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THE SITUATION ROOM
BP Collects 15,000 Barrels a Day; Hard Times in the Harbor; Missing Iranian Scientist Mystery
Aired June 9, 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: Thank you, Jack.
And to our viewers -- you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: 15,000 barrels of oil are not gushing into the Gulf today, but while BP collects more of the flow, the government demands to know what the oil giant plans to do going forward.
Fighting to keep the oil out of fragile wetlands -- Louisiana's governor is calling it a war to protect our way of life. He takes CNN's Anderson Cooper on a boat tour of the front lines.
And the United Nations steps up sanctions on Iran. But why did a NATO ally and another key U.S. partner vote no? I'll ask the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: BP is capturing more oil, but the government wants to know what the company will do next in the Gulf.
Here are the latest developments: The Coast Guard admiral, Thad Allen, says more than 15,000 barrels of oil were collected in the last 24-hour period. That's equal to 630,000 gallons.
But Allen and another top official have called on BP to spell out how it will continue to recover the oil and contain what's been spilled. The government also wants more details on how BP is handling damage claims as lawmakers debate lifting a liability cap that would sharply limit how much the oil giant must pay out.
Let's go to Mississippi right now, where the fishing business -- businesses across the state have been hit hard by the oil spill. Our Brian Todd is over at a dock at what used to be a rather busy harbor.
What are you seeing, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It used to be, Wolf, but with oil projected to hit the shores near here, within the next day or so, what is already a very bad situation could get much worse.
TODD (voice-over): Delivery time. The boat Sugar Babe pulls in with a fresh catch of shrimp. It looks plentiful, but this is a harbor in distress. With about a third of federal waters in the Gulf shut down fishing, this is what often passes for a day's work for fishermen at Pass Christian, Mississippi: signing up with BP to inspect boom and collect oil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want you to stay 100 feet away from the booms. We have a process for the booms and stuff like that.
TODD: Joe Jenkins and his daughter Jennifer have been in the seafood processing business their entire lives, bringing it into the docks, packing it, shipping it to retailers.
(on camera): Where's your business at right now?
JOE JENKINS, OWNER, CRYSTAL SEAS SEAFOD CO.: Well, we are on the verge of being closed up totally, and our shrimp dock is closed, our oyster docks are close. We've got one boat here. So, we're almost closed here.
TODD (voice-over): A story you can see unfold with the catch brought in by the Sugar Babe.
JENKINS: As fast as you can see it, all the shrimp are going through the tube.
TODD: Through the tube to a conveyor belt where appearances are very deceiving.
(on camera): Coming off the conveyor belt and they got to get weighed over here on these scales, about 14,000 pounds brought in on this batch.
And, Joe, 4,000 pounds not very much on a day. How much do you usually get on a good day?
JENKINS: Some of our best days, we've bought upwards of 70,000 or 80,000 pounds on a day.
TODD: This is only -- this is the only boat that's coming in for you today.
JENKINS: This is the only boat we have coming in today, or this week. We only have one boat left.
TODD: This is Kimball Seafood Company in business since 1930. This catch, not so much, in fact, these are crawfish that are brought in from Louisiana, from ponds on farms. So, they're getting about their normal catch with the crawfish here, but it's the shrimping aspect of it, what they're bringing in shrimp-wise, that is really hurting. These shrimp are from Louisiana.
Darlene Kimball, the owner of this company -- normally, you're not getting these shrimp from Louisiana, are you?
DARLENE KIMBALL, OWNER, KIMBALL SEAFOOD CO.: No, we're getting them here from our docks.
TODD: So, this is really hurting your business. What do you have to do to get these?
KIMBALL: Well, we will travel. Either to -- either I will go get them or they have to be delivered, and if they're delivered, we have to pay a little bit extra.
TODD (voice-over): Rudy Toler, captain of the Sugar Babe, is hoping for a job with BP. He knows there's only so long he can bring in these meager catches.
RUDY TOLER, SHRIMP FISHERMAN: We're doing the best we can because it's all we got. And we're just trying to get as many as we can before they close it, because like I say, we're still waiting for BP.
TODD: Joe and Jennifer Jenkins now face laying-off several employees, cutting back the hours of those left.
