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THE SITUATION ROOM
BP Frees Jammed Saw; Oil Hits Alabama's Beaches; Israeli Prime Minister Defends Deadly Raid
Aired June 2, 2010 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Thanks, Drew.
Happening now, a risky attempt to plug that gushing well in the Gulf of Mexico recovers from a major snag. Workers free a saw that got stuck while cutting the damaged pipe. But the spill is heading for the Florida coast after already hitting parts of Mississippi and Alabama.
Plus, this is already the worst environmental disaster the country has ever faced.
But is there a chance it could happen all over again?
There are now new warnings that another BP rig off the Louisiana coast, called Atlantis, could blow. And as the spill grows, could there be new risks to your ability to breathe?
Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is on a boat exploring the tosic -- toxic effects of the oil and the chemicals.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Strong words from the Louisiana governor just moments ago, slamming BP and the federal government for its response to the crisis.
Listen to Bobby Jindal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: The time for waiting is over. Again, we're calling on the Coast Guard and the federal government to force BP to act responsibly, to get to work immediately on this segment. Either begin the work themselves or get out of the way and just give us the money. We'll get it done ourselves.
They're the responsible party, but our federal government needs to hold them responsible. Our federal government does not need to be making excuses for BP. Every day they wait, every day they make us wait, we're losing our battle to protect our coast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And a short time later, Governor Jindal had this update.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JINDAL: We've just received word from the White House that they are going to fire -- they are going to require BP to fund the five remaining segments.
My follow-up question was, will they also commit to forcing them to do the first one they said they would?
Remember the first segment they were forced to -- they were supposed to have done a week ago?
They -- it's been almost a week. As of tomorrow, it will be a week. BP hasn't done anything on that first segment. Certainly -- certainly I want to thank the White House for moving forward. This is a step forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Take a look at these live pictures right now of BP working on the massive leak. We're awaiting word on when BP's latest attempt to cap the well will resume after being delayed by a robot's jammed saw.
Let's bring in CNN's Chad Myers.
He's working this the story for us -- Chad, first of all, what's the latest on the underwater operation?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The latest, Wolf, literally is that the riser pipe that was a mile high, that is attached to the top of the ocean by the Horizon, it was obviously -- it had fallen over. So it had kinked off. And then this was the end that we saw all the oil coming out of.
Well, today, they kind of cut that in half. They said, OK, we can't pick all that up at one time, let's cut it in half. And they did.
Then that stopped the insertion tube from working because it was down here. Then they tried to cut this. And they had a saw. And think of it with a -- it's -- it's a piece of dental floss, but it has diamonds on it. And it's supposed to go around and around and around and around this metal pipe and cut it off.
Well, it got jammed. And if you've ever had a hacksaw, if you try to cut a round metal pipe with it, that hacksaw is going to get jammed. It's very hard to cut a round pipe.
And inside that round pipe is another pipe called the drill pipe. And so this here -- the pictures on the side here, when this cutter was stuck -- it wouldn't move. The blade wouldn't move. Finally, they had to cut the blade and then take in this cutter back up to the surface, putting a new blade on it. Then they're going to move it around to the other side, where there's not a cut yet, because it will be easier to start over there again, and try to cut through from the other side of this pipe, trying to make a clean break.
When they make that clean break, then they will drop the cap on top. Then they will be able to, hopefully, suck the rest of the oil -- at least most of it, they're hoping, up to the surface.
Right now, though, this is an unstopped well and the oil is coming out faster than ever before.
BLITZER: Yes. People don't necessarily appreciate how difficult it is, 5,000 feet below the water's surface, to do all this, given the enormous pressure that's there, the invisibility. And you've got robots basically doing what you're supposed to be doing.
Assuming it works, what's the current timetable for getting this phase done?
MYERS: The current timetable was always four to seven days. And, theoretically, because we didn't do much over the weekend, but they were working on it over the weekend. We're on day three. So this could be as early as tomorrow. It may be as late, all the way, even into Friday and to Saturday before they get it done.
The -- the technical part right now is they must get the top of this bent pipe -- they must get this cut off. They have to make it look like that. They have to make it nice and flat, nice and smooth, so that they can drop this blowout preventer cap -- this, this -- the -- the cap over on top of it, so that it can take that pipe and make another riser pipe and go all the way up to the surface.
