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THE SITUATION ROOM
New Details on Explosion of Deepwater Horizon; Young Boy Sole Survivor of Plane Crash
Aired May 12, 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: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, new video just released showing thousands of gallons of crude oil spewing into the gulf of Mexico from that blown- out well, as new details emerge about what happened in the hours leading up to the deadly rig explosion.
Also a disaster in the desert and an unbelievable story of survival. A passenger plane crash kills everyone on board, except for one young boy. We're going to the scene.
And a visit with a man who changed the fashion of television, our old boss, Ted Turner, always outspoken. We'll weigh in on climate change, President Obama, the future of journalism and a whole lot more.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
For the first time we can see the environmental catastrophe happening right now in the Gulf of Mexico. While talk and blame are flying back and forth on Capitol Hill, here in Washington, this new video is underscoring the severity of the crisis, and possibly providing some important new clues about what we're all up against.
Let's go straight to CNN's Brian Todd. He's here with more on this story. There are other developments happening right now as well, Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, some significant developments today. We'll going to get to some of the house hearings later. But, first, the video you just mentioned, dramatic new video from BP of the leak. CNN's been asking for this for weeks. BP just released it today. This shows the main leak, the one coming from the end of the riser pipe. This is where the so- called top hat will go. That's the smaller dome that's been lowered to the seafloor after the larger one failed. Now, the top hat is going to cover this and they'll going to attempt to funnel the oil through it to tankers at the surface, but we've also got new information on just what's coming out of the pipe.
A BP official told me today there's much more natural gas coming out of the hole than they originally thought. Now, in some of this video you can see how the gas -- how the material coming out kind of changes texture. There's some light material there. One BP official says that appears to be gas, and another BP official told me that could mean that less oil is accumulating on the surface than they thought before. They found out when they lowered that first containment dome last weekend. That dome did not work because crystals formed on it. The crystals formed on it in part because natural gas hit the dome and that alerted BP officials that there was a lot of natural gas leaking out.
And I'm going to show you some animation that shows some of this here. This is the dome, this is the natural gas that and the crystals that formed on the dome as a result of the natural gas. The bottom line, the presence of natural gas coming from that pipe means that a lot of what is leaking out possibly up to 50 percent of it, according to this BP official, isn't his words wandering off, not accumulating at the surface. There is -- you see the animation there. There is separately oil leaking to the surface, but separately, possibly up to 50 percent, natural gas coming to the surface, it's either breaking up before it gets to the surface or breaking up on the surface.
Now, this official says, they are not dialing back on their estimates of the liquid flow from the pipe. This is still a huge leak, he says, around 5,000 barrels a day of an oil and gas mix, but, Wolf, between the underwater dispersants that they're using and the discovery that a lot could of this could be natural gas, there could be a lot less oil on the surface than they originally thought.
BLITZER: There was also some new information during some of these congressional hearings today that emerged about the initial explosion.
TODD: That's right. Some key information that we got from the House Energy and Commerce Committee which held its own investigation. The committee learned from the manufacturer that the so-called fail- safe device, that blowout preventer that failed so miserably here, it had a hydraulic leak, likely before this disaster, that may have knocked it out of commission. And BP told the committee that the well in this case failed a key pressure test, just hours before the explosion. There was a discrepancy between two pressure readings that shouldn't have been there. One reading showed significant pressure in the well bore, that's the hole being drilled, while no pressure was observed in another line. The head of Transocean, the rig owner, was asked about that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And what significance does that have?
REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), ENERGY AND COMMERCE CHAIRMAN: The significance of the discrepancy between the two pressures would lead -- lead to a conclusion that there was something happening in the well bore that shouldn't be happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Committee Chairman, Henry Waxman, said according to what they have been told the committee, that could have been indicated that gas was seeping into the well causing that pressure which could have caused the explosion. The decision was still made after those tests to proceed with the drilling operation, Wolf, that was a key juncture in those hours before the explosion. They felt some pressure. They knew there might have been an issue with the well. They went ahead with the drilling.
BLITZER: Yesterday, the Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, said tomorrow, Thursday, could be a key day if that top hat...
TODD: That's right.
BLITZER: ...that containment actually works and stops some of this. What are you hearing about this?
TODD: Well, what we're hearing is that is a smaller dome, it's going to be capped on there like the larger dome, and what happened with the larger dome, the crystals that we just talked about. A BP official told me today, they have gotten permission from the EPA to inject methanol, it's a liquid alcohol in there, in there to prevent crystals from gathering, so they don't think that will be a problem. Hopefully that will funnel some of the oil from the surface where it can be taken out.
