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THE SITUATION ROOM
Moammar Gadhafi Defiant; Interview With Libyan Ambassador to United States
Aired February 28, 2011 - 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: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in total denial. He's refusing to acknowledge protests against him, claiming in a new TV interview that all his people love him and would die to protect him. All of them, he says. He also tells ABC News and the BBC that he feels betrayed by the United States.
New reports of pro-Gadhafi forces on the attack in areas controlled by protesters. A radio station at a military base reportedly among the targets. These pictures of clashes yesterday at an airport in northwest Libya.
And as the violence grows, the Pentagon says it's sending warships closer and closer to Libya in the Mediterranean. And the secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, says it's time for Gadhafi simply to go.
The U.S. reveals it has frozen at least -- get this -- $30 billion in Libyan government assets here in the United States. It's said to be the largest amount ever blocked under any sanctions program.
Breaking news, political headlines, and Jeanne Moos all straight ahead. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Right now, the Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi, may be more isolated than ever in his bloody two-week-old battle against opposition forces. His power base, that would be in the capital city of Tripoli, now described as an island in a nation swept up in revolt.
CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is joining us from the capital of Tripoli with the latest -- Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, government officials here say that they're not an island in a sea of revolt, merely that they control three-quarters of the country and that the opposition elements control the other quarter and have tiny pockets of resistance in the rest of the country.
That's how they see it. They say they're in negotiations to bring the country, unify the country again right now. They don't specify exactly what compromises they're making; only, they could bring changes to the constitution.
Here in Tripoli, we're seeing the situation return to a little more like normality. There are more cars on the road, more people on the streets, more stores open. Having said that, though, the majority of the stores remain shut and closed. There are police, armed police at traffic intersections. There are troops with weapons at traffic intersections in the city.
And people we talk to here away from the camera say the iron grip of the regime is so tight, that they cannot go out and protest. They're afraid of being attacked, afraid of being locked up, concerned that the opposition is losing momentum in the capital. But only 40 minutes drive away, the opposition controls the center of a city that's important for oil refining -- Wolf.
BLITZER: In all the time -- you have been in Libya, in Tripoli, the capital, the area, what, for about two days now, Nic, have you seen air force jets or helicopters flying in the sky? Because there's a lot of talk about some sort of international no-fly zone being imposed on the Libyan regime.
ROBERTSON: We're not seeing it close to the capital at the moment, Wolf. There's certainly a lot of aircraft coming and going from the international airport, some international military flights when we came in, Turkish military aircraft, French military aircraft airlifting their citizens out of the country.
But Gadhafi's helicopters, jets, they must be flying from bases outside of the capital at the moment, Wolf.
BLITZER: Is there a sense there that Gadhafi's days are numbered right now in the capital of Tripoli? We know so much of the rest of the country has fallen to the rebels, those who oppose him, but in the capital city itself, give us a little bit more of the flavor of the mood there. I know you have limited access.
ROBERTSON: You know, the strange thing here, Wolf, is that a lot of people, even some of the government officials who take us around the city, do say that it's time for change, do tell us that if only the government had made a compromises and changes a few years ago, that all of this could be headed off.
They say that there was a difference of opinion, that Gadhafi's son, Saif al-Gadhafi, wanted constitutional changes, and he was blocked by what they describe as the old regime here, the old guard, the allies of Moammar Gadhafi.
But you will talk to people here that will tell you they support Gadhafi. And then you ask them again, and they will say, well, we would like some change, but we want it to be peaceful. So there's this real concern that we have heard in other countries in the region here, Egypt, elsewhere, people saying it's time for change, but we don't want this violence. We're worried about what we have seen. We're worried about this armed opposition.
And then you get other people who will tell you that they are absolutely against this regime. They want it overthrown immediately. But they're very concerned about saying this on camera. I was down in a fishing port here. None of the fishing boats are going out. Everyone's too afraid about the situation.
And a fisherman I talked to down there didn't want to appear on camera and said just, with almost mouthing at me: You have got a government official behind you. I can't tell you what I think.
So, that's how people feel here. They're concerned about speaking (AUDIO GAP) out their minds here. So there is (AUDIO GAP) this mood for change, but people realize it's just too soon for them to say it really publicly because the regime is still strong here in the capital, Wolf.
BLITZER: Nic Robertson in Tripoli for us. Stand by, Nic. I want to get back to you.
But, right now, I want to get an update on the situation in the city of Misurata in northwestern Libya. We have been getting reports of new gunfire and clashes in this, Libya's third largest city.
Joining us now via Skype is Maimuna Ibrahim. Her cousin died on Friday fighting Gadhafi's forces.
