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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham; U.S.- Israel Relationship in Crisis?
Aired March 16, 2010 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: Osama bin Laden will never appear in a United States courtroom because he won't be captured alive, those startling comments today from the United States attorney general. I will get reaction from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. He's standing by live.
Rock vs. rubber bullets in East Jerusalem. As tensions rise between Palestinians and Israelis, are U.S./Israeli ties also in crisis mode? We're going to hear the latest from the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.
And a messy scandal sent him into seclusion and rehab. Now Tiger Woods announces his return to golf for the biggest tournament of all.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Even as the top U.S. military commander predicts the war in Afghanistan is about to get tougher, a major change in U.S. detention policy there may ease one burden for American troops. They used to have 96 hours, or four days, to detain suspects, or they would have to release them. Now, troops will be able to hold suspects for 14 days and sometimes even longer, a dramatic change in U.S. policy.
And this comes just one month after a CNN investigation exposed flaws with that 96-hour rule.
Let's go live to our special investigations correspondent, Abbie Boudreau. She broke this story for us about a month ago.
This is a major change, Abbie. Tell our viewers what's going on.
ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: Wolf, you're right. It is a major change that's going to relieve a lot of frustration for troops on the ground in Afghanistan.
We spoke to many soldiers who say the old policy put them at risk, because they only had four days to question detainees before either turning them over to Afghans or releasing them. Now they will get two weeks.
General David Petraeus announced the change today at a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. In January, we asked General Petraeus about the policy and why so many soldiers were saying it was not working. He told us it was a personal concern of his, and this is what he told Senator Lindsey Graham today at the committee hearing
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: The secretary of defense has approved, in a sense, a U.S. caveat, if you will, that goes along with our transitioning of authority of U.S. forces to NATO control, and it includes up to 14 days for interrogation, for analysis. And then, in some cases, for those who need longer detention, that is also available as well.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I want to thank you for leading that charge, because I think our war fighters will appreciate that, particularly the Marines down south. And has that been well-received by the force?
PETRAEUS: It has, sir. And, again, as you know, if you want to live your values, you have to set conditions in which our troopers can do just that.
GRAHAM: Well, thank you. Thank you, yes. I'm glad you have been given some relief, because the old rule just didn't make a whole lot of sense, and I think the new way forward does make sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Let's go back to Abbie.
Abbie, have you heard from any troops? Because you did a major investigation on this, and a lot of them weren't happy with that four- day rule.
Wolf, earlier today, I reached out to Roger Hill. Now, he's the former Army captain who was part of our original story on the 96-hour rule. Now, in his case, he had 12 suspected Taliban spies on his base that he was detaining, and, of course, he did not want to release them, but he was running out of time to hold on to them.
So, at the 80th hour, he came up with a plan to scare some of the suspects into confessing, which ultimately got him kicked out of the Army. Now, today, I called him to get his reaction about the new rule, and he said that, even though he was -- he should be excited, and he does think it's good for the troops, he said the timing of it all makes him upset. It makes him feel bad, actually.
I mean, he said that, if he would have had 14 days, he would never have found himself in this situation. And, Wolf, he does plan to appeal his general discharge from the Army -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And so we will follow up to see what happens on that front, as far as his case is concerned, because you had a very compelling story involving that soldier just about a month or so ago. Abbie Boudreau, thanks very much for that report. Good reporting.
By the way, Senator Graham is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I will speak with him live. I will ask him more about the rules governing suspects in Afghanistan. We will also talk about the startling comments by the attorney general, Eric Holder, who says bin Laden won't be captured alive. I will also ask him what is going on in U.S./Israeli relations.
Our interview with Senator Lindsey Graham, that's coming up. Stand by.
Meanwhile, in East Jerusalem today, hundreds of Palestinians threw rocks at Israeli police, who answered with tear gas and rubber bullets. The protests were aimed at the reopening of a synagogue blown up by Arab forces in the 1948 war.
But tensions have been flaring since Israel last week announced plans for a new housing development in this disputed part of Jerusalem. That move during the visit of the vice president, Joe Biden, also put Israel and the U.S. at odds.
Let's go to our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, who's working the story for us.