JENNIFER JENKINS, CRYSTAL SEAS SEAFOOD COMPANY: It's not fun. It's not fun to tell somebody that's worked here longer than I have, that you probably don't have anywhere to come back to work through tomorrow.
TODD: Now, a BP official on this dock told me that they can pay fishermen between $1,200 to $2,200 every day that they hire them, that's a lot more than most of them make on a normal day, but that work is certainly not consistent -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Give us a sense, Brian, exactly how lucrative the fishing industry is for Mississippi and how much they stand to lose.
TODD: Well, just as an example, we can talk to you about the shrimp harvest. A NOAA official told me today that in 2008, the last year they kept statistics for this, Mississippi had a shrimp harvest of more than 8.6 million pounds of shrimp alone, with a dock side value of $17.1 million. Now, all of that is going to dissipate. But you can just see, just the shrimp harvest alone on a given year is very, very lucrative just for Mississippi.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.
Brian's working the story in Mississippi for us.
In some places, it's all that lies between the oil and the delicate marshes, miles and miles of boom laid out along the Gulf Coast, in a desperate bid to protect the wetlands and the wildlife.
CNN's Ed Lavandera is in New Orleans for us. He got a firsthand look. Tell our viewers what you saw, Ed.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, wherever you go along the Gulf coastline here, you're likely to find stretches of boom as far as the eye can see, and making sure all of that stays in place is a difficult task.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eighty-nine, zero-six point one-nine-four west, copy?
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Ray Champagne (ph) is calling in the boom cavalry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten-four, I copy. Broken boom at 29 degrees, 06.91.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some more broken boom.
LAVANDERA: Sergeant Champagne is an agent with Louisiana's Fisheries and Wildlife Department. Almost 5 million feet of boom is deployed across the Gulf Coast, and keeping it all in place is a full- time job these days, as oil threatens more and more of Louisiana's marshlands.
As we look around, you can see boom knocked out of place. Pushed into the marsh grass, and saturated in oil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All around this area, along north shore bay, southeast pass appears to have a lot of broken boom and all saturated boom that needs to be replaced.
LAVANDERA: There are two main types of boom: hard boom is made of hard plastic and is used to contain oil on the open waters. Absorbent boom is more sponge-like and placed along contaminated shorelines. We went out with the U.S. Coast Guard in the marsh waters near Cocodrie, Louisiana, to see crews fixing boom.
(on camera): You can see the absorbent boom here on the edge of this marsh grass, and in some places, there's just too much oil overwhelming the boom. Here, as we get closer to the edge of the grass, you can see the dark patches of oil and behind it, the green marsh.
(voice-over): Along these marsh beds, the Coast Guard says local crews are replacing and repositioning boom every day. This area near Cocodrie is only fighting a light oil sheen right now. So, they're making sure hard boom doesn't break away or making sure absorbent boom gets flipped over to soak up more oil.
(on camera): The heavy concentration of oil where they started moving in into this particular area -- do you think this would be kind of a futile effort or still important?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other thing the Coast Guard is doing as well is they sent these teams, these assessment teams that go out on boats and they go out on over-flights, and they're charting the process and, you know, where the oil is, where it's likely to be. And as a consequence when they identify, you know, a more significant threat, they respond by, you know, deploying new boom or, you know, saying, hey, we need to re-deploy new boom in different places to meet that threat.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): For now, the oil keeps coming, gushing into the Gulf waters, and that means the boom work never ends.
LAVANDERA: Wolf, the Coast Guard officials we were out with say that they have plenty of boom to handle the situation right now. But if this stretches on into August, as it is expected, all of -- a lot of this boom will either have to be cleaned up or replaced. So, the pressure to keep bringing it and keep making it and getting it down here to the Gulf Coast continues -- Wolf.
BLITZER: They've just got no -- they've got to do it. They have no choice at all. Ed, thanks very much.
This crisis continues.
Jack Cafferty is next with "The Cafferty File."
Then, Anderson Cooper is inspecting the Gulf's devastation with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. They just got back from a boat tour. Anderson will be joining us live.
And a day of drama at one congressional hearing here in Washington. On the Gulf oil disaster, a professor is moved to tears. We're going to hear his emotional testimony.
Also, a key American and NATO ally in the Middle East voting against new sanctions for Iran. Did Turkey betray the United States? I'll ask the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.
BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: It's a very troubling picture of what's ahead for this nation's children, at least a whole lot of them. More than 20 percent of our kids, one in five, are living below the poverty line. A new study shows the economic well-being of families has plummeted to levels not seen since the 1970s. Thanks to the recession, job losses, declines in income.
Here are some of the very disturbing findings in a report put together by a private philanthropy group: 15.6 million kids are estimated to be living in poverty. As many as 500,000 children may be homeless. Twenty million kids live in families where neither parent has secure employment.
And in the last three years, an additional 750,000 children live in households that don't have access to enough safe and nutritious food. And, of course, eating more processed and fast foods means a potential increase in obesity and all of the problems that go along with that.
As for education, which may be one of the few tickets out of poverty, there's no good news on that front either. This report suggests the amount of time kids spend in school may actually be going down, with some states now moving to shorter school weeks in order to save money.
Experts say that chaotic childhoods have a significant effect on health later in life. People who grow up under lots of stress have higher rates of cancer, liver disease, respiratory problems and other ailments. There is no way you can expect kids to get a fair start with all of this weighing against them.
There's one small reason to be hopeful -- the study's authors say the children's quality of life overall should start edging up. But that depends on the economy.
Here's the question: What does the future hold if more than one in five American children are living below the poverty line?
Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile. Post a comment on my blog.
BLITZER: It is disgraceful. It's hard to believe in this country that still exists. Jack, thanks for raising it for our viewers.
In Louisiana, they're fighting to keep the oil out of fragile wetlands. One means of defense, miles and miles of sand berms being built along the coast. Listen to a very emotional governor, Bobby Jindal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: When this oil hits this coast, these wetlands -- these wetlands don't belong to BP. They don't belong to me as governor. They belong to the people of Louisiana. They belong to the people of America.
This damage is being done to the people's wetlands, to the people's coast. Every single Louisianans I talked to, they don't want a check from BP. They want to go back to work. If they had their choice, they'd rather be out on their boats making a living right now.
We're in a war to protect our way of life. We're going to win this war, but it's going to be a long war. This is just the first of many waves of oil that's coming into our coast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: CNN's Anderson Cooper went with Governor Jindal on a boat tour of the front lines of this battle. Anderson will be joining us shortly with the full story. Stand by for that.
Anguish and emotion at a Senate hearing on the oil spill, shouting "We're tired of being dumped on," a woman who said she was a shrimper poured fake oil over herself. She was arrested. At issue: a 21-year-old law that may limit BP's liability in the Gulf disaster to just $75 million. BP says it will waive the cap on damages and pay what it calls "all legitimate claims." Key word: "legitimate."
But congressional Democrats want new legislation that would permanently lift the liability cap. Supporters offered emotional testimony on this day. Listen to this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROF. KENNETH MURCHISON, LSU: My comments to this point reflect my views as an environmental law professor, whose career is near its end than its beginning, but I'm also a citizen of Louisiana with deep roots in the state. I think I'm like most Louisianans in my reaction to the catastrophe unfolding in the Gulf. We are dismayed by the horrific damages, one of the richest ecosystems of the world.
But we are not primarily concerned with fixing blame, and we are emphatically not looking for a hand-out. We are interested in receiving fair compensation for the tremendous losses we've suffered, and seeing meaningful reforms that will lessen the likelihood of a similar disaster and provide an improved response when the next oil spill occurs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Senate Republicans argue that getting rid of the liability cap would make oil drilling too expensive for smaller companies.
New questions in the case of a missing Iranian scientist. Two videos are giving conflicting accounts of what happened to him. Was he tortured by the U.S.? Did he defect? Or could it be something totally different?
And CNN's John King, he's surveying the site of the Gulf oil disaster with the Coast Guard from the air. John is getting ready to join us live with details of what he saw today.
BLITZER: We'll get back to the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in a few moments. Anderson Cooper is standing by live to join us.
But there's other stories we're following right now.
After an Iranian nuclear scientist disappeared last year, there were hints -- hints -- that the U.S. scored a major intelligence victory and more recently, the scientist was said to have defected, but conflicting videos have now surfaced and they're raising new questions about this entire case.
We asked our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, to look into this.
What have you learned, Jill?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, take a look at these two videos on YouTube -- they completely contradict each other. And you've got to ask yourself: Is this the same guy?
