala, our Democratic strategist who used to work in the Clinton white house, he told us this.


PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: But it's wrong for this guy, whoever he is, who would not be a blip on the radar screen professionally if it wasn't for George W. Bush to betray that confidence. I -- I've worked there. Alex is exactly right. Presidents have to have a right to say silly or funny or even mean things or to be wrong or to Bush to challenge themselves. This is deeply wrong, and it's -- it's a serious problem for future presidents.


BLITZER: You understand the anger that's now being directed your way?

LATIMER: Well, you know, there's a long tradition of people, you know, going back to art yourself Schlesinger Jr., Peggy Noonan, George Stephanopoulos, people from both parties who have written as time with the president, many members of the Bush administration have written their own books, President Bush, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, they will all be writing their own books with their own interpretations of this administration and conversations with the president. You know what I think makes my book unique is I don't have an ax to grind. I'm not trying to position myself for anything. A speech writer has to know and see everything in order to write for a president.

BLITZER: And there's nothing off the record, there's nothing confidential, private, no matter what the president or counselor to the president and chief of staff, do they have to worry that some young speech writer is going to go out there and write a book about everything they say in.

LATIMER: Well, you know, every person who runs for president, you get a lot of privileges when you run for president, but ultimately you belong while you're president to the American people, and I also -- I also was accountable to the mesh people. They were my boss, too, and the American people never get to see Washington as it really is. So many people ask what is it like to be on Capitol Hill. What is it like to work in the pentagon? What is it really like to work in the white house, and I think my book more than any book in recent years has actually shown people that, and I didn't try to hurt anybody, but I didn't try to protect anybody.

BLITZER: You have some funny anecdotes about the former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, nothing very critical at all. You're working with him now, right?

LATIMER: Well, you know, I -- actually I wouldn't say everything about Secretary Rumsfeld is not critical. I'm quite certain there are things in the book he's not going to like and I talk about a pentagon during the war that was, you know, especially in the communications world you can was not run very well but, you know, I am helping Secretary Rumsfeld along with a number of other people on his memoirs but anybody who knows Donald Rumsfeld and I know you know him knows that nobody writes Secretary Rumsfeld's book other than Secretary Rumsfeld.

BLITZER: Looking down the road, where do you go from here? Because I guess future bosses of yours might say I'm worried, I may say something silly about somebody and this guy will start writing about if. How worried are you about your future job capabilities, shall we say?

LATIMER: I think this is an important book to write. Right now in the Republican Party there are former Bush administration officials who still think they are running the Republican Party and during the Bush administration I saw them exclude good conservatives and moderates that didn't support the party line and I'm thrilled that my book is supported by a mix of people. This is probably the only book in Washington that has been blurbed and supported by "The Huffington Post" and Ann Coulter, Tucker Carlson and Fox News contributors and critics of the Bush administration. It's actually a book that really speaks to what's wrong with Washington right now.

BLITZER: So no regrets in writing this book?

LATIMER: I have no regrets. I told the truth as I saw it and I want the American people to read the book and decide for themselves whether I was in the room or not.

BLITZER: Matt Latimer's book is entitled "Speechless, Tales of a White House Survivor." What did you survive?

LATIMER: It's very hard to go to Washington with your values and beliefs intact. I talk in my book about one senator that had a traction payer funded assistant that carried her purse around and another that sent hate mail to their staff at night. You get caught up in the power and the privilege and the senate especially, you know. Many people seem to think like it's the last vestige of the 17th century French aristocracy. What the senate should be are people who advance principles and how many times have people sent people to Washington and they get to Washington and they forget that? I think I survived that experience.

BLITZER: Matt Latimer, thanks for coming.

And the best political team in Washington is standing by to weigh in on Matt Latimer's new book. Did he go too far with his harsh assessments of the Bush administration?

And our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta comes down with swine flu in Afghanistan.


BLITZER: All right. Let's discuss what we just heard from Matt Latimer, the former speech writer for President Bush. Joining us now our senior political analyst Gloria Borger, a pair of CNN contributors, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and national radio talk show host Bill Bennett.

