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CNN WOLF BLITZER REPORTS
Former Clinton aide Sandy Berger under criminial investigation, Filipino hostage in Iraq released, Air Force seeks to create big bomb, State trooper rescues suicidal woman
Aired July 20, 2004 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now. The allegations astounding, the timing puzzling as the 9/11 commission wraps up its work this week word comes that highly classified documents vanished after they were reviewed by President Clinton's former national security adviser Samuel Berger. He's now under a criminal investigation. His lawyer, Lanny Breuer, will join me live in his first television interview.
Stand by for hard news on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS.
BLITZER (voice-over): Sloppiness or something else? Did a former national security adviser smuggle top secret terror documents out of the National Archives?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We take issues of classified information very seriously.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I do think the timing is very curious given this has been underway now for this long.
BLITZER: Giving in. They're gone. He's free. Is a dangerous precedent being set?
Big bomb. Bigger than this. And bigger than this. Why the Air Force wants a weapon that can take out the side of a mountain.
Highway hero. He chased her at 100 miles an hour, then...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw her going around the front of her car and it's like she's going for the edge.
BLITZER: Wait until you see what happened next.
ANNOUNCER: This is WOLF BLITZER REPORTS for Tuesday, July 20, 2004.
BLITZER: Just two days before the bipartisan 9/11 commission releases its final report the nation's capital has erupted in very partisan wrangling over a developing security scandal. A former top aide to President Clinton is the subject of a criminal investigation. We begin with our justice correspondent Kelli Arena -- Kelli. KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Sandy Berger, the former national security adviser to President Clinton is under criminal investigation. That after highly classified documents that he was reviewing disappeared.
ARENA (voice-over): Sandy Berger says he inadvertently removed highly classified documents from this National Archives building and says he may even have thrown some out. As a result, sources say, his house and office were searched and he's been under criminal investigation since last fall. Justice Department officials would not comment directly. But in general, had this to say.
JAMES COMEY, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: We take issues of classified information very, very seriously. And as you know, we have prosecuted or sought administrative sanctions against any number of people throughout the years for mishandling of classified information.
ARENA: Berger admits to also removing handwritten notes he took at the time without first getting them cleared by Archives staff.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D), MINORITY LEADER: He deserves certainly the benefit of the doubt here. He's cooperating. But I do think the timing is very curious given this has been underway now for this long. Somebody leaked it, obviously, with an intent I think to do damage to Mr. Berger and I think that's unfortunate.
ARENA: Former President Clinton had asked Berger to review thousands of pages of documents housed at the Archives for submission to the September 11 commission. Government sources say he visited the Archives three times. They say Archives staff noticed documents were missing and when confronted, Berger voluntarily returned some documents but not all.
At that point Archives staff marked additional documents to track them. Law enforcement sources say Archives staff told FBI agents they saw Berger placing items in his jacket and pants. There was no camera in the room. Those sources also say one Archives staffer told agents Berger placed something in his socks which Berger associates heatedly deny.
LANNY DAVIS, FMR. WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I suggest that person is lying. And if that person has the guts, let's see who it is who made the comment that Sandy Berger stuffed something into his socks.
ARENA: Officials say two drafts of what they call a highly critical review of the Clinton administration's handling of the millennium terror plot are still missing. Berger says he thought the documents were copies but would not speak on camera. In a statement, he said, quote, "I deeply regret the sloppiness involved but had no intention of withholding documents from the commission."
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: As a member of the intelligence committee, I deal with classified documents every single day. We know better. And Sandy Berger knew better. ARENA: A spokesman for the 9/11 commission says members are reasonably certain it saw all versions of the missing memos.
ARENA: Sources say the investigation is ongoing. But there has been no decision on whether to pursue criminal charges -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Kelli Arena, thanks very much for that. Samuel Berger is an old political hand here in Washington but like other national security advisers there's still a bit of a mystery surrounding him. CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into his background.
Brian is joining us now live -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as you just mentioned it does go with the position of national security adviser. But even with that air of mystery, we discovered in Samuel Berger a record of diligence and candor that just doesn't add up to what's happening now.
TODD (voice-over): Among those who have worked with Sandy Berger, opposite him and who have covered him, the consistent line is, this is all inconsistent. Supporters rushed to the side of a man who they say is above reproach.
DAVIS: There is nobody on either side of the aisle that thinks there's anything even possible that Sandy could have done deliberately here.
TODD: But one man on the other side of the aisle, a Republican who spent years on the Senate intelligence committee, says whether this was deliberate or sloppy, as Berger himself characterized it, he should have known better.
SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: It's not consistent with somebody who understands the nature of secure information and how you're supposed to treat it.
TODD: Sandy Berger certainly can't chalk it up to political inexperience. From the day he emerged from Harvard Law School in 1971, Berger gravitated toward Democrats.