Jill, the Israeli ambassador, Michael Oren, has conceded that this is a crisis in U.S./Israeli relations, and the secretary of state told you on Friday that what the Israelis did insulted the United States. What's happening today?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, now she's downplaying that, Wolf. And, actually, it's quite striking, because that was pretty strong, undiplomatic rhetoric last Friday. And today here at the State Department she was trying to downplay that and smooth it over.
So, here's how she did it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Oh, I don't buy that. I have been around, not that long, but a long time. We have a -- an absolute commitment to Israel's security. We have a close, unshakable bond between the United States and Israel and between the American and Israeli people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOUGHERTY: Yes, so that's what the secretary was saying. But here at the briefing at the State Department, there was another thing going on, and that was the confirmation that that trip by the special envoy, George Mitchell, to the Mideast is off, at least for now.
He was going to be facilitating indirect talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and there was an amazing to-and-fro here at the briefing with P.J. Crowley, in which he kept insisting that this is just a scheduling problem -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Is there something brewing underneath the surface in all your reporting, Jill? Are you sensing something that we don't know about is going on?
DOUGHERTY: Well, I think what you're seeing is that this one incident is turning out to have implications that go far beyond that. And you heard it very strongly today from Senator John McCain, saying that the political resolve of the United States is under question.
Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'm concerned that we're heading toward a situation in the broader Middle East where our friends don't trust us and our enemies don't fear us because both doubt our staying power, our determination, and our resolve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOUGHERTY: And also up on Capitol Hill, you had General David Petraeus, you know, who oversees military operations in the Mideast, and he seemed to be agreeing. He said, the Mideast conflict foments anti-American sentiment.
BLITZER: Jill, you know, that very tense phone conversation, 45 minutes on Friday between Secretary Clinton and the Israeli prime minister, Netanyahu, she apparently read a series of demands of what the Israeli government must do now in order to ease this crisis with the United States.
Are there any indications that Netanyahu is backing down and accepting these demands?
DOUGHERTY: Well, that -- Netanyahu said that the settlements will go forward, at least these settlements. He apologized for the timing of the announcement.
But the real question, Wolf -- and that's the next chapter here -- is Benjamin Netanyahu is supposed to return the call, or at least get back to Secretary Clinton, with the answer to some those demands. She wants steps that show that Israel is committed to the peace process.
They also are saying that they want signs from the Palestinians. But it's really a message to Israel. So, we are awaiting that. And it could come very soon.
BLITZER: We will see what happens. We invited, by the way, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, to join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM tonight, and he declined our invitation, but maybe he will come later in the week. We have got some good questions we would love to ask him.
Jill Dougherty doing some good work for us, as usual, at the State Department.
Thank you, Jill.
Will Osama bin Laden ever appear in a U.S. courtroom? No, according to the attorney general, Eric Holder. He suggests bin Laden will never be taken alive. I will ask Republican Senator Lindsey Graham what he thinks about that. He's standing by live.
And Tiger Woods announces a return to golf, and it's not just any tournament, but the most prestigious event of them all.
BLITZER: Let's get right to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the Catholic Church is immersed in yet another child sex abuse scandal, this time in Europe, and it's big.
Allegations of sex abuse by Catholic priests are spreading across the continent, from Pope Benedict XVI's native Germany, to Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and the Netherlands. And this time, the claims may hit a little too close to home for the pope.
The Archdiocese of Munich has revealed that it allowed an abusive priest to keep working there in the early 1980s at the time when Benedict was the archbishop there. The Vatican was quick to respond, with the number-two official at the time claiming full responsibility, which is fine, except that Benedict was the archbishop.
What did Truman say? The buck stops where? The scandal keeps growing. In Germany alone, there are new claims nearly every day. Hundreds of alleged victims have come forward claiming either sexual abuse or physical violence at the hands of priests. In Ireland, the floodgates have opened, 15,000 complaints in a country that has just four million people. Three government-ordered reports have shocked and disgusted that nation.
As more and more victims come forward with their stories, some are wondering now if it's not just a matter of time before some European dioceses will be forced to declare bankruptcy, much like some did here in the United States. Experts say the pope is not likely to resign. Of course not. That would be tantamount to an admission of guilt, wouldn't it?
But the scandal could do enormous damage to his papacy, his moral credibility, and his reputation, if it hasn't already.
Here's the question: How should the Catholic Church address the child abuse claims that are sweeping across Europe? Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. Post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jack, thank you. Here's a question. Will U.S. authorities ever have to decide whether to read Osama bin Laden his rights? Some startling comments about that today from the United States attorney general, Eric Holder.
Let's talk about that and more with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a key member of the Armed Services Committee.
Senator Graham, good to have you here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
GRAHAM: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Listen to this exchange that Eric Holder had today on the House side with Congressman John Culberson, Republican of Texas
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN CULBERSON (R), TEXAS: Granting Osama bin Laden the right to appear in a U.S. courtroom, you are clothing Osama bin Laden with the protections of the U.S. Constitution. That's unavoidable, and something that you've skipped right past.
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Let's deal with reality...
CULBERSON: And it's giving constitutional rights to enemy soldiers that is the profound problem, sir.
HOLDER: Let me -- you're talking about a hypothetical that will never occur. The reality is that we will be reading Miranda rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden. He will never appear in an American courtroom.
CULBERSON: But it is...
HOLDER: That's a reality. That's a reality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, strong words from Eric Holder. Were you surprised, Senator Graham, to hear those?
GRAHAM: Well, not really. He's probably right.
I never thought we would catch Saddam Hussein, but we did. What I'm trying to do is create a system that deals with the hard cases. And the idea of reading an enemy combatant their Miranda warnings, the Christmas Day bomber proved to us that's not the best way to go.
Collect and gather intelligence, then worry about prosecution. Treat the captured prisoners as an enemy prisoner, not a common criminal. And the point about bin Laden just highlights the dilemma. I think most Americans would object if he were read his rights. And Eric Holder is probably right. We will never capture him alive. But we are going to capture other people, and I want a system that make sense, that lives within our values, but understands they are not common criminals.
BLITZER: General David Petraeus today testified before your committee in the Senate, and he said that so-called 96-hour rule...
BLITZER: ... has now all of a sudden become 14 days. It's gone from four days to 14 days, maybe even longer.
GRAHAM: Yes. Right.
BLITZER: That's how long U.S. military personnel can detain suspected insurgents or terrorists without letting them go. I know you worked hard to get that change, and you were pleased.
GRAHAM: Oh, man. And let me tell you -- I don't want to, you know, violate etiquette here and give you a compliment, but the CNN reporting on the 96-hour rule was the best in the business.
And this is a good day for service members and their families and the Afghan people. The 96-hour rule was a disaster. It became a catch-and-release program. It wasn't enough time to gather evidence and determine if the insurgent was truly dangerous.
This two-week period is a lot better for the troops on the ground. It protects the Afghan people better. And it can be longer, if necessary. So, this is a welcome change. And CNN's reporting, I think, did a really good job exposing how bad the 96-hour rule was.
BLITZER: yes, Abbie Boudreau did an outstanding job with that CNN investigation.
GRAHAM: She surely did.
BLITZER: That one soldier, though, that she highlighted who got a general discharge because he only had four days, 96 hours, and he had to take some decisive action to try to protect his troops...
BLITZER: ... what should happen? Should they reopen that case now?
GRAHAM: I hope so. But the rules are the rules. You may not like them, but, in the military, you have to follow them. But I would like to look at that case anew and see if -- we may want to take a second look at that.
Here's the good news. Because of what was said and reported about the 96-hour rule, it has been changed. And I want to congratulate General Petraeus of getting a caveat, so our American forces don't live under this rule. But, yes, that would be a good case to look into, and I will suggest we do that. BLITZER: Briefly, Senator, what do you make of this tension or crisis even between the Obama administration and the Israeli government of Prime Minister Netanyahu?
GRAHAM: It plays into the hands of those who don't want peace. It empowers those not to come to the table. It gives a reason not to come to the table to people who are really on the -- on the fence. And those who want to destroy the peace process, it gives them a talking point they didn't have. I think, overall, it's been a mistake.
BLITZER: So, what should -- what should the president do?
GRAHAM: Make sure that we understand it's more than settlements that have to be resolved and put pressure on the Palestinians and other parties to be more responsive, and not just pick on Israel and the settlements -- it's a much bigger problem than that -- and reset the debate.
