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Iran's Nuclear Weapons?; Bed Bug Infestation in New York City; Second Wave of Flooding Expected in Pakistan

Aired August 13, 2010 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And you are in "The Situation Room," happening now Iran on the verge of starting up a nuclear reactor, but will atomic energy agencies move the country closer to atomic weapons? We have details of the role Russia is playing right now.

Also, a suspected serial killer waives extradition clearing the way for him to return to face murder charges in Michigan and now the family is speaking out for the first time.

And bed bugs infesting New York City spreading from homes to stores and office buildings. They are hard to find and harder to get rid of, but one exterminator has a not so secret weapon.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you are in "The Situation Room."

It is the worst natural disaster to hit Pakistan in decades, and right now, it is threatening to get even worse. A second wave of flooding is expected to swamp southern Pakistan this weekend as massive rainfall from the north flows into areas that are already decimated.

The scope of the disaster is stunning. As many as 15 million people affected, and more than 8,000 villages damaged or destroyed. Almost 1,400 people are already dead. But for many, there is little sign of desperately needed aid. CNN's Reza Sayah in the flood zones for us -- Reza.

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, over the past few days it seems that the pace of aid has picked up, but with the staggering number of people who need help right now, that help is simply not enough.


SAYAH (voice-over): When floodwaters swept through Pakistan, the devastation was often quick and complete. The floods left nothing in my home except for my wooden door and parts of my roof says this man.

For Shah and millions of flood victims the wait for help has been equally agonizing. Shah says it took two weeks to receive a bag of flour from an aid agency.

This is the first time I'm getting help, he says. The Pakistani government has received sharp criticism for its perceived slow response to the floods. But aid groups say that international aid has also been too slow and too small for a disaster this big.

One private aid official tells CNN that the European Union and the U.K. have pledged millions, but aid groups have yet to see all of the cash.

(on camera): The biggest donor in the world is the U.S. Humanitarian Assistance Agency, USA, and this is some of the flour they have donated, bud private aid groups here in Pakistan say they are often the slowest to respond to emergencies, and those groups say they have sent proposals to USAID as back as far as August 4th and they have yet to hear back.

(voice-over): A U.S. official tells CNN USAID is assessing scores of proposals to avoid waste and duplicate projects and that takes time. The official defended USAID pointing to pledges of more than $70 million in relief goods and most of it to private aid agencies. That is not nearly enough to meet the needs say Daud Jan.

DAUD JAN, RELIEF INTERNATIONAL: More is required actually. I think only one percent has been provided so far.

SAYAH: Jan heads a team of aid workers from Relief International in northwest Pakistan. The U.S.-based foreign aid group has teams deployed in four districts helping 30,000 flood victims, a tiny fraction of the 15 million who need relief.

JAN: It is really destroys you from the inside that you are unable to help these people, this community from this to relieve them from the disaster.

SAYAH: Jan says that if international aid does not significantly increase and soon, Pakistan's most vulnerable flood victims could begin losing their fight for survival.


SAYAH: These floods hit about two weeks ago and what drives home the scope of this disaster is that there are thousands of people who are still stranded according to government officials, and if they are lucky to be rescued, they too, are going to need food, water and shelter - Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Reza Sayah is on the scene for us. We'll stay on top of the story.

Meanwhile a nuclear reactor in Iran will mark a critical milestone next week when Russia will start loading it with fuel, and full operation expected by mid-September and that is adding urgency to Iran's nuclear standoff with the west. CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us. Brian, what else do we know?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as you mentioned, this event is going to happen next week. What worries western officials most is the symbolism this carries. It means Iran will be making more progress in the overall nuclear program, but it is important to put this new development in perspective.

The fueling of the nuclear plant in Bashir, in the southern part of Iran, that in and of itself does not put Iran closer to a nuclear weapon. This deal to load up the reactor at Bashir with fuel is a legitimate deal between Russia and Iran. It's been in the works for years.

In about a week, the Russians will transport uranium to that Bashir plant. It will be used for civilian nuclear power. They will not be enriching uranium at this plant. Once that fuel is used, the spent rods will go back to Russia to make sure that the Iranians don't do anything with it.