BLITZER: That will be a critical moment. Let's hope that works, because there aren't a whole other options, lots of options. He said, if it doesn't, this thing could go on until August.
TODD: That's right.
BLITZER: That was the month that he's deeply worried about, Brian, thank you.
Other important news we're following. An 8-year-old Dutch boy is the sole survivor of a plane crash that killed 104 people, many of them Europeans returning from a South African vacation. The Libyan airbus A330 was approaching the airport in Tripoli from Johannesburg when it plunged into the desert creating a massive debris field. The boy that survived suffered multiple broken bones and has undergone surgery.
Our National Security Contributor, Fran Townsend, is in the Libyan capital right now. You've been talking, Fran, with officials there. What have you learned, first of all, about this crash?
FRAN TOWNSEND, NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR (on phone): Well, we're getting more and more detail, Wolf, on what they're learning at the crash site. The plane came down inside the secure perimeter of the airport here in Tripoli, where I had landed just several hours after the crash. The nearest road, it's difficult to get access to the crash site, because the nearest public road is 400 meters from the crash site outside the secure perimeter. But the fact it was inside the secure perimeter explains why there were not casualties on the ground. They say, visibility shouldn't have been a problem. It was six kilometers at the time of the crash and they recovered the black box. They don't believe they need assistance in terms of the investigation, the crash investigation, in fact, I spoke to the chairman of Afriqiyah Airways, they believe they'll have preliminary results in the next 48 to 72 hours. When they say preliminary, they're talking about whether or not it's pilot error or technical error, although you get the sense, Wolf, in talking to other sources here on the ground that they're very much focusing on potentially pilot error. They will, after they do the preliminary investigation, send the black box and the technical details to Europe, where they have a technical -- they'll get technical assistance for a more complete analysis. The transport minister issued a statement saying, they're confident that this is not related to terrorism. And so the investigation seems to be moving pretty quickly.
BLITZER: Are they also confident that they -- because on some of the other news organizations they were suggesting, maybe there was an issue of some of that volcanic ash a lot further south than used to be the case in the northern part of Europe. Have you heard anything at all that the volcanic ash might have been a factor?
TOWNSEND: You know, I have not heard that, Wolf, although I will tell you, my plane was coming from London, from the United States to London, and London to Tripoli, and we were diverted coming into London. We had to take a longer route to avoid volcanic ash. And so as you know, there have been disruptions and rerouting of planes to avoid that volcanic ash, I've not heard that yet related to this crash.
BLITZER: Fran Townsend in Tripoli, Libya, for us. Thank God at least that little boy survived, but a horrible, horrible plane crash, a horrible tragedy.
There have been other airline disasters in which only one person survived. Last summer a 14-year-old girl lived through a crash of a Yemeni airliner in the Indian Ocean that killed all of the other 152 people on board. In August, 2006, the copilot of a Comair flight was the sole survivor of a crash on takeoff that killed 49 people near Lexington, Kentucky. And a 4-year-old girl survived a similar crash of a Northwest Airlines flight in Detroit in August, 1987.
Jack Cafferty's coming up next with the "Cafferty File."
Then, they tried to stick now the carrot. A major change in tone and attitude as the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, visits the White House.
Plus, Ted Turner, he's here in the situation room. The man who invented cable news is now turning his eye to energy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Ted Turner, invented cable news: I don't like knocking the mountains down in West Virginia to make coal. I like mountains, and besides, it's time to take good-bye to coal and to oil. I mean, they served us well for 200 years, but it's time to move on. It's, like -- like telephone booths. Aren't you glad you didn't invest in them? (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack for "The Cafferty File." Jack?
JACK CAFFERTY, "THE CAFFERTY FILE": Wolf, the pope is finally admitting that the Catholic Church itself is to blame for the worldwide child sex abuse scandal. That took long enough. Pope Benedict XVI calls the crisis truly terrifying. And suggests, quote, "The greatest persecution of the church doesn't come from enemies on the outside, but, rather, is borne from the sins within the church," unquote. Benedict also stresses that, quote, "forgiveness is not a substitute for justice," unquote. So far there hasn't been a lot of that, though. It's refreshing, nevertheless, to finally hear the pope talk about this growing crisis head-on.
For weeks and weeks as accusations continued to pile up, we've heard other Catholic officials blame anyone but the pedophile priests and officials who covered it all up. They blame the media. They blamed homosexuality. They described the whole affair as petty gossip. But thanks in part perhaps to the relentless reporting of the scope of the scandal worldwide by the news media, the pope is now talking. And he will likely be controlling the message from the Vatican from here on out.
