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THE SITUATION ROOM
Psychological Toll Oil Disaster Has Taken; DNC's 2nd Swipe at Congressman Barton; Bin Laden Hunter Returns Home; U.S. Commander In Afghanistan Relieved Of Command
Aired June 26, 2010 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: A runaway general relieved of command; and a battle-tested general called up to replace him. This hour, new leadership for the war in Afghanistan after Stanley McChrystal's ouster.
Florida is getting hit by the worst taste of a Gulf oil disaster yet. And a top state Republican is complaining about tons of red tape. But Senate Candidate Marco Rubio is saving his harshest critic for his opponent, Governor Charlie Crist.
And he's an icon of the anti-government movement. So does Congressman Ron Paul believe that the administration was involved in a shakedown of BP?
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Top military leaders are rallying behind the president's decision to fire his Afghan war commander this week. General Stanley McChrystal was forced out after he and his aides mocked administration officials in a "Rolling Stone" magazine interview.
General David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, now is poised to take over. And the president is vowing to move forward with his war strategy. Our White House Correspondent Dan Lothian has more on McChrystal's fall.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Saying that it was a change in personnel, not policy, President Obama closed the book on his top man in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general.
President Obama called General McChrystal to Washington to Afghanistan to hear him out in person before making his decision. A 32-minute one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office could not reverse a feeling that the general was no longer capable of carrying out the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. OBAMA: It undermines the civilian control of the military, that is at the core of our democratic system. And it erodes the trust that's necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan.
LOTHIAN: This isn't the first time General McChrystal locked horns with the administration. Last year, he publicly dismissed a smaller, leaner force in Afghanistan that the vice president was advocating. He was reprimanded by Mr. Obama. This time McChrystal and his aides were quoted in "Rolling Stone" magazine taking shots at President Obama and his entire national security team, a big distraction for the White House even as the U.S. and coalition forces waged a difficult war.
OBAMA: It is my duty to ensure that no diversion complicates the vital mission that they're carrying out. That includes adherence to a strict code of conduct.
LOTHIAN: In a statement, General McChrystal said he'd resign out of respect for the president's strategy in Afghanistan, and a desire to see the mission succeed. Bruce Fleming, a Naval Academy professor, who will soon release a book on the friction between military and civilian leadership, says this controversy reveals a long-standing problem on the battlefield.
BRUCE FLEMING, PROFESSOR, NAVAL ACADEMY: They don't like it that people who are not military tell them what to do.
LOTHIAN: That frustration is what Fleming says the administration needs to focus on now, much bigger than a few controversial comments by a four-star general.
(On camera): A senior administration official says the president's tone in the meeting with his national security team was stern, and that he pointed out that while he appreciates disagreements and differences, he will not tolerate pettiness. Dan Lothian, CNN, the White House.
MALVEAUX: Wolf spoke about this week's stunning developments with CNN's John King, CNN National Security Contributor Fran Townsend and retired General Wesley Clark a former supreme allied commander of NATO.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: General Clark, did the president, from your perspective as a military man, do the right thing, do the wrong thing? Did he have any choice?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK, FMR. SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, NATO: I don't think he really had any choice. I think there wasn't a policy disagreement. These were personal views about people that had become personal that is out the public. You just can't do that. And there's lines you can't cross. And there's even actions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with insulting a president and things like this. You just-you can't do it.
BLITZER: Technically, you're saying he could have been court- martialed?
CLARK: Technically, when you look at it, you can't do that. And as an allied commander when you say things like this, it's not just the U.S. troops and U.S. chain of command, but it's in front of the whole world, it was a-Secretary Gates said it was a mistake in judgment, it was a mistake in judgment. It was a tragedy. I mean, McChrystal is an outstanding officer, he's had a great career, has done great things. I feel terrible for him and for his family and for the president who had to make this tough decision. But I think he made the right decision.
BLITZER: Yesterday, Fran, you thought he might be able to survive this?
FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NAT'L. SECURITY ANALYST: That's right. Wolf, look, he apologized -- I agree with General Clark, it was a horrible miscalculation, poor judgment on his part. And I will tell you over the 24 hours, as you talk to U.S. senior military officers currently serving, who very much like and respect as does General Clark, General McChrystal's achievements, military service, everybody was-just cringed, was horrified by the conduct.
It really was. The president mentioned it was unbecoming of an officer of that rank. There was well-the president acted well within his authority. And I have to tell you I think it was a brilliant and inspired move to look to General Petraeus, who has obviously successfully executed a counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq.