And our condolences, Maimuna, to you and your family.
Give us a sense of what's going on where you are in Misurata.
MAIMUNA IBRAHIM, LIBYA: In Misurata, the situation is really unstable.
Like, it seems like it is liberated, but you don't know what's going to happen next. So you're constantly kind of in fear. Like, the people are really stressed out. I have been at my cousin's house for the past -- since Friday because of the funeral and because we have people visiting. And people are just so uptight.
You can see that they're really drained. They don't -- there's no more -- every once in awhile, they get good news, so they get positive, but then it's just -- it's just so draining, the situation right now.
BLITZER: Maimuna, if you could speak to President Obama here in Washington right now, what would you say to him?
IBRAHIM: I would just ask him -- I would just ask him how many more sons have to die, how many more mothers have to bury their sons, how many more daughters have to grow up without fathers, how many sons have to grow up without fathers?
I would let him know that the situation is no longer a Libyan thing. It's a humanitarian thing. Like, people are dying. People are dying while they're fighting for their freedom. That's all they want. All the Libyan people want is to be able to sleep at night, to be treated fairly. So, I would ask him once what's going to take for him to actually do something, instead of just condemning what he's -- condemning what Gadhafi is doing, to actually take some action?
BLITZER: Tell us about your cousin who died fighting Gadhafi's forces on Friday.
IBRAHIM: He was 27 years old. And, at first, he wasn't really (AUDIO GAP) to go and protest, because Libyans have been living in this situation for so long that protesting is not something they're used to.
But then it was just -- it was really unexpected. But it was just like, we didn't expect for him to -- we didn't expect for him to die. It was his brother that was really pumped about going. So we would constantly be asking my other cousin to see if he was OK and whatnot.
And then, I remember it was Friday at 3:00 a.m. in the morning. We got a call, and one of the doctors told us that he had passed away. And the thing is, he passed away because, like everyone else right now, he just wants the regime, the current Gadhafi regime to just step down. Like, I -- it's really that simple. We just want Gadhafi and his regime to go.
BLITZER: Did you ever think, Maimuna, you would see a day where Moammar Gadhafi and his sons are on the verge of collapse right now, and that they are on the verge of being overthrown by rebels in Libya?
IBRAHIM: To be honest, only in the recent years, I thought that this would be happening. But, before, it just seemed like it was never going to happen, because, like I said before, people are not used to going out and protesting. People are not used to a Libya without Gadhafi, pretty much.
BLITZER: Well, good luck. And be careful over there, Maimuna Ibrahim joining us.
And our deepest condolences once again to you and your family. We'd like to stay in touch with you via Skype, if we can. Thank you very much.
IBRAHIM: Thank you so much.
BLITZER: Thank you.
The U.S. reaction to Gadhafi's brutal crackdown in Libya has certainly evolved over the past two weeks rather dramatically. We heard at first virtual silence, then the president's refusal to mention Gadhafi by name. But now this tougher statement coming from the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in Geneva, Switzerland, today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Colonel Gadhafi and those around him must be held accountable for these acts, which violate international legal obligations and common decency. Through their actions, they have lost the legitimacy to govern. And the people of Libya have made themselves clear: It is time for Gadhafi to go -- now, without further violence or delay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger.
There has been an evolution, shall we say, in the U.S. rhetoric, Gloria.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, yes.
Well, at least on the public face of it, Wolf. You just heard Hillary Clinton say that Gadhafi has to go. We had the U.N. ambassador today calling Gadhafi delusional. The president in a written statement this weekend said Gadhafi has to go. But in talking to people in the human rights community, it's very interesting because I called them and said, do you think this has been to slow?
They said to me, you know what? The administration has done everything we have asked them to do. So you're talking about the freezing of the assets, the U.N. Security Council resolution, the arms embargo, and on and on. They said they were teeing it up quietly until our people were in Malta, and they had to worry about that.
They were worried about a hostage situation. I think the next big question, Wolf, is a no-fly zone. Can the United States do that unilaterally if there could be civilian casualties?
BLITZER: They potentially -- they can do whatever they want, the United States of America, if they wanted to do that.
BLITZER: But what they would like to see is an international coalition backed by the United Nations Security Council, meaning both Russia and China would at least have to abstain and not veto that kind of a resolution, which is possible. They -- the Russians and the Chinese did vote in favor of the sanctions resolution that passed the other day.
BORGER: But if there's a humanitarian issue here, I mean, conceivably, we could -- we could do it by ourselves, but that...