Gloria, let me start with you. It's not unusual for an insider to write a tell-all book.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, this is just plain self-promotion. He said he wanted to be like a tape recorder. I think what he really wants to be a cash register. This is all about cashing in, and I want to know why did he stay in the Bush white house if he thought that he was surrounded by buffoons and incompetent people? I think this is nothing more than an effort to try and make money and promote himself in a way.

BLITZER: Bill Bennett, he does really suggest that a lot of the people who worked in the Bush white house were way over their heads. They weren't qualified to be there just because they were pals with the president, they got those jobs.

BILL BENNETT, NATIONAL RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Talk about way over your head. He's way over head. That's the best job he'll have ever. The guy is a worm. He's a worm. He belongs under a rock next to Scott McClellan. This is so disgusting. I don't know if don Rumsfeld knows what he's getting. I have been critical of the Bush administration, but I did not work for the George W. Bush administration. This kind of disloyalty is -- you know, give me ten ultra liberal Paul Begalas for his integrity. He needs to read his Dante. He probably hasn't read "The Inferno." The lowest circle of hell are for people who are disloyal in the way this guy is disloyal and the very lowest point Satan chews on their bodies. Maybe Scott McClellan will chew on this guy's leg in the after life. So creepy and so disgusting. Why waste 15 minutes on this guy?

BLITZER: Let me ask Donna. What are the ground results? You know a lot of people who have worked in Democratic white houses and Republican white houses. Sometimes these people come out and they write these books and others just hold it to themselves.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, Wolf, I think when you have the opportunity and the privilege of working in the white house or on capitol hill, I think part of that job is to help protect the institution, and there are some things that are said in the room that should stay in the room and most professionals understand that. Clearly this young man had no bright lines. He was taking notes and hopefully wanted to cash out as Gloria says.

BLITZER: Let me move on to Moammar Gadhafi right now because he certainly got personal when talking about the president of the United States. Apparently he has tremendous regard for President Obama. Bill Bennett, listen very closely to what he said about President Obama. He hopes he can be president for life. Listen to this.


MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): The American people, the black African Kenyan, young -- voted for him and made him a president. This is a great thing, and we are proud of that. You are the beginning of a change. He did go for a change, but as far as I'm concerned Obama is a glimpse in the dark for the four years or the next eight years, and I'm afraid that we may go back to square one.


BLITZER: He was referring to square one after President Obama. He said why can't he just be president for life? BENNETT: Yeah, well, Barack Obama doesn't need that. Let me alter my view. The guy who wrote the book should be in the tent with Gadhafi. That's where he should stay. This is lunacy. This is part of the reason people -- a lot of people hate the U.N. Barack Obama doesn't deserve that. I mean, the thought of Barack Obama forever, any president, photographer, is antithetical to us, but he didn't do him any favors there.

BLITZER: He certainly didn't, Donna. When you are get praise like that, specific praise like that from Moammar Gadhafi, I'm sure the white house is not going to be using that in their press release.

BRAZILE: And you know what, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the U.N. Secretary Susan Rice walked out before he spoke, and I applaud them for doing that.

BORGER: I don't know why the U.N. gave him 90 minutes?

BLITZER: I guess once you've up there, you can speak as long as you want.

BENNETT: You get as long as you want.

BLITZER: Castro took four hours.

BORGER: That's right, and, you know, the fact that he called him a Kenyan, number one -

BLITZER: The black African Kenyan.

BORGER: And my son, number two, are things that I'm sure are not appreciated much at the white house.

BLITZER: And he also wants to reopen, Bill, the investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He came up with a theory Lee Harvey he said was involved, Jack Ruby. Jack Ruby he said was an Israeli. He's got a very complicated theory on the assassination.

BENNETT: Nuts, lunacy. Wolf, somebody, nice, good, we can talk about today? Good some good news for us?

BLITZER: We'll do that tomorrow.

BENNETT: Give me somebody I can praise.

BLITZER: I'm giving you material for your radio show.

BENNETT: I'm loaded, I'm loaded.

BORGER: Talking about his jet lag.

BLITZER: Complaining about his jet lag and wants to move the U.N. closer to Libya.

BRAZILE: Maybe there's fresh air in that tent after all. BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he catches the swine flu, and you won't believe where Sanjay was when he caught it.

