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Rand Paul Under Fire; Interview With Felipe Calderon

Aired May 22, 2010 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: Republican Senate Candidate Rand Paul under fire for his remarks on the Civil Rights Act. I'll press the Tea Party backed candidate about his stand on some tough issues. His Democratic opponent the Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway is claiming his views are dangerous. Conway is here as well.

The president of the United States and Mexico standing together against Arizona's controversial immigration law, but is Mexico just as tough, or even tougher on illegal immigrants? Stand by for my exclusive interview with the president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon.

Should marijuana legalized? The current drug czar and the very first drug czar, they take on that provocative question in a rare joint discussion about the problems addiction, cartel violence, and even alcohol.

We want to welcome our viewers around the in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Just days after winning the Republican senate primary in Kentucky, the darling of the Tea Party Movement Rand Paul is under fire. Critics are seizing on remarks he made about the Civil Rights Act and his Democratic opponent it accusing Paul of promoting a narrow and rigid ideology with dangerous consequences.

Joining us now is the Republican senate candidate from Kentucky, Rand Paul.

Doctor Paul, thanks very much for coming in.

RAND PAUL, (R) SENATE CANDIDATE: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: I want it give you a chance to explain because there's a lot of confusion right now about precisely where you stand. I'll ask you a simple question. If you had been a member of the Senate or the House back in 196 1964, would you have voted yea or nay for the civil rights act?

PAUL: Yes. I would have voted yes.

BLITZER: So why is there all this confusion emerging right now? Give me your analysis because you've had to issue a statement today. Will have been interviews on NPR yesterday, and MSNBC. Tell us what's going on. PAUL: Well, first of all, Wolf, I thought I was supposed to get a honeymoon. When does my honeymoon start, you know, after my victory?

BLITZER: No such thing in politics, Doctor Paul.

PAUL: No such thing. I think you're right.

I think what troubles me is that the news cycle has gotten out of control. I mean for several hours on a major news network yesterday, they reported repeatedly that I was for repealing the Civil Rights Act. That is not only not true, never been my position, but is an out and out lie. And they repeated it all day long. It started with my Democratic opponent asserting this, but has never been my position.

BLITZER: You support that -- because the argument was made that you support the Civil Rights Act in terms of federal -- in terms of government responsibilities, there should be no racism or segregation, but if there's a private club, or a restaurant where they don't want to serve African-Americans -- as abhorrent as that is, you think -- you suggested, correct me if I'm wrong - they would have a right to do that?

PAUL: Well, what I did suggest is that it was a stain on the history of the South and our country that you know, we desegregated in 1840 in Boston. William Lloyd Garrison was up there with Frederick Douglas being thrown off trains an going through what happened in the 1960s in 1840 in Boston. So it is a stain on our history and something that I am sad for and something that if I had been alive at the time would hope that I would have been there marching with Martin Luther King.

One of our biggest county coordinators was there with Martin Luther King, attended the rallies in D.C. and considers himself to be a civil rights activist. And he takes it as a personal insult that people will say that our movement doesn't believe in civil rights.

BLITZER: But I just want to be precise on this.

PAUL: I think it is politically motivated--

BLITZER: Doctor Paul, I want to be precise. Did Woolworth, the department store, have a right at their lunch counters to segregate blacks and whites?

PAUL: I think that there was an overriding problem in the south so big that it did require federal intervention in the '60s an it stemmed from things that I said, it had been going on really 120 years too long. And the Southern states weren't correcting it. And I think there was a need for federal intervention.

BLITZER: All right so you've clarified, you would have voted yes in favor of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

PAUL: Yes.

BLITZER: Would you also have voted for the Americans With Disabilities Act?

PAUL: Well, I have some questions about it. I mean the one question that comes to mind to my thinking is let's say you have a local office, and you have a two-story office and one of your workers is handicapped, should you not be allowed maybe to offer them an office on the first floor, or how is be forced to put in a $100,000 elevator? I think that sounds like common sense, that you should maybe be allowed to give them a first floor office.

I think sometimes when we have a federal solution, we make it one size fits all and that we recognize the problem, which I do also, of someone who's handicapped, but then we don't take consideration at all the business owner, or the property owner. So I think it's a balancing act. And I would have to look at that legislation to see how they balanced it, but my understanding is that small business owners were often forced to put in elevators. And I think you ought to at least be given the choice of can you provide an opportunity without maybe having to pay for an elevator.