The next year as a young speech writer for Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern, he met another idealist who ran McGovern's campaign in Texas, Bill Clinton. Their friendship skyrocketed with their careers.
During Clinton's meteoric track through Arkansas politics, Berger took a more deliberate route as an aide to the late New York mayor John Lindsey, legislative assistant to Democratic congressmen, State Department policy planner under Jimmy Carter then a return to private law practice. By 1992 he reunited with his old friend serving as one of Clinton's key foreign policy advisers during the campaign. He was rewarded with a position as deputy national security adviser.
In a later interview, Berger said the low point of his entire tenure in the White House was the ambush of U.S. rangers in Mogadishu, Somalia in October of 1993.
When Anthony Lake stepped down as national security adviser at the end of Clinton's first term, the choice of successor was apparently very easy. Clinton in his memoir, "My Life" writes...
"I didn't consider anyone other than Sandy Berger for the job of national security adviser. He felt comfortable bringing me bad news and disagreeing with me at meetings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, I am both honored and grateful for your confidence and this unique opportunity to serve.
TODD: An author who writes extensively on intelligence tells CNN that with Bill Clinton's predilection toward keeping CIA directors at a distance he had no closer adviser on intelligence than Sandy Berger.
It was Berger's guidance that led Clinton to order retaliatory strikes on targets in Sudan and Afghanistan when the administration concluded Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network was behind the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in eastern africa.
One intelligence analyst tells CNN Berger took one of the earliest hard lines on tracking bin Laden long before 9/11. He went on to become one of the principle architects of the war in kosovo at a time when his boss was dealing with the impeachment scandal.
And in late 1999 Berger played a critical role in foiling several terrorist flots around the millennium celebrations.
This was the most serious threat strike during our time in office.
TODD: So we're left with the portrait of an inside player with a knack for shooting straight, a man who knew secrets and used them with discretion. Consistent descriptions inconsistent with Samuel Berger's current problems -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much for that report. Samuel Berger is represented by another White House veteran. Lanny Breuer was a special counsel to President Clinton in the White House, a one- time federal prosecutor. He is now a prominent defense attorney specializing in white-collar cases. Lanny Breuer joining us now live.
Lanny, thanks very much for joining us. This goes back to the fall when these allegations were made, right?
LANNY BREUER, BERGER'S ATTORNEY: That's exactly right, Wolf. This matter is now over a year old. Sandy Berger reviewed documents in the Archives in July and September and October of 2003. And from October 2003, the first time that Sandy was notified that this one document was missing, we've been 100 percent open, returned the two documents that were in Sandy's possession immediately and have tried to have a very open and informed discussion with the Department of Justice.
BLITZER: But Sandy Berger knew the rules when he went there. He's not just anyone. He's not an academic. He's a former national security adviser. A, he knew you don't take documents out of the National Archives, and, B, he knew if you took notes you have to get clearance to get permission to remove those notes from those rooms.
BREUER: Well, see -- let's first talk, Wolf, about the notes. The notes have just never been an issue in this case. The Department of Justice has told me those notes have not been an issue in this case. He took notes and the reason he took notes was Sandy had read and reviewed thousands upon thousands of documents. I'm not sure there's another American of Sandy's stature who spent more time selflessly reviewing documents so that he could answer all of the questions of the 9/11 commission.
BLITZER: Let's talk about those notes for a second. Did he take notes -- did he take those notes from the room without authorization?
BREUER: He took notes and he did take them out. It's a violation of the Archives procedure. He took those notes. From the very beginning, he openly took the notes. He was allowed to take notes. And then he took the notes with him. He put them in his coat pocket and in his pants pocket...
BLITZER: He knew this was not authorized.
BREUER: Well, he knew it was a violation of Archives procedure. It's not against the law. No one has suggested to him it's against the law. The Department of Justice has not been concerned with it. And indeed, Wolf, in October, when the Archives contacted him, Sandy Berger returned those notes even though he wasn't asked for those notes.
BLITZER: I know Sandy Berger. You know Sandy Berger. Why would he violate Archives procedure?
BREUER: Because there's something more important than Archives procedure and that's the hard work of the 9/11 commission. Sandy Berger knew that he was going to be asked questions about what happened in the early '90s and mid '90s and that the 9/11 commission and the families of those victims had a right to know what happened.
BLITZER: Why didn't he ask for authorization, for permission? They would have given him permission to take that out of there.
BREUER: Wolf, we've admitted and Sandy has acknowledged from the beginning it was a mistake of judgment. There is no surprise here. We've acknowledged that mistake in judgment in October. And everyone... BLITZER: Did he panic? Is that it?