BLITZER: Yes, positive, a very positive move on the part of the president, John.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: Look, Wolf, this article came at a time when there were already deep doubts. Especially among the Democrats in Congress, but even some in the Republican in Congress questioning the administration of the strategy. Some think you need more troops, some think it's the Karzai government they need to pressure. But there are a number of some of them related, some not related criticisms of the strategy. The Democrats now have to put up tough votes to fund this war.
Anyone else, anyone else, even General Rodriguez, the deputy to General McChrystal who is widely respected and regarded doesn't have the stature. General Petraeus has a unique stature in the United States military active service right now, because of Iraq. Even Democrats who oppose the surge, remember Moveon.org had that ad, "General Betray-Us". Even they took that ad down off their Web site. He has unique respect. The president will get some grumbling on the strategy, but he will get the funding, this will move quickly.
BLITZER: General Clark, the article's upshot. Forget about all the stuff about who said what. The upshot was this war is not winnable, right now. And the U.S. should simply pick up and get out of there, I'm sort of paraphrasing. But that is if-if you read the article, I'm sure you did-that's what the author Michael Hastings, suggests. Here's the question as a Vietnam war veteran, you understand the situation in Afghanistan, is this war winnable right now?
CLARK: I think it's winnable in the sense of trying to come out of it with a permanent set back for Al Qaeda and international terrorism and denying Al Qaeda the kind of base it could have if we were to have pulled out of Afghanistan. Is it winnable in terms of establishing Afghanistan as the 51st state of the United States? No. And are we going to have the predominant interest in post-conflict Afghanistan? Probably not, because of geography. But it is possible for the United States, I believe, to achieve its objectives there, which is to decisively defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
BLITZER: It is going to be a huge cost; 100,000 troops will be in place within a few weeks. And you know this is costing billions and billions of dollars. Is it worth it?
CLARK: Well, I think you have to look at what the alternative is. And what we've really got to do is we've really got to come to grips with Al Qaeda. They're mostly in Pakistan, apparently, the leadership. But you can't deal with them in Pakistan without working Afghanistan. So it's an integrated theater. And I think that our commanders and our leadership there are putting together -- it's an incredibly complex program, and it's a good program. And I think it has a reasonable chance of success. No guarantees, but we're not on a losing team.
MALVEAUX: Confirmation hearings for General Petraeus will begin on Tuesday. He's a four-star general and the former U.S. commander in Iraq. He was promoted to head of U.S. C Central Command in 2008, where he's overseeing U.S. troops across the Middle East, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Petraeus was also in charge during the U.S. troop surge in Iraq in 2007. And he came up with new strategies for fighting insurgents, which paved the way for reducing U.S. troops. He also holds a doctorate in international relations from Princeton University.
Well, did the staff at "Rolling Stone" have any idea that the sensational comments by General Stanley McChrystal, and his aides, could make such a huge impact?
Wolf spoke with the executive director of "Rolling Stone" magazine, Eric Bates.
ERIC BATES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, "ROLLING STONE": Well, even as a reader, when Michael Hastings, the reporter was telling me what he was getting and when I read the first draft. You can't read this and not know that what's it in is explosive. So, certainly we had a feeling early on that this was going to create a furor. But how quickly it exploded, and how big, took me by surprise.
BLITZER: Walk us through how Michael Hastings, and I spoke with him on the phone, and he's obviously a talented young journalist. He spent, what, a month in Afghanistan, maybe longer? He's been out in the region for a while. Walk us through how he got this extraordinary access to General McChrystal and his aides.
BATES: Sure, Michael has been reporting on both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for several years. He had about six weeks to two months on this story. A lot of that with the general and his team. Flew in to meet them in Paris where McChrystal had gone to try and convince our French allies to stay the course.
And really from the first hours that he arrived, started to hearing a lot of this trash talk from the general and his team, about Vice President Biden, and others in the administration. It really began right away. He wound up spending more time than he expected with the general because the trip coincided with the volcano that erupted in Iceland. So he wound up traveling with the general to Berlin, and then on to Kabul, and eventually on to Kandahar, where the general met with some of his own troops who were unhappy with the way the war was progressing.
BLITZER: And he was invited to join the general on the military plane that took him to all of these locations?
BATES: In some cases he flew separately, in some cases he flew with General McChrystal or his team.
BLITZER: Does "Rolling Stone" magazine usually get this kind of access to a military commander?