What concerns U.S. officials is that they didn't want Iranians making any progress on anything nuclear until Iran had answered the U.N.'s questions of what they may or may not be doing to produce nuclear weapons and western official believe Iran has not answered the questions yet, Wolf.

BLITZER: There are similar nuclear facilities, nuclear plants in Iran that U.S. officials consider much worry some than Bashir.

TODD: That's right. There always two of them that we know of. There's one at Natanz, and at that site, Iran is enriching uranium to about 2 percent. That is not enough enrichment to make a nuclear weapon, but experts tell us it's close enough for concern.

The Iranians say they are enriching that uranium to fuel a research reactor, but there are questions, some experts say they are enriching more Uranium there than they need for a research reactor. So they're wondering if the extra uranium may be used for something else.

Then there's the nuclear plant at Qum, not too far away from Natanz, that's a problem. That was the uranium enrichment plant that the Iranians had kept secret. U.S. Intelligence found about it.

President Obama called the Iranians out on that last year, and there is not much activity there since then. But the problem is U.N. officials from the IEAE are monitoring Natanz, and Bushehr. They are not monitoring Qum right now so western official worried about what could go on at Qum in the future - Wolf.

BLIZTER: So based on your reporting, what are you hearing? How close is Iran potentially to having a nuclear bomb?

TODD: An expert at the Institute for Science and International Security told me that it could be less than a year away if they could enrich uranium at some secret facility, and if (inaudible) then somewhere else. The problem is we don't know if they have another facility like that. Qum, we don't think there's much activity going on there right now, but we don't know for sure and we don't know if there is another secret facility somewhere. We don't know.

BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much. The Iranian lawyer who was representing a woman facing execution by stoning has fled his country and has found a temporary safe haven in Norway. CNN's Ivan Watson caught up with him there to talk about his human rights work and why he fears the future.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This man made a dangerous escape from Iran this month crossing the border to Turkey illegally by walking and riding horses for hours over the mountains.

Today, he strolls down the tidy-rain soaked streets of the capital of Norway safe from the Iranian authorities, but his mind not at ease.

MOHAMMAD MOSTAFAEI: I'm worried to my future and for my client, and human rights in Iran.

WATSON: Mostafaie is a human rights lawyer. He specializes in defending Iranians under the age of 18 who were sentenced to death for crimes ranging from murder to sodomy.

(on camera): He was executed?


WATSON: This young man was executed by hanging last year after being convicted of a murder committed when he was 17. This man fears that without legal protection, at least six of his other juvenile clients may soon face a similar fate.

This boy?


WATSON: You think that he can be executed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, but maybe.

WATSON: What is his crime?


WATSON: When he was 15 years old, yes?


WATSON: He apparently crossed a redline with the Iranian government through his outspoken defense of this woman, 43-year-old woman who was sentenced to death for stoning after being convicted of adultery. On July 24th, he says he went into hiding and fled the country after the Iranian authorities began arresting his closest loved ones.

MOSTAFAEI: My wife and brother-in-law and father-in-law, they are innocent. They are not guilty. WATSON: How many?

MOSTAFAEI: But I cannot imagine with him being here, and the family being there, he feels concerned. And knowing the track record of the Iranian regime when it comes to people like that, I don't question his concern.

WATSON: Norway's top diplomat says it is only natural that his government offered to protect Mohammed Mostafaei.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this case where a there is a man who defends difficult cases, which the authorities don't like and he sees himself in a position to flee across the mountain and sees his wife imprisoned then I think that w should wake up and speak out.

WATSON: As Oslo's newest Iranian resident, he is urging the international community to focus less energy on criticizing Iran's nuclear program, and more on improving the country's terrible human rights record.

UNIDENIFIED MALE: So, you do have hope for Iran?

WATSON: Yes. You hope --

MOSTAFAIE: That life can get better there? I hope that Iran is better there in the future, but I don't know when. Maybe five years or ten years, I don't know.