Hopefully this is a sign that the pope, who's been criticized for not taking enough actions against allegations of abuse, understands how deeply this crisis has affected the Catholic Church, but so far it's important to note, it's all just talk. Victims' groups want more than talk, and rightfully so. No one in the Catholic Church responsible for sexually abusing young children has been actively punished or defrocked, and until that happens, the pope's words will ring hollow. Here's the question -- why has it taken the Catholic Church so long to acknowledge its role in the sexual abuse of children by its priests? Go to cnn.com/caffertyfile. Post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, thank you.
The primary season is getting under way, and there's already blood in the water. Utah republicans ousted three-term Republican Senator Bob Bennett in favor of two more conservative candidates. In West Virginia, 14-term -- 14-term -- Democratic Congressman, Allan Mollohan lost his primary bid yesterday, becoming the first House incumbent to lose his seat this year. The House minority leader, John Boehner says, it's a sign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MINORITY LEADER: Well, there's clear, there's a political rebellion going on in America. Senator Bennett found out on Saturday. Representative Mollohan, found out on Tuesday night. Its politicians beware, the American people are awake. They're more involved in their government than at any time in our history, and what irritates the American people most is the arrogance of Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's talk about the arrogance of Washington with our Senior Political...
GLORIA BORGER, SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: We wouldn't know anything about that.
BLITZER. What's going on here, Gloria? Because you've been doing some reporting.
BORGER: Yes, in the primaries, which is what we're talking about, it's establishment candidates, it's incumbents who are having some problems. And we've got a bunch coming up in the next week, and it is the incumbents and the establishment who are having some trouble. If you look at democrats, in Arkansas and Pennsylvania, you've got two sitting senators, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, both in trouble. And could lose their primaries to other democrats.
On the republican side, in Kentucky, there's a primary in which the anti-establishment candidate, Tea Party candidate, Rand Paul, the son of Ron Paul, former presidential candidate, could very well win the party's nomination. So, what you're seeing in these primaries at least is this anger, this anti-incumbent sentiment that creates an environment that's very, very good for an outsider, a challenger.
BLITZER: Is that still over in the general election in November?
BORGER: Well, you know, it's interesting. When you talk to strategists of both parties, they say, not necessarily, because what's going to happen is, it could turn into an anti-democratic wave. Because the election in November is going to be a referendum on Barack Obama. And this president has made it very easy for that referendum to come, because he is really handling national, big issues, like health care. He wants to do immigration. He wants to do climate change, the economy is, of course, the big unknown out there. And so these midterm elections become a referendum on the people in office. So, when you look towards November, it's the democrats who really have to be more worried than the republicans. But right now, in these primaries, you've got the establishment worried. But when we get to November, I think it's going to be the democrats.
BLITZER: And one wild card in all of this between now and November...
BLITZER: ...is the economy.
BLITZER: If there are signs that the economy is coming back, jobs are coming back.
BLITZER: That will help the democrats.
BORGER: Sure. It will help the democrats if you get unemployment in single digits and if you can prove to the American people, or they believe you, that things are actually going to go on the right track, and that things are going to get better, but, you know, the American people right now are very, very cynical about what their government can do for them. They see a lot of big government. They see big deficits, and so the betting is still against the democrats.
BLITZER: That's why that right track/wrong track...
BLITZER: ...question that pollsters love to ask, it will be very significant.
BLITZER: Gloria, thank you.
He founded CNN. So, what does he think of us now? My interview with Ted Turner, that's coming up. He'll explain why there was one word he refused to allow on our network. We'll talk about that.
And you'll going to find out what brought Former First Ladies Nancy Reagan and Laura Bush together.
BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester's monitoring some of the other top stories in the situation room right now. Lisa, what else is going on?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, Wolf.
It was a rare reunion between two former first ladies today. Nancy Reagan was on hand at her late husband's presidential library for a visit from Laura Bush. Mrs. Bush was signing copies of her new memoirs "Spoken from the Heart." And we have this note Laura Bush will be a guest right here in the situation room on Friday.
Showing restraint in combat that could soon earn U.S. invaded troops a major honor. Military commanders are considering awarding medals to troops in Afghanistan who refrain from using lethal force in order to prevent civilian casualties. U.S. military officials say, rewarding restraint though does not mean troops would no longer have the right to defend themselves.
And Tampa, Florida, will host the 2012 Republican National Convention. The Republican National Committee's site selection panel picked the city over two others, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. The entire RNC will ratify the decision this summer. The democratic committee, though, won't likely make a decision on its convention until the fall. And I know you will be at both of those conventions, Wolf.
BLITZER: We certainly will, we'll be at all the conventions. That's our job, and we love it. All right, Lisa, thank you.
