Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

U.S. Citizen Charged in Terror Attack; Taliban Leader Talks with CNN

Aired December 7, 2009 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CAFFERTY: First, they need to pin down whether global warming is occurring and whether it's man-caused. Then and only then should they even consider the kind of taxation they're talking about now."

And John in Colorado says: "The only thing I expect to see come out of the global warming summit is an increase in my utility bill. The in-your-face hypocrisy of the attendees, with their limousines and private jets, is sickening."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, check the blog -- CNN.com/caffertyfile.

It's a great place.

BLITZER: It certainly is.

Jack, thank you.

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

Happening now, a Chicago area man is charged in connection with that bloody terrorist attack that killed 160 people. Our Special Investigations Unit is looking into how President Obama may have helped to move this case forward. Stand by.

As world leaders meet on climate change, we're going to take you to the only power plant in the world where polluting gases are trapped and pumped deep underground.

But is it really worth all that effort?

And was Tiger Woods impaired when he crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant and a tree outside his home?

A new document now raising new questions.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A Chicago area man is now charged with helping plan that bloody terror attack in Mumbai, India, last year, that killed 160 people, including six American citizens. And get this -- President Obama's involvement in this case may have actually led to today's charges.

Let's go straight to Drew Griffin of CNN's Special Investigations Unit -- Drew, you're investigating.

What are you learning?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, we are told there was a direct plea for help in this case from India's prime minister made to President Obama. It came just before last month's state dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. That cooperation now has linked a Chicago area man of Pakistani descent to that terrible attack in Mumbai a year ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN (voice-over): It was a well planned assault on two Mumbai hotels, a Jewish center, a cafe and Mumbai's train station. Gunmen racing in, killing as they went, then holding off police for two days, as the hotels burned and victims were trapped inside.

For the last year, India has pointed the finger at Pakistan and the Kashmiri terror group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the so-called Army of God.

Now, the U.S. attorney in Chicago says one of two men arrested earlier this year in connection with another conspiracy was involved in the Mumbai attack. David Headley faces charges of aiding and abetting the murder of six U.S. citizens killed in those Mumbai attacks and conspiracy to bomb public places in India.

Headley, a U.S. citizen, born in Pakistan, but grew up in Philadelphia, is charged with using his status as an immigration consultant to help plan and carry out the attacks in India.

Headley already faces charges,, along with two others, of planning an attack against the Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, as well as an editor and cartoonist at the paper.

The FBI says Headley is cooperating with its investigation, but would not cooperate with Indian investigators.

CNN has learned once President Obama pledged cooperation with India, FBI agents from Chicago flew to Mumbai to aid in the investigation. Those agents are right now in India, working alongside Indian intelligence.

According to court papers filed in Chicago, Headley conducted surveillance and took video of the Mumbai targets then with the conspirators in the months before the November 26th attack.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

GRIFFIN: And, Wolf, this is what's troubling. A source close to this investigation tells CNN that at the time of Headley's arrest just this past October, FBI agents believed this Chicago man was already planning a possible second attack in India.

We've reached out to this man's lawyer for response. He says Headley is cooperating with the FBI's investigation, but he would not comment on these additional charges filed today.

BLITZER: Drew, what about the president's actual involvement in leading up to this -- this arrest?

GRIFFIN: We know that the Indian intelligence officers wanted to talk to Headley. Headley would not and is not cooperating with anybody from India.

So the Indian permit basically pulled President Obama aside and said, look, can you help us out on this?

That directly got the FBI involved as the im -- the mediary between Indian intelligence and the -- and the FBI and this suspect, who's now sitting in federal lockup in Chicago.

So it was that involvement by President Obama that really has got the FBI agents from Chicago directly involved now in what is an Indian investigation right now in India.

BLITZER: Drew Griffin, thanks very much.

Good reporting.

In direct contact with CNN, a top Pakistani insurgent leader says his men are waiting for the weather to change before starting to attack Pakistani troops.

CNN's Arwa Damon is joining us from Islamabad -- Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Hakzemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, told CNN in a phone call that his fighters would be waiting for the winter to arrive to take on the Pakistani military in the country's tribal region. The army has launched a significant, intense operation in South Waziristan that began in mid-October specifically aimed at rooting out Mehsud's forces.