BATES: I think this was really unprecedented access at this level. But I have to say, we've always gotten very good access from the military. Because we have a very young readership and the military wants to reach those readers and impress upon them their point of view. And if you read the story, I think what is striking about it is what a complete assessment it really is of how General McChrystal and his team view the war and view the world.
BLITZER: You know, anybody who reads this article, and as I said, I read it t his morning, comes away thinking this whole war, right now, looks dire. It doesn't look very promising. The U.S. military forces, the soldiers, the Marines on the ground. They really complain bitterly that they're forced by General McChrystal to fight with one arm tied behind their backs, so that there won't be civilian Afghan casualties. Is that the conclusion you've drawn from this reporting by Michael?
BATES: Absolutely. And that is what Michael is hearing even now from a report -- from troops on the ground in Kandahar where he's reporting another story. They feel that way. They're glad their views are getting out. I think what is being missed in some of the discussion of insubordination, as legitimate as it may be, is that there is a larger issue here. Which is that counterinsurgency, the strategy that General McChrystal is promoting, relies on a very close intertwining of the military and diplomatic arms of the war. And right now, those arms are severely divided. It's difficult to imagine how the United States can win in Afghanistan even if everyone's on the same page. But if they aren't on the same page, it's hard to conclude that we can do anything but lose.
BLITZER: Those of us who have been reading "Rolling Stone" magazine for decades now know you guys have done some great journalism. I suspect, though, this is one of the stories that's going to generate a lot more commotion than usual, even with some of the other excellent pieces you published over the years. Eric Bates, thanks very much.
BATES: Thank you.
MALVEAUX: Some sharp criticism of how President Obama is handling the Gulf oil disaster. Florida Republican Senate Candidate Marco Rubio explains why he thinks the administration is failing.
Plus, a CNN exclusive, we go one-on-one guy with the American guy determined to avenge 9/11. And hunt down Osama bin Laden by himself.
MALVEAUX: There are big black globs washed up on the beach in Pensacola, Florida this week. Just take a look at it. It is the biggest amount of oil to hit so far, affecting more than nine miles of white shoreline. A health advisory has been issued for parts of Pensacola Beach, and Fort Pickens. Florida Governor and U.S. Senate candidate, Charlie Crist says it just breaks his heart. Wolf talked about the spill with Crists' opponent, Republican Marco Rubio.
BLITZER: Let's talk about what's happening right now in Florida. Because it is pretty heartbreaking to see these pictures. It seems to be getting worse and worse, not better. Is that what you're hearing?
MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATE: It is. And it is heartbreaking. You see the sandy white beaches in Pensacola that are part of our heritage, people have raised their families there, both economically and creating family memories. And to se the pictures coming out today are-just absolutely breaks your heart.
BLITZER: So, what needs to be done right now?
RUBIO: Well, unfortunately more needs to be done. I mean, that's the bottom line.
BLITZER: Like what?
RUBIO: I think the federal government took its time in responding to this early on. They weren't quick enough. I think the bureaucracy continues to be in place. If you talk to the locals, they will tell you the red tape is extraordinary.
Look this is-we are the most powerful country in the world. Every oil skimmer on the planet should be in the Gulf of Mexico by now. And they're not. I think that is something that our Senator now, George LeMieux, has been talking about repeatedly. We need-the federal government needs to do a better job of addressing what we have here.
BLITZER: And Senator Nelson, is he doing a good job?
RUBIO: Like I said, I have heard Senator Nelson speak out about it as well, but the leader in this effort has been Senator LeMieux, who has consistently spoken out for the need for more skimmers. I think as of yesterday there were 20 some odd skimmers working at that moment. It's tragic to see this happening because of a lack of response of the federal government.
BLITZER: We see the Governor Charlie Crist, your challenger, your opponent for the Senate, we see him out there all the time. How's he doing?
RUBIO: Well, he's doing a great job of getting, you know, press releases and press conferences and video time. That's part of the job of being governor. But the other part is to get results. Right now we're not getting result from the Obama administration. I don't think the governor has pressed the Obama administration enough. I think recently he said that he thought the Obama administration was doing a very good job, that they have finally caught up. They haven't. And today is evidence that they haven't caught up.
BLITZER: So, you're blaming who?
RUBIO: Well, first of all, BP. There is no doubt about it that they cut corners. We are learning about that everyday. That BP cut corners and it lead to this accident. They are ultimately responsible for what has happened here. We are also supposed to have a federal government who by law is responsible for dealing with emergencies of this degree. And they weren't prepared to do so. They didn't have plans to do so. They didn't have resources to do so. And 60 some odd days after the spill, they're still not doing a good job.
