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Interview With Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann; Interview with New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly

Aired September 19, 2011 - 18:00   ET



Happening now: An explosive new book paints a very unflattering picture of President Obama and his top aides as they grapple with the U.S. economic crisis. And now the White House is accusing the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of -- quote -- "plagiarism."

Also, my one-on-one interview this hour with Republican presidential hopeful Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. You are going to find out her response to Republican strategists and CNN contributor Mary Matalin's claim that the HPV vaccine issue is making Bachmann look -- and I'm quoting Mary Matalin now -- "batty."

And demonstrators try to occupy Wall Street to protest economic inequality. Some officials fear eventual rioting here. We will assess what's going on in New York City. The police commissioner, Ray Kelly, he's here live this hour.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're in New York City this week for the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly drawing 121 heads of state and government from around the world, including President Obama who arrived here in New York just a little while ago.

We will have extensive coverage throughout the week, including the dramatic and contentious bid for statehood by the Palestinians.

But we begin this hour with a new book about the president that's stirring up huge controversy already. It's called "Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President."

CNN's Brian Todd is digging deeper into this story for us.

Brian, tell our viewers why the uproar over this new book.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's because like many other books about the early days of an administration, it portrays a White House that was confused over what direction to head in and it alleges indecision and dysfunction at the top.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice-over): For a best-selling author, serious brushback from the White House over a new book which depicts infighting and indecision in the Obama administration's early days. In his book "Confidence Men," Ron Suskind writes, the president's top advisers had doubts about whether he could handle the economic crisis.

Larry Summers, former director of the president's National Economic Council, is quoted as saying in 2009: "We're home alone. There is no adult in charge. Clinton would never have made these mistakes."

We couldn't reach Summers for comment, but in an e-mail to "The Washington Post," he said "The hearsay attributed to me is a combination of fiction, distortion and words taken out of context."

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: I lived the reality and the reports I have read about this book bear no resemblance to the reality we lived together.

TODD: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner responding to a passage in Suskind's book saying that President Obama decided early on to restructure several troubled banks, but discovered nearly a month later that his directive had been ignored by the Treasury.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER: Absolutely not. And I would never do that.

TODD: CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger says in books like this, former officials often try to bolster their own legacies or settle scores.

(on camera): Would it lead do you think to some kind of finger- pointing behind the scenes and people looking over their own shoulders , saying I got to watch what I'm saying to everybody?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It might. Well, I mean, this is Washington. People are always going to try and figure out who was the source for that, who is the source for that story. I bet that came from him or I bet it came from him.

TODD (voice-over): A defiant White House press secretary launched a separate offensive against Suskind.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: One passage seems to be lifted almost entirely from Wikipedia, in the book.

TODD (on camera): When CNN followed up with the White House after that briefing, officials indicated that Jay Carney was referring to a passage in Suskind's book about the federal mortgage firm Fannie Mae as first reported by the online publication Politico.

(voice-over): Quote: "In 1968, it officially became publicly held corporation to remove it debt and related activities from the federal balance sheet." The Wikipedia passage says, "In 1968, if converted to a publicly held corporation to remove its activity and debt from the federal budget."


TODD: We contacted Ron Suskind's publisher, HarperCollins, for a response to the White House claim about Wikipedia and the other criticisms. A spokeswoman there said Suskind spent more than 700 hours with more than 200 individuals in writing this book. The spokeswoman calls it exhaustively researched and sourced said HarperCollins is proud to be publishing it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: There is another section of the book that isn't very flattering to the White House as well regarding the treatment of women who worked for the president of the United States. Tell our viewers about that, Brian.

TODD: That's right. It quotes Christina Romer -- she's the former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers -- as saying she felt -- quote -- "like a piece of meat after being shut out of a meeting." Former Communications Director Anita Dunn is quoted as saying the Obama White House -- and this is quote here -- fit all the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.

Romer's office e-mailed us with a response from her saying -- quote -- "I cannot imagine that I ever said the piece of meat quote. It is just too silly for words." We didn't hear back from Anita Dunn, but she's other news outlets that she was misquoted by Ron Suskind.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thanks very much.