Despite this operation, he insisted that confidence remained high among his fighters saying: "We are conserving our energy and have not lost our morale," saying that they had the army exactly where they wanted them.

Now, the Pakistani military believes that it has managed to significantly disrupt Mehsud's operations in that area and that it has managed to prevent the Pakistani Taliban from regrouping and carrying out high profile attacks that we have been seeing in the past.

But according to Mehsud, his top level forces that have not yet been arrested or detained by the Pakistani military are safe, though he did not disclose where they were seeking refuge.

The Pakistani military is insisting that this time, they will hold the ground that they have gained. But based on Hakzemullah Mehsud's comments to CNN, it seems that the battle with the Pakistani Taliban is far from over. And when it does restart, it will be on the Pakistani Taliban's terms -- Wolf. BLITZER: Arwa, thank you.

Arwa Damon with that.

The surge of U.S. troops to Afghanistan will begin with 1,500 Marines from North Carolina's Camp Lejeune. They'll deploy later this month. The Pentagon also announcing another 1,300 -- 13,500 troops will deploy by the end of spring.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is in Afghanistan right now with a closer look at the front lines of the counter- insurgency battle -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, It's a mixed security picture here in Eastern Afghanistan. In some areas, the Taliban remain in control. But in some areas, violence is declining, progress is being made.

We visited one small village where life is changing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAJ. GEN. CURTIS SCAPARROTTI, U.S. ARMY: This is a very busy town.

STARR (voice-over): One year ago, this would have been unthinkable. We are walking the streets of Baraki Barack -- a small village 30 miles south of Kabul -- with Major General Curtis Scaparrotti. Last year, this marketplace was deserted. The Taliban ruled here. People stayed away. Now, you can readily see how busy it is. The U.S. troops now rely heavily on Afghan forces.

SCAPARROTTI: This was one of the areas that was considered a sanctuary and -- you know, of the Taliban and the enemy. So we basically fought with them to clear the area, secure the people, protect the population.

STARR: Here in the east, the counter-insurgency strategy has had results. The troops are heavily focused on working with Afghan forces to improve security in places like this. Here, Afghan control the town's checkpoints, trying to keep the Taliban from coming back.

SCAPARROTTI: We want to turn over the security of Afghanistan and these villages and towns to their own forces.

STARR: It's not been easy. Here in Baraki Barak, the police chief started with just five men. Now, he has 50. Still, just outside of town, there have been attacks. The troops have arranged for tea and the local bread to be waiting for us at the village bakery.

SCAPARROTTI: Thank you.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

STARR: Afghans and Americans crowd around. SCAPARROTTI: We're sitting in a village in Afghanistan having our nan bread and tea.

STARR: But the general knows this type of progress remains spotty. In many places, there are still daily attacks and insurgent strongholds. The military estimates there are as many as 4,000 insurgents operating in the eastern part of Afghanistan.

SCAPARROTTI: I think what you see in the east is, over the past year, the insurgency had -- had expanded some in terms of the areas that it influenced and controlled within RC East.

STARR: When the additional U.S. troops arrive in this region, most will help train the Afghan forces. Combat operations will continue in order to try and put the insurgents out of business. Scaparrotti says the latest intelligence shows the impact.

SCAPARROTTI: We've seen that the enemy has had a harder time getting their basic weaponry and ammo.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

STARR: Separately, CNN has learned that the U.S. military is tracking potentially reliability reports that Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban movement, has moved to the teeming city of Karachi in Pakistan. That's a highly populated area. And if the reports are true, the question for the U.S. is, who has helped him move and how can U.S. and Pakistani officials finally hunt him down -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara, thanks very much.

Barbara Starr is going to be on assignment all week for us in Afghanistan.

Shouts of "Death to the Dictator!" echoed through the streets of Tehran today as tens of thousands of students clashed with Iranian police and militiamen. Witnesses say the protests were the largest since the violence which followed Iran's disputed presidential election back in June. The tens of thousands are said to have taken the streets in the capital, as well as on more than a dozen campuses around the country. There was a massive turnout by security forces. Witnesses say they used batons and tear gas against demonstrators in Tehran. The Iranian government did not allow members of the international news media to observe any of the protests, but pictures, of course, are getting out of what's going on on the streets.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty right now for The Cafferty File.