BREUER: It wasn't panic at all. It wasn't considered to him that big a deal to take the notes. Clearly, the Department of Justice, in every discussion they've had with me, have made it clear that that was not a focus of this matter.
And you know why he did it? So that he could fully answer the questions of the commission and better students of foreign policy than me have uniformly said that Berger's answers were thoughtful and complete and very much (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this hard work and it was those notes that helped him do it.
BLITZER: All right. The notes are one thing. Much more serious is the classified document. This is a highly sensitive document. I don't know what -- if it's code word or top secret or a compartmental, secure -- whatever the classification is, he knew he should not take that document out of that room.
BREUER: Well, let's talk about that document. That's a document that Dick Clarke authored because Sandy Berger asked him to do it.
BLITZER: Dick Clarke was the White House counterterrorism czar, if you will.
BREUER: Exactly. And at the time of the millennium in 2000, if you remember, there were lots of threats about terrorism. And the White House and the United States addressed those concerns. And most people look at the time of January 1, 2000 as a time that we can be proud of. We thwarted terrorist cells. Berger was the national security adviser and he was very proud of what they did. But he didn't just rest on his laurels. He said to Clarke, "I want you to take a hard look. Tell us what we did right and tell us what we didn't do right." And to Clarke's credit, he did it. To Berger's credit he asked him to do it.
Now with respect to what this document is about, it is widely known. Its existence is widely known. It's written about in books and in magazines.
BLITZER: So why did he have to take it out of that room?
BREUER: That he did it inadvertently.
BLITZER: What is inadvertently?
BREUER: Let me tell you what happened.
BLITZER: Sandy Berger doesn't do things inadvertently.
BREUER: Well, wait a minute. Sandy Berger had been reviewing thousands and thousands of pages of classified documents. He did it so that he could give informed answers to the 9/11 commission. And so the very documents that have formed the basis of their report could be produced. He did that by himself because no one else could do it or would do it. So he has a table. He's working openly. There are Archives people there and there are thousands of documents. And in the course of his review it was clear to everyone he had a leather portfolio. He brought it in openly. The Archives people knew it. And anyone who has works with Sandy knows he always has that leather portfolio and there were lots of business papers that have nothing at all to do with this commission.
And perhaps, Wolf, there was too much informality by Sandy and maybe too much informality by the Archives people. But at some point when he leaves, the memorandum got caught with his business papers and he walked out. It was inadvertent. He admitted the mistake...
BLITZER: Was that document -- that sensitive classified document was in his little briefcase?
BREUER: It wasn't a briefcase. It was a leather portfolio. And to highlight it, all of the documents that he was reviewing on those three days were highly classified. This was a longer document. He had put it aside to look at it more. But it's unfair to suggest that that document was more classified or sensitive than all of the other things he saw.
BLITZER: You know that eyewitnesses, staffers at the National Archives say they saw him stuffing documents in his jacket, in his pants. And one even said he saw Sandy Berger put something in his socks.
BREUER: And you know that's categorically false and ridiculous. Wolf, I have now represented Sandy in this matter since October. Since that time I've tried to have responsible discussions with the government. And I said I didn't want it to be vetted in the press, I didn't want this to be political.
We wanted to treat this as a serious matter. Not once in all the time I've represented Sandy has that allegation been made. But suddenly today or yesterday right at the eve of the 9/11 commission report suddenly these ridiculous allegations are being made. It's false and it didn't happen.
BLITZER: Where is -- where does the criminal probe right now stand? You've been informed that your client, Samuel Berger, is under criminal investigation.
BREUER: I've been told since October that he was no more than a subject of this investigation. I was told to draw absolutely no negative inferences whatsoever from the fact that this investigation had been going on. I've been told by the Department of Justice that they couldn't be more pleased with the manner in which Sandy Berger and I have been handling this and have been cooperative. And I've been told that the Department of Justice had wanted to get this resolved.
The only thing that I had asked was that this not become a partisan affair and that people who didn't understand the facts would start making assertions. And, Wolf, that's exactly what happened this week when someone in the administration, some law enforcement person decided it was time to leak the document and treat this investigation not seriously.
BLITZER: But you understand why people are skeptical of this story given the fact that this document that's missing was very critical presumably of the Clinton administration. It's a very sensitive document and that people saw him doing suspicious things in there.
BREUER: I think people should ask Dick Clarke what he thinks about the document. That's a document that Sandy Berger is proud of. First of all it's been widely discussed. Second of all, much of that document talks about all of the successes. And I think people who know Sandy Berger know it speaks volumes that Berger would ask to have this kind of a document written.
BLITZER: How is it possible that this document so sensitive, which he took home, took to his office at his home, presumably, disappeared?
BREUER: Well, what happened here was that he took the copies that got somehow entangled with his other documents. He didn't realize it. And if you've covered the White House and I know you have, Wolf, you know there are a couple of things about Sandy. He's a workaholic. He's a great patriot. He's selfless but he's not the most organized people.