BLITZER: You seem to disagree with Governor Crist on the whole issue of offshore oil drilling, off the coast of Florida. Do you?
RUBIO: Well, what I believe is America has to have all of its energy resources at its disposal. We have to have domestic production. I hope we reach a point where we don't need any petroleum. I don't know if that is going to happen, but for example, this initiative to more electric cars. I think that's fantastic. I have always been a fan of alternatives, and efficiency improvements that allow us to become energy independent. But in the short term, the truth is that America has to increase its domestic energy production and part of that may have to be the offshore drilling. And we know that.
BLITZER: Off the coast of where, Daytona, Miami or Pensacola. You want to see deep water drilling going on there?
RUBIO: Well, first of all, Florida law prohibits near the coast. Now you're talking about deepwater drilling. I only want to see it if it can be done safely. That is why it is so important that we study why this happened. And if you tell me they're going to have to put up with a couple more of these, of course not. But can it be done safely? There's evidence that it can be done safely. It's being done safely all over the world.
So, in the future, once we pass the crisis, I think America has to have more domestic production, but only if it can be done in a safe way.
BLITZER: Well, I just want to be precise. Because when he was on this show about a week or so a ago, he said flatly he doesn't want to see any offshore oil drilling anywhere near Florida, but on this specific issue, you have a different take?
RUBIO: Well, my take on it is that America has to have domestic production. We have to increase our domestic production. I don't know how we do that if we don't offshore drill. If there's something we can do instead, maybe that's better. Ultimately those who are against domestic production need to show where we are going to get our energy from. They need to point to where they're going to get it from. If it is going to be from foreign countries, that means you are going to bring it in on tankers, and tankers are just as dangerous as drilling.
BLITZER: So, if Charlie Crist does an ad saying, I oppose offshore drilling off the coast of Florida, Marco Rubio supports offshore oil drilling off of the coast of Florida, would that be accurate?
RUBIO: Well, it would only be accurate if it's being done safely. And the second thing that he would not point out in that add is that he was one of the leaders of the drill, baby, drill chants just a couple of years ago when he was hoping to become Senator McCain's vice presidential choice. But that is neither here, nor there, the bottom line is I am for safe exploration of domestic resources. We need that in order to be energy independent and safe. But it has to be done safely. And that is why it is so important to find out why this happened, so it never happens again.
BLITZER: All right. Listen to what he said to me on the whole issue of energy when he was here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHARLIE CRIST, U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: We have a duty and an obligation to protect our beaches. This is also a wakeup call I think for us to go more green, and more clean in terms of the types of energy that we generate, whether it is wind, or solar, or nuclear. We have to look to other means. Be responsible. Do what's right. And certainly not plug another hole in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico to potentially create another one of these catastrophes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Go ahead and react.
RUBIO: What car runs on wind power? What car runs on solar power that is cost-effective? The are no cars that I know that run on nuclear power. What we are talking about here is transportation energy. And right now the only cost-effective way to fuel vehicles for driving for airplanes, etc., is petroleum-based products. We should change that. We should invest in technologies. We should invest the time to become a leader in alternatives, whether it's fuel cells, or electric cars. But that's not going to happen from today to next week, or next month, or next year. In the interim, we have to have a supply of energy for our country that is safe and reliable. And that's the position I think our country needs to be in.
BLITZER: Marco Rubio, the Republican senatorial candidate. Congratulations on your win. We'll be watching this race very closely. I hope you'll come back.
RUBIO: I hope to come back. Thank you.
MALVEAUX: He's in charge of the $20 billion compensation fund for victims of the oil disaster. He's vowing to get the money out quickly. Kenneth Feinberg is in THE SITUATION ROOM.
On the heels of Hurricane Katrina, a new disaster for New Orleans. We'll talk with Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
MALVEAUX: Under pressure from the Obama administration, BP has established a $20 billion compensation fund for victims of the oil disaster. The man picked to oversee it will be able to draw on the experience he gained after 9/11. Wolf spoke with the new oil claims administrator, Kenneth Feinberg.
BLITZER: There has been a little confusion about lawsuits down the road. If people accept payment from BP out of this initial $20 billion compensation fund, do they forego their ability, down the road, to file lawsuits against BP?
KENNETH FEINBERG, COMPENSATION ADMINISTRATOR: First of all, it's not BP that's playing these claims. It's the independent administrator, myself.
BLITZER: But the money comes from BP.