These are courageous students. When they go out on the streets to demonstrate, shouting, "Death to the Dictator!" everybody knows what they mean and everybody knows that many of them are taking their lives into their own hands.

CAFFERTY: But they have these little -- what do they call them?

The little cell phones that they can take this video with. And long as they can record these demonstrations, the thing they have on their side is if the security forces get too far out of line, all that will do is -- is further inflame public opinion against the status quo in that country.

So -- I mean I'm -- I'm glad to see this. You know, it's -- it's not something that's probably going to go away. It looked like it died down after the elections in June. But they're back now. They're not happy. These are educated people who want something besides what they've got. And I hope they get it.

"Saturday Night Live," known for pushing the envelope when it comes to satirical -- satirical takes on the news. But some say the show went too far this past weekend with a skit about Tiger Woods that insinuated domestic abuse.

The comedy sketch showed Woods holding a series of news conferences where he tries to apologize for acts of infidelity. In each appearance, he appears more bruised and battered, until finally this scene that you're looking at here, where he turns up with his arm in a sling and a golf club wrapped around his head -- presumably having been put there by his wife.

Well, the critics say it's no laughing matter and asked if the show would have done the same sketch if it were a man suspected of beating his wife. One person who probably not laughing at the sketch, for example, was the show's musical guest, Rihanna, who was assaulted by her boyfriend, Chris Brown, earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the Tiger Woods' story is the gift that keeps on giving. The alleged number of mistresses is growing larger by the day. Unofficial accounts have the current number at nine. But MSNBC reported this morning there could be more than a dozen women linked with Tiger Woods by the end of this week.

It's a wonder he ever had time to practice his golf game.

With all the tawdry headlines, no surprise that a new poll suggests Woods' popularity is circling the drain now.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 66 percent of Americans still have a favorable view of Woods, down from 84 percent. Twenty-five percent now have an unfavorable view. And that's up from just 9 percent in 2001.

The question is this -- did "Saturday Night Live" go too far insinuating that Tiger Woods was the victim of domestic violence?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I'll be curious to see what our viewers think about that, because it -- it is generating controversy some controversy.

CAFFERTY: It's -- and -- and we're getting quite a few e-mails. And it's a little of this, a little of that.

BLITZER: Yes. CAFFERTY: But it's -- it's interesting.

BLITZER: All right, Jack.

Thanks very much.

E-mail stolen from scientists now raising some serious new questions about climate change, even as world leaders gather for a majority global warming meeting. We're digging deeper this hour.

And the one-of-a-kind experiment to capture and store greenhouse gas underground -- we go inside to show you how it works.

And left behind in Iraq, tens of millions of American equipment.

Why?

Brian Todd is investigating.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: World leaders have now gathered in Denmark for a conference on climate change, even as the basic science of global warming is coming under fresh attack. The latest cloud of skepticism was touched off when documents were stolen from a research center in England.

CNN's John Roberts is there.

JOHN ROBERTS, HOST, "CNN TONIGHT": Wolf, let me set the scene for you. This cylindrical building behind me is the climatic research unit here at the University of East Anglia. It is one of the most prestigious research institutions in the world when it comes to global warming. And it is now the epicenter of an enormous controversy regarding the research.

A thousand e-mails -- some 3,000 documents -- were stolen by hackers off of the computer system here and have been distributed around the world and are being used by skeptics to question the entire science of global warming. The charge is that language in some of the e-mails suggests that the researchers were cooking the books, if you will -- they were manipulating the data to fit their own theory supporting global warming.

I got a look inside this facility yesterday. Dr. Peter Liss, who is the interim director of the climactic research unit, took me around. He showed me inside. It's really just a collection of academic offices where researchers sit at computers and crunch numbers related to global warming processes.

The -- the usual director of the unit, Phil Jones, stepped down pending an internal investigation, which shouldn't be completed probably until some time in the spring.

But the big question here at this university, because of this crown jewel now being in the spotlight of controversy, is what kind of impact will it have on the Copenhagen summit?