He was reviewing by himself thousands of documents at the request of the government. He was doing it alone. It was hard work. And at some point in the course of the days, that document got enmeshed. Those documents got enmeshed. All of the documents Sandy Berger looked at were secure, were code word. The notion that this is the only one is ridiculous. It was not more sensitive than the other documents and he had been reviewing documents for three days for many hours.
BLITZER: The suspicion is and it's simply a suspicion that he deliberately threw away that document or shredded it or destroyed it because he feared if it was in his possession he would be in violation of some sort of law.
BREUER: Wolf, I think the only people who are making that allegation are people who today are going on TV and on radio and are trying to spin this in a political firestorm. Not once has the Department of Justice made that allegation. It is categorically false. Anyone who knows Sandy, who knows every ounce of Sandy Berger is that of a great patriot and it's sad that today people are making these kinds of assertions.
The minute he was told that that document was missing -- and that was in October, wolf, it wasn't before -- he immediately searches his home. He searches his office. He finds the two documents. He contacts the Archives. He returns those two documents. He returns the notes that the government didn't even ask him about. We do a search and find no more. And three months later when the FBI decides to get involved they do find nothing more.
BLITZER: The case is still open, right?
BREUER: We understand it's open. It was in status quo. We had every reason to believe it was going to get resolved in a very favorable way until yesterday it was leaked to the press.
BLITZER: What is Sandy Berger's relationship with the John Kerry campaign right now?
BREUER: My understanding is that as of now he has given up his role as an informal adviser on foreign policy. He's done that because he believes that the work of the 9/11 commission is too important to allow this matter to be in any way a distraction either to the 9/11 commission or to the Kerry campaign.
BLITZER: We just got a statement from John Kerry. Let me read it to our viewers. "Sandy Berger is my friend and he has tirelessly served this nation with honor and distinction. I respect his decision to step aside as an adviser to the campaign until this matter is resolved objectively and fairly."
Any idea when this is going to be resolved?
BREUER: You know, I've been hoping that this was going to get resolved for a long time and had reason to believe it. I had asked the Department of Justice that we deal with this in a professional manner. And my only hope was that this manner not be leaked at some time such as right before the 9/11 report.
Wolf, time and again I was assured by the prosecutors that something like that would not happen. And then what happened yesterday? After handling this matter since October, a matter that's almost a year old, Sandy Berger first went to the Archives over a year ago. Suddenly someone decided it was in their political interest to leak this.
BLITZER: But just to be precise when he took that classified document out of the room he knew he was doing wrong?
BREUER: No. He removed that classified document inadvertently. He did not know he was removing the millennium action...
BLITZER: It was just stuck in some other documents?
BREUER: It was just stuck in. We've always said that he took the notes and he took those notes on purpose and he knew he had them but he did not take that memo. He had the portfolio. The Archives people knew it. They were with him. And it was an innocent mistake that had happened.
In fact, the Archives people were there. And people today who are suggesting differently are suggesting it in the public for the first time and certainly have been told things that I have never once been told by the Department of Justice.
BLITZER: Lanny Breuer is representing Samuel Berger. Thanks for joining us.
BREUER: Wolf, it's always a pleasure. Thank you.
BLITZER: We'll have more on this story coming up shortly. I'll speak with Dick Thornburgh, the former attorney general under President Reagan and the first President Bush.
Bunker buster bombs, they pack a big punch but apparently not big enough for the U.S. Military. We'll have details a new bomb. That's coming up also.
New hopes for peace in a troubled land. We'll have the latest on the efforts to end the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. Plus this...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw her going around the front of her car and it's like she's going for the edge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: A Wisconsin state trooper is a lifesaver just in the nick of time. We'll show you the dramatic rescue.
BLITZER: In Iraq, two U.S. Marines and two U.S. soldiers were killed west of Baghdad in an area that's been the scene of fierce fighting. The deaths raised the number of American troops killed in the war to 902. And in Basra, gunmen killed an Iraqi Council member along with his bodyguard and driver. It's the third straight days suspected insurgents have killed a prominent Iraqi government or political figure.
Also the truck driver held hostage in Iraq for two weeks is now a free man. His release came the day after the Philippines Government met the kidnappers' demands by withdrawing the last of its peacekeepers from Iraq. Both the new Iraqi Government and the United States sharply criticized the Philippines' move saying it could encourage terrorist groups.
Did the Philippines make a crucial mistake by giving in to the hostage takers?
For that we turn to CNN's Zain Verjee. She's joining us from the CNN Center in Atlanta -- Zain.
There is serious and possibly dangerous consequences to the decision by the Philippine government to yield to terrorists. