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Schwarzenegger vs. Palin; President Obama Writes Letter to North Korean Leader; Iran Defiant

Aired December 16, 2009 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Iran thumbing its nose at President Obama and the world once again. It's launched its most advanced missile that could hit U.S. allies, possibly U.S. military bases in the Middle East.

How do you begin a letter to a man called Dear Leader? We're learning President Obama wrote a secret letter to the -- North Korea's reclusive leader, Kim Jong Il. The U.S. hopes to resolve the nuclear standoff using outreach and ultimatum.

And the former-Terminator-turned-governor vs. the ex-governor who has called herself a pit bull with lipstick. In the climate change fight between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sarah Palin, he fired first. Now Palin fires right back.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in CNN's command center for breaking news, politics, and extraordinary reports from around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's Sejil-2 blasting off.


BLITZER: A show of military might from Iran that's prompting serious concerns around the world. Today, Tehran tested its most advanced surface-to-surface missile, a weapon that has the capability to hit Israel and parts of Europe. The move comes as tensions over Iran's nuclear program clearly escalating right now.

CNN's Brian Todd is over at the magic wall with details.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the news today out of the Iran that the Iranians have test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile called the Sejil-2, a U.S. official says this does not represent a major advancement in Iran's missile technology, but it is concerning nonetheless.

And here to talk about that with is us Joe Cirincione. He is with the plow shares fund. This is a group that works toward nonproliferation and conflict resolution all over the world. He is joining us here as a weapons expert to talk about this. First, let's talk about the range. We know that the Iranians so far have missile capability to can go roughly 400 miles from where they are located. They have missile capability that they have tested that can go about 800 miles from Iran.

This latest one, we think, can go about 1,200 miles, 2,000 kilometers, from Iran.

And, Joe, what does that mean as far as the range of this weapon and the concern for the U.S. and its allies?

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, Brian, it means two things. First, it brings a whole new range of targets potentially within range of an Iranian ballistic missile strike.

And it also means that the Iranians could pull back the missile force to various parts of their country and still be able to hit key targets, for example, the U.S. NATO base in Turkey, where we store tactical nuclear weapons.

TODD: OK. I also want to talk to you about the -- the fuel that this weapon uses. We know, bring in some video of the test-firing here, that it runs on solid fuel, not liquid fuel. What does that mean?

CIRINCIONE: It means two things.

First of all, it means it's a mobile device. So, they don't have to spend hours or days bringing the missile out to a launch pad and pumping the fuel into it. They can put it on a truck, hide it in caves, bring it out. And here's the second thing. It means it will be ready to launch within minutes, not hours or days, a much more formidable military capability.

BLITZER: Usually, when they test-fire these missiles, they do it over Iranian airspace. They don't let these missiles fly over another country's airspace.

CIRINCIONE: That's exactly right.

BLITZER: So, we assume it was launched from the western part of Iran going east; is that right?

CIRINCIONE: Yes, normal -- well, our test sites are going to start off in the west and then it flies west to east, impacting inside Iran itself.

BLITZER: Now, if you're Israel, obviously, you're nervous. If you're the U.S., you're nervous. But a lot of these Arab countries in the Gulf, whether the United Arab Emirates, or Saudi Arabia, or Kuwait, they're nervous about this as well.

CIRINCIONE: They are. This is a new missile capability. And the significance of this is not just how far the missile can launch or what fuel it has, but the fact that you have a missile that goes into this range means that it's designed to carry a nuclear warhead. You don't go through this trouble to put a conventional warhead on a missile like this.

BLITZER: And what does it say to you that they're doing just as this outreach by the Obama administration for the past year or so, trying to get a more moderate, a more responsible Iranian policy, the timing of this?

CIRINCIONE: It's always hard to figure out Iranian motivations, but it's one of two things. Either it's an in your face, you're not going to push us around demonstration of their strength, or it could be, as it often the case with Iran and North Korea, a show of strength before they make a concession.

For example, the last time they tested this missile was September 28 of this year. A few days later, they made a concession in negotiations in Vienna. So, we will have to wait a few days to see what develops.

TODD: Also, Joe, we also want to talk about U.S. capabilities of possibly knocking these missiles out of the air, if it came to that. We know that we have got Aegis destroyer groups in the Mediterranean and in the Persian Gulf. They could conceivably knock this out of the air.

CIRINCIONE: Just this year, the Obama administration refocused the anti-missile program to focus on these interceptors exactly, SM-3 interceptors, now on station in the Med and in the Persian Gulf.