BLITZER: So the answer is you don't know for sure if you would have voted yes or no on that Americans for Disabilities Act?

PAUL: Yeah, I mean, I would have to look at it and see. I think you do have to-it's a balancing act. I am in favor of trying to have the workplace open. My office is open to the handicapped. We try very hard. But it's been open to the handicapped for decades. So, it doesn't always take government for people to do the right thing. Sometimes government has to step in, in extraordinary circumstances. But I think a lot of times that the private world can step up and do the right things, or we can find local solutions over federal solutions.

So it's not always whether you oppose something, it's about where the solution should arrive, whether it arrives at the federal government or local government. I do think though there is a big civil rights issue out there. And I think the Democrats avoid it. And that's school choice. I think the biggest thing holding down our inner city communities is a lack of good education and I say give them a choice, let them choose to go to a school anywhere in the city, or outside the city. So I think school choice is the civil rights issue of our era. And many people are saying that.

BLITZER: I want you to have a chance to differentiate, if you want to differentiate, with your dad. I've interviewed Congressman Ron Paul on many occasions. And we've gone through all of these issues. He's a principled libertarian, as you well know. First of all, are you as principled a libertarian from your perspective as your dad?

PAUL: Some would say not. I call myself a constitutional conservative, which means I believe the Constitution does restrict and restrain the federal government, and we should be doing a lot less than we're doing. And if we did so I think we would balance the budget and we would have more local and state control.

BLITZER: All right. PAUL: So we'll agree on a lot of issues and we'll disagree on some and there may be some nuance, but I would say -- he will probably still be the number one libertarian in the country. I'm probably not going to supplant him there.

BLITZER: You're not going to be able to compete. Because there are four votes and I've discussed this with him, himself, in which the vote was 425-1, or 421-1. For example, asking Arab states to acknowledge genocide in Darfur. Asking Vietnam to release a political prisoner, condemning the Zimbabwe government, awarding a gold medal to Rosa Parks. Your dad was the only member, on the Democratic and Republican side, to vote against that because he's a principled libertarian. He doesn't want the U.S. government involved in any of those issues. Are you the same as him?

PAUL: Probably not. And the thing is that he is incredibly principled and I admire him for the stands he's taken. Interestingly, some of those things sound like how could anybody be against that? The reason he votes against it a lot of times is not that he disagrees with the position, often he'll agree with the position of the resolution. But just think that the government really shouldn't be making a statement on some of these things.

I think it's yet to be seen how I'll vote on resolution, nonbinding resolutions. But I'm probably not going to be the great path breaker that he is, but I think he stands on principle, and I think he's well respected because he doesn't compromise his principles.

BLITZER: We're going to continue this conversation, I'm hoping, on many occasion, Doctor Paul. Thanks very much for coming in.

PAUL: Thank you.

BLITZER: I'm glad you had a chance to explain your positions precisely. These are, as you well know, as a novice politician, among the most sensitive issues out there.

PAUL: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to get the other side next. My interview with Doctor Paul's opponent, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. He's the Democratic senate candidate. Stand by for that.

Also, the push to legalize marijuana. We'll talk about it with America's current are drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, and the country's first drug czar. CNN Political Contributor Bill Bennett.

And pushing the human body to new extremes, with a jump from the edge of space.


BLITZER: We heard the Republican candidate Rand Paul explain his position on a number of hot button issues. Now let's talk to his opponent. We are joined by the Democratic Senate candidate from Kentucky, the state's Attorney General Jack Conway.

Mr. Conway, thanks very much for coming in.

JACK CONWAY, (D) SENATE CANDIDATE: My pleasure, good afternoon, to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: You heard Doctor Paul say that he would were have a voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He certainly does not want to repeal it. On this issue, is the case closed now as far as you're concerned?

CONWAY: No. No. Rand Paul claims to be running as an outsider, but on this issue in the last 24 hours, on your show, he pull the good old Washington flip-flop. I didn't start this issue, Wolf. He started talking about this in an editorial board interview with "The Louisville Courier-Journal" some weeks ago. He reiterated it on NPR. He's basically saying that that portion of the Civil Rights Act that deals with lunch counters, and saying that you cannot discriminate based on the color of your skin, an issue I thought we settled nearly a half a century ago, that he disagreed with that.