The Obama administration is dramatically changing its attitude toward the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai. What caused the u.s. to roll out the welcome mat? And John King will be joining us with the answers.
And CNN Founder Ted Turner, he is here in the situation room today. He's never one to hold back. He'll speak out. My interview with Ted, coming up.
BLITZER: Television as we know it wouldn't exist today especially the expanding cable universe without the vision of one man. Thirty years ago, he took an idea that many thought was doomed to failure, and he launched the world's first cable news network.
And joining us now, the founder of CNN, the man who was in charge when I started here 20 years ago, Ted Turner. Ted, thanks very much. Not only for coming in today, but thanks for coming up with this vision of CNN.
TURNER: Well, thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's talk about some of the issues. First of all that you're so passionate about right now. And I know global warming, climate change, is really at the top of your agenda. Is anything going to happen seriously as far as you can tell in dealing with this issue?
TURNER: I sure hope so.
BLITZER: What are you doing?
TURNER: And there's a lot that's happening right now.
BLITZER: But what are you doing right now to make that happen?
TURNER: Well, what I'm doing right now is in partnership with the southern company, we're building the largest, what will be this fall, the largest solar installation in the United States, in New Mexico. We're going to power about 14,000 -- 14,000 homes. I want to point out, while I'm partners with the southern company, I'm the junior partner. I'm a ten percent partner.
BLITZER: So, you want to create what are called these green jobs.
TURNER: I do. And I wanted to not just talk about clean, renewable energy, but to be involved with it personally, too.
BLITZER: You think this legislation that Senator Kerry, Senator Lieberman want to get off the ground right now, that's going to become the law of the land?
TURNER: I'd like to see something close to it. I think it's better that we get a good bill this year than maybe -- it maybe won't be a perfect bill, but we can keep working to try and improve it if it turns out it needs to be.
BLITZER: But, you know, a lot of environmentalists want something this year, because they're afraid after the November elections, the democrats could lose a lot of seats and there might not be the appetite for what you want after November.
TURNER: Oh, I think -- I think that the kind of bill that I want, with Boone Pickens, I'm a subscriber to the Pickens' plan, I really believe this is a nonpartisan issue. I believe that the republicans really deep down, they want the jobs to be here in the United States, instead of in the Middle East, and they want us to have financial security, and they want to us create jobs here in America. This is -- this is a nonpartisan, no-brain -- no-brainer bill.
BLITZER: Have you had some second thoughts or third thoughts about offshore oil drilling in the aftermath of what's happened in the gulf?
TURNER: Yes, I have. Hasn't everybody?
BLITZER: Well, tell me where you stand on that right now. What should the president do?
TURNER: I don't -- I don't like knocking the mountains down in West Virginia to make coal. I like mountains. And, besides, it's time to say good-bye to coal and to oil. I mean, they served us well for 200 years, but it's time to move on. It's like telephone booths. Aren't you glad you didn't invest in them?
BLITZER: But if you want to be energy independent, there's going to have to be, I assume you think, some of these...
TURNER: Until we phase out coal and oil, but we can phase them out in the next ten years. I'm for phasing them out and cleaning up the atmosphere and creating the jobs and going ahead.
BLITZER: So, what you're saying between wind and solar?
TURNER: Wind, solar, geothermal, more work needs to be done on that.
BLITZER: The United States won't need oil or coal?
TURNER: Maybe some nuclear. I've got...
BLITZER: You're open to nuclear power?
TURNER: I'm open to some nuclear. I'd rather have that than a coal burning plant. You know, coal will kill you for sure, and nuclear might kill you.
BLITZER: What kind of grade do you give the Obama administration on this issue?
TURNER: b, you know, there's a lot going on. I would have liked to have seen the energy issue come up first, before -- before health care, myself. But the president, I think, he is doing a -- doing -- overall doing a very good job.
BLITZER: You're happy with what you've seen so far.
BLITZER: You're happy on the health care bill, you like the word say?
TURNER: I like it. I mean, I know a lot of people that didn't have health care insurance, and it's a -- it's a situation I wouldn't want to be in.
BLITZER: You're happy what he's doing on the economic front in terms of...
TURNER: You know, he inherited a mess, you know, it's -- but -- but I think he's doing a doing a pretty good job.
BLITZER: Bailing out some of the big banks, the motor companies?
TURNER: I didn't like that. Remember, that was already started under the Bush administration.
BLITZER: He sort of finished it.
BLITZER: Was it smart?
TURNER: I don't know. I'm not an economist, you know.
BLITZER: But you have a lot of money.
TURNER: Well, I don't have that much. I've given a lot of it away.
BLITZER: I know, you have but you still have.