It could be an effective intercept technology against precisely this kind of missile.

TODD: All right, Joe Cirincione, thanks very much for joining us.

That's it, Wolf, new missile test for Iran that has the U.S. and its allies once again very concerned.


BLITZER: As they should be. All right, Brian, thank you.

Joe Cirincione, thanks to you as well.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File."

This is a huge headache. You know, after all these months of reaching out to the Iranians, they're basically telling the president and the United States and the world, maybe not.


JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, those are the polite words: maybe not. That's not exactly what they're saying, but we can't say on TV what they're saying.

By the way, don't we have a -- like a deadline in two weeks for them? BLITZER: Yes, end of this month.

CAFFERTY: Yes. And then what happens?

BLITZER: Then they're supposed to take severe sanctions. They're supposed to take -- ratchet it up to severe sanctions.

CAFFERTY: More sanctions.


CAFFERTY: That's worked pretty well.

OK. The national debt is now over $12 trillion. It's more than doubled in the last eight years. Experts are saying that, if the government does not come up with a plan to get the debt under control, we will eventually risk panic in our financial markets.

Now, the government, they say, shouldn't be raising taxes or cutting spending right this minute, because they don't want to hurt this fragile economic recovery, but the changes have got to be made, and they have to happen by 2012, or else.

Well, don't hold your breath. Now, one of the ideas that President Obama has is to name a bipartisan commission to look into sweeping tax increases and spending cuts. CNN's reporting the president is seriously considering an executive order to set up such a panel.

Excuse me. Isn't that what the Congress and the president are supposed to do, manage the government, manage taxes, manage spending? Isn't that their job? This latest brainstorm would have a bipartisan group taking months to study the problem, and then decide after the 2010 midterm elections what to do.

Wouldn't want to raise taxes or cut spending before they're up for reelection, right? Meanwhile, instead of the proposed $2 trillion increase in the national debt ceiling, fiscal hawks in Congress want to increase it by only a couple of hundred billion at a time, because they think we're stupid.

I guess the idea is that way nobody's going to notice how far in the toilet we are. If we don't raise the debt ceiling by the end of the year, we will default on our debt. All of this is pretty scary stuff, and it requires a backbone to make some tough calls.

The two choices are, raise taxes or cut spending, period. But, no, no, let's get somebody else to do it, a commission.

Here's the question: Is a special commission the answer to finally addressing the deficit?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

This is disgusting, Wolf.

BLITZER: I know. You have felt strongly about this for years and years. But it continues. Did you notice last Saturday they passed that spending bill in the House, a trillion -- more than -- whatever, near a trillion, but it had billions in earmarks once again?

CAFFERTY: Five thousand and two hundred earmarks on that omnibus spending bill. Remember when President Obama was campaigning for office, and he said he wasn't going to allow that to happen anymore?

BLITZER: I remember.

CAFFERTY: Yes, everybody does...

BLITZER: I know you do, too.

CAFFERTY: ... except maybe the president.

BLITZER: All right. Jack, thank you. Stand by.

Climate clashes in Copenhagen right now. It's the people vs. the police outside, while, inside, it's rich vs. poor. We're talking about the nations. Could it all bring this very important meeting to a standstill, as President Obama gets ready to head over to Copenhagen.

And a dramatic new development in an emotionally charged custody fight that's gone on for years, a court now deciding the case of that American father, David Goldman, fighting for his son who's in Brazil.

And listen to this: What Democrats call a Republican stunt on health care, it ties the Senate in knots.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Section 1518, authority for alternative payment methodologies. Part 3, mandatory assignment...



BLITZER: Just as President Obama gets ready to head over to Copenhagen, things appears things to be breaking down somewhat, both inside and outside. The climate talks in Copenhagen, they are continuing, but out on the streets, police beating protesters with batons and using pepper spray to control the mobs, those demonstrators demanding concrete steps to battle climate change.

Inside the talks, competing demands sparking disputes that threaten to deadlock the entire meeting.

Let's get the latest on all of this from CNN's Phil Black, who's there in Copenhagen joining us.

Rowdy outside and inside, I take it, Phil?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf, particularly rowdy outside today. Hundreds of protesters tried to breach the perimeter of the secure conference center where these talks are taking place.

It was always ambitious. And they didn't get far. The police cracked down on them pretty heavily, using batons, dogs, pepper spray, tear gas. There were some reasonably violent scuffles, and in the end the were quite a few arrests as well, more than 100, we are told.