I asked that of Dr. Peter Liss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PROF. PETER LISS, UNIVERSITY OF EAST ANGLIA: No, I don't think it should influence things at all. Of course, I mean, I'm not a politician, but I can sort of see that it might have some impact. I hope it's small or -- or insignificant. But I mean you've already seen people saying that this -- this knocks the bottom out of the climate argument. I mean I don't think that's true at all. But people will say that because it suits them to say that.

ROBERTS: You said, I hope it doesn't have an influence and it shouldn't have an influence -- I think it shouldn't have an influence. But there's every possibility that it very well could.

LISS: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Well, you've heard -- you've heard various politicians and representative politicians making statements this week, saying exactly that -- that it will have an influence, as far as they're concerned.

We'll have to wait and see whether the bulk of (INAUDIBLE) -- the bulk of the nations are swayed by that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: The controversy aside, researchers who support the theory of global warming the world over Baghdad that there is far more science to support the notion that -- that manmade processes are, in fact, increasing Earth's temperature than just the research that is being done here by Dr. Jones. They say, look at what's happening to the ice caps, look at what's happening to the glaciers. There are dozens of other scientists around the world who have found similar results to those of Dr. Jones. And they say that, really, it's -- it's up to the skeptics to try to prove their point in ways other than simply questioning these e-mails.

Here's what Dr. Liss said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISS: I think it's very hard to be a denier. And in some sense, you might say it's really up to the deniers to explain why it is, when we're pumping so much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, why it wouldn't have such an effect. I mean, scientists tend to be a bit on the defensive, but, in fact, they shouldn't be defensive because the evidence is very strong.

ROBERTS: You have no doubt?

LISS: I have no doubt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Where this may really impact, though -- and scientists here agree -- is in the court of public opinion. The Harris Poll people took a poll two years ago -- and they've been doing this for a number of years -- to ask how many people believe that global warming was manmade.

Two years ago, that percentage was 71 -- 71 percent of Americans believed that global warming was manmade. They asked that question again recently. The numbers had dropped 20 points, to just 51 percent. And while public policy immediately may not be driven by public opinion, there are enough people here who are questioning the science, at this point, that it may in the future -- Wolf.

BLITZER: John Roberts reporting for us from England.

Thanks, John, very much.

A multimillion dollar experiment is underway right now to pump polluting gases from a power planned deep underground.

But is it worth all the effort and all the expense?

CNN's Elaine Quijano takes us behind-the-scenes in West Virginia.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nestled in the heart of American coal country sits the Mountaineer Power Plant.

(on camera): And what's this part of the process.

BRIAN SHERRICK, CCS PROJECT MANAGER: OK. This is a CO2 compressor.

QUIJANO (voice-over): The newest part of the plant, a five-story multimillion dollar structure that began operating this fall, makes this facility a one of a kind experiment, as the world's first-ever coal-fired power plant to capture and store some of the carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere as a heat trapping pollutant.

SHERRICK: We take that CO2 and then inject it underground into one of two injection reservoirs.

QUIJANO: Project Manager Brian Sherrick says the West Virginia plant has received worldwide attention. The project is an expensive partnership between plant owner, American Electric Power, and French company, Alstom. The two companies are spending more than $100 million to capture just a tiny fraction of the plant's carbon emissions -- under 2 percent.

The new technology, called carbon capture and sequestration, essentially works this way. Carbon dioxide is compressed, liquefied and injected thousands of feet underground into porous rock, sealed off by a layer of less porous rock above to hold the CO2 in place.

PROF. KELLY SIMMS GALLAGHER, TUFTS UNIVERSITY: We need to be doing many more demonstrations of the carbon storage part of the equation.

QUIJANO: In the shadow of the plant, just across the river, local resident Elisa Young worries about safety.

ELISA YOUNG, CITIZEN ACTIVIST: Let's face it, this is an experiment. The nature of an experiment is that you do not know what will happen.

QUIJANO: She's concerned about carbon dioxide injections triggering seismic activity or leaking out of the reservoirs.

YOUNG: I'm sorry, but no scientist in the world can convince me that there is not a 50/50 chance it's going to go in this direction.

QUIJANO: Plant owner, American Electric Power, maintains it is taking proper safety precautions. It's drilled wells around the injection sites to monitor groundwater and keep track of where the carbon dioxide goes.

PROF. TIM CARR, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY: Catastrophic risks are probably, I would say, are minimal.