TURNER: And I've lost a lot, too. So, I've got enough to where I'm not missing any meals.
BLITZER: Where are you keeping your money? In stocks? In T- bills? Land?
TURNER: Some very safe investments.
BLITZER: Pretty conservative?
TURNER: But I'm not in equities too much.
BLITZER: You want to give any advice to our viewers out there? TURNER: I'm not in the financial advice business.
BLITZER: Neither am I. Let's talk a little bit about the CNN situation. You are no longer involved in CNN.
BLITZER: But you created CNN 30 years ago.
TURNER: You know, I'm still involved. I watch it every day.
BLITZER: What do you think?
TURNER: You know, I'd like to see a little more international news, you notice I don't use the word foreign.
BLITZER: The reason you don't use foreign is because?
TURNER: Because people all over the world are watching it and it's not foreign anymore. It's local. You know, it emanates here on the planet.
BLITZER: Yes. I remember when I started working 20 years ago at CNN, they said don't talk about foreign policy. Don't talk about...
TURNER: International policy.
BLITZER: ...foreign news. You talk about international news. We didn't have a foreign affairs correspondent, we have an international affairs correspondent.
BLITZER: That's because of you.
BLITZER: You know, we're seeing 240 countries and territories around the world and you want to make sure that, what?
TURNER: Well, I wanted to make sure when I was -- when I was responsible that people didn't feel like they were far apart anymore, because they're not. It's all hooked up to one satellite system.
BLITZER: When you thought about CNN 30 years ago, you had this vision, people thought you were nuts.
BLITZER: -- at the time. And you look now 30 years later, what do you think of how CNN has evolved?
TURNER: Well, the fact that it's so widely available and so highly respected is good. Like I said the things that bother me is I didn't like them disbanding the environmental unit. I think the environment is one of the two or three biggest stories of our time. And I think you need a unit that's concentrating on it and really knows what's going on. It's -- I think the environmental coverage is good they do. But doing it mostly with regular -- regular reporters who don't have an environmental unit anymore.
BLITZER: That was one of your passions.
TURNER: I hate not to see the sports scores, you know, somewhere along the line. But CNN doesn't carry any sports at all.
BLITZER: We did it for a long time.
TURNER: I know.
BLITZER: But then we dropped it.
TURNER: I know. I understand we did it a long time.
TURNER: If I was here, we'd still be doing it. Because I still want to know the sports scores, too. You know, along with politics. Not that I don't think --
BLITZER: I think that the political coverage is good.
BLITZER: We're going to have a lot more of the interview with Ted Turner coming up.
Well, what does he think about a merger between CNN and perhaps another television news organization? More with Ted Turner, that's coming up.
BLITZER: More now of my interview with the CNN founder, Ted Turner.
BLITZER: Is it time for broadcast news organizations to be brought in to the CNN package -- some sort of merger with ABC or CBS?
TURNER: Well, I sure would hate to see -- in the past when we talked about it, the network always wanted -- the broadcast network wanted to have control, at least of their news, and I think it ought to be -- CNN ought to be controlling it.
BLITZER: Yes, I think -- I agree with you on that.
TURNER: Yes, right.
BLITZER: I think that's been the major sticking point. But at some point you wouldn't be surprised to see one of those other broadcast news organizations come into our fold.
BLITZER: You think it'd be good for both of us as long as we had control of the editorial front.
TURNER: I -- you know, I'm not privy to the financial law -- financials these days, so I don't know. But I don't see that it would be -- be too harmful.
BLITZER: What about the future of journalism per se? Because it's at a crossroads, I think it's fair to say.
TURNER: Well, we're seeing real cutbacks in print journalism for the most part with exceptions. And I hate to see that. I sure hope we don't -- that we don't fractionalize to the point to where nobody's doing a real good job of gathering the news, because if you don't have good content, good thoughtful, intelligent content going into the newscast, then you just end up with tabloid journalism and there's more of that than I'd like to see.
BLITZER: So when you see major newspapers in major cities, not only the United States, but around the world fold --
BLITZER: -- or on the verge of collapse --
TURNER: I'm sorry to see it.
BLITZER: It's a painful situation.
TURNER: Even though I predicted it 30 years ago when CNN started.
BLITZER: What did you say?
TURNER: I said it's the end of print. It's taken -- because it's such an inefficient way to deliver information.
BLITZER: So you're saying that CNN contributed to the demise of print?
TURNER: But it was mainly just that print was technologically obsolete.
BLITZER: Because a lot of people are saying --
TURNER: I mean I --
BLITZER: The Internet has contributed to the demise of print.
TURNER: Well, absolutely they have. They have. The Internet has. But the Internet doesn't really have anybody that's making enough money to support a real news organization.