WATSON: He points across Oslo's harbor and says. And in English, that means rainbow and a much need sign of hope for a man who just lost his job, his country and now faces prolonged separation from his wife and daughter. Ivan Watson, CNN, Oslo.


BLITZER: That serial killer suspect appears in court and now his family is speaking out along with relatives of the victims.

Plus, the bed bug infestation that has New Yorkers scratching and exterminators working overtime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We get about probably close to on an average day 75 calls on bed bugs alone.


BLITZER: New developments in the case of a serial killer suspect wanted in connection with stabbing deaths in three states here in the United States.

He was in court today in and agreed to be returned to Michigan where he faces murder charges. Our national correspondent Susan Candiotti is joining us from Flint, Michigan, to pick up the story. What are you learning, Susan?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI: Well, Wolf, you know, the people here in Flint, Michigan are saying they're getting a suspect in court is the first step, but among many people here there is relief and frustration and relief that finally something has happened to finally stop the stabbings, but there is a lot of frustration, because there are so many questions out there.

For example, I spent a lot of time today with one of the victims' families, and a victim by the name of Arnold Minor, 49 year-old and was going to a trade school at that age, and in fact, killed on August 2nd, the last of the five victims who was fatally stabbed.

He had spent the evening having dinner at his mother's house and walking home at 1:00 in the morning when he got about a mile from his house, and he was fatally stabbed police say. So, the family is wondering, when will someone be charged in his case? And why did this happen? Why was he stabbed? They say that the killer had no heart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do he have a mother or family? How he feel about taking someone's life? He took part of this grandmother's life.

STEPHANIE WARD, VICTIM'S SISTER: This guy could have got away. You know, he was trying to leave this country. So, it is just like that weight, you know, for the moment lifted off of me, so I am not still at ease until, you know, justice is done, then, you know, I'll be able to rest like I want to.


CANDIOTTI: And remember, most of the 18 victims were African- American, and there is no doubt in the minds of this one family that the fatal stabbings in all of the stabbings were in their view racially-motivated.

And this chilling postscript, I spoke with one of the employees at the convenient store where the suspect worked. Where most of the employees are African - American, and so are most of the clients.

They say it was a regular guy who treated everyone the same, and they added this, one time they were talking with him about the stabbings, and they said that the suspect said, yes, I sure hope they catch the guy who did it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, Susan, what else do we know about the suspect's background specifically his life in Israel?

CANDIOTTI: Well, we know of course that he is an Israeli citizen, and that he was living in the United States legally. He grew up there, and his father died at a very young age. He moved to the United States as a teenager.

And they said that his family in Israel is a very well respected member of a Christian organization there. They said that he was quiet, and when he moved to the United States as a teenager, they said that he always talked about wanting to get a good job and to make a lot of money.

In fact, he got married in the United States and divorced after three years in 2007, and then they said that the police, the stabbings started in May of this year.

One of his cousin s said however that he would go back fairly frequently to visit Israel and in fact, back there six months ago, and they find the charges, the cousin does, unbelievable.

ELIAS ABUELAZZAM, SUSPECT'S COUSIN: What happened is unbelievable and even if I saw it with my own eyes, I would not believe it, something beyond imagination, and I'm having a serious nervous breakdown, and the same as his mother.

CANDIOTTI: Now, of course, the question is how soon will it be before he is moved from the jail in Atlanta back to Michigan to faced a additional charges, probably, and to make his first appearance here in court. They have 15 days to move him here, Wolf.

BLITZER: I spoke with the Israeli sources, Susan who told me that they didn't, at least the initial police reports in Israel, he has no apparent criminal background in Israel isn't he on a most wanted list or anything like that, or terrorism or anything like that, but they are continuing to cooperate with the FBI and the U.S. law enforcement, and trying to find out what they can. I assume you are getting similar information there.

CANDIOTTI: That's right. There are a lot of questions all around on both sides of the drink as it were trying to find out as much as they can about him to develop any information about any crimes committed overseas and they are looking at this and we are, too, and the FBI is involved and the local police are involved here, too. BLITZER: Thanks, very much, Susan Candiotti. She's working the story in Flint, Michigan.

