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New Battles in Libya; Unemployment Reality Check

Aired March 4, 2011 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: chants, bullets and a river of blood in Libya. Witnesses report fierce new battles on several fronts between rebels and the Gadhafi regime. Stand by for a brand-new interview with Gadhafi's son.

The Libyan leader blames the unrest on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Now bin Laden's deputy is trying to capitalize on the anti- government revolts across the region. Is the climate ripe for recruiting terrorists?

And a reality check on America's new jobs report. Many part-time workers will tell you that a new drop in the unemployment rate doesn't tell the whole story.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A day of prayer in Libya turns into another day of brutal attacks on rebel forces by troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. We're getting reports of fierce clashes in several cities, including Gadhafi's power center. That could be the capital, Tripoli -- security forces using tear gas and rubber bullets to break up protests in the capital and recent protests in the town of Zawiyah exploding into a deadly assault today.

Witnesses say pro-government forces gunned down peaceful protesters. One doctor reports at least 15 people killed. And he describes what's he is calling a river of blood at the hospital where dozens of wounded are being treated. Interpol now is issuing a global security alert involving Gadhafi. It's warning that the Libyan leader, his family and close associates are dangerous, the target of United Nations sanctions and under investigation for crimes against humanity.

But the Obama administration says it still isn't ready to authorize any use of force against Gadhafi.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Of course we are concerned with the ongoing violence and the actions that are initiated and perpetrated by Gadhafi and his regime against his own people. We are considering a number of ways that we can be of assistance with respect to that. But we are now focused on the humanitarian situation.


BLITZER: All right, this just coming into CNN and THE SITUATION ROOM.

Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, has just spoken with one of Moammar Gadhafi's son, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi.

And Nic is joining us now live from Tripoli.

How did that go, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he described the situation in Zawiyah, where he described the opposition, the armed opposition, there of being about 70 or so people, that they were trying to make a break out of the center (AUDIO GAP) to the oil refinery just outside the city, where the government took journalists, including ourselves, yesterday.

And he said that was the reason that the government cracked down on them. He says that pretty much they have taken control of that area. It's not 100 percent in government control, but 90 percent there. One interesting thing that came out of this interview, he was very key to change the characterization that (AUDIO GAP) that the government is up against, not up against as has been described before al Qaeda giving people hallucinogenic drugs.

But he described them as armed militias. And he said -- when I said, well, how are you going to deal with them? And he said, well, the people are going to deal with them. How are the people going to deal with them? Every one in this country is armed. I talked about the operations going on in the east of the country. I said, does that mean negotiations are over? He didn't say yes. He didn't say no.

But he did say that those military operations will continue going ahead in the east of the country. We talked about the sanctions that have been put, the asset freezing on his family, on his father, about the call by President Obama for his father step aside. He said that's not going to happen. His father is a leader. And that's not about to happen. The Interpol warrants issued for the family, he said, why have those been imposed on my family?

A lot of details in this interview, Wolf.

BLITZER: What did he say specifically about President Obama and his call yesterday -- we all heard it, a very strong call -- Gadhafi must go? What did he say about President Obama?

ROBERTSON: It's not going to happen. His father is going to stay. His -- his (AUDIO GAP) helping keeping the country together.

And I said, look, for the sake of the unity of the country, if this man, your father, with all this international opinion weighted against him is going to be responsible for dragging this country into war -- and we talked about the fact that this is heading (AUDIO GAP) towards a civil war situation right now -- if he is going to be responsible for that, receiving the condemnation of the international community, a lightning rod for criticism right now, why doesn't he (AUDIO GAP) and you move toward a middle ground and negotiations?

And he ruled that out. It's not going to happen. It's not on the card. He did say (AUDIO GAP) not going to happen, but he did say that it's just not something that is being countenanced right now, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, it might not happen for his father, but what about Saif al-Islam? What did he say about himself? This is a guy who graduated from the London School of Economics. He's had enormous contacts with the Western world over the years. He's supposedly polished, sophisticated. Is he determined to die in Libya himself?

