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Iraq's Eyes In The Sky; Is It The Right Time To Leave Iraq; False Rumor About Chief Justice; DOT: Ill-Fated Bus Operating Illegally; Sex Scandal At The Vatican; Mystique of "Charisma Man"

Aired March 5, 2010 - 18:30   ET


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

Happening now: new details about the shooting outside the Pentagon which left a gunman dead and two police officers wounded. We're digging deeper into the background of the man who put one of the most secure sites in the country on lockdown.

A key American ally outraged by a vote in the U.S. Congress. What consequences may still lie ahead? We will get reaction from Turkey. We are going to Istanbul.

And it was a wild rumor about the chief justice of the United States, and it spread like wildfire. We track down how that false report got started and how it circulated so quickly.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome the viewers in the United States and around the world. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It happened suddenly, leading to a lockdown at the Pentagon and an adjacent Metro station, a gunman fatally shot after shooting two police officers. Now, we are learning detail about the shooter and the incident that sparked an urgent security alert.

Let's go live to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, who has been looking into the story.

What do you know, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John Patrick Bedell came to the Pentagon last night armed with two .9-millimeter semiautomatic weapons and a load of ammunition. Still, there are so many questions.


STARR (voice-over): This is the man, John Patrick Bedell, who federal law enforcement officials say calmly walked up to the Pentagon police officers Thursday night and started firing. Law enforcement officials say that 36-year-old Bedell acted alone. On Thursday, he parked his car at this garage and walked to the Pentagon.

RICHARD KEEVILL, PENTAGON POLICE CHIEF: He was very well- dressed, in a suit. There was no indication based on the way he was dressed that he had hostile intent, that he was very calm. There was no distress in his appearance. He walked very directly to the officers and engaged.

STARR: The attack took place at the Pentagon's busiest entrance. Thousands of workers come and go every day. The two Pentagon officers sustained superficial wounds. Bedell died late Wednesday night after officers returned fire.

Law enforcement officials are still looking for a motive, but do not believe there is any connection to terrorism.

KEEVILL: I have no idea what his intentions were. We could speculate about that.

STARR: But Bedell's own Internet postings indicate a deep-seated mistrust of the government.

JOHN PATRICK BEDELL, KILLED AT PENTAGON: As the power of the government increases through encroachments on private property, the moral values of individuals and communities are increasingly attacked.


STARR: Now, one other possible link to the Pentagon, Wolf, a 2004 paper has surfaced on the Internet that Bedell apparently wrote to a Pentagon agency, a proposal essentially seeking government funding for some of his DNA research. We don't know if he ever officially submitted that proposal to the Pentagon.

Late today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates telephoned both of the Pentagon officers wounded in the incident, wishing them the best, and thanking them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Did you see any heightened security at the Pentagon today, Barbara?

STARR: Well, it is not back to normal here yet, Wolf. Still, that Metro entrance as of late today remained a crime scene. People cannot go in and out of there. If they are coming to the Pentagon by Metro or bus, they have to get out, walk around a considerable distance and come in another entrance. They are still processing that crime scene, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara, thank you.

Let's get some more background now on the Pentagon shooter.

For that, we will turn to CNN's Dan Simon. He is in Hollister, California -- Dan.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the parents of John Patrick Bedell put out a statement today saying that their son's actions were a result of an illness and not because of a defective character. We know that Bedell had been committed to a mental institution at least three or four times, according to the local sheriff here in Hollister, California.

The sheriff today describing an incident that took place in Amarillo, Texas, on January 3, when a deputy pulled Bedell over for speeding, and, apparently, that deputy was also concerned about Bedell's mental health. In fact, he called Bedell's parents. The sheriff picks up the story from here.

CURTIS HILL, SAN BENITO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, SHERIFF: The next day, they filed a missing-persons report on him, because there's a history of mental health problems with him that the family is dealing with for apparently a number of years. So that prompted them to go ahead and file the report.