QUIJANO: Geology Professor Tim Carr of West Virginia University believes, if done properly in the right location, underground rock formations can store carbon dioxide safely.

And now a big boost for the project -- the U.S. Department of Energy has announced $334 million in stimulus money over the next 10 years for American Electric Power to expand its carbon capture and storage operation.

But resident Alisa Young believes that's a waste.

YOUNG: It's like we're taking our kids for a drive out in the country and kicking them out. This is a dead end. And so the time to invest in renewables is now.

QUIJANO: Company officials say they're also investing in renewable energy, but say putting that infrastructure into place will take time.

(on camera): In New Haven, west Virginia, I'm Elaine Quijano.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

BLITZER: The passionate debate over global warming shifting into high gear as world leaders and scientists meet in Copenhagen for the climate conference.

But what is the truth about global warming?

Tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, a special edition of Campbell Brown. She'll look closely at the science, the skepticism and the secrets surrounding global warming. It's entitled "Trick or Truth." 8:00 p.m. Eastern tonight.

A deadly attack in a popular market. Dozens of people are killed by not one, but two bombs. We'll have the latest information.

Plus, U.S. taxpayers paid tens of millions for it, now the U.S. military is prepared to leave tens of millions of dollars worth of equipment behind in Iraq.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

NGUYEN: Hey, there, Wolf.

Well, a grim scene in the Pakistani city of Lahore. Two bombs ripped through a popular marketplace within 30 seconds of each other, killing at least 36 people and injuring some 100. The blast ignited a fire that burned for hours and many of the victims are women and children. Earlier in the day, a suicide bomber killed 10 people outside a courthouse in Peshawar.

Well, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke taking questions at the Economic Club of Washington today. And here's his take on the state of economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Economic forecasts are subject to great uncertainty. But my best guess at this point, is that we will continue to see modest growth next year sufficient to bring down the unemployment rate, but at a pace slower than we would like.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: Well, other questions for Bernanke were more personal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the best thing about being chairman of the Federal Reserve Board?

BERNANKE: I get to go through the security lines at the airport much more quickly. And -- and I can take along even three ounces of fluid if I want to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: Wait that's not fair. But it is a perk, nonetheless.

Well, many people know him as Snoopy's imaginary archenemy in the "Peanuts" comic strip, but the Red Baron really was a World War I flying ace with 80 kills to his credit. Now, an historian has uncovered his death certificate in some archives in Western Poland. It says Baron Manfred von Richtofen died from combat wounds. But it does not clear up the mystery of who finally shot him down.

So that mystery continues -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, we'll continue to work on trying to solve it.

NGUYEN: Yes. We'll work our sources on that one.

BLITZER: Yes. We will get to work immediately.

NGUYEN: Yes.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Betty.

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

Happening now, a Democratic senator at the heart of the health care reform debate under fire right now for recommending his girlfriend for an open U.S. attorney's job. He's speaking out about it. Stand by.

Family, friends, even the senator of an American woman convicted of murder in Italy are now asking the secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to intervene.

Will she take action?

Plus, the controversy over climate change gets even hotter as stolen e-mails from scientists are raising new doubts about global warming. We have two lawmakers standing by to debate -- Democratic Congressman Ed Markey. He's the chairman of the House Environment Subcommittee. And Republican Senator James Inhofe. He's a ranking member of the Senate Environment Committee. He's an outspoken skeptic. An important debate is coming up.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

There are some important developments right now just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM involving the case of Tiger Woods.

Let's go straight to CNN's Mary Snow -- Mary, what are you picking up?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a document was made public this afternoon and it indicates that the Florida Highway Patrol suspected Tiger Woods was impaired when he crashed his car November 30th.

The FHP had made a request to the state attorney to subpoena his blood results on the day of the accident.

As to why police suspect he was impaired, the report says the witness who removed Woods from the vehicle, which was presumably his wife, told police Woods had consumed alcohol earlier in the day and that he had been prescribed Ambien and Vicodin. The state attorney denied the request citing insufficient information. A spokeswoman for the state attorney said it's not uncommon to deny these types of requests and Woods wasn't given preferential treatment. The spokeswoman says the documents is only being made public because of a request to release it. -- say the evident was, in hi words flimsy. We have reached out to a representative for Tiger Woods, but have not gotten an immediate response.