It could be days away if we don't get this thing cut right now. That pipe is -- is just sitting there and oil is coming out of it. This is where the live -- this is it right here. There's the animation that was supposed to happen.
It didn't happen. That cut didn't happen because the little -- the dental floss with diamonds on it -- obviously, it's a lot more technical than that -- but that stuck. That literally broke. And if it would have been a clean cut, we might have already had that cap on by now. But it's just sitting there leaking.
BLITZER: So we've got to see what happens next.
We'll stay on top of it.
Chad, thank you.
Tar balls and patches of oil are now washing up on parts of Alabama's beaches.
Our John Zarrella is on Dauphin Island.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you can see behind me the cleanup crews here are hard at work, picking up the oil that was deposited here on Dauphin Island. They're using shovels. They're wearing their rubber gloves. They're wearing their yellow boots for protec -- and the protective equipment. They've been out here for several hours this afternoon, many teams, like these two gentlemen out here, just scouring this beach, picking up all of that oil -- some of it the size of silver dollars, some of it a lot -- a bit larger.
When we were out here first thing this morning, you could see larger chunks of that oil. But most of that either broke up or was washed back out to sea. So they're finding little tiny pieces now.
But before these guys ever got out here on the beach today, what had to be done first were survey crews had to come out and walk the beach or ride the beach to determine exactly what level of response was going to be needed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So our job was to mark how much of the beach width is affected and to give the guys who treat the beach a sense of what percent cover this takes up, so they've got a sense of how much, how far and how thick, and from there they can make easy choices to send one or two guys with a bag or 200 guys with a whole bunch of bags and one by one pick them all up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZARRELLA: One thing these survey teams tell us is that while all of this effort is being expended today to clean up the beach here, it doesn't mean they're finished. They could be back here again tomorrow or the next day or the day after that, simply because the oil could get redeposited, even after they've cleaned it up. And perhaps if not here, it will be down the coast further east, perhaps into Florida -- Wolf.
BLITZER: John Zarrella in Alabama for us, where oil is beginning to seep up toward the beaches.
Let's talk about all this and more.
Joining us now is someone who was just with the Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, at a briefing in Louisiana, the president of Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish, Billy Nungesser.
Thanks very much, Mr. President, for coming in.
This is a difficult situation and you seem to have gone back and forth in terms of being very critical of the federal government in terms of their response, then not so critical after you met with President Obama last Friday, then again critical.
What is the current state of your criticism of the federal government in dealing with the issues?
BILLY NUNGESSER, PRESIDENT, PLAQUEMINES PARISH, LOUISIANA: Well, we just got approval that they're going to demand that BP pay for these reaches. So we want to thank the president for that. I really thought he would come through and he has. We're going to work with the Corps to get the other reaches approved. We've still got some problems on the ground, but we're going to work those out. Hopefully, we're going to get some more equipment in the marsh. We've got some difficulty in getting these large pools of -- of -- of oil out of the marsh.
We can't leave them sit there because they will end up further inland the next time that a storm kicks up. So we've got to have some teams ready to go out and immediately get those out of the marsh.
We've got some new equipment here in Venice, some oil separation equipment. And I'll be at the BP with the Coast Guard and BP at 5:30 in the morning. Hopefully, we can get this equipment deployed and keep it out there as the oil reappears in these bonded areas, we can suck it up and -- and do the best we can where oil has come ashore.
But those barrier islands, it was good news today. We're really glad to get that started because long-term, that's the only thing that's going to save coastal Louisiana.
BLITZER: So basically I hear you saying that the meeting you had with the president last Friday helped this situation and you're beginning to see an -- a more energetic federal government response to the crisis that you're facing?
NUNGESSER: Absolutely. It obviously made a difference. He lived up to his word and we're very glad. And I said all along, I knew the president cared. I could see it in his eye when he was down here the first time. We just needed a better line of communication. And I can't thank him enough for moving forward and demanding BP step up to the plate and do the right thing.
BLITZER: What about Thad Allen, the Coast Guard admiral who's the ul -- the national incident commander, the man on the scene who's responsible?
You were critical of him, but then you -- you spoke with him, not so critical.
Is he living up to his responsibilities right now?