FEINBERG: BP and the administration-that is correct, out of the escrow account.
Now, any emergency payments that are paid in the next few weeks are paid on an emergency basis to any eligible claimant, those claimants do not forego their right to litigate down the road. If, at some point, in the next 60 or 90 days, they are offered a lump-sum, final settlement, at that point, they will voluntarily decide whether to litigate or take the money and refuse to litigate. Just like the 9/11 fund, Wolf, that you know so much about.
BLITZER: Because you administered those funds as well. If people accepted a lump sum for the loss, they then decided they forego their right to go ahead and file separate lawsuits to try to collect more money. That's the same basically with the exception of the next 30 or 60 or 90 days during the emergency period. Down the road, they're not going to be able to file lawsuits if they get a lump sum.
FEINBERG: That's right. But don't forget, as you know better than most, 97 percent of all of the eligible death claims in 9/11 came into the fund. Only 94 people, 94, decided to sue. I hope we will have that same ratio, or better with this fund here in the Gulf.
BLITZER: Because you are hoping these folks won't file lawsuits because the lawyers will make money. And with all due respect to lawyers, I know you're a lawyer, yourself. It could drag on for years and years. You think these people will be better taking the money and then forgetting about lawsuits?
FEINBERG: That's right. It's purely voluntary. The emergency payments that we're paying out right now, Governor Riley urged me, get the money out quickly here in Alabama those emergency payments do not require that anybody elect not to sue. That will be down the road.
BLITZER: The long-term compensation -- the lump sum, as you call them, down the road. How will that be determined? Let's say there's a shrimper. There's a fisherman whose business is going to die for the next several decades until this thing is cleaned up. Will you provide the money over these years and years that he or she could have made if the business had been prosperous without this disaster?
FEINBERG: Under your hypothetical, the answer is, yes. The shrimper will come into the claim fund, this independent facility. First we will give that shrimper emergency payments to get through the next 30 to 60 days without any obligation. The money is theirs if it's corroborated, an eligible claim, under your hypothetical. Then we'll sit with the shrimper. They'll come up with a lump sum payment that will govern the long-term destruction of his business -- or her business. Cut a check. If the shrimper wants the check, they will relinquish the right to sue. Here's the check. If they don't, they can go and litigate as long as they'd like.
BLITZER: We know that your 9/11 compensation work lasted a few years. You resolved the whole thing. You got really good grades for that. How long do you think this process is going to go on? Months? Years? What is your estimate before the money dries up?
FEINBERG: Well, a couple of things. First of all it would be nice to know the oil stopped flowing. It's a little hard to have a cutoff date if there's still an ongoing problem in the Gulf. I would hope we would be able to resolve these claims roughly in the same time period as the 9/11 fund three years, maybe four years. Now, that remains to be seen.
And don't forget, if the $20 billion is insufficient, maybe it won't be, but if it is, both the administration and BP have agreed that BP would replenish the fund, as needed, in order to pay all eligible claims.
BLITZER: So it could be a lot more than $20 billion.
FEINBERG: Theoretically it could be, that remains to be seen.
BLITZER: Depending on how much of a demand there is, how many claims there are. Do you have the staff right now, Ken Feinberg, to get the enormous job done?
FEINBERG: No. We'll want to build up a greater staff. Let me say, Wolf, BP deserves a good deal of credit here for setting up this original claims process. Like with 9/11, I'm not starting from scratch. BP has done a pretty good job across the Gulf.
In talking to the various governors in the Gulf, they give BP some credit for what's been done. But I think we have got to supplement that staff with my own people, independent, not beholden to anybody, to build up that process and get these claims resolved quicker and more effectively than have been to date.
BLITZER: All right.
Ken Feinberg, good luck. You have an enormous challenge ahead of you. We wish you only -- only success.
FEINBERG: Thanks, Wolf. Thanks very, very much.
MALVEAUX: Still suffering the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans now faces potentially huge fallout. We're going to talk about that with Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Plus, Ron Paul. Does he agree with his fellow congressman who called the BP compensation fund a shakedown?
MALVEAUX: Relatives of a charter boat captain link his suicide to the devastation in the Gulf. Allen Kruse told his family he believed the oil spill killed his livelihood, as well as the waters where he made his living.
I asked New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu about the psychological toll the disaster has taken.
MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU (D), NEW ORLEANS: This is a catastrophic event for us. And it's laid on top of what we suffered as a result of Katrina and Rita.
On top of that, the moratorium adds another layer of distress to folks that are just trying to make it through the day. We are talking about people's livelihoods, cultures, people for a long period of time.