We may end up with everybody just getting the AP story and that's it. And that's not good.
BLITZER: Or the news gathering that we have at CNN --
BLITZER: -- which is pretty good.
TURNER: That's right.
BLITZER: And we were expanding our news gathering organization.
TURNER: And I -- I hope that -- that continues. But, once again, what are we covering? Are we covering Lena Horne's death? Are we covering what's going on in Zimbabwe?
BLITZER: I remember when I started at CNN 20 years ago, you were so directly involved.
BLITZER: In everything involving CNN. You'd go into the newsroom in Atlanta and you'd have an idea and then everybody would implement it.
How much do you miss that?
TURNER: I miss it. It was a lot of fun. And I think we did a lot of good. I think we did a lot of good.
BLITZER: You did amazing. And you know, I also remember the financial stakes for you personally. You made an investment, and you rolled the dice --
BLITZER: -- basically and said I'm going to create this, and if I lose it, I lose it. And it turned out, you know, solidly in terms of the finances.
BLITZER: Yes. It was an amazing -- it was an amazing situation because that day -- what was it, 1997 -- when you announced you were giving the United Nations $1 billion. You remember that?
TURNER: Right, sure.
BLITZER: To deal with disease, to deal with all sorts of important issues. How did that work out?
TURNER: Well, it's worked out fine as far as I'm concerned.
BLITZER: Was the money well spent?
TURNER: The world is healthier than it was. And there's more international understanding than ever before. The United Nations is making a real good contribution. Like everything else, it's no better than the people that run it.
BLITZER: So you're happy with that donation you made?
TURNER: Yes. Oh, yes, very much.
BLITZER: What was your one favorite one memory of CNN when you were in charge?
TURNER: Oh, the Gulf War, the first Gulf War.
BLITZER: Talk about that.
TURNER: OK. Well, I was out in L.A. I knew it was coming. We all did. We didn't know exactly when. But I flipped -- I was at Jane Fonda's house. I was dating -- just started dating her. And I flipped on the TV in the afternoon when I came in from my bike ride.
And I flipped over to CBS, and there Dan Rather was talking about the war. And I flipped over to ABC, and Peter Jennings was talking about the war. And I flipped over to NBC, and Tom Brokaw was talking about the war, and I flipped over to CNN and there was the war.
I said we're rocking and socking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Something is happening outside. The skies over Baghdad have been illuminated.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We were the only network that broadcasters --
TURNER: That's right.
BLITZER: -- still on the ground in Baghdad.
TURNER: We had the -- we had the satellite dish. We had the way to get the stories out. We were ready to go.
BLITZER: And that was a decision that you made to keep Peter Barnett and Bernie Shaw and John Holliman in Baghdad.
BLITZER: Knowing --
TURNER: As long as they volunteered -- they had to volunteer to stay.
BLITZER: Because it was a dangerous environment. Everybody else was getting out of town.
TURNER: Yes. Colin Powell called every day and talked to Tom Johnson, called me once, and asked us to get out of there. And the day before the war started, the president called Tom Johnson, and I just said, we got freedom of the press as long as we have volunteers who are going to stay.
BLITZER: And you said -- that was your decision.
TURNER: And I said, I'll take responsibility in a meeting we had.
BLITZER: President Bush called Tom Johnson who was the president of CNN.
BLITZER: And said get your guys out of there, and you said, if they want to stay, they can stay.
BLITZER: And that was a good decision in your part they said.
TURNER: I'd say so.
BLITZER: And brought the war to the whole world.
BLITZER: And your point is, it really put CNN on the map.
TURNER: Right. CNN was on the map. But this -- was the coup de gras.
BLITZER: Finally, restaurants. You're a restaurateur.
BLITZER: Talk a little bit --
TURNER: Well, I used to feed people --
BLITZER: -- about how Ted Turner -- Ted Turner became a restaurateur.
TURNER: Well, I used to feed people information, but there's a hunger for other things besides information, particularly a hunger for food. And one of the things I do is try and fight hunger, and people in America get hungry, so I decided to go in the restaurant business.
You could go into it with a reasonably small investment, as small as you want to make, and I wanted to still keep working. I've worked all my life. And after I got let go -- you know, I was let go on a restructuring, and -- so I really enjoy the restaurant business.
I like to have happy customers.
BLITZER: You're referring to when Turner and Time Warner got together.
BLITZER: Turner Broadcasting, Time Warner.
TURNER: At first -- at first they didn't phase me out until after they merged with AOL. So I was with them the first three years. And we made budget and did well.
BLITZER: So it still hurts a little bit.