ROBERTSON: Wolf, the impression I got from him this evening is a man who doesn't have a huge number of answers at his disposal. And you have to say, why doesn't he have answers?

I said, OK, what is the endgame here? Well, unifying the country. How are you going to get there? Well, the people are going to take on the armed groups, the militias, and then we're going to change the constitution. Well, give me the details. (AUDIO GAP) more details. He's short on details.

Why does he not want to (AUDIO GAP) does he not have that information? He seemed unsure of what he could say, of even how to explain how (AUDIO GAP) would move along. So you have to -- I was left looking at it, wondering, you know, are there no real answers? Is this the best they have got? Or is he completely out of the loop and he's out there as a P.R. front for the government who is going to continue with its military operations?

I do understand separate to that interview that those military operations (AUDIO GAP) will continue, will continue through a number of towns in the east. And then there will be a red line. And then there will be a push for negotiations in the remainder of the east. Before the government tries to retake Benghazi, they will push for political negotiations, but not before they have taken a number of key towns, Wolf.

BLITZER: Nic Robertson, thanks very much. Nic is going to be on the scene for us. He has been doing an outstanding job.

Al Qaeda terrorists are keeping a very close watch on the unrest rippling across Northern Africa and the Middle East. We have been listening to a new audio message believed to be from Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Here's how CNN translated one key part of the tape. And I will read it to you.

"I would like to salute the noble free men in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen who stood up in their uprisings against the corrupt rulers, the Zionist Arabs. I want you to know that your mujahedeen brothers stand by you. Both of you are facing the same enemy. You are facing America and its Western allies."

Let's bring in our CNN national security analyst, Peter Bergen.

What do you make of this statement from Ayman al-Zawahiri?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it's very repetitive of some other statements that he's made on the same subject.

And it's part of an effort for Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is after all an Egyptian, to kind of try and position himself as having some role or something to say about these revolutions in the Middle East, and to try and position al Qaeda so that it isn't irrelevant.

But, I mean, I don't think -- one of the things that has been very striking, Wolf, is that we haven't seen a single picture of Osama bin Laden being carried by the demonstrators in the Middle East, whether in Bahrain or Libya or Egypt or Tunisia or anywhere else, suggesting that he's just not part of the conversation, let alone Ayman al-Zawahiri.

BLITZER: He did say this, Ayman al-Zawahiri, about what's going on in Yemen, where, as you know, there's a significant al Qaeda in the Arabian base right there.

He said this. He said: "To our beloved Yemen, I remind them of their brethren, the mujahedeen, and their fight against the tyrant and corrupt regime that turns the country into a crusader base that took bribes from the West so they can kill their own people. You started your uprising, so go ahead and keep it going."

I can tell you, from my conversations here in Washington right now, Peter, there's enormous concern about what's going on in Yemen right now.

BERGEN: Well, I think it's entirely a legitimate concern, Wolf.

I mean, even before the protests erupted on the streets of Sanaa and in other places in Yemen, as you know, Yemen is the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula. It's running out of oil. It's running out of water. It's one of the most heavily armed populations in the world. Local disputes are sometimes settled with artillery.

Half the population is high after lunchtime, because they're all chewing khat. It's very tribal. It's very much mountainous. It looks a lot like Afghanistan from a topographical point of view. And it's a failing state. If Yemen became a failed state, al Qaeda certainly likes failed states, because they can operate with impunity. So I think the fact that there is these protests against Saleh, who after all has been in power for about as long as Mubarak was, it's a legitimate concern, because Yemen was already quite unstable.

BLITZER: Why are we hearing from Ayman al-Zawahiri, as opposed to bin Laden himself?

BERGEN: It's a very good question, Wolf. And I'm surprised we haven't heard from bin Laden as yet. The temptation to say something about this must be pretty overwhelming. Usually, there's a three-week lag between a significant news event and bin Laden getting a tape out to comment on it. Obviously, we're way past that three-week window. So they may have made the calculation Ayman al-Zawahiri is less important to the organization overall.

The CIA and every other intelligence agency in the world is quite cognizant of the fact that al Qaeda's leadership will be putting out tapes, that they need to trace the chain of custody of these tapes. And al Qaeda's leaders are probably cognizant of that fact, too.