And a shocking revelation about the man accused of kidnapping Jaycee Dugard.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Disturbing new details about Phillip Garrido, the 58- year-old California man accused of kidnapping Jaycee Dugard and holding her for 18 years. The U.S. parole commission released him three decades early after an earlier arrest. Today's documents released tells us what they were thinking. Let's go to CNN's Dan Simon.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the time she had been missing for eight years, held captive in Phillip Garrido's backyard. We now know that Garrido was adept at keeping things hidden. Yet it is stunning to read the U.S. parole commission's recommendation that Garrido was deserving of an early discharge from parole stemming a 1977 kidnapping and rape conviction. The documents first obtained by the Sacramento Bee also say, "You are commended for having responded positively to supervision and for the personal accomplishments you have made. The commission trusts that you will continue to be a productive citizen and obey the laws of society." At the time that was written 10 years ago, Jaycee Dugard was 19 and may have been pregnant with her second child fathered by Garrido. Federal parole officials declined to comment. But local authorities have already made it clear that Garrido should have been caught much sooner.

SHERRIFF WARREN RUPF, CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: This is not an acceptable outcome. Organizationally we should have been more inquisitive, more curious, and turned over a rock or two.

SIMON: That was Contra Costa County sheriff after it was disclosed that his agency received a 9/11 call three years ago that children were living in Garrido's backyard. The deputy who responded spoke to Garrido, but never entered his house. Though Garrido was released early from federal parole, he was still on state parole and had to meet with a parole officer at least twice a month. State officials have yet to explain how Garrido went undetected for so long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the matter of Phillip Garrido and Nancy Garrido.

SIMON: Garrido and his wife Nancy have pleaded not guilty in the 29 counts kidnapping and rape stemming from Jaycee Dugard's abduction.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SIMON: Authorities have now wrapped up their search of the Garrido property. They were there to see if the Garridos might be linked to other crimes including a pair of kidnappings that happened roughly 20 years ago. Evidence is still being analyzed but Wolf at this point there's no link. Back to you.

BLITZER: Dan, thanks very much.

There's anger against the controversial leader and Donald Trump. Some protesters branding the Libyan leader Gadhafi as "a murderer: and now they're also angry at Donald Trump's company for what it did for Gadhafi. The Trump Organization has just reacted.


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty joining us once again with the Cafferty File.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question this hour is if you were a money manager would you make investment decisions based on what Sarah Palin says? She gave a speech in Hong Kong to a bunch of investment bankers and stock types and folks like that, financial.

Arnold writes, "I wouldn't decide where to have lunch based on Sarah Palin's opinion. Since when is being chosen for being a candidate for VP automatically make you an expert on domestic and foreign affairs. Does no one remember her altered assertion that living near Russia means she had foreign policy qualifications, have we forgotten that she couldn't name a single periodical she regularly read? Oh, and just up and quitting as governor of Alaska. If this was the same world, Sarah Palin would still be doing sports for a local TV station rather than standing almost center in a world stage delivering her strange convoluted decisions."

Carrie says, "I wouldn't make a food ordering decision based on what Sarah Palin says. I'm amazed anyone outside of her few tin foil hat supporters even care what she has to say anymore."

A.W. says, "Sarah Palin would be ten times a better president than Barack Obama and just think, CNN would have something to criticize every day, please post this, or do you only post positive things about this administration?"

Mark in Newberg, New York says, "Sarah Palin has a tendency to call a dog a duck and stick by it. Calling a dog a duck does not make it a duck. And when it starts barking, even her shrill speechifying can't cover up the fact that it's a dog."

Chippy writes, "If she's offering advice on how to deep six your running mates chances for elected office or on how to shoot wolves from a helicopter, then she's my go-to-gal. But for anything else she can keep her advice to herself. As you rightly pointed out, Palin didn't have a passport until a few years ago and now she's speaking to an international forum in Hong Kong. I bet when she stepped off the plane, her first question was why are there so many Chinese people here?" If you didn't see your email here, you can go to my blog, CNN/Caffertyfile. Might be there, might not.

BLITZER: Probably will be. Jack, thanks very much.

Happening now, an offer of friendship and a round of fire works over at the United Nations. President Obama and the Libyan leader make very different U.N. debuts.