He reiterated it again on the Rachel Maddow show, the other night, in 20 of the most painful minutes I've ever seen on cable TV. And what he said to her, in essence, was, that had he been in the U.S. Senate in 1964, he would have been seeking to change that particular provision. He would have been seeking to delete that particular provision. So no, the case isn't closed.

BLITZER: Because now he says he doesn't want to repeal the Civil Rights Act and he says he would have voted in favor of it had he been a member of Congress at that time.

CONWAY: He's clearly back pedaling because he's seen the national fire storm he has caused. What's clear, from what he has said repeatedly, up until your program yesterday is that he's rejecting-he's rejecting a fundamental provision in the Civil Rights Act that says if you're providing a public accommodation, if you're a restaurant or hotel, that you can't discriminate based on race.

He seems to that he that property rights or First Amendment rights somehow trump the government's ability to say we've moved on in the area of civil rights. So I don't think this is case close closed. But it's not just what he said in the area of civil rights, it's what he said with regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

BLITZER: Let me press you. Let me press you on that because he says he's not sure about how he would have voted on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Because he's a libertarian, he wants less federal involvement in day-to-day lives. And he says, you know, I'm not sure which way I would have gone on that. Do you have a problem with his stance on that issue?

CONWAY: Sure I have a problem with his stance on that issue. I would have proudly voted for the Americans with Disabilities Act.

BLITZER: When you say, probably, you're not sure? CONWAY: No, I said I would have proudly.

BLITZER: Proudly, OK, I'm sorry.

CONWAY: I would have proudly voted for it. What's he saying to people with disabilities, that just take your office on the first floor? If you have colleagues with whom you need to interact upstairs, you can't go up there. We don't need to put in a ramp or an elevator? What is he saying to veterans that are coming back from these two wars and are disabled? That's a very, very callous position.

What Rand Paul has is he has a view, Wolf, that is outside of the mainstream. And he seems to always side with business and think that government has no role whatsoever in dealing with business. And he gets into some have very out of the mainstream positions, like what he said on "Good Morning America".

BLITZER: Well, let me get to that, because he's a libertarian like his father.


BLITZER: He wants less federal involvement. I'll play the clip of what he said on "Good Morning America" and we'll get your response. He was asked about the Obama administration's role, its involvement in dealing with the massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico.


PAUL: What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP, I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. I've heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill, and I think it's part of this sort of blame game society in the sense that it's always got to be someone's fault. Instead of the fact that maybe sometimes accidents happen.


BLITZER: You've got a problem with that?

CONWAY: I have a huge problem with that, Wolf. You know, talking about what's un-American. BP is a huge international conglomerate and saying that the administration shouldn't have its boot heel on their throat. BP needs to pay for the clean up. BP doesn't need to have its boot-the-boot heel on the fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico who are struggling right now.

Here he is standing up for BP. In the Senate we don't need another senator who just stands up for the corporations. I'm interested in standing up for the people of Kentucky. There are people in Kentucky who are scared to death the government is going to be left with a bailout tab for this Gulf oil spill. So he's standing up with big business instead of people who need help. Look had at Wall Street. We let business do whatever they wanted to do on Wall Street and we wrecked our economy. We need more accountability on Wall Street and with industries like BP. We don't need less of it.

BLITZER: So you want more regulation on Wall Street?

CONWAY: Sure, absolutely. I'm glad to see that robust financial reform is moving forward. He also said very callously, Wolf, that accidents just happen, and referenced miners. That is very callous and cold to families in places like West Virginia and Kentucky, who are still mourning the death of miners here in our state, and some real tragedies. Just to say that accidents happen. You have to figure out what happened. You have to figure out how to make it safer for the future so it doesn't happen again.

BLITZER: How worried are you about the Tea Party Movement? Because he's clearly the darling of the Tea Party Movement? They seem to be very energized. How big of a problem is this going to be for you in the campaign?

CONWAY: You know, I don't know. It's still early in the general campaign. Obviously, the Tea Party Movement is energized but Rand Paul seems to want to be the prince of the Tea Party Movement, whereas I want to be the next United States senator from Commonwealth of Kentucky standing up for Kentucky working families.

Standing up for the nearly 11 percent of our state that is unemployed right now. Standing up to make certain we never again bail out Wall Street the way that we did. Standing up for small- and medium-sized businesses that are trying to get loans from small and community banks. That's what I want to do.