So they may just be, let's keep the big hidden. Put Ayman al- Zawahiri out here. Let him take the risks of putting out these statements.

BLITZER: Peter Bergen, thanks very much.

Let's go back to the battlefields in eastern Libya right now. Our senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, is joining us now live with the latest.

What happened today, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, what happened is that the anti-Gadhafi forces were able to take the strategic petroleum producing town of Ras Lanuf from Gadhafi's forces.

I just got off the phone a little while ago with somebody who was in the town this evening. He said they not only took the town itself. They took over the petroleum refinery and the airport as well. This is a major victory for the anti-Gadhafi forces, and certainly shakes the idea that somehow a stalemate was developing.

It was thought that the east would stay on one side, the west on the other, and things really wouldn't change. But what we're seeing is really fast-breaking developments on the ground, beginning day before yesterday, when the eastern forces were able to expel an advancing force loyal to mortgage from the town of Brega. They have moved quickly, more than 70 kilometers, taken Ras Lanuf. And now of course they're talking about moving on to Sirte, which is of course Gadhafi's hometown and possibly even Tripoli -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Are the rebels, and you're in constant contact with them right now, are they confident still that they are going to be on the winning side of this war?

WEDEMAN: Well, certainly, after today's victory in Ras Lanuf, they definitely feel like they have the momentum, even though they really don't have the superior airpower. In fact, they have no airpower.

Or they don't have a lot of tanks at their disposal. But they seem to have the numbers, the enthusiasm. And I think they realize that they are on the winning side, that morale on the Gadhafi side is beginning to crumble as they see that there's international support for the opposition, there's international support for the idea of a no-fly zone, sanctions, travel restrictions, freezing bank accounts.

It does seem like the tide is definitely turning in the favor of the opposition -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Ben Wedeman joining us from eastern Libya, thanks very much. Be careful.

A U.S. cargo plane lands in Tunisia near the Libyan border, as the evacuation of refugees takes off in a big way. We're covering the exodus and the refugees left behind.

And a potential danger as Libyan rebels get their hands on military guns and ammunition. Could those weapons eventually wind up in the arsenals of some terrorists? We're looking at this potential threat.

And a dip in the unemployment rate lifts spirits here in the United States, but the jobs picture may be worse than the new numbers suggest.


BLITZER: We will go back to Libya in a few moments, but now a shocking, shocking attack on civilian protesters captured on video, Ivory Coast security officials using armored vehicles to fire on women demonstrating peacefully.

We have to warn our viewers some of the images in this story are going to be very, very disturbing.

We have asked Brian Todd to come here to tell our viewers this horrible story with the video.

Brian, what happened?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very graphic, very disturbing, Wolf. This incident occurred in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan, on Thursday, according to the State Department.

In this incident, it appears of group of innocent women were mercifully gunned down. First, we will set this up with video of the protest. The women were protesting against the disputed rule of President Laurent Gbagbo, specifically his refusal to give up power after an independent commission declared his challenger the winner in last year's election.

This was a peaceful demonstration, as it clearly appears here. Now, we have to warn you, again, what we're about to show you is graphic. And we have edited out some of the most disturbing parts. U.S. officials say soldiers loyal to Gbagbo used armored vehicles to fire on this group.

Now some other video. Moments later, when others come upon these women to check on them, you can see there are several people dead. According to U.S. officials, at least six women were killed, though it's clear from the video many more were hit. The State Department has issued various statements condemning this.

Hillary Clinton, we got just this today, issued a statement strongly condemning the acts of violence. And she attributes it straight to President Laurent Gbagbo, and both she and P.J. Crowley, the State Department spokesman, say that he should step aside in the name of peace.

The French Foreign Ministry has condemned all of this and called on the U.N. to establish an independent commission to investigate. A spokesman for Gbagbo said they do not know about this video. An army spokesman has denied the involvement of Ivorian defense or security forces in this incident, Wolf. It is horrific all the way around.

BLITZER: It just fuels the concern so many people have had that a full-scale civil war is developing there.