The activists, the protesters who have all come to this city say they are getting increasingly frustrated and angry because the talks here are going so badly, Wolf.

BLITZER: As far as those talks, the negotiations are going on. What are the prospects of success; there's not going to be a treaty, but a framework, as they call it, for an agreement?

BLACK: Well, even that, some would say, is a little optimistic at the moment. The chances of a legally binding treaty went out the window some weeks ago.

At the moment, they are still trying to thrash out a strong political agreement with binding targets on emissions of greenhouse, specific funds, money to go to developing nations. A lot of big key issues like this still have not been resolved.

We're almost a day away from around 100 or so international leaders coming to this conference center. And still no deal is on the table. The details were supposed to be there days ago.

I spoke to the Danish environment minister, Connie Hedegaard. She is one of the key moderators at this conference. And she gives a very grim assessment of how these talks are progressing.


BLACK: Last night, you used the F-word, failure, acknowledging that it is very much a possibility here. How -- how likely do you think that is, given where we're at right now?

CONNIE HEDEGAARD, PRESIDENT, UNITED NATIONS CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: Well, I still believe that we can do what we came for, all of us, but what I warned last night was that time is really short, and now people must show a will to compromise.

Even the strongest pressure cannot get us off the hook when it comes to solving specific issues where so far there are huge disagreements. And this will not be done with pressure alone or political will alone. There, you need to make a compromise.

BLACK: So, the differences are still very big?

HEDEGAARD: I believe so.


BLACK: The officials overseeing these talks hope that, as more national leaders arrive at these talks, the pressure will build and hopefully the deadlock will break. But at the moment, that seems like a lot to hope for -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Phil Black is on the scene for us in Copenhagen.

Later this hour, we will have a major debate on what's going on.

And, tomorrow night, the CNN/YouTube climate change debate, it airs at 11:00 p.m. Eastern right after "ANDERSON COOPER 360" tomorrow night, Thursday night, right here on CNN.

In the fight over health care, listen closely. What you're about to hear is either a Republican attempt to show you exactly what's going on in the Senate or what Democrats are calling a Republican stunt.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The capitation amount for an eligible individual in a state classified within a risk group established under Subsection D-2 is a product of: A, a national average per capita cost for all covered health care services computed under Subsection B; B, the state adjustment factor.


BLITZER: All right, did you get all that? It was a Senate clerk starting to read a 767-page amendment offered by independent Senator Bernie Sanders regarding health care.

The reading has now stopped, after Sanders withdrew the amendment, but only after Republican Senator Tom Coburn froze the health care debate by demanding that Sanders' amendment be read aloud.

Let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, and our senior political analyst Gloria Borger.

Dana, the Democrats want this think to go through, but the Republicans are doing whatever they can to prevent that.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You just saw the power of one. The power of one doesn't just lie in the Democratic Caucus with one senator like Joe Lieberman or, maybe even in the future, Ben Nelson having the power to change the debate, but also any senator has the ability to do what you saw for just a few hours, tie the Senate in knots and put it in gridlock.

And so Republicans don't have much of a voice when it comes to votes, but they do have these tactics at the ready, and they showed that they're not afraid to use them, Wolf.

BLITZER: And it's not just the conservatives, the Republicans, who are upset. Plenty of liberals, Gloria, are pretty upset as well?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, liberals are upset because they feel that the leadership in the Senate is paying attention to the moderates and paying attention to the conservatives, and not paying enough attention to -- to them. And it's not just the liberals inside the Senate, Wolf. It's also labor organizations, who feel that the public option has been dropped, that they're not sure that there's going to be affordability in health care. They would have liked to be able to see people buy into Medicare at an earlier age, but Joe Lieberman has stopped that.

And, so, you have got unions like the Service Employees Union, supposed to join a press conference today in support of the bill, decided not to do that yet, because they're not sure what's going to be in the health care bill.

BLITZER: So, what are they saying about that, Dana?

BASH: The fact that they're -- that people aren't sure what's in the health care bill, that just basically explains the state of play right now. There's -- there's a holding pattern that is going on right now in the Senate. Nobody knows what is going to be in this final compromise measure that is really going to be the nuts and bolts of whether or not this -- this health care bill can get through.