And, by the way, Ron Suskind will be joining us to talk about his new book, "Confidence Men," and all the controversy it's generating. My interview with Ron Suskind this Wednesday, day after tomorrow, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, big uproar over that.

Let's get to some other news right now, including what is going on in New York City right now, security very tight for this week's United Nations General Assembly. The city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, said recently that the massive rioting that swept Europe, North Africa, elsewhere in Europe, for example, this year could actually happen right here in the United States if, if, economic conditions don't improve.

Let's talk about this and more with the New York City police commissioner, Ray Kelly.

It's always good to have you. I always feel a little bit more secure when you're sitting here next to me in New York than maybe other times, Commissioner.


BLITZER: But how worried should we be? The mayor is suggesting if the economic situation gets worse, there could be some rioting going on in big cities around the country.

KELLY: We have the occupy Wall Street going on right now which started on Saturday. It's been very peaceful, a couple of minor arrests. So, so far, so good.

BLITZER: Is that supposed to go on for a long time or is that...

KELLY: You're going to have to ask those folks. But I think there's been some statements that they intend to sleep in Wall Street or at least in Lower Manhattan for a period of time.

BLITZER: Do they have a permit for that? That's legal, I assume.

KELLY: They have no permit.

BLITZER: Do they need a permit?

KELLY: But they will sleep in public areas and not block the sidewalk. So if they adhere to the specifics of the law, there won't be a problem.

BLITZER: Are they big demonstrations, hundreds, 200, 500?

KELLY: Well, it's come down quite a bit in size. it was about 1,000 I guess on Saturday, but it's dwindled down to about 100 now.

BLITZER: You have got a lot world leaders here in New York City right now, more than 100 world leaders, including the president of the United States. I had to walk many blocks because of what we call gridlock here in New York.

How do you handle a situation like this? I know you do it every year, but it seems to be getting more intense every year.

KELLY: It's a challenge, no question about it. We do have a lot of experience doing it. I think 137 heads of state are expected here at last count.

BLITZER: And all of them have a little motorcade. They have their security. You have got to coordinate all of that.

KELLY: Right. Correct. We work close with the Secret Service, the State Department security people. I think at last count there's about 750 escorts that will take place during the next four-and-a-half days. So it's difficult. It's a good idea to stay away from driving on the East Side of Manhattan. I will tell you that.

BLITZER: I remember the security was intensified understandably around the 10th anniversary of 9/11 because there was a specific threat, unconfirmed, a specific threat. Is that threat still out there or is that history now?

KELLY: Yes, that threat has not been totally answered. There's still some issues associated with it. And obviously we take an awful lot of precautions during the U.N. General Assembly. We have a lot of additional police officers as I say work closely with our federal partners.

We do this and hopefully we do it well. We have a lot of experience.

BLITZER: So that threat that was out there around 9/11, it's still out there. But because we're not -- I don't see a whole lot of people paying attention to it, but you are.

KELLY: Oh, we are paying attention to it. Obviously we were concerned about the confluence of that threat and the memorial on 9/11, but we haven't taken our guard down. There are still, as I say, some open issues and we're very vigilant.

BLITZER: And you're in very close touch with the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, the FBI, on all of that.

KELLY: Absolutely.

BLITZER: But has there been any new information that's come in since the 10th anniversary of 9/11?

KELLY: No new information, but as I say, that threat is still open.

BLITZER: Good luck this week. I know it's a nightmare for you and all the men and women who work with you, but we deeply appreciate it for keeping this beautiful city safe. Thanks very much for coming. Thanks, Commissioner.

KELLY: Well, thank you. They do a great job. Thanks. Thanks, Wolf.

Jack Cafferty's here. He's a New Yorker, as we all know. He has got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: And Ray Kelly runs the best police force in the world, bar none. I have lived here a long time, and there is no law enforcement agency anywhere that begins to compare to it.

President Obama's throwing the U.S. Postal Service a lifeline, but maybe he shouldn't. It's all part of the president's larger plan to cut $3 trillion from the deficits over the next 10 years. First, the president would allow the Postal Service to raid $7 billion from an overfunded pension account in order to avoid financial collapse.