Let's go to New York right now. It's is known as the city that never sleeps, but apparently that has not stopped bedbugs from infesting the city. Mary Snow has the story and you are covering the story, and it hits home to a lot of people, but what is going on?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is hitting home, that is right, Wolf. Here's what happened. You know, we started the day today looking into the problem of bedbugs in New York City and this came after a number of well known businesses have had to deal with this problem.

This afternoon we got word that the problem is close to home here at the Time Warner center. It is spreading trend over the past couple of years.


SNOW (voice-over): Consider them the vampire of insects and creeping out a lot of people and keeping dogs like champ here very busy in New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going to find the bees. Find the bees, all right.

SNOW: Bees are the buzzword for bedbug at the pest control company Champ works for. At a recent job at a senior citizen facility, he picks up a scent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show me the bees. Good boy. Come on, buddy. When he finds the bee, basically, he find a scent of a bedbug, and there must be a bedbug in here or either live bedbug or a viable bedbug egg ad it is emitting from one of the (inaudible) and he picks up on that.

SNOW: Timothy Wong owns M&M Environment Pest Control, and he says dogs like Champ cuts the time of finding bed bugs from a day to 30 minutes and Wong has had a build a division just for fighting bedbugs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say in five years we would get one call for bedbugs, but today, we get probably close on an average day 75 calls on bed bugs alone. So it has changed a lot.

SNOW: The bloodsuckers are going beyond beds crawling into the ritzy addresses in New York City although they have not found any, Fifth Avenue's famous Bergdorf Goodman Department store acknowledges it has hired a dog to patrol for bed bugs.

And Abercrombie and Fitch store said they had to get rid of them and Victoria Secret said that after active protesting at one of the stores they had to get rid of them, and now time Warner Centers which houses CNN's New York offices, and while everyone is trying to get rid of the bedbugs, Louis Sorkin welcomes them. You are the only person I know who has actually said you like bedbugs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like them when they're in containers but not at home.

SNOW: He shows us what they look like after it has drawn blood and to keep the specimens, he allows them to bite him and hooking up a container with thousands of them to his arm.

(on camera): Do people think you are crazy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of them probably do, but doing this, I am working on their behavior to learn how they do certain thing, and it will actually help to get rid of them in places.

SNOW: After a few minutes besides the red arm, he shows us how small the bugs are as he looks for ways to get rid of them, he says that for many people, these bugs also leave a psychological mark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every little bite they get or think that they get or every little thing that crawls is a potential bedbug which then really stresses people out.


SNOW: And unfortunately, it's a problem across the country. One of the things that Lewis Sokin gets asked is what to do when you're staying in hotels.

He recommends bringing a flashlight to check out the bed, and the headboards and the straps of the luggage racks before putting down bags. For more on the story check it out at

BLITZER: Totally, totally gross all of that stuff. Thank you very much for bringing that information to us, Mary. Thank you.

Will President Obama's sagging approval ratings weigh down Democrats in November? I'll ask a leading civil rights activist Al Sharpton, he's here in "The Situation Room."

And researchers find a previously unknown monkey in a remote jungle. We will tell you where. Stay with us, you are in "The Situation Room."


BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in "The Situation Room" right now. What else is going on, Lisa

LISA SYLVESER: Well, Wolf, U.S. regulators have approved the new emergency contraceptive pill, the pill which can be used up to five days after intercourse will be available by prescription only. It has been available in Europe since last year.

India is rejecting findings from medical researchers that a dangerous bacterial infection resistant to known antibiotics is being spread in a hospital.

According to a report in a British medical journal, tourists seeking treatment in India, and Pakistan and Bangladesh are coming home with the infection.

The statement the Indian Health Ministry says such organisms exists around the world, and dismisses the claim that Indian hospitals are unsafe.

The attorney for the youngest detainee held at the Guantanamo Bay Prison camp collapsed in court today, which is related to the recent gallbladder surgery and he's been transported from Cuba for medical treatment.