And what we're waiting, Wolf, is the Congressional Budget Office to give its analysis of this tentative deal the Democrats worked out last week. It's very secretive. There's a very good chance that Harry Reid could have those numbers as we speak, but we don't know about it, because he has to turn those numbers into legislative language and more importantly make sure before he announces something that he has his ducks in a row, meaning he has his votes in a row. And we just don't know when that is going to happen.

BLITZER: If, in the end, Gloria, the president signs something called health care reform into law, does he get a major lift, politically speaking, out of this?

BORGER: Well, I think the hope is that the president and the Democratic Party would get a major lift, because they could prove that they can govern together. They can go back home and say, look, you know, we saved the country from a depression. We're passing health care reform.

But, Wolf, if you take a look at our CNN numbers, there's a different story out there. This doesn't come without peril. Take a look at this. Almost eight in 10 Americans believe that health care reform is going to add to the deficit. Eighty-five percent say it's going to increase taxes. And 75 percent say it's not going to help their family.

So, the irony is, the longer this bill has been out there -- and Dana can tell you more about that -- the more questions it seems to be raising with the American public.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, we're going to talk more with Dana and you as well later, but not right now. I guess the point you're trying to make is that be careful what you wish for, at least politically speaking.

BORGER: That's right. BLITZER: Guys, thanks very much.

This important programming note: Senator Bernie Sanders will be my guest here in THE SITUATION ROOM during our 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour. That's coming up.

Keeping cool amid chaos -- the pilot of a U.S. Airways flight did just that before landing in the Hudson River. And what he said during that amazing emergency landing has made Yale University's top quotations of 2009.

And tough talk, intense physical training, even a tear gas shower -- Army recruits experiencing all of that in a boot camp that prepares them for the harsh realities of war.


BLITZER: Jessica Yellin is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Jessica, what's going on?


A ruling in an emotionally charged custody fight. A Brazilian court reportedly has decided that American David Goldman should get his son back. The mother took the child to her native Brazil five years ago, divorced, remarried, then died. Goldman has been battling his son's Brazilian family for custody. Goldman's attorney says the court has ordered the boy to be handed over to his client within 48 hours.

There, of course, could be further appeals, and we will have much more on this story in the next hour, Wolf.

There are new calls today for Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to resign. The country's main polls party is demanding he step down following a court ruling today that amnesty protecting him from corruption charges is unconstitutional. The ruling could also raise new questions about his eligibility to be president. A spokesman for the Pakistani president says he has no intention of resigning.

Well, an 80-year-old sailor is back on dry land, after being pulled by the Coast Guard from his 34-foot sailboat in the Gulf of Mexico. The man issued a distress call 10 days after setting sail from Houston. The Coast Guard says he told them he was unable to fend for himself. So far, no details on his condition have been released -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope he's OK.


BLITZER: Appreciate that very much, Jessica.

One is named person of the year, the other athlete of the decade. Both men are talking for criticism. We're talking about the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, and the golfer Tiger Woods. We will take a closer look at how they're being celebrated even as they're being criticized.

And the leader of the free world writes a personal letter to one of the most secretive leaders, if not the most secretive leader, in the world. What might President Obama have said to North Korea's Kim Jong Il?


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

Happening now: Sarah Palin and Arnold Schwarzenegger going at it over climate change, the former Alaska governor blasting the California governor after he questions her credibility on the issue.

And Congress is demanding answers after a major security debacle over at the TSA. Lawmakers want to know how and why a sensitive airport security manual was posted on the Internet.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

All that coming up, but, right now, a decision that has a big impact on all consumers. Today, the Federal Reserve announced it's keeping its key interest rate where it is, near zero percent. The Central Bank says the weak economy warrants a record low rate, that as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gears up for a confirmation vote in the Senate.

Let's go back to our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, for more -- Jessica.

YELLIN: Wolf, "TIME" magazine is calling Ben Bernanke person of the year. Now, some in the U.S. Senate are calling him the definition of a moral hazard. Clearly, Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve, inspires some passionate responses, but, right now, his critics are getting a lot of ink.

And those opponents include a very strange group of bedfellows, conservative Republicans Jim Bunning of Kentucky, Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, then Democrat Jeff Merkley, senator from Oregon, and socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Now, Sanders has been leading the charge, putting a hold on Bernanke, who, as you say, is up for a confirmation hearing, accusing Bernanke of being a shill for Wall Street.

Let's listen.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Ben Bernanke is their guy. And they want their guy to stay in office. And they are pulling out all the stops to make sure that that happens, and defeating Wall Street is not an easy proposition.