BLITZER: Yes, the United States is the superpower. The U.S. wants to do it, it can do it. It's up to the president of the United States.
BORGER: I think the big question that I had really is why did President Obama come out so forcefully publicly on Hosni Mubarak and say he has to leave, and yet waited on Gadhafi? I mean, Egypt and Libya are not exactly the same.
BLITZER: Right. I mean, it's -- my own gut tells me they were nervous about the American diplomats. They didn't want to see a repeat of 1979, when American diplomats were taken hostage in Tehran.
BORGER: Right. Right.
BLITZER: And that effectively paralyzed the Obama administration, that fear of that contingency, 100 or 150 diplomats and their families.
There are still thousands of U.S. citizens stuck in Libya right now, many of them dual nationals, but many of them still United -- they're still United States citizens, and the U.S. is speaking out more vociferously, even though the embassy has effectively been shut down.
BORGER: But Mubarak has allies. Gadhafi doesn't have any allies.
BORGER: And that's a different situation, too. But, Wolf, one thing I want to talk to you about is Iran. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today -- it was sort of interesting to me that she raised the question of Iran again while talking about Libya and Gadhafi.
BLITZER: They do it on an almost daily basis now.
BORGER: That's right.
BLITZER: Let's play that little clip from the secretary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Why do people have the right to live free from fear in Tripoli but not Tehran? The denial of human dignity in Iran is an outrage that deserves the condemnation of all who speak out for freedom and justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BORGER: She clearly doesn't want Iran to benefit from the shuffling of the deck in the Middle East.
BLITZER: I think they really feel guilty. They really feel as if they let the Iranian people down in 2009, when they didn't speak out and express their support much more vociferously. And now they're trying to make up for it. They see an opening. They see this unrest sweeping North Africa and the Middle East and they hope it really takes hold in Iran and they get rid of Ahmadinejad. And so they're trying to help that process.
BORGER: They certainly don't want him to benefit from it. That's for sure.
BLITZER: No. They certainly don't. All right, Gloria, thank you.
We have correspondents across Libya, across the region right now using CNN's global resources to cover the story only as we can. Stand by for a live report from the Libyan/Tunisian border.
And Gadhafi is laughing off U.S. calls for him to step down. I will ask Libya's ambassador to the United States what he thinks about Gadhafi's strange new interview.
And as the U.S. confronts the crisis in Libya, there's growing pressure to stop the bloodshed by imposing a no-fly zone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Nothing is off the table, so long as the Libyan government continues to threaten and kill Libyans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Ambassador here in Washington, and he is coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. We will talk with him shortly.
But let's check in with Jack right now. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Democratic and Republican lawmakers returned to work today with a huge deadline staring them right in the face. If Congress does not reach an agreement on spending cuts by Friday, the government will face a shutdown for the first time in 15 years.
Now, the House approved $61 billion in spending cuts in a measure passed earlier this month. But Senate Democrats say those cuts go too far and they will not vote in favor of them. We have a projected $1.5 trillion deficit this year, and the Democrats are saying $61 billion in cuts, oh, that is way too much. Unbelievable.
The Republicans have proposed an interim spending plan that would give Congress a two-week extension. It would involve just $4 billion in cuts and would keep the government funded until March 18.
I wonder -- I wonder if they will ever stop playing games in Washington and actually address the country's fiscal conditions in a serious way. Our national debt has passed $14 trillion. That's a staggering sum. It will never be repaid. And, every day the government refuses to do anything meaningful about it, it just gets bigger. We're bankrupt.
This weekend, Speaker of the House John Boehner called the national debt a moral threat to this country, and he said people better start praying. Well, it's going to take more than prayers. It's going to take some guts, the kind being displayed by people like the governors in Wisconsin and New Jersey.
Here's the question. Do you think -- do you think the federal government will ever agree to meaningful cuts in spending? Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog.
BLITZER: All right, Jack, thank you.
Lots of questions right now about whether Moammar Gadhafi is in touch with reality. As we reported, he's claiming the Libyan people love him in a new interview with ABC News, and he's refusing to acknowledge the protests against him. Listen to what the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said about Gadhafi's interview just a little while ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: It sounds just, frankly, delusional. And when he can laugh in talking to American -- an international journalist while he is slaughtering his own people, it only underscores how unfit he is to lead and how disconnected he is from reality.
It makes all the more important the urgent steps that we have taken over the course of the last week on a national basis, as well as the steps that we've taken collectively through the United Nations and -- and the Security Council. And we're going to continue to -- to keep the pressure on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: ABC News says Gadhafi called Barack Obama a good man, but said the president may be misinformed. That is what Gadhafi said about the situation in Libya. We're going to hear more of that interview. That's coming up. We will get reaction from the Libyan ambassador here in Washington.
A lot of people are desperately trying to get out of Libya right now. We're taking you live to the border between Libya and Tunisia. We will take a look at the growing refugee problem in the region. And how did Gadhafi get his hands on $30 billion? I will speak about that and more with the Libyan ambassador to the United States, the record- setting freeze on Gadhafi's assets in the United States.
BLITZER: This is what is Gadhafi is up against outside the capital, some major cities under the control of opposition forces. Some of the rebels are armed and as ready to fight to the death as Gadhafi claims to be. But if the Libyan leader falls, who would take his place?
We asked Brian Todd to take a closer look at the opposition and its leaders.
Brian, what are you finding out?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Libya's rebels have taken control of some key cities and are a genuine threat to Gadhafi at this point. And what is extraordinary is that they have done this seemingly without one galvanizing figure leading them.
TODD (voice-over): We have seen them celebrating on the streets in eastern Libya, jubilant after Moammar Gadhafi's forces left cities like Benghazi. They have started to take control of towns to the west as well and are getting closer to Tripoli. But who are they? Who is leading these rebels, this opposition that's threatening to drive out a dictator after 42 years?
Observers say there doesn't seem to be one group or person in particular. Ronald Bruce St. John has written seven books on Libya.
RONALD BRUCE ST. JOHN, LIBYA SCHOLAR: So you have got everyone from people in the street, street vendors, people like that, to lawyers, to educators, to judges. And, of course, in the eastern part of the country, we have now seen some military units disaffect from the government and join the protesters. So, it's a wide -- a wide swathe of Libyan society.
TODD: One group in eastern Libya that's begun to fill a void, according to news reports, is the Libyan National Council. It's said to be helping liberated cities coordinate basic functions. Observers say a represented former justice minister, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, is a de facto leader of this group and could be a key transitional figure. But it's unclear if he's got widespread support outside of eastern Libya.
(on camera): Why do we not see kind of a main opposition figure or an opposition group really emerging right now?
MOHAMED AL MAGARIAF, LIBYAN DISSIDENT: I'm sure that they look upon certain persons as possible leaders, potential leaders for their country, but neither these people or -- nor the -- our people themselves would like to rush to this situation. I think their main concern at the moment is to make sure that Gadhafi's regime is over.
TODD: Mohamed Yusuf Al Magariaf's been waiting for that moment. He resigned as Libya's ambassador to India more than 30 years ago, went into exile and, as a leader of a key opposition group, says he has survived multiple assassination attempts. He got emotional when I asked him one key question.
(on camera): Would you go back to assume a leadership role?
AL MAGARIAF: I will go back to -- first of all, to my country to -- to meet my family, rest of my family, and to congratulate my -- our people for the glorious job they did. And I will offer myself to participate in the rebuilding of Libya.
(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD: Mr. Al Magariaf and other experts say whoever fills this void after Gadhafi, it likely won't be just one person. They say the country has been destroyed by one-man rule and won't have the appetite to go back to it. They do see some kind of parliamentary system developing. But, Wolf, that is going to take a long time. They have no institutions in that country...
BLITZER: So, without one leader uniting all of these various tribes and all these rebels, can they do it?
TODD: Well, that remains to be seen. The tribes according to our experts have not been very politically active. They been more attuned to the idea of one nationalist Libya, one country.
Most experts believe that if and when Gadhafi leaves, you will see all these councils kind of collectively running the country at first as they move toward a parliamentary democracy. But again that's going to be a very messy situation and it will take a long time.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much. Now, he was very emotional when you asked him about going back to Libya. All right, thanks. Good report.
BLITZER: Tens of thousands of people have fled Libya in the past week alone, many of them heading for Tunisia. We're going live to the border, where people are crowding into refugee camps right now.
And firsthand accounts of brutality by Moammar Gadhafi. I will ask Libya's ambassador to the United States what he can say about the atrocities now that he's broken with Gadhafi's regime.
BLITZER: We heard the United States ambassador to the United Nations say she thinks Moammar Gadhafi sounds in her words downright delusional.
Two weeks into a revolt against his regime, the Libyan leader refusing to acknowledge that the people of his country are turning against him.
Listen to this clip of his interview with Christiane Amanpour of ABC News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER : They love me. All my people with me, they love me, all.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST, "THIS WEEK WITH CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR": But if they do love...
MOAMMAR GADHAFI: They will die to protect me, my people.
AMANPOUR: If you say they do love you, then why are they capturing Benghazi and they say they're against you there? Why are they...