BLITZER: Senator Graham, thanks for coming in.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
BLITZER: Tiger Woods announces a comeback, and he picks the most prestigious tournament of them all. We're going to tell you who stands to gain and what is going on.
Plus, thousands and thousands of pink slips -- why America's second largest school district is being forced to make some very tough choices.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: The war in Afghanistan will get harder before it gets easier, that warning today from General David Petraeus, the head of the U.S. military's Central Command.
As the war grinds on, what kind of life lies ahead for the people of the region, especially the women?
Let's bring in our national security contributor, Fran Townsend. She was homeland security adviser to President Bush, worked earlier in the Justice Department during the Clinton administration.
Fran, you just attended a conference dealing with the women of Afghanistan and Pakistan. What did you learn?
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: You know, it was fascinating, Wolf, because Secretary Clinton attended, as did Valerie Jarrett from the White House. It was sponsored, Tina Brown, a former editor of "Vanity Fair" magazine, Diane von Furstenberg. This was a real A-list of powerful, successful women in the United States who came together to discuss, how do we support women in Afghanistan? The fascinating thing was, Secretary Clinton made the point, empowering women in Afghanistan is not only part of the solution over the long term to the situation in Afghanistan, but it's actually a national security issue. These are not separate issues. And there were impassioned pleas by women from Afghanistan who are helping other women, who are helping children, and who are fighting for the legal rights of women in Afghanistan, who said, look, you have got -- America's got to get away from the way they were initially, that is projects that that sort of empowered women, projects that were financed to support women's issues.
They have got to incorporate women now. Women need to be at the national security table talking about national security issues that affect them. And one woman who has Voices of Women in Afghanistan, an organization that fights for legal rights, said, you know, when you're talking about issues like the reconciliation with Taliban, we want a seat at that table, because we're going to be affected by the outcome of that policy decision.
BLITZER: Because we all remember what the lives of women -- what they endured during the rule of the Taliban before 9/11, before the U.S. went in. And we remember that documentary "Under the Veil."
TOWNSEND: That's right.
BLITZER: It was a brutal, brutal life. It's improved, but there's still a long way to go, and it's very different than the women -- the condition of women in Pakistan. Remember, Benazir Bhutto was a former prime minister of Pakistan.
TOWNSEND: Although, interesting, Wolf, I moderated a panel, and her -- Benazir Bhutto's niece was on that panel. And she said, you know, while there are laws on the books, and even President Musharraf eased some of the restrictive laws about women's rights...
BLITZER: In Pakistan.
TOWNSEND: ... in Pakistan, they're not sufficiently implemented there either.
And she made sort of the -- this was a group of women talking collegially. She made the very bold statement that the United States has got to be careful not to support governments -- and she named Karzai and the government of Pakistan, Karzai in Afghanistan and the government of Pakistan, as being corrupt, and not serving the needs of their people. It was sort of a very bold statement to have made publicly, but she was very clear that we have got to -- we have got to hold those governments that we help accountable.
BLITZER: So, there's a huge agenda going on for the U.S., never easy.
BLITZER: Fran, thanks for coming in.
BLITZER: Two guns used in two separate shootings have one thing in common, police vaults in the Memphis area. We are going to follow the trail from there.
And California's budget crisis, it's taking a serious toll on the state's schools. We're looking at the challenges facing the Los Angeles district.
And getting the message across -- how opponents to health care reform are making sure Congress hears them.
Stand by. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: under attack. The Catholic Church is confronting an expanding sex scandal in Europe. One Vatican figure said he knows what's at work. We're going to hear what the chief exorcist has to say.
Taking terrorism to the next level. How close is al Qaeda to acquiring nuclear weapons? We will talk to the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, David Albright. He's out with a new book.
And battling over health care reform -- Tea Party activists make their voices heard on Capitol Hill.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
News is going from bad to worse for school employees in California. Districts initially sent out nearly 22,000 pink slips to teachers and school employees yesterday, but that number has now jumped to more than 23,000. Not all the cuts will be carried out, pending the final budget.
CNN's Ted Rowlands is following up with the Los Angeles School District to see how officials there are coping.