TODD: That's right.

U.N. officials say at least 365 people have been killed since this conflict erupted in December. Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes. The U.N. says now it's becoming impossible to gain access to people who are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Of course, those are all the characteristics of a chaotic civil war unfolding right now in Ivory Coast.

BLITZER: Or Cote d'Ivoire, as they call it as well.

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Brian, for that.

Getting out of harm's way in Libya. The number of evacuees crossing the border with Tunisia suddenly plunged, but now thousands may be on the move again. You're going to find out who is helping them make it to safety. Lots happening today right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Some new hope for American workers and for the U.S. economy: The unemployment rate fell to 8.9 percent last month. That's down from 9 percent in January. The jobless rate now has fallen almost a full percentage point in the last three months.

President Obama touted the numbers during remarks in Miami just a little while ago.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This morning, we learned that the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in nearly two years.


OBAMA: Our economy added another 220,000 jobs in the private sector. That's the 12 straight month of private sector job growth. So our economy is now added 1.5 million private sector jobs over the last year, and that's progress.


BLITZER: But the jobless figures don't necessarily tell the full story.

CNN's Mary Snow is standing by.

Mary, you have been speaking to a lot of people looking for jobs right now. And you're following up on their progress. What do you see?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we followed up with a man who is among the roughly eight million Americans who are underemployed, meaning they work part time because they have had hours cut or because they can't find full-time work.

Now, we introduced you to Earl Newkirk two months ago. He's been out of work for nearly a year now. And we asked a career coach what he can do differently.


SNOW (voice-over): We first met Earl Newkirk on a cold January day. He waited hours to get inside a job fair where a new hotel was looking to fill 250 positions. This is Earl Newkirk's plan B. He has held a part-time catering job while working full time in social work. But in April of 2010, he was laid of by New York City. And he thought it was time to switch careers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What steps do you take to ensure that the work that you have done has been done correctly?

EARL NEWKIRK, JOB SEEKER: I guess I'm very detail-oriented.

SNOW: Earl says he did get called back for a second interview, but didn't get hired. He works part-time to pay the bills while he continues looking for a full-time job.

Career coach Barbara Frankel says, for people like Earl, there's a common mistake.

BARBARA FRANKEL, PRESIDENT, CAREER COUNSELORS CONSORTIUM: They're relying on the Internet and responding to ads. And sometimes it goes into a black hole.

SNOW: We asked Barbara if she would review Earl's resume. And she agreed to meet with him.

NEWKIRK: My resume is probably really archaic. So hopefully she's going to tell me some stuff I need to revamp and maybe help me understand why I'm not getting called back.

FRANKEL: Hey, Earl. NEWKIRK: Yes. Good morning.

FRANKEL: Hi. Good morning. Nice to meet you.

SNOW: Earl is looking for a job at a nonprofit or social services.

FRANKEL: Resumes have changed over the years.

SNOW: One thing Barbara finds, Earl doesn't list accomplishments and includes responsibilities, not results.

FRANKEL: If you have gotten results for one employer, the next employer is thinking you can get results for them, too. And that's what you really want to show in the resume.

SNOW: And you don't want to just submit that resume online.

FRANKEL: The most important is who your network is and to have face-to-face meetings.

SNOW (on camera): What do you think, Earl?

NEWKIRK: I think that apparently I have only been doing about 25 percent of the stuff that I need to do to have a successful job search. I have got a lot of homework to do.


SNOW: Now, what Barbara Frankel stressed is the need for face- to-face networking with groups like alumni associations. She says it's a must to have a strong profile on online social networking sites, since that's where employers will usually look first -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good point.

All right, Mary, thanks very, very much.

It's a sea of humanity at Libya's border with Tunisia right now. Tens of thousands of people are frantically trying to get out. We're going to tell you what the United States is now doing to help.


BLITZER: We're seeing a dramatic new increase in the number of refugees from Libya being evacuated out to Tunisia, the U.S. military now a part of this relief operation after desperate pleas by aid organizations for help.