SIMON: Bedell eventually returned home, but his mother was apparently concerned over a receipt she saw for $600 from a Sacramento shooting range, but we don't know if that was for a gun or for some form of ammunition, but obviously something that the parents were very concerned about -- Wolf.


BLITZER: All right, Dan -- Dan in Hollister, California.

Here's a question: Is the Pentagon part of some sort of emerging pattern of incidents?

John Avlon is the author of "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." He's also a columnist for He's joining us now from New York.

You remember a couple of weeks ago a pilot flew into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. You've got an intriguing piece on TheDailyBeast today suggesting you see some sort of pattern here. Tell our viewers what you see.

JOHN AVLON, AUTHOR, "WINGNUTS: HOW THE LUNATIC FRINGE IS HIJACKING AMERICA": Well, what you've got here is not just evident mental illness, Wolf, but he does seem to be imbibing deeply from the conspiracy theories that percolate around the Internet what I call the fright wing of American politics, a place beyond right and left, but where conspiracy theories really take on a whole life of their own.

He appears in his online writings to have been a 9/11 non- truther, someone who believed that the World Trade Center was demolished from within, rather than attacked by al Qaeda. He refers to conspiracy theories surrounding the John F. Kennedy assassination.

And a lot of this stuff is the kind of things you see when you troll around the Internet at some of these wing nut sites, the theories that get pumped up there. And for some unhinged folks, they can take them too far and that is what we have seen certainly today and also in the case of the IRS plane.

BLITZER: What else jumps out at you as you assessed yesterday's incident?

AVLON: Just the commonalities. There is a drumbeat along these fright-wing sites about government control, the rise of martial law. Really, they're sort of pumping up an apocalyptic urgency, that sort of some folks can take them too far.

The 9/11 truth movement is part of that. Certainly, this gentleman in some of the writings we have seen seems to be virulently anti-Bush and Cheney, more so than any comments specifically about President Obama that have emerged yet.

But it is part of a larger trend we are seeing of some folks, especially in the last year to 18 months, taking some of these paranoid fantasies from online and translating them into violent action. And that is something that we should all be concerned and be aware of, connecting the dots.

BLITZER: So, you can't really pigeonhole it to be the far left or the far right, can you?

AVLON: That is exactly right. And that is why I call it the fright wing, not the left wing or the right wing. It's the fright wing. It is this murky ground of conspiracy theory that exists well beyond the far left and the far right.

But it is gaining traction in the minds of some folks and unfortunately in the minds of among some unstable.

BLITZER: But you did see that report that just came out by the Southern Law Poverty Center suggesting that in the first year of the Obama administration, there has been a rise in some of these extremist groups.

AVLON: There has been a huge rise. And that report is very indicative of what has been going on in this first year of the Obama administration in particular, a massive rise in the number of patriot groups and militia groups, which can classified as hatriot groups, really, these groups that are really trying to recruit from anti- government impulses.

And many of them do gain a lot of their adherents from people who believe that the government is out to get them. So, there has been a massive outgrowth in these kind of extremist groups. It's one of the things that happens.

Hate is a cheap and easy recruiting tool, but hate leads to violence, and that is sometimes what we see and that is certainly what we saw yesterday at the Pentagon.

BLITZER: But if there are mentally disturbed individuals out there, and they can get access to a weapon, for example, there is apparently not a whole lot that someone can do about that.

AVLON: Well, lone gunmen are a problem throughout history. And that is the real problem here. It is rarely the broad ideological movement. It's the one individual who breaks off. But as we saw in the 1990s, when there was another rise in the so-called patriot movement at that time with Timothy McVeigh, it is sometimes the lone individual who has really had this stuff seeped into his soul who can cause terrible, terrible damage.

Yesterday the two guards thankfully survived more with superficial wounds, but we are seeing this upgrowth in extremist groups. And when you connect the dots, it is something for all of us to be aware of.

BLITZER: John Avlon, thanks very much.

AVLON: Thank you.

BLITZER: Is the White House doing a 180 when it comes to terror trials? Why the Obama administration is now weighing a military hearing for the self-professed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

And a key U.S. ally furious over a vote in Congress about genocide. Turkey has already recalled its ambassador from Washington. What other fallout lies ahead? We are going to Istanbul.