RAMON CORTINES, LOS ANGELES SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: Good morning.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seventy-seven- year-old Ramon Cortines starts another day as L.A.'s superintendent of schools. As you will see, he moves at a dizzying pace, trying to fix the nation's second largest school district.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They want you to come downstairs any time before 6:00 a.m.
ROWLANDS: News crews are outside. Today's headline, the federal government says some L.A. schools are so bad, they're likely violating students' civil rights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the federal government saying that we're letting these students down.
ROWLANDS: Next up as the sun rises, what to do with three elementary school teachers that came up with O.J. Simpson as a role model for Black History Month.
CORTINES: And I'd like to scatter them all over the district.
If you disagree with that, I need to know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't disagree at all.
ROWLANDS: Another problem -- there's a rumor that a teacher's aide has T.B. and parents at the school are worried.
CORTINES: It is not true. I want Dr. Uada (ph) to go to that school this morning. I want her to issue something in writing.
ROWLANDS: If there's a symbol of failure in the L.A. school district, it's probably Fremont High School. The plan is to make all teachers reapply for their jobs and bring in new ones.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last week, we only had about 45. Now we have over 120 of the faculty.
CORTINES: Hell, yes. I believe that education in our major cities in America make a statement about the quality of life in our cities, more than anything, more than public libraries...
ROWLANDS: (on camera): And what's the statement now in LA?
Isn't it pretty bleak?
CORTINES: I think it may be bleak, but I think people know that I'm trying to change it.
It's nice to meet you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's nice to meet you.
CORTINES: I came in the attendance office.
Who has responsibility here?
ROWLANDS: (voice-over): 9:15 a.m. -- Cortines makes two surprise school visits -- something he says he tries to do every day. At the second school, an unexpected challenge from a principal who says she's out of money.
CHRISTINE CASSIDY, PRINCIPAL, PARK WESTERN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: When you have less money and you're down to the -- the core to begin with, how you spend it -- you're still cutting valuable services for children. I don't care how you slice the pie.
CORTINES: I don't know how -- I don't know how to keep the district solvent. I -- And I think we need to live with some of my budget cuts. And I'll tell you why. Because it is going to be worse next year.
ROWLANDS: After another meeting and another press conference, it's on to the budget.
CORTINES: We may need to use the strategy we used last year. And remember, it got to the summer. And then it -- it got very soft and iffy and I wouldn't give.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We could reopen as long as all parties are agreeable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then I would say let's do that.
CORTINES: Yes, but you see, all parties aren't agreeable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. They'll just say no.
CORTINES: They'll say no. That you'll do what's right.
ROWLANDS: Cortines has been on the job for just over a year. He's let go thousands of employees, including about 50 percent of the administrative staff.
(on camera): How long can you do this?
CORTINES: Oh, Jesus. I don't know. I have a couple of more years. This is hard work. You guys were with me. This is -- this is a typical day.
Sorry. I apologize.
ROWLANDS: (voice-over): The day ends with the taping of a superintendent's public television show. Cortines is the host.
CORTINES: Thank you. And thank you both for joining me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: Last May, Californians voted down five of six budget propositions designed to reduce the state deficit. Among other things, the rejected propositions included increasing the state's reserve fund, redistributing money made from the lottery and increasing the personal income tax on people making more than a million dollars million a year. Many people point to the passage of Proposition 13 back in 1978 as a major reason for California's current budget issues. Prop 13 put a cap on property taxes and made it a requirement for state tax hikes to receive a two-thirds majority vote from both California legislative houses.
Putting the pressure on Congress -- opponents of health care reform are pulling out all the stops today to make sure lawmakers get the message.
Is there still time to make a difference?
And a police chase in Arizona ends with much more than traffic violations. You'll see what the police found on board.
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Deborah Feyerick is monitoring some of the other top stories from around the world -- Deb, what else is going on?
FEYERICK: Well, hi there, Wolf.