(END VIDEO CLIP) YELLIN: Now, critics art that under Bernanke, Wall Street's institutions have become so big, Wolf, that there's just not enough competition. So, we broke it down to give you a "for example."

For example, if you open a savings account in the U.S. right now, on average the rate of interest you'll get is just a measly .25 percent. But if you take out a new credit card, on average your rate of interest will be 11.68 percent. You say that's not fair. Critics say take your complaint to the Fed.

So, that's the criticism, but supporters insist that Bernanke helped pull the U.S. back from the abyss. The Fed gave financial institutions more than $2 trillion worth of low-cost loans which helped keep them afloat. And Bernanke himself says he helped the regular guy by cutting interest rates, helping restart the flow of credit with lending programs, and, in his words, helped avert a collapse of the global banking system.

But expect this debate to go on as his confirmation looms -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jessica, thanks very much.

Let's bring in David Gergen to assess what Ben Bernanke's -- I guess winning the "TIME" magazine "Person of the Year" announcement, what it really means.

Was he worthy of this? What do you think?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think he was. But, Wolf, we have this very peculiar situation now in the country where we put these people on pedestals and then we knock them down pretty fast.

You know, just last week, Barack Obama went to get the Nobel Peace Prize. That very week, he was at the lowest level of any end-of-year first-year president in Gallup history. And so we had this yin and yang, and now we've got Ben Bernanke, man of the year. "TIME," they laud him for his creative leadership, kept us from going over the brink.

And at the very same time, he's got a rough confirmation hearing. He's very likely to win that, but what he's losing is a fight in the Congress to, A, strip the Fed of some of its powers, and, B, to subject the Fed's money decisions, its interest rate decisions to congressional auditing. And people or experts say that could be very dangerous for the dollar and for inflation.

BLITZER: Ben Bernanke gets "TIME" magazine's "Person of the Year." Tiger Woods gets The Associated Press "Athlete of the Decade." And a lot of those votes came in after the scandal erupted a couple weeks ago.

GERGEN: Absolutely. And they're votes by the editors, the AP editors, mostly sports editors around the country. And was winning before they answered that, but he kept winning after that, beat out Lance Armstrong, Roger Federer. And we have now this situation where he's being celebrated as "Athlete of the Decade." And we usually think of that as sort of someone who is a hero. You know, like a Lou Gehrig. Arnold Palmer was an "Athlete of the Decade," Wayne Gretzky was an "Athlete of the Decade." And here we have this peculiar situation.

The only footnote, Wolf, in this -- one person made both lists as a runner-up, the Jamaican runner. Usain Bolt, was a fourth runner-up on both the "Athlete of the Decade" and "Man of the Year." That's interesting, isn't it?

BLITZER: Very interesting. Tiger Woods, athlete of this decade. Michael Jordan, "Athlete of the Decade" of the '90s. Wayne Gretzky, as you say, in the '80s. Muhammad Ali was "Athlete of the Decade" in the '70s, and Arnold Palmer back in the '60s.

Tiger Woods now joins...

GERGEN: Hard to be a real hero these days.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. Don't go away, because we're going to have you back.

President Obama gets ready to attend a major summit on climate change and the debate about global warming science. We'll follow him. We have two members of Congress with dramatically different thoughts, Democratic Congressman Ed Markey, Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. They're here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And activists urge African-Americans, stand up and be counted in the upcoming census. But what might happen to blacks as a group if many of them are not?

And a child inspires one of the biggest quotations of the year. It happened during my interview with the family of the "Balloon Boy." You're going to hear it again and the list of the most popular quotations of all of this year.


BLITZER: The editor of the "Yale Book of Quotations" has spent the year scouring news, politics and pop culture for the most important and revealing quotations of 2009. Last year was Tina Fey's, "I can see Russia from my house." Remember that?

Our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, is here with some of the most notable quotations of the year.

What are you hearing?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, the number one, Wolf, is actually from a nameless person at a town hall meeting, a health care town hall earlier this year, as reported by "The Washington Post." The man that yelled out "Keep your government hands off my Medicare!" so chosen as the number one most notable quotation of 2009 by Yale librarian Fred Shapiro, who made this list. He says that while that does have an absurdist quality to it, it really does represents the sentiment of anti-government feeling in the health care debate. And if you look at his list from 2009, you'll see health care coming up a few times.

Congressman Joe Wilson there. Let's take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.



TATTON: "You lie!" heard there from the South Carolina Republican, that outburst to the president earlier this year.