And one of America's top military commanders makes very clear where he stands on don't ask, don't tell. General David Petraeus talks to CNN about his experience working with gays.


BLITZER: White House advisers are considering recommending that the alleged architect of the 9/11 attacks be tried by a U.S. military panel.

That word from a senior administration follows growing opposition to the earlier plan, which called for a civilian plan in New York City.


BLITZER: And joining us now, our CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend, former homeland security adviser to President Bush.

Fran, are you surprised that the White House and the Justice Department now seem to be opening the door for a military tribunal or commission to go after Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-confessed mastermind of 9/11?

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, I'm a little surprised, but I would say happily surprised.

Look, I think presidents go through -- all presidents go through about three stages. It is what you say on the political campaign. It's what you say when you sit behind the desk at the Oval Office and then it's what you say when you actually to solve a problem.

I think there has been tremendous political pressure. And President Obama had -- there is not anybody offering to hold this trial, civilian, trial in their neighborhood, in their backyard. There is tremendous pressure from Congress. And I think the political reality is, he out of choices for places to do this.

I think it is right thing to do. I think he can make the pivot, and I think we have got the leave the president to make the right decision now. And that will be to have a military commission.

BLITZER: I have heard one potential negative as far as a military commission is concerned, that there are no plea bargains, no -- he can't plead guilty if it is a death sentence in a military commission as opposed to a civilian court. Is that a serious problem in this kind of situation?

TOWNSEND: Well, look, one of the problems with military commissions that we have struggled with since the very beginning of the entire legal concept is you make up the rules, Wolf, and then there is litigation about it, what you can and can't do in this legal context.

I think that are going to try and work their way through that. I think they can, and the question will be, how do you have sufficient transparency, have sufficient due process, so that whatever the verdict is at the outcome of this military commission, it has credibility not only at home, but around the world?

BLITZER: And Fran speaks as a former employee, as a former lawyer over at the Justice Department during the Clinton administration.

Fran, you're in Istanbul, Turkey, right now. Let's switch to the very angry reaction in Turkey to this resolution that passed in the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week basically accusing the Turks of committing genocide against ethnic Armenians back in 1915.

I take it there are some protests in Istanbul outside the U.S. Embassy now. The Turkish government is recalling its ambassador from Washington for consultations. How angry are they there?

TOWNSEND: It is pretty interesting, Wolf. Clearly the Turkish government was fully prepared for the vote as it occurred, that there would be enough votes for a finding of genocide in the committee.

The prime minister's statement came out very quickly. The recall of the ambassador clearly had been prepared in advance. People are saying it was a strong reaction, but I think we have to understand that the strong reaction is very clearly calculated to send Washington the signal that they are not going to stand for this to go to a full vote on the House floor, nor to the Senate.

President Obama and the administration has said that they are against this resolution. They are going to have to do more than words. They're going to have to assure this very strategic and important NATO ally that they are not stand for this kind of a statement coming out of the U.S. Congress.

BLITZER: Why does this debate -- it happened more than 100 years ago -- incite such passion among the Turks right now?

TOWNSEND: Well, look, Wolf, to be fair, now, while the facts have long been in dispute and it is a very serious issue -- I don't wish in any way to demean it -- let's be honest. We have got a worldwide global economic meltdown. We have all sorts of issues, continuing unemployment in the United States. The president has got health care, and what does the Congress think is their highest priority to take up but actions and facts that took place as you point out nearly 100 years ago in which we had no direct involvement.

I mean, is this the best use of Congress' time? And, frankly, that is the Turkish reaction, not to mention they feel as NATO allies that it is just not appropriate for us to be taking this position and having this vote, especially now, when we need their support.

BLITZER: Fran Townsend in Istanbul for us.

Fran, we will see you back here in Washington. Safe trip.

TOWNSEND: Thanks, Wolf. Take care.


BLITZER: General David Petraeus, the commander of the U.S. military's Central Command has dropped some hints. Now he finally spells out how he feels about the Pentagon's rules regarding gays serving in the military. Listen to this.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: You said recently in an interview that you didn't mind serving alongside men and women who happen to be gay. Does that mean that you are -- you would be comfortable with the repeal of don't ask, don't tell?

GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: What I was trying to say is that I had served with some CIA officers actually who were known to be gay and one who is known to be lesbian.

And after the 10 seconds of awareness wore off, the focus was on the professional attributes of these individuals. And, so, given, again, standards of personal conduct, a focus on human behavior, a focus on proper implementation, you know, I think that -- that this is something that -- that can be worked through, frankly.


BLITZER: You can watch the full interview with General Petraeus and the former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. They will discuss what is happening in Iraq as that country holds a national election. It is all on "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS." It airs this Sunday, 10:00 a.m. Eastern, 10:00 a.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

In January, it was Haiti. Last week, it was Chile. Today, another strong earthquake hits. We check the aftermath. And the iPad was supposed to go on sale this month, but was delayed. Now Apple has set the date. Get your pencils ready and stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: I want to give our viewers a note.

As we were going to a commercial break yesterday around this time, we had a graphic that said "Department of Jihad," followed by a question mark. Many of you tweeted me that you found that graphic to be offensive.

I agree. It was. The graphic referenced a video produced by Liz Cheney's organization Keep America Safe. Their video features those words on screen questioning the loyalty of Justice Department attorneys who had previously worked on behalf of Guantanamo detainees. CNN had no intention of suggesting that the Justice Department supports terrorism.

Lawyers at the Justice Department are patriotic Americans. And we certainly regret any confusion that may have been caused by our graphic.

Iraq's eyes in the sky. An air force being rebuilt from the ground up keeps watch for insurgents and other threats during the upcoming elections.

Plus, the Catholic Church faces another sex scandal, this time right in the heart of the Vatican. We are going to Rome.

And a wild rumor about the chief justice of the United States and how it spread like wildfire. We tracked down how that false report got started.


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

Happening now: It spread like wildfire, a false rumor that Supreme Court Justice -- Chief Justice John Roberts was stepping down. We found the source of that rumor and the lesson to be learned from it. Stand by.

Part two of my fascinating revealing interview with the former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney. Does he think Sarah Palin has what it takes to become president of the United States? Maybe you will be surprised by his answer.

And President Obama has predicted future deficits in the trillions. Now the Congressional Budget Office punches the numbers and produces an even more staggering bottom line.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. This weekend's Iraqi election is a key test of Iraq's ability to stand on its own. As insurgents step up their campaign of violence and the U.S. draws down its troop presence, Iraqi forces will have to take more security responsibilities.

Iraq has been rebuilding its air force. Keeping an eye out for insurgents is one of the key missions.

CNN's Arwa Damon has that from Baghdad.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Five of these tiny agile planes are now among Iraq's biggest assets when it comes to aerial surveillance. The King Air 350s have just joined the nation's fledging aircraft fleet. Cameras mounted on the side have the ability to beam back live images to base from nearly 200 kilometers away.

In the plane, Lieutenant Hassanain el-Mozon (ph) is practicing control of the camera.

LT. HASSANAIN, IRAQI AIR FORCE (through translator): Now, for example, we follow this traffic jam, try to find, what is the reason behind it? Is it natural, like checkpoints? Are the checkpoints doing their job?

DAMON: Today, he is watching cars as part of his training, but, on March 7, he will be doing it for real, watching out for trouble during the country's elections.

Iraq began to rebuild its air force in 2006, now made around of 100 aircraft, flying reconnaissance and logistics missions. Feeding real-time pictures from above will be a first for the Iraqis.

MAJ. SEAN DARRAGH, U.S. AIR FORCE: The Iraqi government, the Iraqi air force is able to conduct their own surveillance, watch the checkpoints, watch for critical areas that need protecting. And that way, the Iraqi air force and the Iraqi government can provide their security on their own.