The agency is facing a serious cash crunch and is expected to hit its $15 billion borrowing limit in a couple of weeks, which is why the president also wants to give the Postal Service more time to make a $5.5 billion payment to a health care retiree fund that is due at the end of this month, two weeks.

The White House plan would allow the Postal Service to end Saturday mail delivery and raise stamp prices, first-class stamps, another two cents to 46 cents. The president is against letting the Postal Service void union contracts in order to lay off 120,000 postal workers. The Postal Service itself proposed layoffs as a way of cutting it costs. Republicans are slamming the White House plan, especially the part about using $7 billion from its extra contributions to the pension plan. They say instead of fundamental reform, this plan uses accounting gimmicks. The postmaster general has acknowledged the agency faces a new reality. He's looking to cut $3 billion a year by closing hundreds of processing facilities, cutting equipment in half and slowing mail delivery, slowing mail delivery.

With the use of e-mail and other electronic communication, it's clear the Postal Service has become a dinosaur of sorts. There are 43 billion fewer pieces of mail sent now than four years ago. And yet our government's intent on throwing more taxpayer dollars down the drain. So here's the question. What should happen to the U.S. Postal Service?

Go to and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good words. And I agree with you about Ray Kelly. Thanks very much, Jack, for that.

Michele Bachmann accuses President Obama of deserting Israel, making speeches she calls unwise, and more -- my interview with the Republican presidential candidate, it's coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Plus, we will have an update on that six-ton satellite hurtling toward Earth. We don't know where it will hit, but we're getting a better idea of when.


BLITZER: President Obama today unveiled his plan to try to cut the U.S. debt by $3 trillion over the next 10 years, while Congress's special super committee of six Democrats and six Republicans is working on its own blueprint to cut the deficit.

But partisanship may have the president's plan dead on arrival.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is here at the United Nations with me to explain what's going on.

What exactly, Jessica, is the president calling for?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, today, the president wanted to take aim at two issues. First the nation's debt problem, and then also the partisan gridlock he feels he faces with Republicans.


YELLIN (voice-over): Never mind about debt and deficits. This Rose Garden speech was largely about politics.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not support -- I will not support any plan that puts all of the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans.

YELLIN: Burned after the summer's debt deal with Speaker Boehner fell apart, the president is throwing down the gauntlet with a veto threat.

OBAMA: I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share.

YELLIN: For the congressional super committee, that sounds like a recipe for gridlock since Speaker Boehner drew this line in the sand last week.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Tax increases I think are off the table and I don't think they're a viable option for the joint committee.

YELLIN: Here is what the White House is proposing, more than $3 trillion in additional savings over 10 years by raising $1.5 trillion in tax revenues, saving $1.1 trillion from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, trimming $585 billion from government programs, more than half in savings from Medicare and Medicaid, and saving $430 billion in interest.

They also want tax reform to include a -- quote -- "principle" they call the Buffett rule, named after billionaire Warren Buffett.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: If you're among those fortunate few in the United States, we should make sure you pay as a shared income in taxes more than what a middle-class family pays.

YELLIN: Senior congressional Republican sources tell me this proposal is a nonstarter. The White House is gearing up to blame the GOP.

OBAMA: The speaker says we can't have my way or the highway and then basically says, my way or the highway.

YELLIN: The president's already setting a course for campaign 2012, attempting to position himself as a defender of the middle class against a Republican Party he'd cast as a protector of the wealthy.

OBAMA: I believe the American middle class, who've been pressured relentlessly for decades, believe it's time that they were fought for as hard as the lobbyists and some lawmakers have fought to protect special treatment for billionaires and big corporations.


YELLIN: Now, let's think about this veto threat for a moment. The president has said that he would veto anything that gets to his desk if it doesn't meet his terms. But imagine it gets through the super committee and then it's passed by the House and the Senate. If it gets to the president's desk and he vetoes it, Wolf, that would be a very lonely moment for the president, a big deal for him, but this is really about framing the debate and at this point brinksmanship. BLITZER: So there's a little politics in all of this as well, obviously.

YELLIN: A lot of politics and a lot of framing the terms of the 2012 campaign.

BLITZER: Jessica, thanks very much. You will be here in New York all week this week.

YELLIN: To cover the U.N. General Assembly, yes, with you.