GADHAFI: It is al Qaeda. It is al Qaeda. It is al Qaeda, not my people. It is al Qaeda.
AMANPOUR: Al Qaeda?
GADHAFI: Al Qaeda, al Qaeda, yes. They came from outside.
BLITZER: Talking about al Qaeda. He says al Qaeda is behind the rebels in Libya.
Let's discuss what's going on with the Libyan ambassador to the United States, who has publicly broken with the Gadhafi regime.
Joining us once again, Ali Suleiman Aujali.
Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for coming in.
ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI, LIBYAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Thank you for inviting me.
BLITZER: Do you agree with Susan Rice, the United States ambassador to the UN, that Gadhafi is delusional right now?
AUJALI: Exactly. I think this is a man who's lost touch with reality. He doesn't want to realize that there are thousands and thousands of people protesting against him.
He doesn't want to realize there are thousands of people protesting against him. He doesn't want to realize that thousands of people have been killed by his soldiers, by the citizens from different African countries. I think this man is not really living in reality.
BLITZER: You told us on Friday you worked for him for 40 years as a diplomat.
BLITZER: Did you realize during those 40 years that the guy is crazy?
AUJALI: Well, I think we realize that he's crazy. But we have no alternative. We have no ways to get rid of him until now when the people, they think the influence of the Tunisian revolution and the Egyptian revolution, I think the Libyan people, they get up and they raise against him. This regime is a very cruel regime. You can't imagine how much he -- how many people he killed.
BLITZER: How many do you -- based on the information you have, how many people have died over the past two weeks?
AUJALI: I think about 2,000.
BLITZER: Two thousand?
AUJALI: About 2,000.
BLITZER: And that's based on information that you're getting.
AUJALI: Based from information we are receiving from Tripoli, based on the telephone calls we have with some friends, you know. And situation is very serious.
BLITZER: What's the worst atrocity that you've personally heard about from your conversations with friends and relatives and others in Libya?
AUJALI: I think the worst, it is, No. 1, that even the dead people, they don't -- they took them from the hospitals. The injured people, they take them from the hospital and throw them somewhere and we don't know.
And the other thing: they're using the mercenaries to kill our own people.
And the third thing they're using very advanced machine guns and weapons against innocent people, against harmless people.
And the fourth thing or fifth thing that now he's starting to strike, strike against some -- some places like Misrata -- Misrata Airport.
BLITZER: Because we spoke to a woman in Misrata, and I asked her what would she say to the president of the United States. And she -- she got emotional. She said, "I'm begging you to help the people, to help the mothers, help the people of Libya, and impose this no-fly zone."
Do you want the U.S., either by itself or with others, to impose a no-fly zone over Libya?
AUJALI: It is very important, because the United Nations security deals more with the -- with situation after the collapse of the regime, but we want to stop the killing of the people. That fly zone is important.
And if the west and the United States, they didn't do anything, then there is nobody will believe them. They are -- they are raising and encouraging people to raise against the dictatorship. And when the people raise, then they just look from distance and watching them. Then they put us in the middle of the fire, and then OK, we have to discuss with our allies. We have to go through the United Nations.
This is not the case. Then please, if you can't support us, don't encourage us to raise against the dictatorship.
BLITZER: So -- so basically what I hear you saying is you want the U.S. Air Force or U.S. Navy from aircraft carriers or whatever to send planes over, knock out the anti-aircraft missile batteries in Libya and dominate the skies?
AUJALI: Yes, yes, they have to dominate the sky. They have to stop the march of the tankers toward Misrata and toward Tripoli. They have to take the measurement to stop this massacre going on in my country, but please, if you can't act now, then don't encourage us to die. We have to plan our strategy to deal with the regime if we cannot depend on your support.
BLITZER: Are you reassured or not reassured by what you're seeing and hearing from the Obama administration?
AUJALI: I'm very optimistic.
BLITZER: Optimistic in what sense?
AUJALI: I'm optimistic, because the statement has been made from the president, from the Department of State that there is maybe a serious action against this -- this brutal regime. I'm positive.
BLITZER: You heard the Treasury Department here in Washington announce they're freezing $30 billion in Gadhafi or Libyan assets in the United States. Is that all the money he has, or is there more?
AUJALI: No, my goodness. This is just a little portion of what he has overseas in different banks.
BLITZER: Where else is he hiding the money?
AUJALI: I think in many European countries. Only he has number of children. Each of them have fortune.
BLITZER: Billions and billions of dollars?
AUJALI: Billions and billions. He monopolized, for example, the -- the tankers which carry the oil, some of the telecommunication system, and every business they put their hand is there, and...