DOUGHERTY: Kidnapped and tortured --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what he says.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I was kidnapped last year in a joint operation by the terror and abduction units of the CIA and Saudi Arabia's intelligence agency.
DOUGHERTY: -- or living peacefully in Tucson, Arizona?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am in America and intend to continue my education here. I am free, and I assure everyone that I am safe.
DOUGHERTY: Two videos on YouTube, both supposedly of Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri.
Last June, during a religious pilgrimage to Medina, Saudi Arabia, he disappeared. In one video, he claims the U.S. tortured him for eight months, forced him to say publicly that he had defected with a laptop full of classified information on Iran's nuclear program.
Why? He says the U.S. wanted to put pressure on the Iranian regime.
Wednesday, Iran sent the U.S. a diplomatic note through the Swiss about Amiri.
P.J. CROWLEY, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: They allege in the note that -- that we have him and they want him back.
DOUGHERTY: The State Department denies the U.S. kidnapped the scientist, but is tightlipped about whether he defected.
CROWLEY: If the question is: have we kidnapped an Iranian scientist? The answer is no.
DOUGHERTY: As for the other video claiming Amiri is in Tucson, so far, there's no proof. One expert on Iran says the mystery of the dueling videos is part of the intelligence wars being waged daily between the U.S. and Iran. And if it's true Amiri defected --
AFSHIN MOLAVI, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: This would be a significant propaganda victory for the United States as well. And so, what the Islamic republic is trying to do is to say that, no, this is not a propaganda victory for the United States. Mr. Amiri has not gone willingly to the United States.
DOUGHERTY: A nuclear expert periodically briefed by the administration officials tells CNN -- about Iran -- tells CNN that he was told that Amiri was not coerced to defect to the United States and, in fact, he asked to come to the U.S. And he also says that Amiri was involved in nuclear weaponization research while in Iran.
And there also has been some speculation that Amiri was the person who tipped off the U.S. last year about that secret nuclear facility near Qum, Iran, but this expert says Amiri was not the person who did it, Wolf.
BLITZER: So, we really don't know why the two different videos have emerged. But we have checked and it's definitely the same person.
DOUGHERTY: Well, they're analyzing them. And, in fact, when the State Department analyzed the first video, they said they could not guarantee either way. They couldn't talk about its authenticity. So, we'll have to see. But it's a mystery.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much for that, Jill Dougherty.
Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
What else is going on, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf.
Well, in Pakistan, this especially troubling attack on a convoy carrying military vehicles to NATO forces in Afghanistan, more than a dozen militants fired on the convoy with automatic weapons and grenades and torched the trucks. Six people are dead and seven wounded. It happened just six miles from Islamabad -- the first such attack so close to the Pakistani capital.
Meanwhile, four American service members were killed today in southern Afghanistan when enemy fire downed their helicopter. Separately, a British soldier was killed in an explosion in the same region. All of it's making for a very deadly start to June in Afghanistan, with 29 NATO troops killed, 19 of them Americans.
And Colombian pop star, Shakira, is in South Africa, ahead of tomorrow's World Cup kickoff. And she's taking advantage of the global spotlight to highlight education. She visited a school there in Johannesburg in her capacity as the ambassador for the 1 Goal education campaign. You see the pictures there. It seeks to put 72 million children in school for the first time.
And, Wolf, you're a big fan of Shakira. And you've met her, haven't you?
BLITZER: I am. I have. She's been here in THE SITUATION ROOM, and I can testify her hips don't lie.
SYLVESTER: Very good, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you very much.
On the front line of the oil fight, Louisiana's governor takes CNN's Anderson Cooper on a boat tour of that battlefield. Anderson's standing by with the pictures.
And CNN's John King just landed after a helicopter tour of the Gulf rig with Coast Guard officials. John is also standing by to tell us what he saw.
BLITZER: Fifty-one days in to the worst oil disaster in U.S. history and CNN is covering all angles of the story -- on air, on sea, on land. CNN's Anderson Cooper is just back from a boat tour with Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal.
CNN's John King took a helicopter tour with the Coast Guard.
Let's begin with Anderson right now.