And I think the Tea Party Movement is having to take a hard second look at Rand Paul right now. I think Mitch McConnell and the Republican leadership are having to take a hard second look at Rand Paul right now. And Mitch McConnell is supposed to stand with him this weekend at a unity rally with Republicans here in Kentucky. It will be interesting to see how close Mitch McConnell actually gets to Rand Paul this weekend.

BLITZER: Jack Conway is the attorney general of Kentucky. He is the Democratic senatorial candidate. We certainly want to have you back here on THE SITUATION ROOM on many occasion between now and November, Mr. Conway. Good luck.

CONWAY: It would be my pleasure and I enjoy your show, Wolf. Thank you.

BLITZER: By the way, would you be open to doing a debate here in THE SITUATION ROOM with Rand Paul?

CONWAY: Absolutely, I would be happy to do that.

BLITZER: We'll talk to him and see if we can organize that. Thanks very much.

CONWAY: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Mexico's president on a state visit to the United States slamming Arizona's controversial new immigration law. I'll go one on one with Felipe Calderon in an exclusive interview.

Plus, my interview with former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, is he planning to return to Pakistan to run for his old job again?


BLITZER: In less than a century humans have learned to fly in space, walk, and even live in space. But what if, what if, we could push the limits of the human body even further and drop a man from the edges of space to Earth? CNN's Brian Todd has the details of the first attempt, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the cutting edge of exploration right now may not be in the hands of NASA but with Red Bull of all places. They sponsor the Red Bull Stratus Project. What if a human could fly through the heavens in just a suit, helmet and parachute and survive? This project is going to test that out.

An Austrian skydiver and base jumper named Felix Baumgartner will travel up to the stratosphere for a jump that's never been attempted before. He's already base jumped from the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio. Later this year he'll go up in a capsule pulled by helium balloon. He'll attempt the longest ever freefall from the highest ever altitude, 120,000 feet above sea level. The previous record for freefall is from 102,800 feet. That's a 50 year old record.

Baumgartner will freefall through the stratosphere and while he does this he'll try to set another record. No one has ever broken the speed of sound just with the human body. They estimate that at that altitude he'll break that mark going about 690 miles an hour.

I caught up with the man they call Fearless Felix in New York and asked him about that.


TODD: You're going to be going about, what, close to 700 miles an hour when you're in freefall. Do you worry you're going to be moving at such a rate of speed you're not going to be able to concentrate on everything you have to concentrate on?

FELIX BAUMGARTNER, STRATOSPHERE JUMPER: Well, you know, it's hard to practice things like this, you know. If something happens, it happens fast. And it could easily be that I'm not aware of that situation. And I can't control that situation anymore because it happened so fast. That's what we call rapid onset. And therefore, I have all this emergency equipment that we developed that will save my life.


TODD: That equipment includes a very high-tech pressure suit, a visor heated helmet and a parachute set that encases three parachutes, actually, including what's called a drogue chute that will activate and slow him down if he starts spinning out of control in the stratosphere. Once he enters the regular atmosphere Baumgartner will freefall a little longer, then open his normal chute, Wolf.


TODD: Unbelievable.

BLITZER: Fearless, you say.

TODD: He is fearless.

BLITZER: Some people may use another word.

TODD: That's right.


BLITZER: Thanks very much.

TODD: Sure.

BLITZER: We wish him good luck on this mission. Thanks, Brian.

The former president of Pakistan reveals his future political plans right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And should alcohol be outlawed like marijuana? Ahead a fascinating discussion with the first drug czar Bill Bennett and current drug policy chief Gil Kerlikowske.


BLITZER: One of the darkest clouds over President Obama's relationship with the visiting President of Mexico Felipe Calderon, Arizona's immigration law. I had an exclusive interview with the Mexican president and I asked him what's wrong with Arizona wanting to protect its border?


FELIPE CALDERON, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO: That is not exactly the problem. I fully respect the right of any nation to establish the legislation of that nation wants or gave people. And of course, the right of any nation to enforce the law and protect their own borders.

But the problem is first that we need to face this challenge in a comprehensive way as President Obama says. And that implies to recognize the rights and the contribution of the people to the growth of this great nation, but on the other hand, in particular, in Arizona, there is some racial profiling criteria, in order to enforce the law. That it is against any sense of human rights. And of course, it's provoking very disappointing things, very disappointing opinion in Mexico and around the world, even here in America.