NUNGESSER: Well, right now, I've -- absolutely. He's -- he's heard our cries. He's taken that message back to the president. And they decided to push BP to fund this. So I thank him, as well. And we've seen a lot of new boots on the ground here. I know these local Coast Guard people care. We've just got to get organized and get the crews out there and save as much of this marsh as we can. And like we said from day one, it's very difficult, if not impossible, to clean up at the marsh. That's why we need this first line of defense. And we're going to work hard very quickly to get that berm out there to give us the maximum protection and give us a fighting chance.
BLITZER: After you criticized Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP, he came out with a statement on his Facebook page. And I'm going to read it to you. He said this. He said: "I made a hurtful and thoughtless comment on Sunday when I said that I, quote, 'wanted my life back.' I apologize, especially to the families of the 11 men who lost their lives in this tragic accident. My first priority is doing all we can to restore the lives of the people of the Gulf Region and their families, to restore their lives, not mine."
Is that good enough from Tony Hayward?
NUNGESSER: Well, let's see him step up to the plate and -- and continue to fund the things that will save our coastline, make our fishermen whole and -- and support all the efforts. The communication lines and the time line between asking for help and giving it has been way too long. They have an opportunity to turn this thing around. You know, they can put some things in place to make things happen a lot quickly. Don't -- don't wait for someone to make you do something. Do the right thing. Let's -- let's pull out every stop and do everything physically possible to save our coastline, our marshes and our way of life here.
Actions speak louder than -- louder than words. Let's see BP step up to the plate now and -- and really try to make a difference. Hopefully they will.
BLITZER: Hopefully they will, indeed.
Billy Nungesser, the president of the Plaquemines Parish.
Good luck to you.
We'll stay in close touch.
NUNGESSER: Thank you so much.
BLITZER: And, more importantly, good luck to all the folks there. They're going through a life-changing crisis right now.
We're staying on top of this story.
We have a lot more to come.
He's leading the government's response to the largest environmental disaster this country has ever faced. CNN's Kyra Phillips is getting ready to join us with the incident commander, Admiral Thad Allen, for a firsthand look at the devastation.
Also, is another crisis like this one just around the corner?
We're going to tell you why some experts right now are saying it could be.
And Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, defends the deadly assault on ships headed toward Gaza.
But has the raid permanently damaged Israel's relationship with what used to be one of its closest allies in the region?
Stay with us.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: We'll have much more on the oil disaster in the Gulf coming up.
But Jack Cafferty is here right now with The Cafferty File -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: Wolf, we were talking a little about this yesterday. It's no wonder that President Obama's hair is turning gray, with the Middle East seemingly once again on the verge of erupting. The U.S. continues to stand by Israel, which is coming under international tremendous condemnation for that botched deadly raid on an aid flotilla headed for Gaza.
The details of the attack on the Turkish ship are still fuzzy.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is defending the raid, which left nine people dead. He says Israel's troops were met by a vicious mob, that they were stabbed, clubbed and fired upon.
That ship carried 10,000 tons of aid, including wheelchairs, notebook paper and water purification systems.
The leader of the group that organized the flotilla says Israel used excessive force on unarmed civilians.
The U.N. has condemned Israel.
And Turkey, which is Israel's top ally in the Muslim world, is calling it "a bloody massacre" and describes Israel's actions as "murder."
The U.S. is walking a very fine line here, trying not to anger Israel or the Arab world.
Good luck with that.
The White House says it's sorry for the deaths, but it's not condemning Israel's actions. Tensions are already running pretty high between the U.S. And Israel and this will undoubtedly only further complicate peace talks in the Middle East and the push for sanctions against Iran.
The raid raises serious questions about Israel's ongoing blockade of Gaza. It insists the blockade is meant to stop Iran from sending weapons to Hamas in Gaza. But critics want the blockade to end now.
Meanwhile, this story is far from over, with another ship with humanitarian aid due to arrive in Gaza later this week. Israel says it's going to stop that one, too.
Here's the question -- is Israel looking to start a war?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog. This is -- this is dangerous stuff. They're playing with hand grenades over there.
BLITZER: Yes, this is very dangerous. It's a -- a delicate, delicate moment in the Middle East. There have been a lot of them, but this is very serious.
Let's listen, Jack, to how the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, defended the commando raid and the blockade of Gaza.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Israel regrets the loss of life. But we will never apologize for defending ourselves.