Talking of South Carolina, Governor Mark Sanford made the list -- or, actually, his spokesperson, who told reporters, of course, "The governor is hiking the Appalachian Trail." He was doing nothing of the sort, and it became a euphemism for an extramarital affair.

It's not all political on this list. Take a look. Take a listen, in fact, to pilot "Sully" Sullenberger there from earlier this year.


CHESLEY SULLENBERGER, PILOT: We've lost thrust in both engines. We're turning back towards LaGuardia. We're going to be in the Hudson.


TATTON: "We're going to be in the Hudson." And of course, seconds later, they were in the Hudson, but everyone was fine.

BLITZER: Yes. Thank God for that. We all remember that story, one of the big stories of the year.

TATTON: We were covering it right here.

BLITZER: And I take it I contributed -- I helped contribute to one of the quotations of the year?

TATTON: Yes. Shapiro telling me that it was you that inspired one of the quotations on this list. This was you talking to little Falcon Heene, of course, on "LARRY KING LIVE."

Let's take a listen to that one.


FALCON HEENE, "BALLOON BOY": You guys said that we did this for a show. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TATTON: Ah, the Heenes, Wolf. They never got the show, but they are going to be in the "Yale Book of Quotations."

BLITZER: Yes. "You said we did it for the show." Good quotation from little Falcon Heene, although I liked his other one a little better. It didn't make the list, I take it, when his dad said I have a question for him, and he mentioned my name and he said, "Who the hell is Wolf?"


TATTON: That was a good one.

BLITZER: That was a good one, too.

TATTON: We'll suggest it.

BLITZER: Maybe you should go back to Yale and tell him I like that one.

TATTON: OK. Will do.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Abbi, for that.


BLITZER: One side says the evidence is undeniable. The other side says facts prove otherwise. We're talking about the debate over the science of global warming. We're going to have a debate of our own between two people with rather dramatically different thoughts -- Democratic Congressman Ed Markey, Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. They're both getting ready to head over to Copenhagen.


BLITZER: Let's get right to our "Strategy Session."

At issue right now, global warming and what the international committee should do about it.


BLITZER: Joining us now, two members of the House of Representatives. Marsha Blackburn is a Republican of Tennessee, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. And Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, he's the chairman of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee of that committee.

Thanks to both of you for coming in.

Congresswoman, let me read from an Associated Press story that just moved, because I want to get your reaction. This is what they say in this AP story. "Scientists say global warming will lead to the extinction of plant and animal species, the flooding of coastal areas from rising seas, more extreme weather, more drought, and more widespread diseases."

Do you believe that?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: You know, one of the things we have learned, especially recently after the Climategate with the e- mails, is this is an unsettled science. And one of the items that we should seek to accomplish while we are in Copenhagen is to get to the bottom of what happened with Climategate, what took place with those e-mails. Look at how we moved forward...

BLITZER: So you're not yet convinced that the Earth is warming up?

BLACKBURN: No, I am not. When it come to climate change, climate change is cyclical. That is something that we know. But are we on a trajectory toward global warming that is not reversed? No, indeed we're not.

BLITZER: And you have no doubt about that, do you, Congressman?

REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I have no doubt about it. Alaska is now six degrees warmer in the winter than it was 50 years. The glaciers are melting in the Himalayas and the Alps.

The Arctic ice is disappearing. The coral reefs are dying. And thousands of scientists put together the definitive study on this issue, the climate change study done by all the scientists of the world. And there they actually considered the e-mails, the subject of the e-mails that Marsha was referring to. And they dismissed those concerns as not, in fact, affecting their larger conclusion that the planet is dangerously warmer.

BLITZER: Do you concede that most scientists agree with Congressman Markey?

BLACKBURN: Many scientists have felt that the Earth was warming. But, Wolf, there are also many scientists that have come back over the past couple of years and they've said, you know what? We have entered another cooling phase.

Think about 30 years ago. We were going to be into a frozen tundra taking place across much of North America. That is something that they were expecting to see. And then the Earth started to warm.

Now, one of the things we need to look at is, when you have carbon emissions, we need to consider exactly what percentage of that is caused by mankind.

BLITZER: Because there are other causes, right?

MARKEY: Well, for millennia, there were 280 parts per million in the atmosphere of carbon. Now there are 380 million parts per million.

BLITZER: So you blame man for that?