A military lawyer says that the case of Canadian-born Omar Caughter accused of killing an American soldier in Afghanistan will be delayed for a month.

And researchers have discovered a new species is of monkey in the Amazon. You see it there. The primate was discovered in a remote region of Colombia, and researchers say they had heard about the animals for decade, but they were unable to access the region until recently because of an ongoing civil war and they estimate fewer than 250 of the animals exist and threatened with extinction because of deforestation. Cute little monkey.

BLITZER: Good luck to him. Thanks very much, Lisa.

He was hired to supervise oil cleanup workers and now he is in jail accused of raping one of them. CNN Special Investigations Unit is on the story.

And midterm bloodbath for the Democrats. The Reverend Al Sharpton is here, and he said don't be so sure. He is joining us next.


BLITZER: Many pundits say that the upcoming midterm elections are a referendum on the Obama administration and that the Democrats' prospects don't look necessarily all that good right now. Not everyone necessarily agrees with that assessment.

And joining us now is the Reverend Al Sharpton. He's the head of National Action Network. Reverend Sharpton, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: So far the president got an economic stimulus package passed and health care form passed and he is doing a lot, but the approval numbers are going down, why?

SHARPTON: Well, I think that a lot of people have been given the messages that have been more negative from the opposition, and he has been so focused on what he is doing that they have not gotten the message out that he is a president who has basically worked on some of the things that he promised. I think that what his challenge is this fall is to get the message out that promises made are promises kept. I don't think that the concentration on the messaging, and those who would represent the administration has been as, at the level of visibility as the opposition, I will put it that way.

BLITZER: And it raises the question, why are the supporters not as effective in communication as the critics?

SHARPTON: I think that the supporters have had to fight off of the opposition and try to pass some of the bills. I think that some of the supporters have been engaged in some of the battles to try and maintain moving forward. Having said that though, I think that the core following has not moved at all. When you look at the fact that this president is the same place in the general polls Ronald Reagan was, I don't think that the opposition ought to in any way start popping champagne bottles. We saw it in Colorado and other things, but we are beginning to see that the bloodbath that is supposed to happen in the midterm election may not in fact occur.

BLITZER: I want you to react to what Robert Gibbs, the white house press secretary told the Hill newspaper the other day, and later backed away from it, but it has caused a bit of concern among the left. He said this, "I hear these people saying that he is like George Bush. These people ought to be drugged. The professional left will be satisfied when we have a Canadian health care system and we have eliminated the pentagon. That is not reality. They would not be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president." Does he have a point, Gibbs? SHARPTON: Well, I think that what he is saying is that there are some people who are so dogmatic and ideologically bent that they are not trying to get something done. Clearly, I have views that may be considered far to the left of the administration, but I'd rather get something done in education and in health care than to say my way or no way. What they are saying is to let people suffer if it cannot be done according to my doctrine, then I would rather see people suffer than to make progress and I think that is the spirit of what Gibbs is saying.

BLITZER: Have you told that to your colleagues in what Gibbs calls the professional left?

SHARPTON: Well, I don't know how you define the professional left, but I have said that to them and I have talked to them. I think it is the height of arrogance to sacrifice progress on doctrinal inflexibility.

BLITZER: Well, let's talk about the unemployment, because jobs, jobs, jobs is the key to the elections, and it is 9.5 percent overall and among whites 6.8 percent and Hispanics 12.1 percent, and African Americans 15.6 percent. And those numbers don't even include folks who have just given up looking for jobs. It is a lot higher in all of those categories. Is the administration doing enough right now to help?

SHARPTON: I think the administration and the Congress is challenged to deal directly with the job problem. You know, August 28th, we are having the march in Washington around jobs injustice. The justice and jobs problem is still among us. We need to deal with this problem in the cities that the highest unemployment, there ought to be a real concerted effort to try and provide jobs, infrastructure redevelopment, and a real plan to provide jobs, which would then bring down the disproportionate and imbalance racially in the employment picture.

BLITZER: Well, let me ask you this, why is it nearly doubled, the unemployment rate of African Americans as opposed to whites?