TURNER: Yes, it hurts a little. But I'm not losing any sleep. Press on. You got to move on.
BLITZER: And you got some new challenges that you're working on.
TURNER: Yes. Right now I'm trying to get rid of the nuclear weapons and trying to get the energy situation redone with Boone Pickens here in America. And trying to eliminate poverty and hunger at the U.N., and so I got plenty to do.
BLITZER: You got -- you got a huge agenda ahead of you, and, Ted, on before of all of us here at CNN -- and I think it's fair to say on behalf of everyone who likes news, news junkies and beyond --
BLITZER: -- thanks for that vision that you had 30 years ago. Thanks for being Ted Turner.
TURNER: Thank you.
BLITZER: The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, on the receiving end of the U.S. reprimand only a month ago, now getting a very warm welcome.
CNN's John King standing by to join us next.
And in Great Britain, moving on and moving out.
BLITZER: The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, visited the White House today, the first time since his rather controversial re- election, his controversial comments.
Let's talk about it, the U.S./Afghan relationship, with John King. He's the host of "JOHN KING, USA."
Quite a difference today as opposed to not that long ago.
JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": You remember just a few weeks ago they were saying perhaps we won't invite President Karzai to the United States. He was criticizing President Karzai as outsiders, meaning the U.S. troops and others for all of his problems.
There were allegations he stole his own elections. The White House was publicly questioning whether he was competent, whether his government was corrupt. And then today, Wolf, the red carpet at the White House.
Not only a meeting with the president, an East Room news press conference with the president -- you know how big of a deal that is from your days covering the White House. He had big meetings at the State Department. He was greeted on Capitol Hill today. He will be back tomorrow to see the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
So what a turnaround. In part, because of Secretary Gates at the Pentagon, Secretary Clinton at the State Department -- they're the good cops in this relationship and they told the White House we understand, we have the same list of complaints but we're not going to make progress unless we try to have a better friendship with President Karzai.
BLITZER: It's -- it's obviously a key alliance the U.S. and Afghanistan, the two countries need each other, but I guess one thing the administration learned from this experience, you know, if you get tough with some of these guys, they're going to get tough right back.
He went to Tehran and visited with Ahmadinejad.
KING: He went to see Ahmadinejad, his statements at home became very tough. It's an all politics as local kind of thing. He was getting this kind of pressure and he felt the need to push back for his own domestic politics.
And at the time the administration is adding troops in Afghanistan, we're about a month away, Wolf, from passing the mark. We'll have more troops in Afghanistan than we do in Iraq. That has not been the case since way back when the Iraq war was in its earliest days back 2003.
And so what are the stakes for those U.S. troops? And can the president keep his goal of starting to bring them home next July?
It will take a long time, but he wants to begin to bring them home in July of 2011. The only way to do that is for Karzai to become -- in the words of White House officials -- a commander in chief. Be more invested in the progress of his own security forces, be more invested in good governance, in services and a better economy for his people.
So they realize, yes, they have a long list of complaints, but they'll try to complain more in private and support more in public, hoping that they see a turnaround in the competence and in the performance of his government.
BLITZER: You're going to have a lot more on this coming up at the top of the hour.
KING: You bet we will.
BLITZER: John King on "JOHN KING, USA." Thank you.
Jack Cafferty is coming up with your e-mail.
Then out with the old and in with the new in a matter of hours. A revolving door at Number 10 Downing Street. Jeanne Moos will take a "Moos Unusual Look."
BLITZER: Check back with Jack for "The Cafferty File." Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf. The question this hour is why is it taking the Catholic Church so long to finally acknowledge its role in the sexual abuse of children by priests?
One clarification before we get to the e-mails. Some Catholic priests have been defrocked and even prosecuted but the victims groups say that much, much more needs to be done.
Gregory writes, "Jack, if your money supply was slowing down, wouldn't that get your attention, too? The Catholic Church is controlled by money. Cut the money, change the minds. The Pope ain't dumb, he needs gas for that Pope mobile."
Judy in California, "Because the vast numbers of abuse have been suppressed and silenced for so long through guilt and shame. This has come to a stop by victims forming groups and then speaking out. And finally the media has played a highly important role, bringing this matter to the surface. I guess somebody finally figured out that is not a sin to defend yourself against these animals."
Meg in Ohio writes, "The Catholic Church has thought for many years that it not only was infallible, but untouchable. The media coverage of the abuse issue has forced this disgusting practice into the sunlight. And now after years, not weeks of pressure, the Pope finally realizes he has a problem of epic proportions on his hands."
Brett in California, "Admitting the Catholic Church was guilty of harboring and protecting pedophiles would be bad for business. The Vatican is one of the oldest businesses in the world and expecting it to function as anything else would be unreasonable."