MARKEY: Well, during -- it all happened during the industrialized period of the planet. Nine of the last 10 years have been the warmest in the history of the planet. This decade is now the warmest in the history of the planet since temperatures were measured. So the evidence is quite clear that there's a direct correlation, and the scientists of the world have reached that consensus.

BLACKBURN: Well, it depends on whose science you're looking at. NOAA may say that the past decade has been the warmest, but look at NASA. There was a report last year. 1934 I think was actually the warmest year that we had recorded. So it is an unsettled science, and I think that's one of the things that we can agree on.

BLITZER: All right. We're not going to debate the science anymore, but let's talk about the policy and the money aspect of all of this.

As we're speaking right now, the Obama administration apparently has pledged $1 billion to help protect rain forests in South America and elsewhere. A billion U.S. taxpayer dollars.

Is that money well spent?

MARKEY: It is money well spent, because if the rain forests are not protected, then the problem of global warming is unsolvable. However, the big tax on Americans on a yearly basis is the $350 billion that we pay to import oil into our country.

We give it to ExxonMobil, we give it to the Saudi Arabians. That's a billion dollars a day that leaves the pockets of American consumers that goes to Saudi Arabia and ExxonMobil. That ends with the legislation that we're considering.

BLITZER: Go ahead.

BLACKBURN: Well, one of the things the legislation -- the cap and trade legislation, or cap and tax, as I like to call it...

BLITZER: It passed the House. It's still stalled in the Senate.

BLACKBURN: ... it stalled in the Senate, and the EPA is trying to implement it through the Clean Air Act. But what it would do is make us more dependent on foreign oil and it would make it more difficult for us to move to new nuclear, to clean technologies, natural gas for transportation.

BLITZER: Because at a time of economic distress here in the United States, every dollar is precious.

BLACKBURN: Yes, it is.

BLITZER: A billion dollars right now could go a long way in education or health care, all sorts of other causes here in the United States.

MARKEY: Four dollars a gallon gasoline is the largest tax on Americans, and that's what ExxonMobil and the Saudi Arabians want to continue to have. That dwarfs anything else that happens in our economy.

Half of our trade deficit is just importing oil. That makes us hostage to Middle Eastern national security policy. And if we don't move fast, we'll wind up...


BLITZER: Hold on one second.

A lot of people suggest, as Congressman Markey and others, that the wave of future jobs are these so-called green jobs, and if the U.S. economy is going to recover, it has to look ahead to these green jobs.

BLACKBURN: And Tennessee is one of the states that holds many of thought eco-patents. But the thing is this -- are you going to punish people into submission and put all these taxes on individuals, or are you going to find ways to incentivize the growth for new technologies, new nuclear, natural gas, lithium ion batteries for cars, put it on the incentive and allow the economy to grow?

BLITZER: Go ahead, Congressman.

MARKEY: That's what our legislation does. It gives an incentive for wind, for solar, for a smart grid, for smart batteries to make this revolution, so it's made in America, not made in OPEC or made in china.


MARKEY: We finally need a plan here in our country -- we have moved from 20 percent dependence upon imported oil in 1970 to 60 percent now. That is an intolerable economic and national security position. Our bill begins to deal with it, but the ExxonMobils and Saudi Arabias are trying to block it in Copenhagen and here in the United States.

BLITZER: Unfortunately, we can't end this debate right now. It will continue, and I want to wish both of you good luck. I know you're both heading off to Copenhagen to participate in this summit with very different perspectives.

Appreciate it very much.

BLACKBURN: Thank you.

MARKEY: Thank you.


BLITZER: It's a custody case that's captured the world's attention. We're talking about an American father denied custody of his 9-year- old boy living in Brazil. There's a major development in the case. Stand by.

Lawmakers wants to know just how a secret security manual got posted online. We have new information.


BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack. CAFFERTY: Wolf, the question this hour is a special commission, President Obama's idea, the answer to finally addressing the exploding national debt.

Abdul in Newark New Jersey, writes, "If the two wars were stopped today, the deficits will begin to come down. No special commission needed. Afghanistan and Iraq could then worry about their own deficits."

Dan in Chicago writes, "A special commission is antithetical to its stated mission. Let's shrink government by growing government. Get real. This is just more of the typical Washington dog and pony show. Hopefully someone in charge will grow a spine before we go over the cliff."

Tom in Ohio writes, "Time to start over. Free trade is what got us here. Fair trade might help get us out of this situation. We've given other countries an incredible amount of help ever since World War I. Now it's time to rebuild our country from within. Bankruptcy protection might be the best option."