Israel has every right to prevent deadly weapons from entering into hostile territory. And Israeli soldiers have every right to defend their lives and their country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Israel has freed the foreign detainees from the flotilla, more than half of whom are Turks. And many of the casualties also Turkish. And the incident has seriously strained relations between Israel and Turkey.
Let's talk about that and more with our senior political analyst, David Gergen.
For some 60 years, Israel had an excellent military to military, intelligence relationship with this Muslim member of NATO. But that's in serious trouble right now.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: It sure is, Wolf. And this is a -- a complicating development for the United States and potentially a dangerous development for the United States.
Israel and -- looked to Turkey as its best friend in the Muslim world. There was trade. There were a lot of indications that it was moving in the right direction.
But very importantly, Wolf, Turkey was seen at that time as a firm member of the West. Yes, it was a bridge to the Muslim world, but it was firmly aligned toward the West. It was in NATO and it was looking for membership in the European Union.
And, as you know, it was basically been -- it has been turned away by the European Union. And now the signs are that Turkey is moving away from the West and moving toward the Muslim world. And that has huge implications for the United States and the Middle East.
BLITZER: Because I know a lot of U.S. officials were deeply worried a couple of weeks ago, when the prime minister of Turkey and the president of Brazil, two close allies, they showed up in Tehran and were raising their hands with Ahmadinejad in celebration of some sort of nuclear agreement that they said they achieved. And -- and that was a source of deep concern here in Washington, that -- that the leader of Turkey was actually doing this with President Ahmadinejad.
GERGEN: Well, that -- that's exactly right, Wolf. And it underscored just how much Turkey seems to have moved away from an alliance with the West -- or certainly a leaning toward the West -- and moving back toward the coming -- or moving toward becoming more of a leader in the Islamic world.
And for the United States, that would definitely be a setback. It could very much complicate relations with Iran if Turkey tries to sort of be the mediator and is very sympathetic to Iran. So, I mean think about the implications of that.
And Turkey -- Turkey is a -- a large economy. It's the 16th largest economy in the world. It's an important country. And the more it throws its weight toward Iran -- and there are indications toward Syria -- and it's now pushing for the block -- the blockade to be lifted in Israel, this is all -- you know, if the United States has been the leader in this -- in -- in trying to mediate peace here, to have Turkey get into the middle of it on the side of the Iranians and Syrians would really shift the dynamics. And, clearly, we're at a point now, Wolf, where it -- where the -- this story about the Israelis is not calming down. It's building.
A new flotilla probably heading on its way there soon. Some concern in Israel that maybe Turkish ships would join that flotilla. Think about that, if they have Turkish warships going out there and join the flotilla to go in and bust the blockade.
Tony Blair today coming out and saying they've got to lift -- lift the blockade. There's under -- increasing pressure on this blockade question and the United States is inevitably going to be drawn into it.
BLITZER: Yes. This is a -- a real dicey situation.
David, thanks very much.
The Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, he's the president's point man on the oil spill -- today gave CNN's Kyra Phillips a tour of the areas hardest hit by the crisis. She's standing by to tell us how it went.
And the fight along the shores -- booms, berms and dams all tools in the battle. We're going to tell you just what they are and how well they work.
BLITZER: President Obama spoke out about the spill during a speech in Pittsburgh today, but many have criticized the president for not being more outspoken and not more passionate about the crisis.
Our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, is here. She just wrote a column on CNN.com. Let me quote a -- a sentence or two: "If Obama were full of rage, he wouldn't have been elected. True to form, we want it all. We want a leader who can feel our pain while rising above it. We say we don't trust government, but we look to it for answers and cleanups and we elected Barack Obama. Now we want to change him."
I guess the "No Drama Obama" is the guy we elected.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He is.
BLITZER: And that's the guy we have.
BORGER: You know, as I was saying in the column, Wolf, we want our presidents to be all things. We want them to be calm in a crisis, yet we want them to vent our anger for us. And we knew what we elected when we elected "No Drama Obama." I don't think that's his problem right now. I don't think his temperament is the issue, Wolf.
I think it's the fact that the leak isn't plugged. And this is a president who promised us a smarter government. And what we're looking at every day on cable news 24/7 is a leak that is not getting plugged. You also can be calm and have a perception problem. And the perception problem is that he didn't care enough at the beginning, that he didn't go down to the Gulf soon enough, that he met with politicos instead of the fishermen.
Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania said that if this had been Bill Clinton, who is a genius at empathy, he would have been down in the Gulf in a wet suit. And that's probably not far from the truth.
BLITZER: He would say, I feel your pain...
BLITZER: -- and people felt he really did.
BORGER: Yes, but they weren't sure with Bill Clinton what to believe at certain points. So there's a -- there's a flip side to that when the president emotes all the time.
BLITZER: He was out speaking at Pittsburgh today. And I'm going to play you this little clip of what he said. And tell me if this portends more coming down in the weeks and months to come before November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, some of you may have noticed that we have been building this foundation without much help from our friends in the other party, from our efforts to rescue the economy to health insurance reform to financial reform, most have sat on the sidelines and shouted from the bleachers.
They said no to tax cuts for small businesses, no to tax credits for college tuition, no to investments in clean energy. They said no to protecting patients from insurance companies and consumers from big banks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I guess we're going to hear more of this, although even here, he -- he may have been political, but he wasn't really passionate.
BORGER: He wasn't passionate.
BORGER: But what we just heard is the template for the 2010 election. This White House has been having meetings with Democrats on the Hill. And the Democrats on the Hill have said to White House advisers, you have got to get this president out with that narrative. You've got to turn the Republicans into the party of no, because they are trying to portray us as the party of big spenders. It's going to be one of those two narratives.
Their worry is that Barack Obama is going to run against Washington, in which case all incumbents are in trouble. But we're going to hear a lot more of this in the midterms.
BLITZER: We'll be watching it.
BORGER: You bet.
BLITZER: At least in (INAUDIBLE).
BORGER: Maybe with more passion. We'll see.
BLITZER: Yes, well, we'll see how he does.
Thank you, Gloria.
And James Carville is standing by. He's out of New Orleans, but he's here in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. We're going to tell you what's going on. He runs into none other than the BP boss, Tony Hayward, and the Coast Guard admiral, Thad Allen, having dinner in New Orleans last night -- all of them. It's an interesting encounter and -- and James is going to explain exactly what happened. I think you're going to want to hear about this.
Then later, the massive clean up job along the Gulf Coast -- we're going to tell you what devices are being used to soak up all that oil.
BLITZER: Getting a handle on the scope of the massive oil spill in the gulf. Kyra Phillips did that when she took a tour with the Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen. He's the government's incident commander, the man in charge on the scene. Kyra is joining us on the phone. How did it go, Kyra? [ inaudible ]
Kyra, we're breaking up. Let's try it again. KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you got me now, Wolf?
BLITZER: Now it's much better. Tell us how it went, that tour with Thad Allen.
PHILLIPS: Wolf, it's definitely not a tour with Thad Allen. What we've actually done is embedded -- in charge of this entire response to the oil spill to try to get more of an inside -- what he did.
BLITZER: All right, Kyra. I'm going to have to stop once again. We'll come back to you. Stand by. We'll clean up the phone line and hear all about it. Kyra is on the scene for us. Let's bring in James Carville. He's arrived from New Orleans. James, you've had some exciting moments over these past several weeks. Some of them too exciting. But tell our viewers what happened last night. You went out to dinner in New Orleans.
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I had actually driven up to Baton Rouge for a fund-raiser, the Congressman running for the Senate. And I was coming back and I called Ronny and Mike, two of my close friend whose work with me who work in the mayor's office. I said meet me at 1179. Let's get some dinner.
BLITZER: That's a local restaurant.
CARVILLE: It's a very kind of popular local Italian place. Mr. Joe is a very well known guy around town. I walk in and somebody says, hey, that's Admiral Allen having dinner over there, so I go over because we had talked to each other on the phone and we were going to hook up and I said, admiral, you know, how are you doing?
BLITZER: He said, hey, sit down. When an admiral sits down, you sit down. He said do you know who I'm having dinner with. I said absolutely. It's Tony Hayward.
CARVILLE: The CEO of BP.
BLITZER: The CEO of BP. So we had a pleasant conversation. I talked about working in Columbia and was going down to see my friend that I worked for. And he and Admiral Allen spent some time in Columbia with the coast guard drug interdiction and Tony at BP.
CARVILLE: Let me just set the scene. It's Tony Hayward, Thad Allen and James Carville, the three of you. You've been quite critical of Tony Hayward, everybody at BP. That must have been a little tense, that exchange that you had it.