DAMON: And for Lieutenant Hassanain and his fellow Iraqi airmen, that includes monitoring Iraqi's porous and vast borders, watching for insurgents and keeping an eye on the country's vital oil pipelines.

DAMON (on camera): This is just another step in the U.S.'s hand off of responsibilities to the Iraqis. Both the success of these elections and the performance of the Iraqi forces will determine whether the U.S. can meet its deadline to have all of the troops out of Iraq by the end of next year. Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.


BLITZER: Will an upsurge of violence in Iraq may force the U.S. though to rethink its exit strategy. Joining us now Qubad Talabani he is the representative of the Kurdistan regional government. And he is the son of Iraq's president Jalil Talibani. Qubad, thanks very much for coming in.

QUBAD TALABANI, REP., KURDISTAN REGIONAL GOVT.: Thanks, it's a pleasure to be back home.

BLITZER: Right now there is about 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, 50,000 are combat troops they are suppose to be out by the end of August, and the remaining 50,000 are suppose to be out by the end of 2011. Is that realistic?

TALABANI: It is realistic as long as the political process keeps going on track, and the Iraqis and the Iraqi different factions address the outstanding political issues that are facing the country today.

BLITZER: Well because those differences are enormous, because that conditions on the withdrawal timetable suggest it may not happen.

TALABANI: Well, it is significant, because right now, we are about to take part in the elections. Iraq is out of the country voted today, so that the next government that forms in Iraq, and the next parliament that is voted into office has a tough task of making sure that we deal with the outstanding issues, ensure that we abide by constitution of the country and really put Iraq on a path to stability. That and only then can U.S. Forces really seriously consider withdrawing on time.

BLITZER: How confident are you that the elections on Sunday will be really democratic and everyone will participate, all of the various groups?

TALABANI: Well, unlike in 2005, we are expecting a much broader participation in the elections. We are excited about these elections. I have proudly voted today and my finger is stained.

BLITZER: You absentee ballots.

TALABANI: Absentee ballot, yes.

BLITZER: Because the purple ink -

TALABANI: Yes, I have the purple ink. And I think, you know elections raise emotions. It is a proud day for everyone who took part in them, but we are obviously expecting the tensions to continue. We are hopeful they will be free and fair and transparent and hopefully a good government can form that can really seriously tackle the issues.

BLITZER: I read in one of the major newspapers this week that there is deep concern now that Iraqi Shiite insurgents are actually cooperating with Iraqi Sunni insurgents and they are working together because they hate the United States. You have seen the reports.

TALABANI: There are all kinds of reports, and I think that the situation being the way it is in Iraq there are many groups across the political spectrum, across the religious spectrum that will undoubtedly trying to find ways to work together to bring down the system, but the important thing is that they are in the minority. The majority of the political forces of the people who command control over the society over the different constituencies want to live in peace, want to live together, want to create a federal system where we can all live in a high degree of harmony to try to build the country back up.

BLITZER: So the fear of a real civil war, has that gone away?

TALABANI: The fear, I think it has gone away. There is political tension, and there are differences of opinions between the various different groups, but the fear that the people will actually take up arms against other citizens is a long, long way off.

BLITZER: And as a curd, do you feel that your people will be fully represented? Will have equal rights with the Iraqi Sunnis and the Iraqi Shiites?

TALABANI: We have to. We have been living in the country for too long without having the rights. Since "Operation Iraqi Freedom" we have tried to cement our rights within the constitution of Iraq. We are hopeful that we will have a good showing in these elections which will solidify our presence in Baghdad which will hopefully secure the rights of our people in Kurdistan.

BLITZER: Do you want Kurdistan as independent state or part of Iraq state?

TALABINI: Kurdistan will thrive as part of a federal region within Iraq, a Democratic and plural Iraq. But more importantly, an Iraq that abides by its constitution. That is our guarantor for our participation in today's Iraq.

BLITZER: Qubad Talabani, thanks for coming in.

TALABANI: Thanks Wolf.

BLITZER: Good luck with the elections on Sunday. We will be watching.

TALABANI: Thank you.