J.G. writes, "Seems we've hired a delegator-in-chief, not a commander- in-chief. Obama needs to be personally involved in the issues that he is pushing off on others. He's creating these huge deficits. He needs to be involved in reducing them."

If you want to read more on this subject, go to my blog at -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Love those special, special, special commissions, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Can't have enough commissions, yes.

BLITZER: All right. Thank you.

Long, grueling workouts; loud, brutal reprimands if you don't cut it at boot camp.

CNN's Jason Carroll has one soldier's story.



CARROLL (voice-over): It's week three of basic training for Will McLain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.

CARROLL: McLain and 193 new recruits have entered what's called "The Red Stage."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to do that in combat?



CARROLL: The emphasis? Physical training -- PT.


DRILL SGT. JOSEPH RIX, US ARMY: All right, Private. That was like one and a half miles. Are you seriously coughing and crap?

CARROLL: The voice always egging them on...

RIX: You better sound off, one, two, three.

CARROLL: ... Drill Sergeant Joseph Rix.

RIX: Just trying to get them ready when they get to that first unit, if they have to deploy. They have a little bit of a head start, more than what we did when we went through basic training.

CARROLL: On this day, after a quarter mile run, McLain has time for a quick break, while outside...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've done a total of 25 pushups and one (ph) lap. Get up.

CARROLL: ... a private who cannot make it...


CARROLL: ... gets no coddling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hurry up! Oh, man, here we go again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get outside and get him in here! Move!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three -- lift!

CARROLL: McLain and the others finally drag him to a bunk and he recovers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hurry up and get him up!

CARROLL: Later, more would stumble...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You better figure it out, Private.

CARROLL: ... carrying 40-pound duffel bags.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now put your pistol belt back on. Specialist, give me that. You're not (INAUDIBLE). It's gone already.

CARROLL: This time...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get it up, Private.

CARROLL: ... it's McLain's turn on the ground.

CARROLL (on camera): I know he was in your ear whispering some words of encouragement, shall we say?

WILL MCLAIN, U.S. ARMY RECRUIT: We can go with that.

CARROLL: We can go with that.

MCLAIN: You can't take it personally. You know, they're just trying to make you a better person, a better soldier.

CARROLL (voice-over): Then, a crucial test of whether their training has paid off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You (INAUDIBLE) and you have a good seal on your mask.

CARROLL: Their masks must come off while this chamber fills with teargas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three. One, two, three.

CARROLL (on camera): Now he's going to have to come back and do it again, correct?

DRILL SGT. BASHIR ANTHONY, US ARMY: Right. Yes. He'll have to go back and do it again.

CARROLL (voice-over): McLain and the others tough it out, 30 painful seconds.

(on camera): It must have felt like an eternity.

MCLAIN: It felt at least like five minutes -- at least. Because you're standing like, OK, open the door. Open the door. Open the door.

CARROLL (voice-over): It's a boost of confidence for McLain who met another goal since we last saw him -- losing weight, 10 pounds in just three weeks.

MCLAIN: I'll have to go get some new pair of pants before the end of this.

CARROLL: McLain also finds he's good at hand to hand combat, winning two matches. His battle buddy -- all army recruits are assigned one -- Demetrius Daniels, cheers him along.

CARROLL (on camera): So how do you two balance each other out?

MCLAIN: Well, he's fast and (INAUDIBLE).

DEMETRIUS DANIELS, BATTLE BUDDY: He's a smart guy and he -- he helps me -- all right, sometimes I'm overwhelmed with helping other people on the team. CARROLL (voice-over): Their training is also about teamwork, so when one private dozes off during weapons training, everyone pays the price.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.

CARROLL: A punishment what drill sergeants call corrective training.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Privates, you got to realize I've got nothing but time. Get off the ground!

CARROLL: This lesson on teamwork...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You all should not be sleeping, man.

CARROLL: McLain just beginning to learn.

MCLAIN: You know, I try to be independent and I do a lot on my own, but going through boot camp, you can't be like that, man. It really teaches you to use teamwork, and then you really look deep inside yourself and realize this is what you want to do.

CARROLL (on camera): Despite all the struggling you see going on, none of the recruits from Will's company has actually dropped out. On average, the Army tells us just about seven percent of all recruits dropped out of basic training this past year.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


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

Happening now, troops say they're being sent to war with improper gear from bad backpacks to rifles that jam. Key lawmakers are now looking for answers. So are we.