BLITZER: Because the governor of Arizona says there is no racial profiling, that they're not going to simply stop someone who looks Mexican. They're going to have to have -- the police are going to have to have a reason for stopping someone, and if that reason then asks -- results in them asking for papers, that's a different matter.

CALDERON: It could be, and I fully respect the opinion of the governor. But in the point of view of not only Mexican people, but also Mexican-American people and specialists, and analyzed the new law precisely has this kind of risk.

BLITZER: Even the amendments that were made, the changes that were made in this law in Arizona?

CALDERON: Even with that, because what is -- the reason is we need to clarify -- and, in particular, it would be -- it would be fine if the judicial authorities are able to clarify how dangerous or how bad is the law. If the authorities say it is good, we will respect.

But, anyway, I think that we need to focus in a different way the solution of my -- of immigration here in the States.

BLITZER: You heard the president of the United States say that he doesn't have the votes in the Senate, maybe not in the House of Representatives, to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would include a pathway to citizenship -- U.S. citizenship -- for illegal immigrants. So what -- in the meantime, is there anything wrong with states trying to tighten up their security?

CALDERON: The point is to introduce these kinds of elements, especially racial profiling aspects that are attempting against what we consider human rights. It's the principle of discrimination, which is against the values of this great nation.

BLITZER: Has your foreign ministry issued a travel advisory to Mexicans not to visit Arizona?

CALDERON: Yes, because according with this law, it's -- there is some risk for Mexican people, especially because (ph) --

BLITZER: And so if a tourist goes to Mex -- to Arizona and has the proper visas, the proper papers, what's the risk?

CALDERON: The risk is that it -- well, they looked like Mexicans, and, exactly, they are Mexican, even if they are visiting and buying things in Arizona.

Let me tell you what the Mexican -- Mexican consumption in Arizona implied like $3 billion a year. So the tourism and other activities of Mexican people in Arizona works a lot for Arizona's economy.

BLITZER: So you think Arizona will pay a price for this -- this new law?

CALDERON: I don't want that. I only want an -- a mutual understanding. And, in particular, I don't want to move these very controversial feelings. I don't want to exacerbate bad feelings between Mexicans and Americans. We need to find out a solution. What is clear for me that that law is not a solution at all.

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little bit about Mexico's laws.

I read an article in "The Washington Times" the other day. I'm going to read a paragraph to you and you tell me if this is true or not true.

This is from "The Washington Times", "Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony punishable by up to two years in prison. Immigrants who are deported and attempt to reenter can be imprisoned for 10 years. Visa violators can be sentenced to six year terms. Mexicans who help illegal immigrants are considered criminals."

Is that true?

CALDERON: It was true, but it's not anymore. We derogate or we erased that part of the law. Actually, illegal immigration is not a -- is not a crime in Mexico, not anymore, since one year ago. And that is the reason why we are trying to establish our own comprehensive public policy, talking about, for instance, immigrants coming from Central America --

BLITZER: So -- so if people want to come from Guatemala or Honduras or El Salvador or Nicaragua, they want to just come into Mexico, they can just walk in?

CALDERON: No. They need to fulfill a form. They need to establish their right name. We analyze if they have not a -- a criminal precedence. And they coming into Mexico.

Actually --

BLITZER: Do Mexican police go around asking for papers of people they suspect are illegal immigrants?

CALDERON: Of course -- of course, in the border, we are asking the people, who are you? And if -- if they explain --

BLITZER: At the border, I understand, when they come in.


BLITZER: But once they're in --

CALDERON: But not -- but not in -- if -- once they are inside the -- inside the -- the country, what the Mexican police do is, of course, enforce the law. But, by any means, immigration is a crime anymore in Mexico.

BLITZER: Immigration is not a crime, you're saying?

CALDERON: Is not a crime. BLITZER: So in other words, if somebody sneaks in from Nicaragua or some other country in Central America, through the southern border of Mexico, they wind up in Mexico, they can go get a job --


BLITZER: -- they can work.

CALDERON: If -- if somebody do that without permissions, we send back -- we send back them.

BLITZER: You find them and you send them back?