BLITZER: The catholic church is rocked by a sex scandal. Under investigation at the Vatican what wired taps uncovered. Stand by for that.

And the rumor flew at the speed of lightning being only to be revealed as totally false. Who started that story that the Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was stepping down and why? It turns out it all started in a law school classroom, we will explain right here in "The Situation Room."


BLITZER: It was a wild rumor about the Chief Justice of the United States, and it spread like wildfire. Our Brian Todd has been tracking down how that false report got started and how it simply took off. All right Brian, walk us through it.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, indeed, it took off, indeed Wolf. It took minutes to spread around the Internet. The blogosphere and even onto one news network, the rumor about Chief Justice Roberts retiring was never true. And what makes it more extraordinary is how it got out and where it likely came from.


TODD (voice-over): It seemed to spread about as fast as you could text it and hit send. A rumor that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was quote "seriously considering retirement." It was first posted Thursday on the celebrity site radaronline, with details that Roberts would be leaving for personal reasons. It moved with warped speed through the social media, into newsrooms and even made it live on the air on FOX news channel.

UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: There are reports online that the nation's Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is considering stepping down. That would be a huge deal.

TODD: The FOX anchor quickly added their own LAH was saying the story was not true. And it wasn't. A spokes person from the court quickly steered CNN away from the story as well. At some point radaronline update to say Roberts would not be leaving.

How did this rumor get so far so fast? It apparently started here at the Georgetown University law center during a class in criminal justice taught by Professor Peter Teague. Two students present who wouldn't go on camera tells CNN that Teague opened up class by telling the 100-plus students that Roberts would be stepping down, but to just keep that information between them, but at least one student sent emails out, others may have sent out Tweets and other messages, and within minutes radaronline had posted it.

The website has not disclosed exactly where it got the information and didn't return our calls and email. The students say about a half after he told the class about Roberts, Teague told them he'd made it up. They say he did it to teach them that informants in the criminal justice system are not always reliable. Matt McGrath, Kim Allen, and Philip Sanguinetti took Teague's class last year they say he did the same thing with them.

KIM ALLEN, GEORGETOWN UNIV. LAW STUDENT: He starts the class and he tells everybody to close your laptops. He has something to tell us and then he says that there's - that we are all going to find out tomorrow that John Roberts is retiring.

TODD: Did you suspect anything?

MATT MCGRATH, GEORGETOWN UNIV. LAW STUDENT: It did seem strange, but on the other hand Professor Teague has sort of a courtroom voice, you know, he's got very serious manner, and I was inclined to believe what he said at first.

TODD: But these three say no one in their class sent the information out and quickly realized it is game playing.

PHILIP SANGUINETTI: It just seemed very unlikely that a law professor even if he had this knowledge would impart that knowledge to a whole - a massive bunch of students. 120-some-odd students in the classroom.

TODD: Howard Kurtz of CNN's reliable sources says all media are susceptible to this, and it is a cautionary tale.

HOWARD KURTZ, CNN'S RELIABLE SOURCES: Every media on the planet has got to be more careful about repeating and trumpeting and acting as a echo chamber.


TODD: Will the professor Teague use this method in the future? Well we repeatedly called him and looked for him at the law center we never reached him, that might have been because the law school started its spring break today, but maybe not. The law school would not comment on any of this, Wolf.

BLITZER: Those three Georgetown University law students you spoke do they think this was a useful, a good teaching tool?

TODD: They all three, say absolutely, they say that he really drove home the point that in the criminal justice system when you use an informant's information for probable cause, for a warrant, you have got to be careful about relying on just one person's word. They say they hope he keeps doing this in the future.

BLITZER: And I was told and you were told we were all just beginning as journalist -

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: If the story sounds too good to be true --

TODD: Just watch out.

BLITZER: Right it probably is not true. All right thanks very much, Brian, for that.

It is a heart-stopping moment caught on video. A man stumbles into the path of an oncoming train. We are going to show you what happened. That is coming up.

And many American men who may not turn heads in the United States make women swoon in Japan. How and why? That is coming up. Stay with us you are in "The Situation Room."


BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in "The Situation Room" right now. Lisa, what do you have?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there Wolf, well, Arizona officials say the company involved in the morning's fatal bus crash outside of Phoenix was operating illegally. Six people were killed when the bus owned by California Base Tier Santa Inc. crashed on interstate 10 about 30 miles south of Phoenix.

A state public safety spokesman says that the bus driver lost control and rear ended a pickup truck and then the bus rolled at least once and several people were ejected. The bus carrying 21 passengers began the trip in central Mexico. The transportation department says Tier sent its application to operate was denied last December.

The congressional budget office paints a long term fiscal picture with even more red ink than President Obama did last month.

The CBO predicts that over the coming decade the Administration's budget plans would generate deficits totaling $9.8 trillion, that is $1.2 trillion more than the administration predicted. The nonpartisan agency says that the expectations for future tax revenues are not as optimistic as Mr. Obama's.

And General Motors says it is in the process of contacting hundreds of dealers to see if they want their franchises back. Last year as they grappled with bankruptcy, GM notified 2,000 dealerships that they would lose their licenses this October. One thousand one hundred of them filed for arbitration last month, and GM says that its review of 661 applications convinced it to go ahead and reinstate them. Arbitration hearings for the rest will take place over the next three months.

And in Phoenix, Arizona, take a look at this heart-stopping moment at a light rail station. The surveillance video shows a man, you see him there, standing up as the train approaches. He staggers, there he goes, and falls on to the tracks, seconds before the train arrives. Two police assistants waiting for the train sprang into action, dragged the man from the tracks in the nick of time. The quick-thinking train operator pulled the brakes as well stopping short of the platform. Isn't that amazing. And look at how quickly those two guys came to his rescue, but pretty amazing stuff. That guy is lucky to be alive, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, he does. He can thank those two guys, thank god for them. All right thanks, Lisa, thanks to you.

The former house majority leader Tom Delay ran a relatively tight chip when Republicans were in charge. Here is a question, some Democrats are asking -- can they do the same? Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, the host of CNN'S "State Of The Union" put that question to the man who was known as "The Hammer." Listen to this.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): They have got a Democrat-controlled house, a Democrat-controlled Senate, a Democrat in the White House, and yet they are having some trouble getting health care through, what are they doing wrong? TOM DELAY, (R) FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: What they are doing wrong, is they are -- I think that what they are doing wrong is because of arrogance. They have huge majorities. We never had more than a 17-vote majority when we got down to a 5-vote majority at one time. Never did we have 60 votes in the senate. And you would think that you could pass anything and pass it quickly with those kinds of majorities. Why can't they? It is because they are going back in rooms and then telling the members, take it or leave it.


BLITZER: This weekend on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley, former White House leader Tom Delay discusses the health care process of the House bipartisanship in Washington, "The Future Of The GOP And More." "STATE OF THE UNION" airs Sunday morning, 9:00 A.M. Eastern only here on CNN.

Could Mitt Romney square off with Sarah Palin for the 2012 for the Republican presidential nomination? I will ask Romney about his own presidential ambitions, and whether he thinks Palin is qualified to become president of the United States.

Plus the Catholic Church faces another sex scandal, this time right in the heart of the Vatican. We are going to Rome, stay with us, you are on "The Situation Room"


BLITZER: The Catholic Church is facing yet another sex scandal this time at the Vatican. It involves a gay prostitution ring and two elite lay members of the Church. CNN's Morgan Neill is in Rome with details, Morgan.


MORGAN NEILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well according to transcripts of police wire taps that CNN has obtained a copy of, a member of the Vatican choir has allegedly been involved in finding male prostitutes for an honorary Vatican usher. That's a position known as a gentleman of his holiness.

Now the Vatican has confirmed that 39-year-old Thomas Akiem has been dismissed from the Vatican choir. That since reports emerged this week that he had been involved in finding male prostitutes for Angelo Balducci. Now Balducci is already in jail. He was arrested last month on corruption charges stemming from his time as a member of the board of the public works department.