BLITZER: The president is here at the United Nations. We have got a lot to discuss on that this week.

YELLIN: A lot more, yes.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jessica.

Let's dig a little bit deeper on the president's debt reduction plan.

Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is joining us.

Gloria, we're not necessarily used to the president of the United States throwing down the gauntlet. Why is he doing this now?

BORGER: No, this is a president whom lots of folks on the Democratic side have accused of being passive. They have accused him of negotiating with himself, and they have accused him of being too eager to compromise.

And suddenly it's like he was Clark Kent, Wolf, and he went into the phone booth and he came out the Democratic Superman. And that's because there's an election around the bend. He wants to show the Democratic base that he can lead on this issue and also he's shifting the debate as Jess was saying before to much more friendly turf for Democrats, taking it away from the deficit reduction issue and more to fairness for the middle class.

They feel very secure on that turf and it's something he really feels the public is with him on and he can run on it. So this was a lot of politics.

BLITZER: On the issue of entitlements, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the president really didn't offer any reforms for Social Security. And the Republicans are accusing him of basically offering only very modest changes, cuts, if you will, on Medicare and Medicaid, although the White House fighting back on that. What's going on here?

BORGER: Well, the president did propose about $300 billion in cuts in Medicare, but that's mostly on the provider side, not affecting beneficiaries. And that's key here.

And also no real reforms at all on Social Security. So what the president is trying to do is get the super committee to come up with these reforms and then have it be done in the context of the super committee, rather than having the president be the one to negotiate with himself. Don't forget, he did say he would go along with some Medicare cutbacks when he was trying to fashion that grand bargain with John Boehner, but that didn't go anywhere.

So he's kind of backed off of that now into a more political position, but I wouldn't rule it out in the future if, of course, it's combined with some kind of tax increases on the wealthy.

BLITZER: Tax reform is a popular phrase right now. Republicans want tax reform. Democrats want tax reform. But are we any closer really getting substantive tax reform?

BORGER: Well, I wouldn't say we are today because the president's speech was clearly quite partisan.

But everybody you talk to privately in Washington understands that tax reform is the only way to go. And in a way, Wolf, it might be a matter of semantics. You talk about what is a tax increase. Well, if you lower the top rate for wealthy individuals, but you take away some of their deductions, is that going to be a net tax increase? We will have to see.

There is a way, I believe, to shape a compromise where the Republicans could still say there are no tax increases here and come up with a deal. But, Wolf, that requires a lot of goodwill on both sides and I don't think we have it right now.

BLITZER: Not now, not yet and probably not next year during a presidential election year as well. Gloria, thanks very much.


BLITZER: Please be sure to join us tomorrow here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I will be interviewing the former President Bill Clinton. His Clinton Global Initiative is taking place this week in New York. We will be anchoring from there. Bill Clinton here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow in New York, lots to discuss with the former president.

Meanwhile, President Obama's relationship with Israel on the agenda right now. It's certainly under the spotlight. You're going to find out why that could potentially be a problem for him in 2012, but first my interview this hour with Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. She's not holding back when it comes to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a genocidal madman. And, in my opinion, he should not be allowed in the United States to address the U.N. General Assembly.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Republican presidential candidates are pouncing on President Obama's new deficit reduction plan, which seeks to cut the national debt by some $3 trillion over the next decade, in part by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.


BLITZER: And joining us now from Waterloo, Iowa, Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. She's a Republican from Minnesota. She's also running for the Republican presidential nomination.

Congresswoman, thanks very much for joining us.

I want to get your immediate reaction to the president's initiative today to try to reduce the federal debt, which is enormous, as all of us know.

Here is what our latest CNN/ORC poll showed. We asked, should deficit reduction, should such a bill increase taxes on businesses and higher-income Americans, which is what the president wants? Sixty- three percent said yes; 36 percent said no.

You say no. Why do you disagree with the president that big business and rich Americans shouldn't pay a little bit more?

BACHMANN: Well, because we already have these entities paying taxes. And, again, the most important thing is that we focus on job creation.

And what we know is that this will not create new jobs. It may be a good sound bite for the president. It may work for his political interests, but it doesn't work for job creation. And right now, this can't be about the president. This has to be about the American people and whether or not we're going to have jobs created.

Let me give you the answer of one businessman here in Iowa today. I'm standing here on the shop floor in Waterloo, Iowa, of a great company called OMJC, a very hardworking company. Before that, I was in northeast Iowa and it was at a company called Sukup. And they create the grain storage bins. They have about 500 employees.

I asked them this morning, Wolf, about the president's jobs plan. They heard it. They had one word. They said "disaster." It's going to be a disaster for their business and their company, because they said it brings more uncertainty, increased taxes, increased government spending. Everything that hasn't worked in the past, they're now going to have more of and double down. And they just thought it was a disaster.

BLITZER: Because the president cites Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, as you know. He recently wrote an op-ed saying it's unfair that, on his income, he might pay 16 percent, 17 percent in federal income tax, whereas his secretary or some people who work for him might pay 35 percent, which is the top income tax rate right now. You're a tax lawyer. Is that fair? Because the president says he wants to create a new Buffett rule to change that, so Warren Buffett and other billionaires would pay the same rate as middle- income Americans.

BACHMANN: Well, then it sounds like the president would favor a flat tax. There's a lot of Republicans that would favor a flat tax, too, so that everyone pays the same rate.

And, of course, what that would mean then is doing away with the loopholes for everyone. But, of course, in the president's plan, he plans to have only some Americans have the benefit of the home mortgage interest deduction, and he plans to have only some Americans benefit from charitable giving. And he plans to only have some Americans benefit from being able to write off what they already pay in state and local income taxes.

The president is being very discriminatory in what his plans are. And he is once again proving himself to be the great divider, rather than the great uniter.

BLITZER: All right, let's move on and clear up a couple of the issues that came up at the debate that I moderated in Tampa a week ago on that HPV vaccine, for example.

You have been criticized, as you well know, Congresswoman, for repeating a story that some woman told you after the debate, that her daughter became mentally retarded as a result of getting that vaccine, and all the experts saying that's -- that's not possible.

Do you want to clarify exactly where you stand on that specific point?

BACHMANN: At the end of the debate, I went forward to where all of the people were in the audience. And I was shaking hands with various people. And the woman in question was sobbing and said, "Thank you for bringing this issue up about the potential side effects."

And of course one thing that we know, the drug manufacturers now on television, when they advertise a drug, they have to give all of the negative side effects that there potentially can be, and then people are requested to go look to their doctor. That's it.

I wasn't speaking as a doctor. I wasn't speaking as a scientist. I was merely passing on, in an interview after the debate, what I had been told.

Because again, the main point of my remarks was the crony capitalism and also the fact that there was an abuse of executive power. I fight that all the time in Washington, D.C., with President Obama. We don't want to see that with Republicans either.

BLITZER: The CNN contributor, the Republican strategist Mary Matalin here in THE SITUATION ROOM the other day, she really went after you, because you haven't backed away from that, what you repeated that woman saying. I'm going to play a little clip, because I want to give you a chance to respond to Mary Matalin. Listen to this.


MARY MATALIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What is not legit is to just make up stuff like the vaccine is -- causing mental retardation. She -- and it follow a troublesome pattern of her having done that in the past.

So she -- and whatever his executive order and his position on HPV, 41 states have addressed this issue in some form or fashion. Twenty states, including Minnesota, have something on the books. So it's not some outlier issue, but she -- she's in perilous danger of branding herself batty. I hate to say that, but she ought to pull back, not double down.


BLITZER: All right. I want you to respond to Mary Matalin. You're in dangerous -- perilous danger of branding yourself batty, she said. What do you say to Mary Matalin?

BACHMANN: Well, and of course, this is something that someone had said to me, a mother who was very concerned. And I think we've already addressed this issue, that the real point that I made in the debate when you were there is the fact that this is an abuse of executive privilege, which the governor in fact admitted that he did make a mistake.

And also this is a real issue of crony capitalism. It's very significant that the president's former chief of staff was the chief lobbyist for this drug company. And the drug company was putting pressure on the governor to issue an executive order to mandate that little innocent 12-year-old girls be forced to take this -- this potentially dangerous drug. That's really what the point was in the debate.