CALDERON: Yes. However, especially with the people of Guatemala, we are providing a new system in which any single citizen from Guatemala could be able to visit any single border to take to Mexico (ph) in the south. And even with all the requirements, he can or she can visit any parts of Mexico.

BLITZER: I asked the questions, because there's an argument that people in Arizona and -- and New Mexico and -- and Texas, they say they're only trying to do in their states what Mexico itself does in the southern part of Mexico.

CALDERON: I know, and that is a very powerful argument, but that is one of the reasons why we are trying to change our policy.

And, let me be frank, Wolf. In the past, Mexican authorities were in a -- in a -- in an unfortunate way in the treatment for immigrants. But now we are changing the policy. We changed already the law, and that is different today.

We are trying to write a new story, talking about immigrants, especially coming from Central American countries.


BLITZER: Felipe Calderon, the president of Mexico, when he was here in Washington. And that was his only television interview this week.

Drug czars past and present weigh in on a new push to legalize marijuana. They're both standing by.

And my interview with the former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. He's planning to return to Pakistan, but will he seek out his old job?


BLITZER: A long-time leader and a controversial U.S. ally, he left his country under a cloud, accused of significant responsibility in the assassination of a key rival.

Now, in a stunning turn, he may be ready for a comeback.


BLITZER: And joining us now, the former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf.

Mr. President, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: All right, what are your plans personally? Because I've been hearing a lot of rumors about what you're planning on -- on doing. Are you planning on going back to Pakistan to run for president?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I certainly am planning to go back to Pakistan and also join politics. The question of whether -- whether I'm running for president or prime minister will be seen later.

BLITZER: When -- when does that mean, later?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I have to -- I have to launch myself politically formally, which I haven't done. So, I am interacting with a lot of politicians and with the people of Pakistan, with the Pakistani Diaspora here in the United States and in U.K. And I have taken a decision in principle to join politics and go back to Pakistan, but I will --

BLITZER: When -- when will you go back? Is it the next few weeks, next few months?

MUSHARRAF: Well, it is related to the election in Pakistan. I am very sure of one thing, that whether it's end-term elections or midterm elections, I will be there before those elections.

BLITZER: The midterm elections would be the next set of elections. When are those?

MUSHARRAF: If at all, midterm. There's no sign -- if at all it's midterm election. It will be next year, maybe, 2011.

BLITZER: But you're saying that, right now, you're going to go back to Pakistan, get into politics, and run either for president or for prime minister?

MUSHARRAF: Well, it's -- basically, we -- we run a parliamentary system there, so you have to -- your -- your party has to win in the election. Then only do you decide to run.

Basically, you are heading a party. You are running for the prime ministership because, in Pakistan, the chief executive is the prime minister, not the president.

BLITZER: You've been away from Pakistan for about a year. Are you worried about going back, your safety?

MUSHARRAF: Well, there are security issues. Maybe my wife and my family is more worried than I am, but there are security issues, which one needs to take into consideration. And that is why I'm not laying down any dates for my return.

I'm looking at issues there, but I do intend launching and declaring my intention formally sooner than later.

BLITZER: All right. I asked the question about your security, because a few weeks before Benazir Bhutto decided to go back to Pakistan and run for office, she was sitting in that same chair, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, and I -- I spoke to her about it. And I asked her how concerned she was about her security and she basically told me, it was in Allah's, in God's, hands.

And I -- I'm hearing something similar to you. We know what happened to her once she started campaigning for political office in Pakistan.

MUSHARRAF: Well, I -- I hope I'm more lucky -- luckier than her.

BLITZER: Let's talk about her for a moment, because you know this United Nations report that came out on April 15, it said this. It's specifically referring to you.

"The federal government," -- meaning your federal government -- "The federal government, under General Musharraf, although fully aware of and tracking the serious threats to Miss Bhutto, were not proactive in neutralizing them or ensuring that the security provided was commensurate to the threats."

That's a pretty serious charge that you knew she was under a threat and you didn't do enough to protect her.

MUSHARRAF: I -- I really don't fully agree with this statement. In fact, it was me who warned her about the threat to her. It was I who stopped her from going to that venue once before, to which a lot of political aspersions were cast on me, that her movements are being restricted, but she decided to go again.

And then, all the security were provided within the Pakistani environment. She did go to the -- to the venue. She was taken safely. She addressed the people for one hour safely. She got off, got into the car safely.