BLITZER: You say Gadhafi himself is delusional or crazy. But his -- Saif Islam Gadhafi, his son, who went to the London School of Economics, as you know? Is he crazy and delusional, as well, or just dangerous?
AUJALI: No, no, I think after the speech he made, he's both. He's dangerous and crazy.
BLITZER: What is your worst-case fear right now?
AUJALI: In what sense you mean?
BLITZER: What are you afraid of the most as far as Libya's concerned? AUJALI: I want this march to reach their goals. I want this regime to end. There is no way for us to go back.
BLITZER: Is there any way Gadhafi can win?
AUJALI: There is no way. He's losing. He's losing the land. He's losing the support. He's losing his people. He's losing the -- he's losing the -- the legitimacy to stay in power anymore.
BLITZER: But in the -- before he goes, he's still fully capable of unleashing weapons and killing a lot of innocent people.
AUJALI: Yes, but I'm afraid now he will use more serious weapons, you know, the gas or use some poison gas.
BLITZER: Does very that kind of weaponry?
AUJALI: Yes, of course. Of course.
BLITZER: Because he was supposed to have given up the weapons of mass destruction as part of the deal with the United States, the normalized relations.
AUJALI: Yes, but he still has the chemical weapons. And this is very dangerous.
BLITZER: He never gave that up.
AUJALI: He never gave it up.
BLITZER: Did he have any serious nuclear capabilities?
AUJALI: I don't think so, because he gave it up to the -- after the deal with the United States. But chemical weapons he has. And he still have the upper hand in the situation, because he has power.
But the people is marching to destroy this regime. They need support. They need air support. They need also the international community to act quickly.
We don't -- if this crisis take too long, then everybody's losing. We are losing. The United States losing. The international community is losing. We have more complication of the oil prices going up where the development is starting now, and the economy is catching up. That will all collapse.
BLITZER: You're the Libyan ambassador to the United States. But it's an unusual situation. You've broken with Gadhafi. Are you still the Libyan -- does the U.S. government recognize you as Libya's ambassador right now?
AUJALI: If the United States does not recognize me as ambassador of the new -- of the new Libya, then they have no credibility.
BLITZER: Have they said anything to you about that?
AUJALI: They don't say much. But if they do that, they have no credibility.
We are the voice of the people. They have been listening to Gadhafi for 42 -- for 42 years. What happened? Now we have to listen to the voice of the people for the first time in 42 years. This is the credibility of the United States. If they don't stand by the people and with us in this time, then believe me, your credibility is in danger.
BLITZER: So when you call the State Department or the White House, do they take your phone calls?
AUJALI: Yes, of course.
BLITZER: They talk to you?
AUJALI: Until today they call -- they spoke to me -- speak to me, and then we have some business going on. But it is up to them to decide. I'm still the voice of the people. I'm not sticking to the position, but I want to make my case. And who will represent the people if Gadhafi -- if they will not recognize us?
BLITZER: This is what I want you to do.
BLITZER: If the president of the United States, Barack Obama, is watching this show right now, look into that camera right there and make an appeal to him. What would you ask him? Look in the camera and talk to the president.
AUJALI: Please -- Mr. President, we trust you. Please recognize the new regime in Libya. Please recognize the legitimate of the council caretaker of the Libyan people. Please listen to the voice of the Libyan peoples, who are slaughtering every day by this butcher regime.
You have to break any connection with Gadhafi's regime. This is the message of the Libyan people, who are now slaughtered like sheep in every piece of our land.
BLITZER: Slaughtered like sheep, that's what you're saying?
BLITZER: The Libyan people?
BLITZER: And those -- that appeal you made to the president, so far you don't have a positive reaction from the U.S.?
AUJALI: No, I'm very optimistic, and I am positive the United States, they take the issues very serious. But I cannot really make any commitment to what they're going to tell me, what -- what I'm going to hear from them. This coming few hours maybe in that time everything will be clear. BLITZER: How worried are you about your security now that you've broken with Gadhafi?
AUJALI: When I decided, really, my security doesn't make sense -- doesn't make much sense to me, you know, because I see the people, young, old, children, women's killing every day. Then I'm just part of that movement to destroy this horrible regime. Then my security is not really big issue.
My issue is we want to win this battle by enterprise. That's my -- that's what we want. We want the people -- our people to be free for the first time. This is our right. And what -- they're supposed to help us. They're supposed to stand by us. They have to break the relation with Gadhafi.