So a lot of people are missing the main point. And the main point is that crony capitalism and abuse of executive power, which the governor himself admitted he made a mistake in doing.


BLITZER: All right. There's much more of my interview coming up with Michele Bachmann. She's going to explain why she thinks that President Obama doesn't have Israel's back here at the United Nations right now.

Plus new details of a massive weather satellite expected to crash to Earth in a matter of days.


BLITZER: More now of my interview with Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, a sharp critic of President Obama as we all know, especially when it comes to his handling of the Middle East.


BLITZER: Let me switch to foreign policy, national security for a moment, Congresswoman. I'm here at the United Nations. There's going to be a big debate over the creation of a Palestinian state at the General Assembly, maybe the Security Council this week.

If you were president of the United States, and you want to be president of the United States, what if anything could you do, would you do to deal with this issue?

BACHMANN: I think I would not have done what President Obama did, which was not stand by Israel. Very early on, the president of the United States needed to stand up and say that the United States would have Israel's back.

Instead, the president made a very unwise move in May when he called upon Israel to retreat to its indefensible 1967 borders. That sent a profound signal to other nations that surround Israel, especially those with hostile designs on Israel.

Now we're in a very difficult situation where it appears that the president of Iran, Ahmadinejad, will be in the United States and also be a part of pressing for Palestinian statehood. Now, the problem with that is that Palestine is seeking to do that without, A, recognizing Israel's right to exist or Israel's right to defend herself or renounce terrorism against Israel. It's very important that they have to negotiate with Israel, not have this imposed on Israel. So the president sent very bad signals.

Now we're in a position of weakness. And also it hasn't helped to have the overspending that we've had and the borrowing from other nations like China. This has put us in a position of weakness when we are now the largest debtor nation in the world, as opposed to the early 1980s under Reagan, when we were the largest creditor in the world. And so that's reduced our standing at the U.N., as well.

BLITZER: We're almost out of time, Congresswoman, but the president also said Israel should negotiate on the basis of those pre- '67 borders, but then he added the phrase "with mutually agreed land swaps," meaning there would be changes from the pre-'67 lines. Is that not acceptable to you?

BACHMANN: I think Israel has given away more than enough of its land. I don't believe that Israel should have to give away any more of its land.

We saw when Israel -- I believe it was back in 2005 or thereabouts -- when Israel gave up Gaza. When that happened, there has been very few days that have gone by that Israel has not received attacks from Gaza. Because some rockets have continually gone in areas like Sderot and down in the lower area. This has had profound consequences on Israel.

And whenever Israel gives up land for peace, they give up the land, but they don't get -- they don't get peace in return. And Israel is in a highly volatile situation right now. And my opinion is that the president has not done Israel any favors by making the unwise speech that he made earlier this year when he called on Israel to retreat to its indefensible 1967 borders.

The best thing that the president could do would be on stand up with Israel and make it absolutely, unmistakably believe that the United States will stand with Israel and be Israel's ally.

BLITZER: We're out of time, but very quickly, so you don't think Israel should withdraw from any of the West Bank?

BACHMANN: I do not think that Israel should be withdrawing from -- from the West Bank. I also called on the president of the United States to disallow Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, to step even one foot in the United States. It was only perhaps three weeks ago that the president of Iran once again said that Israel should be eradicated off the face of the Earth.

As you recall, it was about in 2005 when he said before that Israel -- he would use a nuclear weapon to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth. He is a genocidal mad man, and in my opinion, he should not be allowed in the United States to address the U.N. General Assembly.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, we'll continue this conversation down the road. Thanks very much for joining us. Good luck out there on the campaign trail.

BACHMANN: Thanks, Wolf. I appreciate it.


BLITZER: And it's not just Republicans, by the way, who are criticizing President Obama when it comes to Israel. One prominent Democrat now saying, and I'm quoting him now -- he says that the president threw Israel under the bus. Stand by. Mary Snow has got a report.

Plus major changes to the postal service here in the United States. They could leave you without mail on Saturdays and more. Jack Cafferty and your e-mail, that's coming up, as well.


BLITZER: We're back here live at the United Nations, where the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is getting even more attention than usual at this year's General Assembly, as the Palestinians seek statehood recognition.