SHARPTON: Well, a lot of it is that the private sector still will not hire a lot of blacks and Latinos and in these cases, blacks, but we are still the resistance that we get in the job market is still very much there, and I think that we must see the enforcement of antidiscrimination laws, and we need an aggressive increase of investment of those kinds of jobs that can be created in our community. Including jobs that as I said would rebuild the infrastructure.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Maxine Waters a representative from California, a woman you know well, she is denying the ethics charges against her, and she was asked about today how concerned she should be if what is happening to her and Charlie Rangel will hurt Democrats in November, and listen to what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: I am not about to try and get into what is a benefit or lack of benefit for either parties. I want to deal with the case. That is what I want to deal with.


BLITZER: Do you have a problem with the way she is handling her own defense?

SHARPTON: Well, I think that what is going to be the problem, and I think that at first many Republicans felt that if they would go after some of to Democrats and there are eight in the Congressional black caucus which is a pattern that is disturbing, and this could be used, but where they have overstepped the boundaries is both Congresswoman Waters and Congressman Rangel said they want a public trial, and we will recess and can't do it until November. I think that this is going to come back to haunt the Republicans. I think it will backfire. I think it was intended one way, but it will backfire, because they will find out that now they are being called to come on with the evidence, a lot of the public that may have said, oh, there's a lot of problems here are going to say, well, where's the evidence? Why are we delaying this until after the election? There is an old saying that rabbit hunting is not fun when the rabbit has the gun. When Maxine Waters and Charlie Rangel wanted to fire back, now it is on the right wingers who wanted to use it.

BLITZER: Thank you for coming in, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

BLITZER: A Democratic senate candidate now indicted on obscenity charges. We're going to give you the details.

And as BP scrambled to find workers to help with the oil spill clean up, were those workers put at risk by a failure to conduct background checks? The shocking story of a supervisor now charged with rape.


BLITZER: Some Republican lawmakers are calling for a new look at the 14th amendment to the constitution and possibly repealing the part that automatically makes children born in the United States citizens. They say that may be encouraging illegal immigration. I asked the homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano if she thinks that repealing that part of the amendment is a good idea.


JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: No. I think that it is surprising to say the least to talk about opening or tampering with the United States constitution. And the 14th amendment which guarantees equal protection and due process among other things instead of dealing with what Congress can deal with and should deal with right now, and that updating, reforming, and revising the entire statutory scheme that governs immigration. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's talk about that with CNN's John King who hosts "JOHN KING USA" at the top of the hour. This debate over the 14th amendment is getting some traction. Is it simply politics or is something really in the works?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it will be fascinating to see when the Congress comes back number one what the composition, how many more Republicans do we have, are the Republicans in charge of the house and senate. It won't be dealt with this year, maybe next year depending on what happens in the elections, but it has become a subplot in what is a huge debate this year trying to motivate the Latino vote in this election year, and what Secretary Napolitano is saying no, and many Democrats are saying no, and they are saying why would you, Harry Reid said this straight out, how could any Latino be a Republican? In part the Democrats think it is an issue of policy that works to their advantage, because they think it is bad policy to consider that, but Wolf, it is a Democratic deflection if you . The Latino base is mad at the president. He promised he would do comprehensive immigration reform in his first year. Harry Reid just a couple of months ago said he would bring it up this year. Congress has gone home for the summer without doing it, so the Democrats see an opportunity to drive a wedge between the Latinos and the Republicans at the time Latinos also have some complaints with the Democrats.

BLITZER: And now John McCain says he opposes taking another look at the 14th amendment. That is a position very different than J.D. Hayworth, his opponent for the Republican Senate nomination. That election what a week from Tuesday.

KING: And that is where you may see it play out in some Republican primaries where you have some disagreement, and on that race, the McCain and Hayworth race, that has become a great boxing match. McCain ahead right now, he has shifted many would say on the immigration issues to the right, but on this one, he says he does not support holding hearings on that. And most Republicans say, a, it's bad policy, and b, it's bad generational politics as you try to rebuild with the Latino base, but there are some including McCain's friend Lindsey Graham that say let's do it. So it will be very interesting to see if the volume post election is as loud on this issue as it is now.