What you're worried about -- what you're worried about, that Gadhafi is going to stay, he is not going to stay. Then you are one step -- one leg is here and one leg there. You want to keep both hands with one -- one strong tied to Gadhafi and the other one just a little bit to the people? This is not really the country; this is not the American value.
BLITZER: Mr. Ambassador, good luck to you and good luck to all the people of Libya.
AUJALI: Thank you.
BLITZER: We'll continue this conversation.
AUJALI: Thank you very much.
BLITZER: Ambassador Aujali is the Libyan ambassador to the United States.
Stand by for another live report on the Libyan crisis. CNN's Ivan Watson is along the border with Tunisia. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: People are getting out of Libya right now. An estimated 100,000 refugees, many of them non-Libyans, have crossed into Tunisia and into Egypt over the past week alone.
CNN's Ivan Watson is watching the surge of people over at the Libyan/Tunisian border. Ivan is joining us now live. Ivan, what's the latest there?
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, the scene was starting to get ugly today. In the no-man's land in between the last border gate for Tunisia and Libya, there were thousands of people trapped, most of them foreign migrant workers, most of them Egyptian males, desperately trying to get out of Libya, to escape the fighting and to come into Tunisia.
Now, the Tunisian authorities are trying to do everything they can to help these people. They're setting up distribution of food. They're setting up tents and so on, but they cannot handle an onslaught of this many people, estimated at the current rate about 10 to 13,000 a day that are kind of being rationed through.
And in some cases, security forces beating back people who were trying to jump over barbed wire and jump over the walls. I saw emergency workers carrying out sick Egyptians on stretchers out from within this crush of humanity.
And Libya is estimated to have more than a million Egyptian migrant workers in the country. So as the conflict continues, jus expect this flood of migrants trying to escape to get worse in the days and weeks ahead.
The U.N. is calling for help. Planes, boats, anything to help the Egyptians move these stranded migrant workers back to their home country here from Tunisia.
BLITZER: We'll stay in close touch. Good luck to those folks over there. Ivan, thank you.
The U.S. military, meanwhile, has a presence in the waters off of Libya and is getting bigger right now. Some in Washington are urging the Obama administration to do more, though, than simply flex its muscles. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: The Obama administration says the U.S. is in talks with its allies about military options for dealing with the violence and chaos in Libya. The Pentagon is repositioning warships in the region to be ready for whatever comes next. Our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, is joining us now with the big question: what is next for the U.S. military, if anything, Chris?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, everything is on the table: from humanitarian relief all the way up to enforcing a no- fly zone.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): America's military muscle is moving closer to Libya. One destroyer was already in the Mediterranean Sea, and the USS Kearsarge (ph), with its ability to land Marines, is now in the Red Sea, sailing close to the Suez Canal.
Further south and able to move closer is the aircraft carrier Enterprise and its strike group. The U.S. is considering disrupting communications to prevent Colonel Muammar Gadhafi from broadcasting in Libya.
But pressure is building on the Obama administration to do more, whereas Senator McCain said on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION"...
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Get tough.
LAWRENCE: McCain wants the U.S. to send material assistance to Libyans defying Gadhafi. It says the U.S. must stop him from using air power against his own people.
MCCAIN: Libyan pilots aren't going to fly if there's a no-fly zone.
LAWRENCE: But a no-fly zone is no cure-all. In Iraq during the '90s, the U.S. could launch jets from nearby bases in Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The no-fly zone over northern Iraq worked, in part, because the Kurds controlled the ground.
But the zone over Southern Iraq didn't stop Saddam Hussein from killing Shiites, partly because, like Libya, the U.S. didn't have a presence on the ground.
But the mere sight of American fighter jets over Libya could send a powerful message to Colonel Gadhafi.
THOMAS DONNELLY, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Even if we just buzz the palace and didn't release any ordnance, the symbolic action or the psychological effect could be enough to bring the war to a quick conclusion.
LAWRENCE: Defense analyst Tom Donnelly says Gadhafi will fall, and the protesters will win, and when they do, they'll ask.
DONNELLY: Where was the United States? Where were the Europeans when we fought for our freedom? Were they with us, against us, or did they just watch?
LAWRENCE: At the very least, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says there will be a need for rescue missions. In the Kearsarge, in particular, is one of the Navy's largest floating hospital bays. It's got six operating rooms and the ability to care for up to 600 patients -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Chris Lawrence. We're watching the military option story. Much more coming up on Libya right after this.
BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour is do you think the federal government will ever agree to meaningful cuts in spending?