Anderson, walk us through what you saw today.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Well, basically the governor was trying to -- is trying to put pressure on BP and the Coast Guard to approve yet another means by which to get rid of some of this oil. Essentially, what he's talking about are sort of, like, vacuum cleaners -- basically these suction devices which literally suck the oil up off the surface of the water and put into a storage unit that's placed on a barge.
They tried this for the first time over the weekend. Put it -- they actually took an 18-wheeler that had one of these -- these storage devices on it. They just parked it onto a barge, tied it down, and went out to some oil, sucked it right up. And now, they have about four or five of these devices in the pipeline to get them actually working. They seem to work.
So, the governor's trying to put pressure on BP to actually pay for this. He wants to see hundreds of these, dozens if not -- you know, more than 100 of these out there, sucking up oil from the marshes, from the wetlands, and from areas where the oil is just pooling.
Basically, BP right now goes out with absorbent pads and tries to sop up the oil, but it is slow. It doesn't really work very well. The governor believes this is a much more effective way to go about doing it, and I just, you know, from visually looking at it, it looks pretty effective, Wolf.
BLITZER: But it's going to take a while to get all that equipment in order to make a dent, I suppose, Anderson?
COOPER: Well, I mean, each of these machines will suck up about 4,000 gallons of oil in the course of a day, which is admittedly not very much. But if they have more than 100 out there, it can make a dent. And frankly, there's nothing being done to get rid of the oil that's already in the marshes, that's already in these wetlands. So to the governor's point and the point of a lot of local officials here is, look, why not try this? Why not have this as one more weapon in the arsenal to get rid of this oil?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Did you get a sense from Governor Jindal that he sees some light at the end of the tunnel right now? Or is it just going to go on and on and on?
COOPER: Well, I mean, what he often says is, look, this is a marathon not a sprint. And this is just, you know, what he said today is look, this is just the first wave of oil that's really come ashore from this disaster, that there are other waves to come, he believes. So the idea, you know, he's not about to say that there's light at the end of any tunnel.
That's not a phrase I think he would use. I think he would say we are just, you know, in one sprint of a very long race here. And they're trying to, you know, kind of marshal as many resources as possible. I think, you know, he said, look, he's frustrated.
They keep getting told by BP and the Coast Guard, look, there's more boom coming tomorrow. There's more skimmers coming tomorrow but there's never enough. I mean there's just simply not enough boom out there, can't get picked up fast enough. So they're trying to get as many kind of different machines in the water as possible getting rid of this oil. But the oil just keeps on coming.
BLITZER: He's showing some impressive leadership skills -- Governor Jindal -- good for him. Thanks very much, Anderson. I just want to alert our viewers, Anderson, is going to of course, have a lot more live from the Gulf tonight. A special "AC360" 10:00 p.m. Eastern tonight, only on CNN.
CNN's John King is also back from a Coast Guard tour over this catastrophe. The ground zero area, as we like to call it, the site where the deepwater horizon rig exploded and sank. He went out on a plane with the Coast Guard. John, tell us what you saw.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I have to tell you it is incredibly sobering to be right there over where the deepwater horizon exploded 51 days ago, 51 days ago. And you see the flare where they are burning off the natural gas that they're bringing up from that containment cap, a giant flame shooting out into the sky.
Much more discouragingly, you see giant slicks of new oil. You can tell by the brightness, the thickness of the color, the way the sun reflects off it, that is new oil still coming to the surface. And as you fly out the 50 miles, you see time and time again, those patches all the Coast Guard officials have talked about. Sometimes you see a big patch over here, and sometimes there's three or four of them.
A lot of it is the thin sheen, some it is thicker, Wolf. Some of it, as you get closer to shore and the marshes Anderson was just talking about, it's brown and you see it in clumps. That is the oil that has been hit with the chemical dispersants as it comes ashore.
We're flying over this area with the point man for Louisiana, Captain Roger Laferriere, and to the point Anderson was just making -- he says there are getting more skimming boats coming by the day. They're getting help from Norway and others. They brought in just about every skimming boat on the east coast, but Captain Laferriere told us if he had every skimming boat in the world some of the oil would still come ashore.
He said that's just the way the tides work. One other thing. We've heard from Washington today a much tougher line from the administration. The Coast Guard making clear that it is being much more assertive in its relationship with BP. Captain Laferriere was tapped about two weeks ago to take this command of the Louisiana portion of the response, and he says the first time he sat down with BP officials, he made clear who would be calling the shots.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPTAIN ROGER LAFERRIERE, U.S. COAST GUARD: When I assumed command a couple weekends ago in Friday, I made it clear to BP that the Coast Guard was going to direct this response; that I had 51 percent of the vote and the law and that we would make sure that they were doing everything possible to take care of the cleanup.
KING: You see the skimming boats down there, Wolf, some very large ones out right near the source. Some smaller ones that have come in through the marshes, but still Captain Laferriere said he wished he had a different answer, but some of that oil will still make the shores in the coming weeks and months. Says they are doing the best they can, trying to get more supplies.
But, Wolf, now we're on the ground here in Montague. You see this canal behind me? All the shrimp boats are tied up along the docks for miles and miles because they can't go out and fish. The waters are closed. You see it from the air and you see it here on the ground, the devastation still 51 days later, Wolf.
BLITZER: So sad. Did you get a sense, John, the Coast Guard is up to the job; that they have the equipment, the manpower? They must really be strapped given the enormity of this crisis.
KING: They are strapped and they say they wished they had more manpower, that more manpower is coming up both in terms of their own Coast Guard resources, some other military resources. We saw a plane from Canada helping with the surveillance. Skimming boats are coming in from Norway.
Yes, they say they can use more. I will tell you this. They believe their greatest ally right now is not manpower. It is the weather and this heat-scorching sun coming down and the winds. They say right now the winds are blowing the oil back and forth not as much coming ashore because of the tides, because of the winds right now they are worried, Wolf, if the thunderstorms pick up or if, God forbid, the hurricane season picks up, that their efforts could be hampered because they think the greatest weapon they have right now is just mother nature.
The ocean itself and the sun from above breaks up and breaks down the oil, taking much of the toxins out before it makes shore.
BLITZER: John's going to have a lot more. A special "John King, USA" coming up right at the top of the hour. John, we'll be watching. It's one of Washington's most critical allies in the Middle East. Also, a NATO ally, so why did Turkey vote against new sanctions for Iran? And how angry is the U.S.? I'll ask the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.
BLITZER: The United Nations makes a new move to pressure Iran over its nuclear efforts. The sanctions vote 12-2. Turkey and Brazil opposed. Lebanon abstained. But Iran's U.N. Ambassador says his country will never bow to pressure.
Joining us now, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. Ambassador, thanks for coming in. Do you condemn the decision of Turkey and Brazil to vote against this United Nations resolution?
SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Wolf, I think it's a very unfortunate decision that they made, and I think it reflects not a difference over goals -- because both countries made very clear that they oppose Iran becoming a nuclear power, but it was a difference over tactics and timing.
These two countries went out on a diplomatic limb, tried to negotiate a last-minute deal with Tehran. None of the other members of the Security Council thought that deal was of sufficient value to change course, and so 12 countries as well as Lebanon went -- came together and imposed a very, very tough series of sanctions today on Iran.
A set of sanctions that the Iranian regime worked for months to avoid, spent huge amounts of money and diplomatic capital trying to buy and otherwise deter countries from supporting this resolution, and today they failed. That's a victory for those of -- all of us, who are concerned about the integrity of the nonproliferation regime and the peace and security of the world today and beyond.
BLITZER: I raise the question because 12 countries voted in favor of the resolution. Lebanon, an Arab country, abstained but Turkey, a NATO ally -- a NATO ally -- and Brazil, a long-standing partner of the United States, voted to oppose this resolution.
I say, do you condemn their decision? I use the word "condemned" precisely, because the Obama Administration condemned Israel's announcement a few weeks ago that it was going to build 1,600 housing units in Jerusalem. You condemned that decision. Do you condemn the decision of Turkey and Brazil to vote against you today?
RICE: Wolf, I think it's a shame. I think it reflects badly on their judgments in this regard. I think their actions speak for themselves. It's not for me to defend or condemn. It's for me to say that the United States today, in partnership with China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and 12 members of the Security Council, plus Lebanon, understood that Iran's behavior, its repeated violations of Security Council resolutions, of IAEA obligations, of its enrichment activities has faced tough consequences for its behavior.