Another rocky night for people in Chile. A 6.7 magnitude aftershock struck late last night off shore from the city of Concepcion. The powerful tremor caused many people to take refuge in their doorways or in the streets in the middle of the night. Understandably, nerves there were still frayed following last month's deadly 8.8 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
Well, a police chase in West Phoenix ended with a surprise. When officers lifted up a sheet of plywood in the back of this pickup, as you see, they found nine undocumented immigrants underneath, three more in the truck's suspended cap and two up front. Authorities say the pickup arrived into the U.S. from Mexico this morning. All 14 people were taken into custody. Two, the truck's owner and driver, are charged with human smuggling.
And it looks like they cut it pretty close, but the cranes on this barge actually still had about 10 feet of clearance when they passed under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco today. The 253- foot cranes are on their way from Shanghai, China to the port of Oakland. They also had to pass under the Bay Bridge, which was reportedly an even tighter squeeze.
And cleaning your dog's coat just got as easy as cleaning your clothes, at least in Japan. No more wrestling with old Rex to get him into the tub, shampooed and dried. For the equivalent of $10, you can place your pooch into that automatic dog wash. And the owner vouches for its comfort and safety. He says he's climbed inside. But large Labradors and chubby Chow Chows will have to wait. Right now, the machine can only accommodate smaller breeds.
And, boy, what's everyone going to do with all that free time, not having to clean up after the dog's bath?
BLITZER: Do you have dogs?
FEYERICK: I used to have a dog, yes. And, boy, that was a lot of fun.
BLITZER: All right. But dogs are cute.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much for that.
We're tracing the connection between two guns used in two different shootings, how those guns got from police lockup in the Memphis area into the wrong hands.
And Tiger Woods announces his comeback to the professional golf world. It will be the granddaddy of them all -- the Masters.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: A messy scandal sent him into seclusion and rehab. Now Tiger Woods announces his return to the world of golf. And what a choice for a comeback. He'll play in The Masters tournament next month. That's golf's premier event.
Mary Snow is working this story for us -- Mary, the TV networks, they must be crazed right now thinking about the ratings.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And they're certainly welcoming back. Tiger Woods' comeback has many seeing dollar signs.
Wood made it -- Woods made it official today, announcing he'll play in The Masters in early April.
Now, this comes nearly four weeks after Woods made a public apology for what he called "irresponsible and selfish behavior that included affairs." Now, at the time, he said he'd return to golf, but didn't know when. In a statement today, Woods said: "I have undergone almost two months of inpatient therapy and I am continuing my treatment. Although I'm returning to competition, I still have a lot of work to do in my personal life."
With that announcement, "Fortune's" senior editor, Kurt Badenhausen, started tallying the winners who stand to gain big bucks from Tiger Woods' comeback.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURT BADENHAUSEN, SENIOR EDITOR, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Certainly, Nike. You know, they've built an entire golf division around him -- $650 million in sales. EA Sports -- they've got a new video game coming out this summer featuring Tiger Woods. Now they can move forward and advertise with him and it's not so uncomfortable. And certainly the PGA Tour. They're the biggest winners in this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: There are a lot of organizations, Mary, that are pretty excited about this.
SNOW: Yes. And as you heard, the PGA is on top of that list. Having Woods return should help the PGA get sponsors. It's been having difficulty lining them up. Besides, an obvious boost to ratings.
And speaking of ratings, ESPN and CBS are no doubt celebrating the return. The president of CBS News and Sports told "Sports Illustrated" that he expected Tiger Woods' first tournament to be the biggest media event in the past 10 to 15 years other than the Obama inauguration. And while Woods' popularity dropped after his personal troubles were exposed, Nielsen counted 6.5 million people tuning in to his public apology last month. And that was just on cable channels -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll watch together with you, Mary.
Meanwhile, two separate shootings, one at the Pentagon, the other at a Las Vegas courthouse. Two guns, but before falling into the wrong hands, they were both in the hands of police in Tennessee.
What's going on?
We asked Brian Todd to take a closer look at this story.
What did you find out -- Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, both the weapons were in the hands of, actually, the same department -- confiscated by the Memphis police in routine cases. But it's how those guns got out of the hands of police and found their way to the shooters that has the police now on the defensive.
TODD: (voice-over): A man with a history of mental illness shoots and injures two Pentagon police officers. A convicted felon kills a security officer and wounds a deputy at a Las Vegas courthouse.