Bob writes, "Since meaningful cuts mean cutting the grossly obese Defense Department budget, it would be a brave politician indeed to ever call for that kind of discipline. Defense, agricultural, energy support payments, and a sensible approach to Medicare and Medicaid, starting with cracking down on fraud. Those are the cuts we need. We'll not see them any time soon." Alex in Washington writes, "The short answer is, not if they want to get re-elected. The Tea Party talks a good enough game about common-sense spending cuts in order to get elected, but they never mentioned any specifics during the 2010 campaign, because specific cuts would have cost them the votes of the constituency dependent on that particular government program."
Rodney writes, "I think we've had this conversation. The answer is only at the point of the whole world unraveling while they do -- will they ever do anything. They don't care. They're all millionaires. It makes them feel important. A divided country keeps them in power, keeps us powerless. To do anything meaningful about it, we actually have very little control over anything or anybody."
Rick in Ohio writes, "The real guts won't be about budget cutting. It will be about changing some preconceived notions. We don't have a chance without an overhaul of the tax code, a reordering of what national defense really means, and a willingness to deal with the vastly different actuarial realities that have tanked Social Security and Medicare. We're not just broke; we're in complete denial."
Ken in North Carolina writes, "Democrats say $61 billion is too much. Republicans say $61 billion is not enough. The problem is, neither is willing to compromise. Just like Muammar Gadhafi, they think the people love them."
And J.F. writes, "Not as long is there is still space between their backs and the wall."
If you want to read more on this, go to my blog: CNN.com/CaffertyFile.
BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much. See you back here tomorrow.
We have some sad news to share with our viewers. A member of our own CNN family died over the weekend after a battle with cancer. Hunter Waters (ph) was only 32 years old. He worked here for over a decade, starting off as an intern, quickly rising through the ranks to become a senior producer on the "LARRY KING LIVE" show.
Hunter -- Hunter is survived by his wife, Chris (ph), who he met here at CNN. Our hearts and prayers go out to her and the entire family.
BLITZER: Rap artists now have some new competition, thanks to the magic of electronic manipulation. Libya's Muammar Gadhafi has been autotuned, as they say. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bet you Muammar Gadhafi doesn't think this is funny. His recent speech autotuned to an American rap song, accompanied by images of a gyrating girl inspired by his female bodyguards. And what sticks in your head is the word repetition.
MUAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN DICTATOR: Zenga zenga.
NOY ALOOSHE, MUSICIAN: It sounds so funny, so it's meant to be like the title of the song.
MOOS: It means "alley." The repeated words were from Gadhafi's threat to hunt down protesters, home by home, alley by alley.
GADHAFI: Zenga zenga.
MOOS: The song became a viral hit, an anthem for Libyan protesters. Then gradually, Arabs realized this video was made by a Jew?
ALOOSHE: For me, as an Israeli, it was like amazing.
MOOS: Thirty-one-year-old musician Noy Alooshe got back-handed compliments such as, "Well done, Jew" and "I'll skip my daily 'death to Israel' chant today because of this."
ALOOSHE: "So what if the poster is in Israel? It's still funny."
MOOS: And funny is a potent weapon. Ridicule of Gadhafi ranges from using Borat's voice as mock translation.
SACHA BARON COHEN, COMEDIAN: One time in Washington, I invited two boys to my hotel room, and we wrestled with no clothes.
MOOS: To just making up the translations, as Conan's been doing.
GADHAFI: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
GRAPHIC: I will now stare blankly for several seconds to make you wonder if I died.
Fooled you! I didn't die!
MOOS: As for repeating certain words...
GADHAFI: Zenga zenga.
MOOS (on camera): "Zenga, zenga."
(voice-over) It reminds us of another pair of twin words in the news these days. You've heard of a sex scandal involving a certain Italian prime minister?
STEVEN COLBERT, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL'S "COLBERT REPORT": Berlusconi has been accused of bringing many young girls to his Sardinian villa for what are known as bunga-bunga parties. Bunga- bunga, of course, another Italian word meaning bunga-bunga.
MOOS: And now bunga-bunga and zenga zenga have met, joined in this YouTube mash-up, ridiculing Gadhafi with a Bugs Bunny cartoon. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unga, bunga, bunga!
GADHAFI: Zenga, zenga!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unga, bunga, bunga!
MOOS: It sure is a lot catchier than "down with Gadhafi."
Jeanne Moos, CNN...
(MUSIC: "LOONEY TUNES" THEME)
MOOS: ... New York.
BLITZER: By the way, we just checked on YouTube. So far since it's come out, it's had 148 -- one million, I should say, 1,488,000 plus hits on YouTube alone. I'm sure it's going to have a lot more as a result of this show.
Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.