We think it is going to get harder, not easier. But, listen, we have been through a lot of stuff. I don't think that anybody should expect that this thing is going to get easier over time. I think it's going to get harder. And it's always fallen on our shoulders to really stand back up.
That is why it has been so difficult for us for the past number of days, and we expect that it's going to get harder. We're in it for the long haul, but we will be here when it is over.
MALVEAUX: And there are services -- I know that, after Katrina hit, and I have relatives there, that there was a lot of depression. Are there services that you are providing for the people of New Orleans to help them cope with this?
LANDRIEU: Absolutely, no question about that.
One of the things that we want to continue to talk to individuals that are worried about the consequences is the mental health consequences. We saw this a lot after Katrina and Rita, where older individuals, individuals that had been through it, lost everything, really just kind of gave up. So, it's something that we want to pay particular attention to. It's something that we want to be prepared for.
We know that it is coming, and we just have to prepare as best we can for it. It is really very unfortunate. And it's one of those things that happens. And, of course, when you have four or five events that land on top of each other, it really kind of pulls people's resilience down more than you normally would be.
MALVEAUX: Now, Mayor, you have requested of BP some $75 million to help with a campaign, an ad campaign to promote tourism. I understand that you have gotten -- at least the state of Louisiana -- $15 million, of which New Orleans has gotten a third.
Your predecessor, Mayor Ray Nagin, got a lot of criticism because he focused on building up the French Quarter after Hurricane Katrina, and he left a lot of people in Ward 9 and ward 7, where my folks are from, behind, and they didn't get the kind of funding support they needed to recover.
Do you think that is the best use of the money here is to promote the tourism business? How do you guarantee that that is the kind of money that's going to trickle down and help the folks who really need it?
LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, BP should pay every damage that they cause by this spill. And those damages are going to be for people's businesses. They're going to be for people's lives. They're going to be for their boats. They're going to be for all of the consequential damages.
Tourism is a huge industry in the state of Louisiana, as is in Florida. And if you don't market to the rest of the country that New Orleans right now, for all intent and purposes, is open for business and is doing really well, the loss of jobs, not only in the tourist industry, but for the folks that live in the neighborhoods in New Orleans, is going to be much more dramatic than it is now.
BP obviously believes in advertising. They obviously believe that it makes a difference, because they have been doing a whole lot of it in the last couple of weeks. And so you will see states, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, all of those that have lost jobs that are related to this. We have lost jobs in the fishing industry. We have lost jobs in the oil and gas industry.
We want to stop the bleeding of jobs. That is what pays people's mortgages. That is what pays people's health insurance. That's what sends folks' kids to school. So, we want to make sure we get ahead of this, so that the damages are mitigated over a long period of time.
MALVEAUX: Mayor Landrieu, thank you so much for joining us here.
LANDRIEU: That's great. Thank you.
MALVEAUX: And obviously we wish the folks in New Orleans the very best in the recovery effort.
Thank you so much.
MALVEAUX: Democrats aren't letting Republican Congressman Joe Barton forget his controversial apology to BP, and has charged that the oil giant was the target of a government shakedown.
Ahead, Wolf asks a star of the anti-government movement to weigh in -- Congressman Ron Paul.
And Russia's president reveals a landmark accomplishment -- the story behind his first tweet.
MALVEAUX: Democrats are taking another swipe at Congressman Joe Barton for the Republican's controversial apology to BP. This TV spot is titled "How Republicans Would Govern." It features Barton and several other GOP lawmakers apparently sticking up for the oil giant.
Wolf talked about Barton's red-hot remarks with another Texas Republican, Congressman Ron Paul.
BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about your colleague from Texas, Congressman Joe Barton, another Republican.
He apologized to BP last week. Later, he retracted it. But it's caused a big uproar, and the Republican leadership really came down on him hard.
What is your assessment?
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Well, I don't know have a strong opinion because I don't know what went on. You know, how can we judge what happened in a private conversation? I am waiting for a release of the discussion to know what really went on.
But, you know, that bothers me, also, because of maybe picking of the words, what he called a shakedown. Well, what if he had said the president put pressure on BP to do this? Then it would have been politically correct.
You have to check with the political correct police on how you word things. You misword things, you get into big trouble.
So, I think it's a lot of that. But I'm concerned about the whole issue, because I think this is unprecedented.
BLITZER: But you want BP to pay up for all of the folks who are losing their livelihoods. That $20 billion escrow account that the White House put pressure, let's say, on BP to come up with, that was a good idea, right?