Apparently, police in the course of that corruption investigation overheard conversation between these two men, conversations in which Akiem was describing specific physical attributes of some of these men. For example, we see in the transcripts, he talked about two men from Cuba who he said were tall, black and beautiful. He described a male model, a dancer for state television, and in one instance, a man who was studying for the priesthood. Now, reactions here to this scandal have been varied. Some are just shocked and others are too jaded to be surprised anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): It has an impact on the Church ask an impact on all Catholics, because I as a Catholic feel ashamed and it pushes me away from the Catholic Church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): My gosh. Nothing surprises me anymore the way things are today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): I wasn't expecting something like this. I was mortified.


NEILL: Lawyers for Mr. Balducci, who is married, says he is innocent of all the corruption charges. As far as the sex scandal goes, they simply say it is shameless that the press published these details that has nothing to do with the corruption charges he's facing, Wolf.

BLITZER: Morgan Neill what a bizarre story in Rome that is right now.

He was held as a brilliant political advisor and the recent Bush White House. And he was often at the center of political controversy. We're talking about Karl Rove. He says his new book now will set the record straight. He reveals what he considers his biggest mistake and the moment that made him weep.

And for the American men who think it's hard to meet women, here's a secret. There's a place where you just might be considered exotic and irresistible. Stay with us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: It's a bird, it's a plane, it's charisma man. The popular new comic book hero is making his way around in Japan. His super power is certain to be unremarkable in this part of the world, but in Tokyo, it's a different story. Here is CNN's Kyung Lah


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the sun sets over Tokyo and the neon lights up, a hero springs to life. The foreigner on the prowl. He is everywhere in Tokyo's clubs and captured in the comic charisma man. In Japan comics just aren't for kids but read by adults. And often makes social commentary. In Charisma Man, the comic documents the dating adventures of a western man in Japan. Back in his native land of Canada, he's just another average guy. But in Japan, his blond hair, blue eyes and English are his superpowers. Blinding women who would normally never give him a second look.

NEIL GARSCADDEN, DEDIOR, "CHARISMA MAN": He's a dreamy guy and anyone in the West would be like, this guy doesn't have a girlfriend but in Japan for some reason he's got, you know, an array of girlfriends. You're talking in Japan. LAH: Neil Garscadden is part of creative team publishing the latest edition of the "Charisma Man" book, capturing an odd social phenomenon and mocking the benefits of being a visit or in a strange land. Strange, indeed, says American Blake Kelly from Alabama.

BLAKE KELLY, AMERICAN IN JAPAN: It's definitely an advantage because I stand out more, so definitely people are looking at me a lot more here.

LAH: And that definitely means the ladies. But if you ask them, can't quite nail down why.

I can't explain it, says Mickey Takahishi. Said I just feel happy watching the foreigners. Maybe it is the novelty says her friend.

Americans are rare in Japan she says that's why they look good even if they don't. The European bartender who sees this every night can't explain it.

IULIAN VITA, BARTENDER: This is unbelievable. I'm European, but this is unbelievable for me. Because in our country, for example, we would never have these things.

LAH (on camera): But if every superhero has to have his kryptonite, charisma man has his. The American and European woman sees him the way he really is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see that a lot. I always think why? Why? What happened?

LAH (voice-over): "Charisma Man" the comic is less social critic and more social commentary. Following the western geeks' eastern exploits. Garscadden says he sees "Charisma Man" here, but it's a story repeated around the globe.

GARSCADDEN: "Charisma Man" thing doesn't have to be in Asia, it could be like the French up in America or an American guy showing up in England, for some reason sometimes that happens.

LAH: But it's happening here in Japan much to the chagrin of single Japanese guy Ryo Mitsumori.

It's like I'm the one who is playing at the away game when they are on my home turf, he says. Too bad says "Charisma Man" when he comes up to bat, he hits it out of the park and definitely out of his league.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.


BLITZER: Happening now the Obama Administration rethinks its plan to try the alleged 9/11 mastermind. Will he face a military court instead of a jury in New York City this hour, the political pressure on the White House to reverse course.