Today's sanction resolution put in place a whole new series of -- of measures against Iran, a ban on its ability to invest in nuclear uranium activities abroad, a ban on arms imports, a ban on its ability to do anything -- any activity related to ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear weapons, those provisions by themselves will make us safer.
BLITZER: All right.
RICE: Moreover, 40 companies sanctioned, including 15 related to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a very negative actor inside of Iran --
BLITZER: All right.
RICE: -- that's very much behind its nuclear and proliferation activities. This was a very important and very significant resolution that Iran went out of its way to block and failed.
BLITZER: Yes, but we spoke a few weeks ago, right after the president of Brazil, President Lula and the prime minister of Turkey, Prime Minister Erdogan, went to Tehran and raised their hands with Ahmadinejad. We spoke at that time.
You told me when we were looking ahead, you said, what I will say to them is they should uphold international law. We continue to encourage Turkey and Brazil to make that case very plainly to Iran. Did you meet with their ambassadors and say to them, in no uncertain terms, we expect you to vote against -- to vote in favor of this resolution?
RICE: Yes, repeatedly. They know exactly what was at stake. And their leaders --
BLITZER: Did they know they would be punished as a result of this vote?
RICE: Their leaders made informed choices, as I said, very unfortunate choices, because they are now the outliers. They are standing outside of the rest of the Security Council, outside of the body of the international community.
BLITZER: What kind of consequences will Turkey and Brazil face? Specifically Turkey, a member of NATO? Is it time to start thinking about Turkey leaving NATO? RICE: Wolf, no. I'm not going to sit here and speculate about exactly what impact this will have on Turkey's relationship with NATO and other countries in the region or its bilateral relationship with the United States. This is an important issue. It is one in which we would have expected them to make a different choice. They have not. And that's a reality that they and the rest of the world will have to confront.
BLITZER: It was shocking to me that China and Russia were on board. You worked hard to get them. You got them on board. But two friendly countries like Turkey and Brazil, not on board. The immediate reaction from Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, was to these sanctions, he says, "They are liked a used handkerchief that should be dumped in a garbage can." It doesn't sound like he's overly worried.
RICE: Oh, he's very worried. And the vitriol that we heard from the Iranian ambassador, which was reprehensible and offensive today in the Security Council, the ridiculous statements that Ahmadinejad -- Ahmadinejad has made are a reflection of the fact that they did not want these sanctions to be imposed, by all variety of means, Wolf, I can assure you, we know that Iran worked very hard to prevent this resolution from passing today.
The fact that it again failed for the fourth time is a source of grave concern for the Iranian leadership. They know that the measures in this resolution will very significantly constrain their ability to pursue their nuclear and proliferation activities.
BLITZER: All right, Ambassador, thanks very much for joining us. Good luck up there.
RICE: Thank you.
BLITZER: Look, but don't touch. It's something reporters might want to keep in mind when covering the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Jeanne Moos is coming up. Stay with us. You're in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
BLITZER: Let's get right back to Lisa, she's monitoring some of the other top stories in "THE SITUATION ROOM" right now. What do you have, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. Well, the FBI is now denying it gave Joran Van der Sloot $25,000 during an undercover investigation in to Natalee Holloway's disappearance. The agency says the money came from private funds. Van der Sloot, a longtime suspect in the Holloway case, was paid in exchange for information that would allegedly lead to her body.
He faces extortion and wire fraud charges in that case. He's also facing murder charges in the death of a Peruvian woman last week. And it's a small gesture by Israel, amid the furor over its deadly raid on humanitarian ships headed for Gaza. It's lifted the ban on some food items barred from Gaza under Israel's three-year blockade. They include soda, juice, jams, spices, shaving cream, potato chips, cookies and candy. Critics call the move cosmetic, and Gaza's Hamas government says the gesture is not worth a comment.
Rod Blagojevich reportedly has been barred from tweeting during his federal criminal trial. "The Chicago Tribune" reports that the judge has suggested Blagojevich avoid all public comments on the case. The former Illinois governor has been posting tweets on Twitter proclaiming his innocence to charges he tried to sell President Obama's former Senate seat -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I'm still tweeting.
SYLVESTER: Yes, you are, sweetie, and I'm a follower.
BLITZER: Thanks very much. Jack Cafferty is coming up next with your e-mail. Plus, the hazards on reporting on the Gulf oil disaster. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a most unusual look.
BLITZER: Let's get back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More than 20 percent of American children are living below the poverty line. Dave writes it's truly sad. So many good jobs sent overseas and worse, where I work, more than half of the employees are folks from India brought over here to work cheaply. We're selling out the middle class and soon there'll only be rich and poor. Those statistics on kids will only get worse. Corporations have no souls.
Mark writes as a teacher, I can tell you from firsthand experience that the cycle the poverty is perpetuated by lazy, uninterested, uneducated parents who don't seem to care if their kads do any better in life than they have and that is our biggest problem in public education.
Joe writes we must rebuild our manufacturing sector. America has got to make things to sell other countries. For years, the only jobs I've seen in my home in Peoria, Arizona are restaurant and retail jobs and these will not grow a middle class. America peaked and is now in decline. I agree with the sentiment of term limits and kicking out the current career politicians in both parties. And for God's sakes, we've got to stop spending money.
Jim in Colorado writes while the effects on children are probably most important, this is just a subset of the extreme disparity in income in America. Bring up wealth redistribution and some people think you're attacking the foundations of America; the same America founded with the words all men are created equal. While I certainly don't suggest going to the extreme proposed by Karl Marx, it's absurd that money changers take home hundreds of millions of dollars a year while hundreds of thousands of children are hungry.
And Ralph in Chicago writes, in this great country, a single mother can raise a diverse son without the help of the father and that son can become the president of the United States. It's not the size of your wallet, but the sensibility in your heart.
If you want to read more on this subject, you can go to my blog, cnn.com/cafferty file -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jack, thank you. See you back here tomorrow. The oil disaster's impact on wildlife, Jack Hanna joins John King to talk about saving Gulf animals. That's coming up at the top of the hour on "John King, USA." Also, it's a story that has many journalists in unchartered waters. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a most unusual look.
BLITZER: Most people are trying to avoid the Gulf, the oil that's in the gulf of Mexico right now, but not TV reporters. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a most unusual look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Remember when beach goers used to stroll along collecting shells? Now reporters are using shells to collect oil. Oil is like cat nip to the press.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thick, gooey, orange.
MOOS: From the teeniest tar balls to huge patties.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at that size.
JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW: Who is going to be dumb enough to touch the oil? Oh, right, newsmen. Were you not -- oh, reporters, what are you doing? No, Mr. President, don't do it. Wait a minute. I'm not an oil cleanup expert, but I can tell you what I don't believe will get the job done. Doritos.
MOOS: Warning --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tar ball materials you see on the beach are not to be touched by your hand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can see how very sticky they are. It doesn't even come off with normal soap and water.
MOOS: They put on masks. They put on gloves.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look how thick it is.
MOOS: They put on waders. Sometimes the waders --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Microphone just fell.
MOOS: -- can be more problematic than the oil especially when you have to fish your mike out of them. And don't break the ladder. But at least CNN's Brooke Baldwin stayed dry, and AP photographer and divers jumped right into the goo and lived to describe it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These big snot balls coming through.
MOOS: But gross or not, oil from the BP spill of 2010 has become a keep sake.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I brought you some souvenirs. Oh, it smells.
RICK SANCHEZ: Oh!
MOOS: One beach goer had her souvenir baggy commandeered.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I have this for a second?
MOOS: By a reporter doing a live shot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sand, oil that's what it looks like. The hardened stuff right over here, this is a McDonald's cup.
MOOS: Talk about product placement. For most of us, this is as close as we ever get to handling oil. But down in the Gulf Coast, they're poking at it like it's a bad dessert.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like fudge, man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are going to continue tos assess this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like what you'd put on a cake or something.
MOOS: Yes, well we doubt Martha Stewart would frost with this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If felt like I stepped in pooh. We pooped on ourselves. Humanity has just kind of pooped on itself and we're swimming in this stuff.
MOOS: No wonder the CEO of BP warned a photographer not to step in it.
TONY HAYWARD: Hey, get out of there.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just disgusting.
MOOS: New York.
BLITZER: Remember you can always follow what's going on here in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I'm on Twitter. You can get my tweets at Twitter.com/wolfblitzercnn@wolfblitzercnn. All one word. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." "John King USA" live from the Gulf Coast starts right now.