BLITZER: Do we know for sure that Tiger Woods had been taking these medications before he had that crash with the SUV?

SNOW: No, we don't. The witness, who is believed to be his wife says he was prescribed Vicodin and Ambien, but we don't know if it was in his system. The case was closed. We'll never know.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Mary Snow.

As U.S. troops move out of Iraq, should they leave expensive equipment behind? Or ship it to Afghanistan or elsewhere. Significant progress in the fight against cancer. How screening is saving lives.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: As U.S. troops move out of Iraq, in the coming weeks, months and years, what should they do with the vast stores of equipment? CNN's Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Do they take the stuff with them? Or simply leave it behind?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Both answers are correct. You think after six and a half years of build up of course in Iraq, that means massive inventory, logic might dictate with a drawdown in Iraq at the same time as a troop buildup in Afghanistan, some critical equipment can be moved from one battlefront to another. We found out it's not happening that way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: By the truck load, by the forklift, it's a massive operation, moving hundreds of millions of dollars worth of equipment out of Iraq as the U.S. moves out forces. After more than six and a half years of buildup, one logistics commander puts this drawdown in historical context.

BRIG. GEN. PAUL WENTZ, U.S. ARMY: This is the largest I think since Vietnam, the largest amount of stuff.

TODD: With that, tens of millions of dollars worth of equipment is being left behind for the Iraqi government, even as the U.S. prepares a troop surge in Afghanistan. "The Washington Post" reports some military officials have complained that the plans don't account enough for the needs of American forces in Afghanistan, and that commanders in Iraq are given too much latitude on how much to leave behind. The Post reports that pentagon has given commanders in Iraq the discretion to donate up to $30 million of equipment from each base where the Americans are pulling out. But at official with U.S. central command, they draw a clean line with combat equipment.

Dan Goure, an analyst with the Lexington Institute which favors a robust national defense agrees.

Are there shortages of critical equipment in Afghanistan that might cause worries for families of the soldiers there?

DAN GOURE, LEXINGTON INSTITUTE: There's no evidence that there's shortage of critical materials, of critical items. We are sending over special armored vehicles, so called MRAP all-terrain vehicles, we're sending over strikers, we're reconfiguring some of the older vehicles to go over there.

TODD: Left behind? Things like passenger vehicles, generators, air conditioners that U.S. officials say the Iraqis need.

WENTZ: We turn it over to the Iraqis and they continue to have opportunities to move their goods and supplies, and they build up a network that will sustain them as we leave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: That's if the material is not stolen or destroyed. An American officer in Iraq told reports that at least at one facility handed over to the Iraqi army recently was looted within hours of the U.S. it departure.

BLITZER: What about the cost of shipping stuff from Iraq to Afghanistan?

TODD: Sometimes it's not just cheaper. Dan Geray and a U.S. official said between breaking it down, packing it up, unpacking it, repairing and refitting the stuff, it often is more cost prohibitive to do that, and not always safe. In a lot of cases it goes from Iraq through the Persian Gulf to Karachi, then over land through Pakistan and Afghanistan. In those cases, a lot of times convoys are attacked, they each have to have their own security teams. That means extra costs as well. Sometimes it's cheaper.

BLITZER: It's not like an overnight container.

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: The Obama administration is applauding a move on Iraqi elections next year. The U.S. said it could start pulling out 60 days after that election. While the Iraqi vote is scheduled for hid- January, political wrangling may delay it for a month, maybe longer. We'll watch.

Cancer is on the decline. We're going to tell you how Americans are fighting back and what's helping to save so many lives.

A major winter storm is moving into the Midwest. We have the latest from the CNN severe weather center. I think you'll be interested. You'll get it right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome news for anyone whose life has been touched by cancer. Americans are now making what's described as significant progress in the fight against the disease. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has the story behind this apparent success.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, aggressive efforts to get Americans to get screened for various cancer seems to be working, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COHEN: Colonoscopies, mammograms, screenings like these work, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.

DR. OTIS BRAWLEY, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY: We're seeing declines in cancer incidence and mortality because the right things are being done.