CNN has learned that guns in both recent shootings had been kept in the vaults of law enforcement agencies in the Memphis, Tennessee area and traded by them to gun dealers.
Memphis' mayor promises an investigation.
MAYOR A.C. WHARTON, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE: I just don't want our city of having any role in getting a confiscated gun back on the streets. TODD: The story was first reported by the Associated Press. A law enforcement official helped CNN follow the trail of the .9 millimeter handgun used by alleged Pentagon shooter John Patrick Bedell.
It had been confiscated by Memphis police in 2005, traded by police to a Georgia gun distributor three years later, then to a gun dealer in Pennsylvania, then sold to a store in Las Vegas last year and later sold at a gun show. It's not clear how Bedell got it after that.
A similar story with the shotgun used in the Las Vegas shooting. Memphis police confiscated it in 1998, turned it over to the nearby Shelby County Sheriff's Office, which later traded it, along with thousands of other guns, to a dealer in Massachusetts for better weapons.
Experts say these cases highlight a divide among law enforce the agencies. Some destroy confiscated guns, but others sell or trade them -- a practice that former Philadelphia and Miami police chief, John Timoney, says has to end.
JOHN TIMONEY, ANDREWS INTERNATIONAL: I think it's unseemly that police departments would be in the business of selling guns that could -- that eventually could get into the hands of criminals.
TODD: Contacted by CNN, officials with the Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff's Office defended the practice. They say they only trade guns to licensed, reputable dealers and that these days, with many law enforcement agencies forced to cut their budgets, trades are an efficient way to upgrade their own weapons and save the taxpayers money.
We pressed the issue with gun advocate, Larry Pratt.
(on camera): Why is it not a problem for a law enforcement agency to trade a weapon away that eventually winds up in the hands of, you know, of a repeat offender and someone with a history of mental illness?
LARRY PRATT, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA: It's no different for a law enforcement agency to sell its guns than it is for a private dealer to sell its guns. They're both going to be going into the private market. And a gun ban or any kind of restriction that might otherwise be placed on these guns doesn't make any difference in crime. We know that.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: Still, a spokesman for the Shelby County Sheriff's Office says in recent years, his agencies adopted a policy of no longer trading confiscated guns to dealers. He says those weapons are destroyed, but they still do trade discarded service weapons to dealers -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. I take it in Tennessee -- and correct me if I'm wrong, Brian -- some other agencies are going to be doing more trading and selling of these guns -- these confiscated guns?
What do we know about this?
TODD: Probably all of them will, including the Shelby County sheriff, who we just mentioned. The governor of Tennessee just signed, this month, a new law. Now, before, these law enforcement agencies had the option of destroying guns. Under the new law, they can only destroy guns if they're unsafe or inoperable. They have to trade or sell all the rest of them. So. You're going to see a lot of confiscated guns, at least in Tennessee, being traded to gun dealers.
BLITZER: Brian Todd with the story for us.
Thank you, Brian.
They're bringing the Tea Party to Capitol Hill -- the many unusual ways of opponents of health care reform are letting Congress know how they feel.
And Jack Cafferty will be back with -- with your thoughts on how the Catholic Church should address the latest sex scandal in Europe.
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for The Cafferty File -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: The question this hour is, how should the Catholic hitch address the child abuse claims that are currently sweeping across Europe?
Kathleen in Oak Park, Illinois writes: "Addressing child abuse claims will be futile until the Catholic Church admits that celibacy is at the root of this terrible problem. I've given up hope that it ever will. And that's just one of the myriad reasons that I, a lifelong Catholic, have, after much soul-searching, finally left the fold."
Susan in Alabama writes: "As a Catholic and a parent, I'm completely befuddled as to why people would take complaints of sex abuse by priests to the church, instead of, one, filing criminal charges; or, even better, two, shooting the bastard. Personally, I recommend the latter. The fact that parents and victims come to the church for a cash payoff not only keeps the predators on the streets, but leads to many false claims that, years after the alleged encounter, can be neither proved nor disproved and adversely affect the credibility of real victims."
E. writes: "Maybe I just don't get it with the Catholic Church.
How does it ostracize some for decisions they make that really have nothing to do with the 10 Commandments and yet those who abuse children are shifted from one job to another within the church; suspended, but not fired; their actions dismissed or minimized in importance? Why is this hypocrisy accepted by Catholic Church members?"