CNN's Ivan Watson is on the Libyan/Tunisian border.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Misery and squalor at the Libyan border, hordes of refugees caught out in the open in constant dust storms. Almost all of them are migrant laborers. They're accustomed to hardship, but not like this.

(on camera): No food?


WATSON (voice-over): These men from Bangladesh say they were robbed at gunpoint by Libyan troops.

(on camera): Did they take your money?


WATSON: All of it?

(voice-over): Oil worker Emre Shahbeddin, doesn't know how he will feed his son back in Bangladesh.

EMRE SHAHBEDDIN, BANGLADESHI OIL WORKER: I called my family. My wife cry. My mother cry. My small son, only 2 years (INAUDIBLE) I cannot give them money, the milk money. I cannot give any. So, I -- I cannot do anything. So, my -- my wife having to cry.

WATSON: Thousands of Bangladeshi migrant workers are stranded in this filthy plot of land by the border. Many of these people were already born into crushing poverty and took out unbearable loans, sold what little property they had to try to get jobs in Libya. And many of them complained their bosses did not pay them months of salary. And then they were robbed on their way to the Tunisian border. If they could ever get back home from here, they'll be arriving empty handed.

(voice-over) And this will likely be their point of departure, Jeruba (ph) airport where air traffic controllers are working round the clock. Directing an air bridge, more than 60 flights a day transporting an estimating 10,000 refugees every day back to their countries of origin.

On Friday, the first American plane arrived, carrying aid for the refugees. Until now ordinary Tunisians have born the brunt of the relief effort, donating food to refugees, lined up for flights at the airport. Among them, this group of Bangladeshis. Many of them don't even have passports.

MOHAMMED SHAFIQ AL ISLAM, BANGLADESHI REFUGEE: I have -- no, I have no passport. Only a passport for (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Libyan -- Libyan people -- they take money, passport, and all the time, "I will kill you."

WATSON: These men were effectively indentured servants, working in Libya for years for just $250 a month. Now they say they're destitute.

AL ISLAM: So we are helpless now. We are beggar now. Our families are crying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry. AL ISLAM: Really, we are very, very helpless now.


BLITZER: And Ivan is joining us now live from the border between Libya and Tunisia. Does it look like the U.S. is gearing up for a much more massive relief operation, based on what you're seeing and hearing there, Ivan?

WATSON: Well, we know that two American Air Force C-130s arrived carrying thousands of tents. But we have not heard of any additional aid flights scheduled for tomorrow. It's possible that, in the days ahead, the U.S. planes will be used to help evacuate people. But that has not yet been established. So far it seems more like a symbolic effort from the U.S. military.

BLITZER: Is it -- is your sense right now that the numbers of people fleeing Libya are staying the same, increasing, decreasing? What are you seeing?

WATSON: Well, this is interesting, perhaps ominous, Wolf. Because we went from getting 15,000 people estimated coming across the border day after day until yesterday it suddenly dropped to under 2,000. And again, under 2,000 today. And that's led some aid workers to worry that perhaps the Libyan authorities are not letting people escape the fighting.

It was very strange the number of refugees fleeing Libya would drop so dramatically when the fighting itself has escalated over the past 48 hours.

BLITZER: Yes. That is an ominous sign. All right, Ivan, we'll stay in close touch with you. Thank you.

The Obama administration insists it's focusing in on humanitarian efforts in Libya right now, but there is a great deal of pressure for the U.S. military to impose what's called a no-fly zone over Libya. I spoke about that with Nick Kristof of "The New York Times." We spoke about President Obama's options and America's responsibility in the region.


BLITZER: Is it too much for me to hope that the Arab world or the Muslim world would take the lead in trying to help the people of Libya right now, as opposed to the United States, NATO, the Europeans? Politically, it would somewhat better if the Arabs and the Muslims did it, as opposed to the west.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF "NEW YORK TIMES": That would be absolutely crucial. And one of the things that I find so exhilarating about what is happening right now in Libya is the degree to which ordinary Arabs and especially ordinary Egyptians have been showing some real leadership here. You're not seeing it as much from the Arab League.