COHEN: Deaths from nearly all types of cancer are down on average 1.6%. At the rate things are going, by the year 2020, deaths from colorectal cancer, for example, could be reduced by 50%. Breast cancer rates are down, partly because women started taking replacement therapy when they hit menopause. Cancer death rates remain higher for African-Americans than for white Americans. The problem? Access to care.

BRAWLEY: There is a clear problem that we are losing lives because people do not have access to the high quality care that every American should get.

COHEN: But overall health officials say the results of this year's report proves that screening and early detection are helping the U.S. turn the tables in the fight against cancer.

BRAWLEY: If we actually did the screening that we know saves lives, the number of lives that could be saved is tremendous.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COHEN: There is one piece of bad news in this report. Believe it or not fewer women are getting mammograms than in previous years. Experience are concerned we could see the death rate from breast cancer go up in the future. Wolf?

BLITZER: Cohen, thanks.

A major winter-like storm is now taking direct aim at the Midwest with the threat of blizzard conditions. Our meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is over at the CNN severe weather central with the latest forecast. How is it looking?

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Not good Wolf. In fact, this storm has been punishing the southwest all day today. It's going to move through the four corners and hit the Midwest really hard. This is the most powerful winter storm we have seen all season and it could rival some really nasty ones we've had in past years as well. The rain has very heavy across southern California. The good news so far, no major problems with flooding in the burnt areas, but we've seen some very heavy snow in the Sierras. Take a look at some of these numbers so far. Pushing three feet in Kirkwood, California, Kingvale, 29 inches, we've had two feet there, and heavenly, that's good news for people starting to pull out of the pass. This is a CalTran photo along I80 there where they had nearly 30 inches of snowfall there today. Now the storm is going to be intensifying as it moves through the four corners so overnight tonight we can see the real focus of this snow in this area across south western Colorado and those winds could be whipping as strong as 60 miles per hour over some of these peaks. That's just stage one of the storm. By tomorrow, stage 2, it pulls out of the Rockies and heads toward the plains states and it will continue to bring those strong winds over those flat plains so whiteout conditions are expected here. On the south end of this storm, severe weather can be expected with damaging winds and some isolated tornadoes. This will be really focused across the lower Mississippi River valley. Snowfall totals are going to be very impressive, as we have winter storm warnings and blizzard warnings posted from Kansas, Nebraska all the way up into the great lakes, and forecast totals showing that we could easily see a good foot of snow for somebody in this neighborhood, places like Omaha, Des Moines and Minneapolis getting hit hard but spared with the storm mostly for Kansas City and Chicago. Wolf?

BLITZER: That's real snow, not too bad. We had dusting in Washington here over the weekend. It's a lot of snow for Washingtonian types, not much for us who grew up in places like Buffalo. All right. Thanks very much Jacqui for that.

Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton, the current and the former secretaries of state, they came together for a special event and a laugh earlier in the day. We have details of some political humor coming up.

And the real-world impact of a huge tuition hike. Students now find their education in jeopardy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack with the Cafferty File. Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question this hour Wolf is did "Saturday Night Live" go too far insinuating Tiger Woods was the victim of domestic violence?

Mike from Elmira, New York says, "As far as I'm concerned it didn't go far enough. I am sick of political correctness and everything that goes with it. What they did is what SNL does. As great a golfer he is, Tiger is stand offish and shows bad sportsman ship time after time because he's never held accountable. Nature has a way of evening things out."

Bill in Sarasota says, "No, the skit didn't go too far. When you live your life in the public eye and earn your living being a public figure anything you do is fodder for parody, satire or the late night host du jour. Best case I saw of laughing at someone because you were so glad it didn't happen to you."

Luwanna writes from Ohio, "I happened to watch that Saturday Night Live during that skit and I can see how some thought it was in bad taste especially since Rihanna was on the show, but SNL is known for bad taste and having being on the receiving end of abuse, there was a slight sadistic streak of pleasure at the woman beating a man for a change."

Jim from Honolulu says, "As a man in a physically abusive relationship I wasn't particularly amused however Tiger Woods so brilliantly manipulated his public image while secretly living a life of debauchery, lies and hedonism that he is a worthy target of ridicule. The idol of so many kids and adults has been shown as a mean person who treats subordinates like slaves. He asked for it."