BLITZER: Wasn't -- it was polite, but, yeah, it was -- it was, you know, it was tense. He asked me, he says, what can I do to, you know, you said some pretty harsh things about BP. What can we show you? I said well I feel some harsh things about BP. And I said in all honesty I don't trust you. He said, well, we're going to do things. We're going to show you that we really are committed to this. So we just kind of talked, and he said, look, I want to come back in a year, and let's have dinner, and you're going to see we're really serious. I said to tell you the truth, I've got to be honest with you, I'm very skeptical. I would love nothing better than to be wrong.
BLITZER: What do you want BP to do now that they're not doing?
CARVILLE: I mean you're starting to see that they're proving some of this stuff that the government is starting to do. A lot of people -- there's been a lot of stuff about they come in, they put people on the beach, that they -- you know, temporary hours. They say people come in and have food poisoning and we report from a doctor they obviously don't have food poisoning. He said I can't say what they have, but they don't have that. Be up front. Every piece of news we get from them, it's erroneous. They say a thousand barrels. Mr. Hayward says we're going on a government estimate. I said but Ed Markey finds an internal document you say one to 14,000. I want them to be candid on the short side and tell people that they're going to -- you know, not just show people every day that they're going to stick with this. And if they do that, I'd love to have dinner and say, you know, look, I broke an egg on my head on television when I was wrong. I don't mind being wrong. And I'd love to be wrong about something that I'm right -- predicting something bad. I'd love to come back and say, man, this is amazing what these guys have done.
BLITZER: We spoke with Billy Nungesser, the Plaquemines Parish president just a little while ago. He senses that after the president's visit there last Friday, President Obama, things are beginning to move a little bit more rapidly. He's more encouraged than he was before.
CARVILLE: I hope he's right. Again, you know, I hate to criticize. I don't like criticizing my president. I don't like criticizing a president of my political party. I don't like criticizing the president that so many of these policies the president had that I support that I think are good policies. I certainly don't harbor any -- I mean BP to me is just a giant corporation. But, hey, I hope they surprise me. I hope that -- again, I hope a year from now we're say, you know, it's an amazing thing, the commitment to the people of south Louisiana that came out of the BP and the administration. I'm skeptical. I have to tell you, I'm a long way from getting there.
BLITZER: I know you are. Listen to Maureen Dowd of the "New York Times" writing today, "Obama wanted to be a transformative president and the presidency is transforming him. Instead of buoyant, he seems put upon. Instead of the fairy dust of hopefulness there's the bitter draught of helplessness." And Tom Friedman writes this, "As you said Mr. President, this is your time, this is your moment. Seize it. A disaster is an inexcusable thing to waste." It seems you and these guys are all on the same page. You're deeply worried that this president isn't showing enough passion, energy, and commitment.
CARVILLE: You know, I think obviously I want to try to be supportive. I'm doing everything I can. I do think that this thing was botched. I think it was a great political opportunity for them to be on top of this early and not start talking points about the deputy secretary of interior or whatever. You know, anybody like from south Louisiana knows sometimes the baddest guy kind of sits quietly at the end of the bar and is sort of determined, and I mean if this president just shows that he's determined, he's committed, he's going to hold people, he's going to use the force of the federal government to see this enormous wrong is righted, then I'll be fine with that. But I don't think people of Louisiana are waiting for him to come down and sort of weep with us or something like that. But they want to feel the force. I thought it was encouraging that the attorney general was down there, you know. Let's see. Maybe things will happen, and maybe we'll see like real action. We're starting to see that. Billy is starting to say that he's seeing things. The governor said today thanked the president. You know, and the president -- they have to learn that we're Louisianans first. I mean the blood of that state runs deep in my veins like everybody else. We've suffered enormous -- enormous two engineering failures. And these are not natural disasters. Nothing natural about shoddy greedy engineering.
BLITZER: James, good luck.
CARVILLE: Thank you.
BLITZER: Is another disaster like the one in the gulf just around the corner? There's new details emerging right now -- get this -- about another BP rig off the Louisiana coast that may -- repeat may -- be in trouble.
Also thousand of national guardsmen are authorized to respond in the gulf, but why aren't more being used? Only a tiny number are being used. Barbara Starr investigates.