But there's so many ordinary Egyptians who have been volunteering and going after the Libya border and crossing it and providing medical support and sending in food and assistance. And ultimately, I think that it is providing some pressure on the Egyptian government and beyond it on the Arab League. I hope that we can work closely with Egypt and Tunisia, in particular, to try to give some extra legitimacy and cover for international efforts to dislodge Gadhafi.

BLITZER: Because there's no doubt the Egyptians and the Tunisians are doing terrific work helping the refugees, hundreds of thousands of refugees. They're doing a great job. But I'm talking about militarily arming, for example, the opposition, engaging in a no-fly zone. They have their forces. They have capabilities.

KRISTOF: Yes. I think we should be a little bit careful about arming the rebels, just because, you know, it's an area that is already awash with weapons you don't -- if you supplied shoulder- launch anti-aircraft weapons, for example, you'd have to worry that they might end up in the wrong hands.

But I think that a no-fly zone, for example, instituted in conjunction with Egypt, with Tunisia, and maybe with Morocco would be just -- would be a huge step forward. And it's something that is really hard for the United States and for Europe to do because of the whole legacy of imperialism and colonialism. It is something that Egypt can do, can provide real leadership on.


BLITZER: Nick Kristof with us just a little while ago.

Surface-to-air rockets, machine guns, shoulder-fired missiles, just some of Libya's so-called loose weapons that could be falling into the wrong hands. Should the U.S. be concerned? Should the world be concerned? Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Rebels in Libya are desperate for any and every kind of weapon they can get their hands on. But there is a lot of concern the Libyan government arsenal could fall, potentially, into wrong hands. The nation could wind up in total, total chaos. Let's bring in Brian Todd once again.

Brian, you're looking at this story. Walk through some of these scenarios.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a U.S. official who's knowledgeable about the latest assessments of the situation in Libya tells us there are large caches of weapons around the country that were previously under the control of the Libyan government which are no longer secure. Some of those caches have gone to the rebels, and experts say that opens up more ominous possibilities.


TODD (voice-over): Watch how they fire them. Many of them recoil or drift around these lethal tools as if they've never been around them before. The rebels opposing Moammar Gadhafi have made key battlefield gains, partially with weapons taken from Libyan armories or brought over by defecting soldiers. But those loose weapons also pose long-term security threats.

I'm with Matthew Schroeder, who monitors illicit arms sales for the Federation of American Scientists.

Matt, we've got a picture here of what appears to be a Libyan rebel launching a shoulder-fired missile toward a Libyan jet. Are these kinds of weapons floating around Libya for the taking now?

MATTHEW SCHROEDER, MONITORS ILLICIT ARMS SALES: Yes, those weapons are outside of state control now. And our big concern is that they will be diverted to the black market and acquired by terrorists outside of Libya.

TODD: There's no evidence that Libyan rebels have sold weapons to terrorists or that they intend to, but experts say arms traffickers could see the Libyan fight as a chance to stock up, one of their most popular weapons, shoulder-fired missiles, move at high speed right toward the heat emitted by airplanes.

Most civilian aircraft don't have counter measures against them. Militants are well versed at acquiring and using weapons like this.

In November of 2003, shortly after taking off from Baghdad, a DHL cargo plane is hit by a surface-to-air missile. This is militant video claiming to show the incident. The plane loses hydraulics, but the crew is able to land safely.

The previous year, two missiles just miss an Israeli plane full of civilians in Mombassa, Kenya, and part of the unfortunate attraction of these things is that they're fairly easy to work. Right?

SCHROEDER: Yes. That's correct. The basic operation of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles is fairly easy to use and fairly easy to teach. The missile is boosted out of the launch tube, and then, after it's a safe distance from the operator, a sustainer motor will kick in, and the missile guides itself to the target.

TODD: Libyan rebels also have their hands on anti-tank missiles. Larger surface-to-air rockets have been abandoned by pro-Gadhafi forces. Experts say neither the rebels nor terrorists are likely to use those effectively, but smaller arms from the conflict, like rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, could easily get onto the black market.

SCHROEDER: In fact, we expect that to happen. They will circulate, and they will circulate for years.