Mike in Florida, "You're talking about an organization that took 400 years to admit that the earth resolves around the sun. Slow? This is light speed for the Vatican." And Kaye in Arlington, Texas, "Because it is simply too hideous."
If you want to read more on this, go to my blog, CNN.com/caffertyfile. Wolf? BLITZER: See you tomorrow, Jack. Thank you.
Jack Cafferty with "The Cafferty File."
In our last hour here on THE SITUATION ROOM, Bill Maher said that crime in Arizona is actually lower than it's been in decades. We told you we fact checked that claim and we have. According to the Department of Justice, the violent crime rate in Arizona is at its lowest rate since 1971.
You can see it's been falling pretty steadily since the mid '90s with a few small spikes along the way. The violent crime rate is also down in two other border states California and Texas. All this while the number of unauthorized immigrants has steadily grown.
Two leading U.S. senators unveil a long-awaited bill on climate change. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman say it's going to cut emissions and create millions of jobs. They'll explain how on "JOHN KING, USA". That's coming up at the top of the hour.
And in Great Britain, a changing of the guard at Number 10 Downing Street. It all happened in the blink of an eye. We'll have details of this "Moos Unusual" moving day.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Here's a look at some "Hot Shots" coming in from our friends at the Associated Press.
In Portugal, a woman prays and walks on her knees in anticipation of a visit by Pope Benedict.
In South Korea, a huge lantern towers over a fountain as the celebration for the upcoming birthday of Buddha next week.
In Bloomington, Indiana, the Dalai Lama greets monks before speaking to students over at the University of Indiana.
And in India, a farmer inspects his field of sun flowers.
"Hot Shots." Pictures worth a thousand words.
Time is of the essence over at Number 10 Downing Street. As soon as the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown moved out, the new Prime Minister David Cameron moved in.
Here's CNN's Jeanne Moss.
JEANNE MOSS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a little like a Motel 6, one guy checks out, another guy checks in an hour and a half later. But these guys are British prime ministers, moving into and out of 10 Downing Street. It's nothing like moving into the White House -- such a slow process, there's time to redecorate.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Senator Obama is measuring the drapes.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I got them measuring the drapes.
MOSS (on camera): Did you actually measure the drapes?
KAKI HOCKERSMITH, INTERIOR DESIGNER: Yes, I did on January 2nd.
MOOS (voice-over): She's the interior designer who changed the blue Bush drapes to gold Clinton drapes. But the British prime minister change so fast aides were spotted carrying stuff out in garbage bags.
GORDON BROWN, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, and goodbye.
MOOS: Gordon Brown headed to her majesty the Queen to resign. The clock said 7:30 p.m. By 8:10 on the same clock, David Cameron was visiting the Queen to take over.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Prime Minister, could you give us a wave, please, sir? Thank you.
MOOS: He then left Buckingham Palace with photogs in hot pursuit on foot.
CRAIG FERGUSON, "LATE LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG FERGUSON" He is now the most powerful British dudes in the world if you don't count Madonna.
MOOS: The Browns left 10 Downing Street with their two boys in tow. When the Camerons arrived, the new prime minister gave his pregnant wife's midriff a pat.
In the U.S., we have the whole White House.
(On camera): But in Britain, it seems like there's just one big famous door, with a big 10 on it and a Bobbie always stationed beside it. Not to mention hoards of press hovering across from it.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a flat essentially. It's not that glamorous inside. Pretty small kitchen.
MOOS (voice-over): No wonder Gordon Brown's kids were practically skipping as they left for good. Once again regular citizens.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: He's being held up by a taxi taking a fare. How funny.
MOOS: Prime Minister Cameron's former rival, now his coalition partner, will work at Number 11 Downing Street.
NICK CLEGG, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: There's a corridor that links him to where I am. But I have no idea where I am. It's a rabbit hole in there.
MOOS: It's sounding more and more like a motel. When David Cameron moved in --
(On camera): He probably found one of Gordon Brown's hairs in the bath tub they moved out so quickly.
ROBERTSON (on camera): Well, it happens, Jeanne. I'm not really sure. I've seen there's some cleaning staff in there to sort these things out.
MOOS (voice-over): And just like they says about Motel 6 --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll leave the light on for you.
MOOS: Same goes for Motel 10 Downing Street.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll leave the light on for you.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: I've been to Number 10 Downing Street. It's a lovely, lovely residence in London. Good luck to the new government over there.
Remember you can always follow what's going on here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm on Twitter. You could get my Twits, WolfBlitzerCNN, all one word.
Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "JOHN KING, USA" starts right now.