BLITZER: We'll get back to the oil spill, the disaster that's unfolding. There's another rig that's in trouble right now. We're checking that out for you. Stand by. In the meantime let's check in with Lisa Sylvester. She's monitoring some of the other important stories here in THE SITUATION ROOM. What else is going on Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Wolf. Well, a taxi driver shooting rampage in northwest England ended with 12 people dead and 25 others injured before, police say, he turned the gun on himself. Today's mass shooting was the deadliest in Britain in 14 years. Authorities don't have is a motive yet but say last night the man told a friend you won't see me again.
Afghan's president Hamid Karzai's opening remarks at a peace conference today were interrupted by a Taliban attack. No one inside the peace gathering was hurt but police said two insurgents were killed. Karzai says such attacks are slowing the withdrawal of international troops. The Taliban have threatened to sabotage the three-day peace conference and kill anyone who participates.
They were stopped before they ever got started. Toxic gases got in the way of investigators' first trip inside West Virginia's upper big branch mine since April's explosion. Two teams were about a thousand field down when their hand-held meters went off. It's still unclear what caused the blast that killed 29 miners. Wolf? BLITZER: Lisa, thanks very much. We're going to get back to you.
With all eyes on the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, right now these are critical hours. Some are raising new questions about the safety -- get this -- of another BP rig off the Louisiana coast. Could another spill be on the way? We're investigating.
Also, they could help limit the amount of oil reaching the gulf coast, but what exactly do devices like booms and berms actually do? Lisa will be back to take a closer look.
BLITZER: It's already the worst environmental disaster the country has ever seen but could the massive oil spill in the Gulf happen all over again. CNN's Carol Costello is joining us now from New Orleans with that part of the story. This is a pretty shocking potential development, Carol. I know you've been investigating. What are you learning?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's really scary, Wolf. There's a real fear that something like this disaster could happen again and soon. Some are calling on President Obama to order an intensive investigation of all of BP's oil platforms, but especially one, Atlantis.
COSTELLO: There's a lot we don't know about what caused this environmental disaster, but we do know this. At least two engineers fear it could happen again on another BP deep-sea rig 100 miles off the Louisiana coast. It's called Atlantis, the deepest deepwater platform of its kind in the world it.
MIKE SAWYER, ENGINEERING SAFETY CONSULTANT: It would look essentially like the Horizon incident is just a hiccup if there was a singular incident aboard the Atlantis.
COSTELLO: Mike Sawyer, an engineer working with Whistle Blower and former Atlantis consultant Ken Abbott, told us they've examined thousands of BP's internal documents. They shared the information with Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva who found it so disturbing that he and 18 other lawmakers sent a letter to the Minerals Management Service or MMS, the agency that regulates the oil industry. "Atlantis may be operating without crucial engineering documents, which if absent, would increase the risk of a catastrophic accident."
SAWYER: The engineering drawings and specifications are the primary means that workers use to ensure that they can operate the platform safely and can ensure that they can shut it down or at least control any unsafe events.
COSTELLO: BP told us in a statement it conducted its own investigation after Abbott filed a false claims lawsuit in 2009. The government declined to join that lawsuit, although a few weeks ago a judge ordered the case to go forward. BP still insists, though, Atlantis absolutely is safe, but that's not enough anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If BP can imagine this kind of a disaster and federal officials cater to the oil industry, then who is looking out for you?
COSTELLO: The consumer advocacy group Food and Water Watch posted this web ad after joining forces with Abbott. They filed a lawsuit against MMS for failing to provide proof Atlantis is absolutely safe.
WENONAH HAUTER, FOOD & WATER WATCH: BP Atlantis should be shut down until the safety information can be verified, and there should be an immediate investigation of all of the operating platforms beginning with BP's to make sure that their safety information is available and in order.
COSTELLO: But the Obama administration and MMS have no plans to order Atlantis to halt operations, although MMS now says it's launched its own investigation into safety operations on the Atlantis.
COSTELLO: But as of right now, Wolf, MMS says Atlantis is perfectly safe. It is up and running, as I said. It's capable of producing 200,000 barrels of oil every single day. Ken Abbott, the whistle blower, will testify before a Congressional committee about this in mid-June.
BLITZER: All right. We're worried just hearing your report, Carol. Let's hope for the best. Thanks very much. Carol Costello reporting from the scene.