PAUL: Well, I'm not sure about the process. I don't think that the process has -- you know, you can defend that with the rule of law. That isn't generally the way you do it. And if this is unprecedented in how they did it. But he had already started --
BLITZER: Unprecedented, because the attorney general was at that meeting where they negotiated all that?
PAUL: Well, yes. I mean, by what authority do presidents make deals with big companies? I mean, that isn't part of our law. That isn't part of our Constitution.
I am always worried about big business and big government in bed together. Here's a company that is in bed with big government already, so I am already suspect.
You know, they are champions of cap and trade. They get our protection. You know, they have a lot of oil in the Middle East, and you know our Navy and our troops are in the Middle East to protect our oil. So they are in bed with big government already.
So, this is good PR for the executive branch, it's good PR for BP, but it is not good PR for the process. BP had already started paying out, you know, claims and working this through. But to come up with this scheme, I don't think it's proper, but if -- I think BP should pay $100 billion if necessary, but I want them to do it right, and I don't want this partnership between big business and big government to, you know, accelerate.
PAUL: I don't like that. I like it to be separate and I like to follow the rule of law.
BLITZER: Spoken as a true Libertarian, as you are. I'm not surprised.
Let me talk briefly -- we only have a little time left -- about your son Rand Paul. He's an ophthalmologist. He's an M.D. just like you.
Is he ready for the pressure that's being put on him as he runs as the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky?
PAUL: Well, if they were all like you, Wolf, and reasonably fair, I think he's very much ready. But when the demagogues get loose, none of us are ready. They can trap us and trick us. It's a shame that politics is, are you ready for the entrapment by the media? I mean, that's what it is. It's a game.
BLITZER: But you handle the media very well. I wonder if you think Rand Paul can do what you do.
PAUL: I think he's doing better than I did when I was his age. You know, even though he's mature and in his 40s, I came to Congress approximately that age. I don't feel like I could handle things as well as I can now, but I think things are tougher now.
I think they're meaner and nastier, and you're set up more, and there's collusion. It's much different than just discussing an issue.
I'm fortunate. I think I've gained acceptance enough that interviewers like you and others have treated me rather well and have dealt with me with the issues. So I'm pleased with that. But I would say that he will learn, and I think he does a good job. I think his demeanor is rather good.
BLITZER: It's going to be a fascinating race in Kentucky. We'll watch it, but you'll watch it a lot more closely, I'm sure.
BLITZER: Congressman, thanks very much. I know you're very proud of your son, as you should be.
PAUL: Thank you, Wolf.
MALVEAUX: He went on a solo mission to hunt for Osama bin Laden, and he's comparing himself to Rambo. We have an exclusive interview with the American man who was arrested while trying to track down the world's most wanted terrorist.
MALVEAUX: He says he went to Pakistan to hunt Osama bin Laden, but Pakistani police stopped him, saying he carried a pistol, sword and night vision equipment. After 10 days of detention, Gary Faulkner was sent home.
JIM SPELLMAN, CNN ALL-PLATFORM JOURNALIST: So, what happened that you got -- that you were -- this is unclear to us, that you were arrested or detained? Like, what was going on, and what happened?
GARY FAULKNER, BIN LADEN HUNTER: Oh, oh, nothing like that at all. I was never arrested. I was never detained. I was never captured or anything like that. I wasn't flogged or beat or anything like this.
For my protection, they had to bounce me around because somehow my cover got blown. So, they helped me go from a place to a place to a place only so no one could actually get an actual location on me until they were sure that the airplane in Islamabad, the plane could be boarded without someone seeing me. Because if someone saw me, and you had a launched (ph) rocket, it is nothing to take a plane out.
I'm in a very trying time, and my emotions are on edge. I mean, my life was on edge.
You know, there is people out there talking smack -- "Oh, he's crazy," or this or that. You know what? Those are the people sitting on their (EXPLETIVE DELETED) talking.
They'll sit there and say, well, that quarterback should have done this, or this guy should have done that. But you know what? They don't do nothing but talk. And that's what I am talking about it.
I got off of my butt and I put my life on the line to go out there. I know there's a -- I mean, my life is a story that you won't believe. But you know what? It doesn't matter.
What does matter is I stood up for what I believed. And if nobody doesn't like that, I could care less. That doesn't mean nothing to me, because I don't see them.
I may hear them. But you know what? They do the same thing day in and day out because they are miserable, retched and blind.