So I think this is rather unfair. This comment is rather unfair.

BLITZER: She had also sent me --

MUSHARRAF: But if you --

BLITZER: She had also sent an e-mail before she was assassinated, in which she said, if something happens to me, she was going to blame you and your people for not giving her the security that she was appealing for.

MUSHARRAF: Well, I think all the security was provided. I wouldn't like to comment on this. All the security, where ever possible, and by the police, was provided to her.

BLITZER: So, if you had to do it over, would you have done anything differently in terms of providing her protection?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I think the same would have been done, whatever protection was provided, as I said. The vehicles and the police force with her, and at the venue, the checking of the public who's coming in thousands, at the venue. All that was done.

BLITZER: President Musharraf, when you go back to Pakistan, we want you to be very careful over there. And -- and I know you're going to get into politics, which is, of course, your right, but just be careful.

MUSHARRAF: Thank you.


BLITZER: Should the Obama administration legalize marijuana or should it get tougher on alcohol use? I'll ask the nation's drug czar.


BLITZER: America has drug problem, but the Obama administration wants to end what's called the war on drugs and start treating this as a public health matter.

I sat down with the current drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Policy, and with our CNN contributor Bill Bennett. He was the first drug czar for President George H.W. Bush.

Does the change suggest the government is open to legalizing pot?


GIL KERLIKOWSKE, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY: No. Legalization is an absolute nonstarter in the Obama administration, and it just makes no sense.

But what we do know is that there are a lot of people frustrated about the -- the war on drugs. They don't see success. They know friends, they know relatives, they know what's happened in their own neighborhoods.

We're going to bring some other people into this issue at the same level that we have law enforcement. That's where we're headed.

BLITZER: Because the argument in favor of legalizing marijuana is sort of this, we legalized alcohol. We regulate it. People deal with it. Why not do the same thing with marijuana and, as a result, open up efforts to deal with much more serious drug-related issues, like heroin, for example?

KERLIKOWSKE: You know, as a police chief for a long time, I never saw officers in Seattle running around spending an inordinate amount of time chasing people for a small amount of marijuana. We know that the health costs of alcohol, the health costs of nicotine versus the taxes collected doesn't even begin to pay for those social and criminal justice costs. Why have another mood- altering drug made legal, and then more widely available because of its legality? It makes no sense.

BLITZER: Well, would you want to criminalize alcoholic use?

KERLIKOWSKE: No. I'm not going back down -- down that path. But I don't think that we need another thing that causes so much hurt to families and people.

BLITZER: Is this a -- a waste of resources, though, to spend --


BLITZER: -- so much law enforcement, judicial effort criminalizing people who want to go out and smoke pot?

BENNETT: No. We had 40,000 people die last year because of drug use. We can make that 80,000 or 120,000 or 360,000 by making it legal. You make it legal, you make it more accessible, you give permission for it.

Alcohol is legal. We have plenty of alcoholics. We have plenty of people whose lives are wrecked, plenty of families whose lives are wrecked because of alcohol.

BLITZER: But there's one argument that alcohol is potentially a lot more dangerous than marijuana.

BENNETT: It may be. I think if you really examine the arguments, you might want to think about more restrictions on alcohol than opening up marijuana. When you see the effect of marijuana on the brain particularly --

BLITZER: But you don't want to go back to prohibition.

BENNETT: I don't want to go back to prohibition, but I -- I certainly think the rules on drinking, if they were enforced, for example, on college campuses, where we know what this leads to from time to time -- it leads to a lot of things every weekend, but some weekends it leads to some of the horrible violence we've seen.

But let me just say a word about the war on drugs, properly understood, not to get into a war with Gil Kerlikowske about the phrase, but if you energized people, motivate people, if you talk about this issue, as Gil Kerlikowske had -- has at will. I don't think the president has enough at all, and I think he should, you can have success.

Remember, 1979, there were about 24 million drug users in this country. This country decided to do something about it. There was a drug czar appointed. The country mobilized. The number in 1992 was 11 million.

That's not victory, but from 24 million to 11 million is a big decline. It's now back up to 20 million.

Now I think if you press right on this thing, don't call -- fall for the siren song of legalization, and I -- and I applaud the drug czar on that, on -- and going out to California and fighting this issue, you can get those numbers back down. And that's what you want. You want the numbers down, not up.