BLITZER: I know you will have much more on this on "JOHN KING USA" at the top of the hour. John, thanks very much.

A sex offender hired for the gulf cleanup now accused of rape. How come our special - now our special investigations unit has found that there's a criminal record. Did the employers know about it? What is going on?

And new video showing Americans most infamous flight attendant is sliding off of the job, and into legend? We will show you the new tape after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What have you got, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Wolf. Well, CNN has confirmed that this video and take a look at this, it shows disgruntled flight attendant Steven Slater exiting a JetBlue fight via the emergency chute earlier this week. The view is partially obscured, but you can see it right there. A JetBlue official says the video was shot by a company security camera and was turned over to authorities. This video was aired by WNBC in New York.

In South Carolina, a grand jury has indicted Democratic Senate nominee Alvin Greene on obscenity charges. Last November police alleged that Greene showed pornographic material to a female student at the University of South Carolina on the school computer. Greene was a relatively unknown in the national political circles before becoming the surprise winner of the Democratic Senate primary in June.

And this photo was taken just moments after a small plane crashed into a western Lake Erie today, and officials say that all four people on board made it out without injury before the plane sank to the bottom of the lake. The pilot was reportedly trying to land in Ohio and an investigation is now under way.

Check this out; it is the largest human domino chain in history. The Guinness Book of World Records is confirming that more than 10,000 people took place with the record-breaking lineup which happened at a fair in northern China. From the time that the first person fell to the last, the whole process reportedly took about an hour, and there they go.

BLITZER: These people have a lot of free time on their hands.

SYLVESTER: That is exactly right.

BLITZER: All right. Lisa, thank you.

A supervisor accused of rape and why didn't the company know that he was a registered sex offender? Our special investigations unit is on the story.


BLITZER: There is new outrage today over how BP has handled the gulf oil disaster. A man who supervised oil cleanup workers in Mississippi is in jail charged with raping another employee. And now a CNN investigation uncovers his criminal history and raises questions whether this entire incident could have been prevented by doing a simple background check. Special investigations unit correspondent Abbie Boudreau goes looking for answers from BP and the company that did the hiring.


ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS CORRESPONDENT: One of the thousands of cleanup workers who descended on the gulf coast was this man, Rundy Charles Robertson. He was in charge of numerous workers on this now deserted Mississippi beach. The problem was all of these people coming to town were strangers and the residents here had no idea who they were or where they were coming from. And apparently they had good reason to be concerned. Robertson was a convicted sex offender. And he was breaking the law by not telling local law enforcement where he's living.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't understand how they could have had a man like that as our supervisor.

BOUDREAU: Do you think what happened to you could have been prevented?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, I do. Yes, I do. And that's where it makes me a lot of times so angry.

BOUDREAU: Well, this woman came to this town because she was looking for work. She wanted to help clean up the beaches and she needed a job. She has four young children and it was important for her to get hired right away. And that's exactly what happened.

Rundy Robertson was her supervisor. And she told us time and time again I trusted him because he was my boss. I respected him. He was the person who was put in charge of me. You just weren't feeling well that day and he offered to drive you home?


BOUDREAU: And you thought he was a nice enough person to make that offer, I guess?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, he was my boss. I thought it was all right.

BOUDREAU: And she says Robertson asked to use her bathroom. And when he came out, she says he raped her. She's represented by attorney Adam Miller.

ADAM MILLER, ATTORNEY: I find it unbelievable because BP and their subcontractors had relationships with all local law enforcement. They had the opportunity and the ability to clearly check all of these people that they were hiring and bringing in to ensure the safety of the public.

BOUDREAU: If anyone had checked Robertson's background, they would have found a lengthy criminal history and he was still on probation for a felony. Instead, he was made a supervisor. We are in Mississippi here to talk to the local sheriff. Several weeks before this incident, Sheriff Mike Byrd said he met with local security about why BP was not doing background checks on beach cleanup workers.