TODD: Experts say that what may fuel the circulation is if this conflict drags on, both sides could bring in more weapons from outside Libya. Then whenever this ends, those weapons could be sold off, as well. It could be a huge arms bazaar in that part of Africa.

You've learned something on this from officials.

TODD: That's right. On the possibility of this dragging on. A U.S. official says that it appears the Libyan rebels have the resources to carry on this fight for a long time. In this official's words, quote, "This could be a sustained conflict." You know, with Gadhafi holding one part of the country, the rebels holding another. Neither side really able to advance too far too fast. This could really drag on; could be very (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BLITZER: That's a real possibility. All right. Thanks very much, Brian.

As Congress braces for a potential budget battle, are lawmakers focusing too much on the deficit and not necessarily enough on jobs? We're taking a closer look when we come back in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: The unemployment rate may have dipped last month, but in Washington, a lot of the talk has been on slashing the deficit, not necessarily jobs creation.

Let's dig deeper with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger.

Some are suggesting, Gloria, Republicans may be making, from a different perspective, the same mistake Democrats made: not necessarily focusing enough on jobs, but focusing on the huge deficit.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And in fact, lots of Republicans are saying that to me, Wolf. They're saying, you know, "We criticized the Democrats before the midterm elections for not talking enough about job creation. Why are we just talking about cutting the deficit now?"

You know, they understand they've got this new bunch of House Republicans that got elected on cutting the deficit. And they understand that they're talking about, you know, if you cut the deficit, you can grow the economy.

But some Republicans I talked to say, you know, "We may not be making that connection with the American public right now. But all we're talking about are budget cuts. Some are these are going to be very painful. And what the voters want is more jobs." We saw some good jobs numbers today.

But Republicans think if they're going to win in 2012, they have to be able to point to the fact that they did what Barack Obama could not do, which is create jobs. And they haven't done that so far.

BLITZER: Because the Democrats were blamed for spending too much time on health care, for example.

BORGER: Right. BLITZER: Not enough time on jobs. And now the Republicans are spending too much time supposedly on deficit, not enough on jobs. But they're going to have a chance to write a new budget, the Republican leadership in the house. What can we expect?

BORGER: Well, it's interesting. They are going to have to write a serious budget, because they do control the House. Today in the "Wall Street Journal," we heard from the speaker. We've also heard from the budget chairman in the House, saying that they intend to do something about those automatic spending programs like Social Security, Medicare. They say they're going to tackle entitlements in their budget.

But what they say, if you read between the lines, that they're going to set goals for reducing entitlements. So that raises the question, Wolf, about how specific they're going to get about Social Security and Medicare. Because, you know, nobody wants to jump first on this. They all want to hold hands and jump together. But I'm not so sure that Barack Obama and the Democrats are going to want to go there. They're going to want Republicans to go there first.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens.


BLITZER: Gloria, thanks very much.

These are certainly perilous times for the global economy, as well. This weekend, CNN's Fareed Zakaria takes a closer look at America's place in the world right now.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: When you look at America, in a world in which China is rising, India is rising, what's your sense of where America stands in this new economic order?

NIALL FERGUSON, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well in some ways America stands on the edge of a cliff. Because great paths don't gently decline. They sort of fade away over decades. History shows that they very often collapse quite suddenly. They lose path quite dramatically. That was the experience most recently of the Soviet Union.

I think one looks at the fiscal position of the United States with the vast explosion of debt before but particularly after the financial crisis, it's clear that there's a major risk there.


BLITZER: Be sure to watch Fareed's special report, "Restoring the American Dream: Getting Back to No. 1." It airs Sunday, 8 p.m. Eastern and 11 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

Time's still ticking for the NFL, but a last-minute deal today could calm the waters a little bit. We'll update you. And he may be out of a job, but Charlie Sheen's certainly not out of money. The actor's creative new outlet for creating more interest.


BLITZER: Grace is back. She's monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now, including some news out of Wisconsin. What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right, Wolf. We have just learned that Wisconsin's governor, Scott Walker, today has issued union layoff notices that could take effect as soon as April 1.