Ole in Laguna Beach, California, "Tiger Woods doesn't deserve to have any fans any longer. I bet he gets booed off the golf course if he decides to play again. If he was honorable which he isn't he would leave his wife as he doesn't deserve her. He has totally ashamed his family and his young children. He needs to quit golf, go into therapy and beg forgiveness from anybody who's helped him in the past."

And finally Mike in Denver writes, "Is it a double standard? Yes. Did the audience laugh? Yes. If Tiger doesn't like it then he shouldn't have been night putting."

If you didn't see your e-mail here go to my blog at CNN.com/CaffertyFile. There are lots more there.

BLITZER: The story is still generating huge reaction.

CAFFERTY: Night putting.

BLITZER: Yeah, thank you.

The former secretary of state Colin Powell was back for the official unveiling of his portrait. The retired general has another picture on display across the Potomac River and joked about it with the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: This is the second official portrait that I have. I have an official portrait at the pentagon in the hall of chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That portrait was done during the Clinton administration, and that was during the period where Al Gore was doing the reinventing government program. So it is an eight by ten glossy blown up -- [ laughter ]

-- so help me, it's an eight by ten glossy that I do like and it was blown up to full size, put in a frame and put on a wall. You're even today, Hillary.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: That's how we balance the budget.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: It was a lovely event at the state department. I went over there and the official portrait of the secretary of state -- the former secretary of state, a lovely portrait indeed.

Students at one of the top public universities are facing very hard times as tuition soars. We'll hear from a student afraid of losing everything.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The recession has taken a heavy toll on California colleges. Now with tuition soaring some students are finding their education in jeopardy. CNN's Thelma Gutierrez has a look at the impact.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TIERRA MOORE, UCLA STUDENT: I always knew I wanted to go to UCLA.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: UCLA is the only school Tiara Moore wanted to attend. When tuition fees was hiked an unprecedented 32% -- a massive protest erupted across University of California campuses and she joined in.

MOORE: We were chanting "this is our school, this is our education." There were a line of officers right behind us.

GUTIERREZ: Were you one of the students who was actually on the ground blocking the exit?

MOORE: Yes.

GUTIERREZ: Willing to get arrested?

MOORE: Yes.

GUTIERREZ: Why?

MOORE: I didn't want my voice ignored.

GUTIERREZ: The 19-year-old says there is no sacrifice too big for the sake of her education. She works a part-time job at the mall and works a second job on campus. To beat the morning traffic, she begins her 70-mile one-way commute to school at the break of dawn. She arrives so early she naps in the car before class.

MOORE: What I'm doing now, I'm barely scraping by with the support of friends and family members.

GUTIERREZ: Earlier this year, undergraduate university fees went up $660. They were raised again recently another $585. That's almost $1,300 this year alone. Tiara says fee increases couldn't have come at a worse time for her and her mother Linda who works in law enforcement and asked not to be identified. Can she ask you for the money?

LINDA: She could, but I would struggle.

GUTIERREZ: You don't have it?

LINDA: Correct.

GUTIERREZ: Linda works for the state of California and took a 15 percent pay cut at the same time her daughter's tuition is going up 32%. Add in books, insurance and other expenses and Tierra has to come up with more than $20,000 for the school year. She carries most of the financial burden herself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on your specific situation you're not grant-eligible.

RONALD JOHNSON, DIR., UCLA FINANCIAL AID: It's just a commentary for our state that has prided itself in trying to educate as many students as possible and now we're seeing the door slowly closing.

GUTIERREZ: This leaves you, as a middle class student, between a rock and a hard place. How are you going to make it?

MOORE: I'm not sure yet.

GUTIERREZ: Since she isn't eligible for government grants and can't tap into a college fund she does what other cash-strapped students do?

MOORE: I'm 19 with $11,000 in debt and I haven't started making any kind of money yet.

GUTIERREZ: Tierra has maintained an impressive 3.4 GPA, and she is determined to get into law school, but that will mean more debt. And next year, another $1,300 tuition hike with no end in sight.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUTIERREZ: Middle class students like Tierra are getting some help. The UC system has grants to help students pay for half of the $585 fee increase. Tierra also received $8,000 in scholarships to help her with tuition this year -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thelma, thank you.