Rich writes: "As a victim of clergy sexual abuse, I can assure you this is not a new story. These crimes have been occurring against kids for hundreds of years. It's only because of our advanced technology and communications that we can see that it's now become a worldwide epidemic. And it won't end until the church deals with it honestly and with transparency. The Catholic Church is equal to the Mafia in its practices of integrity."
And Clifford writes: "I think the Catholic Church should open all the windows and doors and let some sunlight and fresh air in, dump over the barrel and sort out all the bad apples once and for all. If not, they soon won't have any congregations to worry about."
If you want to read more on this subject, you'll find on it my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It's causing a huge stir in Europe right now, this whole...
BLITZER: -- this story.
CAFFERTY: In -- in Ireland, 15,000 complaints of sexual abuse in a country with a population of just four million people. And the story -- the scandal detailed in three separate government reports. I mean, that country, which is 99 percent Catholic, is -- is just in shock.
BLITZER: Yes. For good reason.
All right, Jack, thank you.
Jack Cafferty with The Cafferty File.
The pressure is building on the pope, as Catholics wait for some comment on that growing sex scandal involving priests. Jack just reported on it. One Vatican official offering some answers. We're going to have more on this story coming up.
And the strong emotions stirred by health care reform -- Jeanne Moos takes a Moost Unusual look at the Kill the Bill movement.
BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the Hot Shots coming in from our friends over at the Associated Press -- pictures likely to be in your newspapers tomorrow.
In Poland, Britain's Prince Charles visits a bison reserve during a three day visit to the country.
In Austria, Easter eggs hang from a snow-covered branch just five days before the official start of spring.
In Indonesia, a man watches the sun set from a beach on the coast of Bali.
And in India, check it out -- children watch as two turtles return to the sea after laying their eggs on the beach.
Hot Shots -- pictures worth a thousand words.
The crowd estimates may vary widely on today's Tea Party rally on Capitol, but one thing is clear -- the group's push to be heard on health care reform.
Jeanne Moos has a Moost Unusual look at the Kill the Bill follies.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): A bunch of homicidal protesters descended on Washington.
Their intended victim?
MOOS: Unless you are wondering which bill to kill, there's President Obama popping out of a health care coffin. You could read their minds by reading their signs.
"Angry? You betcha."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm American and I'm mad.
MOOS: "Russia called. They want their socialism back."
"Can't remember? Write it on your hand -- stop spending."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's so many wonderful signs. This one back here says, "Stop being a Democrat, start being an American."
MOOS: "Stop spending money we do not have on things we don't want." "Pelosi spits in America's face."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And these arrogant elitist pigs are going to shove it down our throat.
MOOS: "Commie pig," "you can put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig," "I don't want to play doctor with my uncle." Uncle Sam, we guess.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My favorite sign that I saw says, "Grandma isn't shovel ready."
MOOS: Some held their signs and wore them. "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money. At this Kill the Bill rally, the victims showed up. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've brought an abortion to show you today.
MOOS: Since there's talk of Democrats resorting to a maneuver in which the bill would be deemed rather than passed...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Join me in a new cheer. Let's deem it dead.
MOOS: Oh, what fun it is to chant about obscure Congressional strategies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say it with me. Say it with me.
UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Self-executing. Self-executing.
MOOS: The trick is to be made yourself heard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These folks apparently can't hear us up there. Sometimes we have to haul out an old hearing aid like we seniors used to use.
MOOS (on camera): Sometimes a megaphone malfunction can function as a metaphor.
(voice-over): For instance, when Texas Congressman Louis Gohmert tried to speak.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You sunk my battleship...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: you sunk my battleship.
MOOS: From that old game...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Battleship.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You sank my battleship.
MOOS: -- like they want to sink health care. But the Kill the Bill folks at the rally were tame compared to the ones on YouTube, who really killed the bill. It was symbolically bludgeoned, flushed, abused and burned -- even backed over. Warning -- smoking is hazardous to a health care bill's health.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: Happening now, a top administration official predicts Osama bin Laden will never be caught alive.