He says the layoffs may be avoided if those 14 Senate Democrats who left the state to protest his budget plan return to the state capitol. A spokesman says without senate action within 15 days, state employees may begin to receive termination notices.

NFL owners and the players association have agreed to extend the collective bargaining agreement deadline for another seven days, until March 11. The league and players union already agreed yesterday to keep in place for another 24 hours. The two sides have been in talks for almost two weeks now. The players were considering going to court if progress wasn't being made.

And actor Charlie Sheen may be out of work. But he's looking to bring in some big bucks on Twitter. After joining the social networking site this week, Sheen's already snagged more than 1.5 million followers. Now the actor has signed a deal to deliver product endorsements on the site, where he could rake in more than a million dollars this year.

And you know, he got to a million followers in just 25 hours. And that is a new record, a Guinness World Book record.

BLITZER: Pretty impressive. Someone who tweets a lot, me, I have more than 400,000 followers, but it's taken a long time to get up to 400,000. Charlie Sheen, pretty impressive .

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, 25 hours. He's at a million.

BLITZER: That's good for Charlie Sheen. Thanks very much.

Witness accounts of horrifying attacks. Thousands of people desperate to get out. The latest on the turmoil rocking Libya at the top of the hour on "JOHN KING USA."

And few people can put a "Most Unusual" twist on the story like our own Jeanne Moos. We're taking a look back. Get this: 30 years with the queen of quirky.


BLITZER: Something special. We want to mark a milestone for one of our favorite, most creative members of THE SITUATION ROOM family. That would be Jeanne Moos. She's celebrating her 30th anniversary at CNN.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We think it's the next Snuggie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks ridiculous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is that? A big bib?

BLITZER (voice-over): Our viewers know her as the queen of quirky.

MOOS (on camera): Is it weird for you to see someone eating your breast milk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It makes me proud.

BLITZER: Someone who can find a "Most Unusual" twist to everything.

MOOS (voice-over): Behold the bunless wonder.

(on camera) Ready?


MOOS: Let's go.

(voice-over) Now you get a taste of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. It's good. I don't miss the bun.

LARRY KING, FORMER CNN HOST: Jeanne, how do you come up with these things?

MOOS (on camera): It's easy.

KING: You are the world's most famous streetwalker. Get back to work.

MOOS: We're doing a story because we think it's so ridiculous.

BLITZER: But back when Jeanne started at CNN 30 years ago, she was a hard-charging, award-winning correspondent.

MOOS: The maximum sentence that most of the defendants are likely to receive is 15 years.

BLITZER: One of her first big stories for the network: she covered the political corruption case known as Abscam.

MOOS: With this, Saddam Hussein is past the point of no return.

BLITZER: I got to know Jeanne and her work better ten years later when we were both covering the first Gulf War. I was at the Pentagon. She was CNN's United Nations correspondent.

MOOS: And for another thing, they don't want to do Saddam Hussein any favors.

BLITZER: Jeanne did a lot of great work covering national and international stories. Well, most of the time.

MOOS: President Reagan, sorry. President Nixon.


MOOS: In the corridors of the U.N.

BLITZER: Even when she was covering serious stuff, Jeanne had a sense of humor and a way with words.

MOOS: No-fly zones do fly legally.

When chimps are children, they're wonderful.

BLITZER: So she was given the opportunity to let her creativity run wild. After 30 years, Jeanne is still willing to do anything to get the story. No matter how dangerous.

She seems to like it. Just kidding. Just kidding.

Help. Help!

So it's going to be -- I'll take a slice of pepperoni.

BLITZER: And no matter how many times she has to do it.

MOOS: Three. Three, two, run. I'll take a pepperoni slice. Hold the mice. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Want to do another one for any reason?



BLITZER: Yes, Jeanne, we want more. Maybe another 30 years.

MOOS: What do you have to say about this?

Jeanne moos.

CLARA PELLER, ACTRESS: Hey, where's the beef?

MOOS: Where's the bun?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a good feeling about this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you do that?

MOOS: It's like a bald spot, only not.

MOOS: ... New York.


BLITZER: We love you. All of our viewers love you, Jeanne. Thanks so much.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.