BLITZER: Let me pick up what -- one point that Bill just made. In your mind -- and you're an authority on this -- is alcohol potentially more dangerous than pot?

KERLIKOWSKE: Two -- two points. One, alcohol does cause more problems than marijuana. But alcohol is legal. If you make marijuana legal, it will therefore become much more widely available, and therefore the damages and detriment to society and to individuals would continue to increase.

But let me mention also, President Obama is actively engaged in this. When I met with him and he gave me some directions to get the voice of the American people into this strategy, that's what's in there. When I briefed him a week ago about this strategy, he could not be more supportive.

BLITZER: How do we reduce the demand for -- for illegal drugs in the United States?

KERLIKOWSKE: Smart education through a variety of trusted givers.

BLITZER: Nancy Reagan used to say just say no.

KERLIKOWSKE: She did, and, you know, it's a little more complex than that. If parents, teachers, faith, community, and neighborhood groups all give young people the same consistent message and they repeat it about making healthy choices -- underage drinking is mentioned in the strategy, the drug problems, and, of course, if they get healthy choice advice about exercise, nutrition -- they will actually be prevented in the future.

BLITZER: But we've been hearing this for decades now.

KERLIKOWSKE: Well, we've only kept it to four hours in a health care class about drugs, and maybe four hours about nicotine. It has to be across the whole continuum --

BLITZER: I remember --

KERLIKOWSKE: -- young age.

BLITZER: -- when I was a little boy growing up in Buffalo, New York, I heard all those stories, the horrors of drugs and we -- we were taught that, and -- and I assume since then all the kids are taught about that.

KERLIKOWSKE: One, we don't want to use scare tactics, and, number two, we want to use the evidence-based systems, and that's what the most recent analysis tells us. Across the board, quality advisers giving kids the right piece of information.

BLITZER: Is this going to make a dent?

BENNETT: It does if you do -- I agree again, across the board. And Nancy Reagan's statements were underrated. A lot of the kids liked those statements. They liked it because it was clear. Just say no.

It's a heck of a lot better statement than if it feels good, do it. It's a lot -- it's a lot clearer. You want that statement, but you also want sound education programs and sound policies in the schools.

The problem is, the kids get a message of ambiguity from adults, and when you have this legalization stupidity out there, you're going to have more -- more young people confused.

BLITZER: Other than you're not -- you -- you don't like that you're not hearing enough directly from the president on this issue --


BLITZER: -- is there any basic problem you have with the Obama administration's efforts to deal with this issue?

BENNETT: Not -- not really. Again, I'd like more attention, more publicity. There are a lot of things going on. We understand it competes for attention.

But this strategy, if people read it, I think would be very impressive. It's a clear moral message and it talks about working on a variety of fronts. I think it's quite good.

But what you had back in the '80s was -- was an entire society mobilized, and this is what leadership does. You did have all those ads, the guy jumping off the diving board into an empty swimming pool. This is your brain on drugs. This is the two-fried eggs. Because the society decided it wanted to push back --

BLITZER: Those public service --

BENNETT: It pushed back. It went down and we can do it again.

BLITZER: Are we going to see more of those public services announcements? They're coming back?

KERLIKOWSKE: Yes. The president asked for $66 million in those advertisements, and those advertisements are directed towards specific groups.

In fact, just last week we released the strategies for meth on reservations in tribal nations for those kids. Those are targeted directly to that youth group and we're going to continue to do those things.

BLITZER: Gil Kerlikowske, thanks very much for coming in. Bill Bennett, thanks for this discussion.

BENNETT: You bet.

BLITZER: Let's hope you make a dent. We're counting on you.

KERLIKOWSKE: Good (ph). Thank you.


BLITZER: Extreme Weather and more "Hot Shots", coming up next.


BLITZER: Here's a look at some "Hot Shots", coming in from our friends at "The Associated Press".

In the Czech Republic, villagers were evacuated by truck after heavy rain flooded roads through the region. In Kabul, Afghanistan, workers took shelter from a sudden downpour by sitting underneath their wheelbarrow. And at a zoo in Germany, check it out, two baboons stayed warm by cuddling with each other.

"Hot Shots", pictures worth a thousand words.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. Join us weekdays in THE SITUATION ROOM from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. Eastern, and every Saturday at 6:00 P.M. Eastern, right here on CNN, and at this time every weekend on CNN International.

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