At the same time, President Obama is getting even more criticism on his handling of the crucial U.S.-Israeli relationship. Mary Snow is working this part of the story for us.

So what's the latest? What's going on between the president of the United States and Israel? MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's getting a lot of attention of it here in New York, because we saw this turn political last week. There was a special congressional race. The Republican contender made this an issue. We've already seen Republican presidential hopefuls questioning the president's support of Israel.


SNOW (voice-over): President Obama had hopes for an Israeli- Palestinian peace agreement last year when he addressed the U.N. General Assembly. Speaking of an independent sovereign state of Palestine.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The pride and dignity that comes with their own state.

SNOW: A year later, with no agreement in sight and Palestinians now pushing a controversial measure to apply to the U.N. Security Council for statehood, the U.S. has promised to veto the move. As the U.S. Stands with Israel, it comes at a time when the president has faced some criticism in New York for not being a strong enough supporter of Israel. And a fellow Democrat leading the charge.

ED KOCH (D), FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: President Obama is a nice guy and I like him, and I helped elect him and all of those things. He threw Israel under the bus.

SNOW: Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch helped make Israel an issue in New York's Ninth Congressional District race and supported the Republican who won last week. There's also this full-page ad in the "New York Times" from a conservative pro-Israel group. A former Israeli government negotiator says it's all about partisan politics.

DANIEL LEVY, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: I think American Jews will end up voting on the same issues that the rest of the Americans will have. And if the president ends up having a Jewish problem, it will be because he has an American problem, not because of the Israel policy. I think the president has shown himself to be an ally of Israel.

SNOW: But a former U.S. Middle East negotiator for both Republican and Democratic presidents says the president has work to do in building a relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

AARON DAVID MILLER, FORMER U.S. MIDDLE EATS NEGOTIATOR: He doesn't exude the kind of empathy and sympathy for the idea of Israel that some of his predecessors, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, did. I'm not suggesting for a moment he's anti-Israel, but he doesn't create the kinds of bonds that previous presidents have.

LEVY: The problem this time around is that you have an unusual situation in which the Israeli prime minister is finding it very difficult to show any gratitude and is perceived by many to have positioned himself as an opponent to President Obama almost whatever President Obama does. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: And, Wolf, underscoring how this is becoming a political issue, presidential -- Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry is scheduled to be in New York tomorrow meeting with Jewish leaders on the Palestinian issue.

BLITZER: This is a big issue right now. And so far the White House saying the president will meet Wednesday with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but no meeting scheduled, at least not yet, with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. We'll see what happens on that front. Friday will be a huge day.

Mary, thanks very much.

So what should happen to the U.S. Postal Service? That's Jack's question. Your e-mail and Jack coming up next.


BLITZER: Right back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour, Wolf, is: "What should happen to the U.S. Postal Service, which is out of money again?"

Christian in Houston, Texas: "Clearly, the postal service needs a major overhaul. I'm not against partially privatizing some of their operations, while maintaining their public monopoly on mail carrying. They keep raising their prices, but the service is poor and outdated, and now they are virtually bankrupt." Pardon me.

Bud writes from Florida, "Democratic answer, subsidize it some more. Republican answer, streamline it to fit its current projected revenues. Libertarian answer, privatize it. Everyone will choose an answer according to their politics, inevitably. I choose the Republican answer."

Micah writes on Facebook, "Privatize. Sell it off in chunks. Different companies for different regions. Allow the private sector to correct the government's mistakes."

Susan writes, "By all means, keep the postal service. It's needed and useful. They should do away, though, with Saturday delivery and shorten the business hours."

Chris writes, "Cut retirement benefits, close post offices, cut delivery days from six to four, and cut express mail and overnight mail. That's it."

Mark writes, "Privatize it now. FedEx and UPS run better than this government-run mess. Cut Saturday mail, end junk mail, massive layoffs, problem solved."

And Noel in New Mexico says, "Cut mail delivery to three times a week. It would mean three less trips to the garbage can every week to dump my junk mail."

You want to see more about this, go to my blog,, or check out our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very -- very good stuff you got there. All right, Jack. Thank you.

Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, renewed pressure on Yemen's president to step aside. What's the latest?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. Large, loud protests in Yemen turned violent today as international pressure mounts on the country's president for a peaceful transfer of power. Medical officials say 31 people are dead after clashes between protesters and police in two different cities. The government denies accusations it's using excessive force and blames gangs and al Qaeda for the violence.

Convicted terrorist plotter Jose Padilla needs to spend more than 17 years in prison, according to an appeals court ruling out today. Padilla was convicted of conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens and provide material support to terrorists. The federal appeals court panel upheld his convictions, but they said the sentences imposed by a federal judge were too lenient.

And a satellite the size of your average school bus is plunging toward Earth and will crash somewhere this week. NASA says part of it, but not all of it, will break up when it re-enters the atmosphere. While the risk to public safety is small, NASA says if you find something that may be a piece of the satellite, don't touch it. Instead, call your local police.

And Netflix's CEO is apologizing and explaining the split of its DVD-by-mail and Internet streaming services. If you want both, it will now require two separate accounts. The Netflix name will cover the online streaming service, while the name Qwikster will refer to the DVD-by-mail service -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lisa, thank you.

For the -- only the second time in history the United Nations General Assembly is hold a high-level meeting on a health issue. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is coming up next on "JOHN KING USA" for our North American viewers.

But first, an unusual way to turn the tables on peeping Toms.


BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hot Shots."

In Switzerland, girl danced during a demonstration to call attention to alleged war crimes by Sri Lanka.

In Spain, a fire has displaced 1,000 people on the island of Ibiza.

In England, activists built a barricade to prevent the eviction of traveler families from illegal dwellings.

And in Singapore the circuit is illuminated for the upcoming Formula One Grand Prix night race.

"Hot Shots," pictures coming in from around the world. Good pictures, indeed.

Meanwhile, a man here in New York city is turning the tables on a group of peeping Toms. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


MOOS (voice-over): He is the keeper of the peepers, using his video camera to document what happens on these couple of steps in New York's Union Square.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Peeping is the act of staring up girl's skirts.

MOOS: This artist, who calls himself Normal Bob, found the peepers so outrageous he began recording them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is methods of a peeper two. And here's a row of peepers here. Stay tuned for methods of a peeper four, where I'll be discussing front row peeping.

MOOS: His mission?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make a joke out of it. Expose them. Humiliate them.

MOOS: Women who sit on steps in skirts, beware.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A peeper pack where more than one, two or more peepers gather.

MOOS (on camera): Now, for legal reasons, we had to blur the faces of all of the peepers, which is a shame because it hides what gives them away, their eyes.

(voice-over) Forget obvious movie techniques like dropping change.


MOOS: Real peepers position themselves right in front of the woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He made a passenger window on his lap, where he was sitting like this and he was looking.

Here he goes, making the window, looking back through the window.

MOOS: A peeper contacted Bob through his Web site to set him straight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they're actually doing is trying to cover their eyes so the girl can't see where his eyes are aiming.

MOOS: Peepers use baseball caps and cell phones to hide their eyes. Bob has an acronym for their techniques.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The MACMA is the make-believe acting casual, milling about.

MOOS: Though sometimes they don't even bother acting busy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just stand and stare. Just no shame to the game.

MOOS: Women tend to either be oblivious or to ignore it, and when we told this actress...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Creepy. It is creepy, but, I mean, relax, enjoy. Thank God I have my purse in between my legs.

MOOS: But their audacity is amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sitting directly between them, staring up their skirts.

MOOS: And if peeping isn't bad enough, there's picture peeping. This guy seems to walk around with his video camera rolling, held low. It's illegal to surreptitiously record someone's private parts, but plain old peeping isn't against the law.

As for Bob himself...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a peeper, and I'm very persistent. I -- in some ways I relate to the obsession, because I'm obsessed with watching them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Jeepers, creepers, where did you get those peepers?

MOOS: Wherever you got them, keep them to yourself. Jeanne Moos. CNN...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is front-row peeping at its best.

MOOS: ... New York.


BLITZER: Thanks for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Don't forget, tomorrow I'll be at the Clinton Global Initiative here in New York. I'll interview the former president, Bill Clinton.

For our international viewers, "WORLD REPORT" is next. In North America "JOHN KING USA" starts right now.