SHERIFF MIKE BYRD, JACKSON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI: I asked them directly, are y'all doing criminal histories and criminal background checks on these people? And his answer reply was no, we're not. And I said you're kidding me. He said, no. There's so many of them, we were told to do drug screens and that was it. And I said well that's not good at all.

BOUDREAU: But you actually recommended that they get criminal background checks on their employees?

BYRD: Yes, we did. And I told them that we would do that for them. We would do the background checks for them. And they said no.

BOUDREAU: Robertson worked for a company called Aerotek that hired workers to remove oil from the beaches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me a couple of minutes.

BOUDREAU: So I'm not going to shut the door and never see you again?

So we waited. But they only slipped us a note through the door referring us to the corporate headquarters.

Did you realize you were hiring people who are registered sex offenders?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, ma'am.

BOUDREAU: This is when the blame game begins. First we spoke with the general council for Aerotek by phone who says Aerotek wasn't the one who decided not to do background checks. "We are not liable for anything that happens. Once we deliver the people to be supervised by our client, we don't have anything to do with them anymore." Miller Environmental Group, which oversaw the cleanup and hired Aerotek, did not return our phone calls. Then, BP, which was paying for the beach cleanups, told us in a statement it normally checks its own employees but "This was not done for all contractors in this response. The responsibility lies with the employing company for their own staff. The requirement on subcontractors to BP's contractors is one further step beyond BP's scope of control."

MILLER: The buck ultimately stops with BP. It was their site.

BOUDREAU: Robertson was arrested and he was then charged with sexual battery and failure to register as a sex offender. He tells police that the sex was consensual. But now he's being held on more than a $500,000 bond and he's sitting in jail.

BYRD: Yes, he's in jail. But you've got a victim here. What she going to live through the rest of her life? It's just going to be pure hell for her. That's what it's going to be.

BOUDREAU: And it could have been prevented.

BYRD: And it could have been prevented in my professional opinion.

BOUDREAU: And you warned them?

BYRD: Yes, ma'am.

BOUDREAU: How does something like this just change everything for you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I go through anxiety. You know, I'm angry, I feel dirty. Scared. I'm scared.


BOUDREAU: Wolf, the victim did not go to police right away because she was afraid she would lose her job and she couldn't afford to let that happen. So she took a couple of days off work and about a month after the incident she says she was laid off. Aerotek says she was one of many workers who were no longer needed to clean up the beaches and it had nothing to do with what happened to her. And Wolf, she's -- she just says to me over and over, why did I bother taking the job? It's completely ruined her at this point.

BLITZER: Abby, what about other towns in the gulf? Were they doing background checks on other employees?

BOUDREAU: We did find several police departments doing background checks. In Grand Isle, Louisiana, the police found three sex offenders during the background screenings and the chief there says they were closely monitored and supervised during the cleanup and they had no issues.

BLITZER: Abby Boudreau, thanks for that report. Appreciate it.

During the first Bush administration, Vice President Dan Quayle provided a lot of tabloid fodder for late night comedians. Now his son is running for Congress. You're going to want to see John King's interview with Ben Quayle, that's coming up at the top of the hour on "JOHN KING USA." We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Take a look at some "Hot Shots."

In India, two students rehearse in a dance anticipation -- anticipating India's Independence Day celebrations.

In London, a biker flies through the air while practicing for a motor cross competition.

In Bristol, England, hot air balloons fly to the sky in the balloon fiesta.

And in Germany, look at this, a girl watches two hippos as they play in the pool.

"Hot Shots," pictures worth a thousand words.

My long time friend is leaving THE SITUATION ROOM. He's a SIT ROOM original. He's been with us a long time here at CNN. This is great news for ESPN where he's going, but bad news for all of us. We, of course, wish Howie only the best. We will miss him. But all of us sports fans certainly will continue to follow his work over at ESPN. Good luck, Howie. Stay in touch with all of us. Thanks very much for watching. I'll see you tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM 6:00 p.m. eastern. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "JOHN KING USA" starts right now.