Officials say this oil leak is so difficult to plug because the well is so deep. Guess what? Federal regulators there are 30 active deepwater rigs in the Gulf of Mexico right now that are more than 1,000 feet below the surface.
Jack Cafferty is asking is Israel looking to start a war? Your e-mails and Jack just ahead.
And stopping the flood of oil in the gulf, the focus is on those remotely controlled robots conducting a risky operation to cap the leak. We're taking you underwater to see the work for yourself.
BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack with "the Cafferty file." Jack?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question this hour, is Israel looking to start a war?
Sandy writes, "According to the rest of the world, yes, but it doesn't matter what Israel does. They are crucified. Unfortunately they made a bad choice to board that ship. We, the United States, need to stand with Israel."
Jason in California writes, "Israel's looking for a war or at least a conflict to continue to justify their oppression of Palestine. Even if the people on the boat used clubs, knives, et cetera, Israel boarded their ship commando style from helicopters, people with guns and grenades. This was the first hostile act, and the people on the boats might have defended themselves."
Anthony in New Jersey writes, "Predictably the vitriolic Arab world and the impotent U.N. join forces once again against united against the Zionists. Even the United States has to give lip service to the outrage. Imagine if our country was isolated among people bent on our destruction? What would we do if a flotilla floated by giving comfort to our enemies? Only the Atlantic Ocean keeps us from being persecuted every day by these throwbacks. We should not be quick to judge."
Scott in San Diego writes, "No, they're not trying to start a war. They are defending themselves, and they should. I usually don't agree with Israel, as they are much over the top, but in reality they have to be. This is a ploy for the Muslims to start a war."
Mel writes from California, "Yes, Jack, they are. Otherwise how could anyone explain their irrational behavior over the last few years? They want the Palestinians to leave both Gaza and the west bank so they can annex it. They even have plans about Lebanon. They want to start David's kingdom. You're watching Israel use the sympathies of the world for their existence to expand their Zionist empire. We better wake up and smell the roses or we'll find ourselves in a world war."
And Tom writes from Florida, "How interesting that the united nations can condemn Israel before this incident before even investigating all the facts, but it cannot condemn North Korea for sinking a South Korean vessel, even though there is significant and verifiable proof that that ship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo. Shame."
If you want to read more on this -- we got a lot of e-mail -- go to CNN.com -- yeah, CNN.com/Caffertyfile, almost forgot my own blog.
BLITZER: It's a great address, too. Thank you, Jack. Jack will be right back.
A risky underwater mission to stop the gushing oil leak in the gulf. It's incredibly difficult, very risky. We're going to take you right to the disaster site to find out how the critical work that's going on right now is proceeding.
BLITZER: Kyra Phillips is covering the Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, he's the point man for the U.S. government on the scene. Kyra, I know you're embedded with what's going on. Give us the very latest.
PHILLIPS: Wolf, I know we've had a hard time communicating because of where I am. I'm out in Cocodrie, Louisiana. Can you hear me clearly?
BLITZER: Yes, we can hear you fine.
PHILLIPS: Basically what we've been able to do, we've embedded with the admiral. We've wanted because of all the criticism surrounding this oil spill, we wanted to get on the inside to see exactly what the man inside this response deals with on a daily basis, and just to give you a little flavor. He starts at 4:30 in the morning, Wolf, and we teamed up with him by 6:30 because he wakes up, he takes care of his personal business, and then business with the rest of the country begins.
And within 32 minutes, Wolf, he had already had three phone calls with energy and global warming czar, he had two calls from the white house, he had been talking with the head of the army corps of engineers, General Ben Antwerp, talking about negotiating deals for building barrier islands to protect the marshlands, that was just in the first 32 minutes. The phone calls, the cell phone, the blackberry, wireless computer.
He's working every single second of this day. It's not just a containment issue and being in touch with BP and getting briefed on if the cut and cap is working there out where that gusher is, but it's everybody else that is demanding things from him, demanding resources, from the booming -- the booms to the burning that's taking place to governors that want various resources. Within the 32 minutes, he told Governor Riley that he's going to have the booming that he needs in Alabama.
It's like a nonstop process from 4:30 in the morning, and we're still going. He's not going to be done until probably 10:00 tonight.
BLITZER: We're going to stay in close touch with you, Kyra, every step of the way. Kyra Phillips is on the scene for us along the Gulf of Mexico coast.