You could say I'm a religious freak. You could say I'm a Rambo or a samurai, or whatever. But you know what? I'm a person that said, you know what? I'm going to get off of my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and do something. And I will be darned if I'm going to sit back and let anybody out there say this or that when they weren't there.
I'm on dialysis. I put my life on the line. My life was on the line not because of them, and not because of Pakis (ph) or al Qaeda or anyone else. Because I chose it because of my belief.
Now, when you're able to stand up and put your life on the line, then we'll sit down and talk. Until then, you shut your mouth. You sit down and you get to the back of the bus.
Better yet, get off of the bus, because this ain't your bus. This ain't your ride.
I'm sorry. I'm a little bit edgy. I'm very tired from the long trip and stuff like this. I don't mean to be that way, but I am that way.
MALVEAUX: Gary Faulkner says he has no regrets and was guided by God.
During a visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, President Obama said they managed to reset the relationship between the U.S. and Russia. So, what if the Cold War hotline between the White House and the Kremlin finally becomes a thing of the past?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some have even wondered whether our Declaration of Independence may have been signed with goose quills from Russia. More than 200 years later, it's a sign of the times that during his visit to Silicon Valley, President Medvedev opened his own Twitter account. I have one, as well, and I said during our press conference today that we may be able to finally get rid of those old red phones.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: That Silicon Valley visit is something you'll only see here on CNN.
Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty went along.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, we did get an up-close and personal view of the president. We spent the entire day with him out in Silicon Valley. And, you know, his staff say that he's really a technophile. He now has four iPhones. He works on a Mac. He's blogging, he's tweeting.
And that's all the fun part of it, but there's a serious side to it, too, and that's what he's calling his innovation strategy.
PRES. DMITRY MEDVEDEV, RUSSIA: That's Russian. Is that it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It's (INAUDIBLE).
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): At Twitter, the tech-savvy Russian president hits the button.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There we go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
DOUGHERTY: "Greetings to everyone," he says. "I'm at Twitter, and this is my first tweet."
Dressed in jeans, Dmitry Medvedev tours Silicon Valley. And I have joined the Russian media as the only American journalist granted access.
Russia has big plans to build its own multibillion-dollar version of Silicon Valley in the Moscow suburbs. "Impressions?" I ask.
"Really good," he says. "Haven't seen a lot yet, but it is impressive."
(on camera): And now we are on Highway 101 in the motorcade. He is going to go to Cisco, and we're cutting right through Silicon Valley.
(voice-over): In a coffee shop in Palo Alto, he tries to woo young Russian engineers and entrepreneurs back home to be part of it.
Ana Dvornikova (ph), a businesswoman, says she hopes Mr. Medvedev will see the optimism here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that thing is that it is OK to fail. And the third thing is that Silicon Valley is about startups -- small, risky companies.
DOUGHERTY: We run from the motorcade to the next stop, Yandex, Russia's biggest Internet search engine. They have opened up a small lab here in Silicon Valley.
Why? Co-founder Arkady Volozh tells me because this is where the talent is.
(on camera): If Russia wants to attract talent, why are so many Russians here in Silicon Valley?
ARKADY VOLOZH, CO-FOUNDER, YANDEX: Because people are free, and they may work and live wherever they want.
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): His partner, Ilya Segalovich, says it could be a tough sell for President Medvedev to create his own Silicon Valley.
(on camera): Is it difficult to do that, to convince people?
ILYA SEGALOVICH, CO-FOUNDER, YANDEX: I think it is difficult to convince the people. I think it is.
SEGALOVICH: Very few positive examples.
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): From Silicon Valleys to Stanford University, the president makes his pitch. His pet project, innovation, is looking for partners.
DOUGHERTY: One young Russian man told President Medvedev that Silicon Valley isn't really a place, it's a state of mind. And Mr. Medvedev does seem to agree. He said Russia has money, a lot of money. But fostering that state of mind could be the biggest challenge of all -- Suzanne.
Surf lessons in Gaza, and more pictures worth a thousand words. "Hot Shots "is next.
MALVEAUX: Here's a look at some of this week's "Hot Shots."
In Honduras, the health minister takes part in a fumigation against mosquitoes. Dengue Fever has led to 12 deaths there.
In Monaco, Prince Albert unveils a giant Buddha for the opening of a new bar.
In Gaza, a boy at the beach learns how to surf.
Those are some of this week's "Hot Shots," pictures worth a thousand words.
I'm Suzanne Malveaux.
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, and at this time every weekend on CNN International.
The news continues next on CNN.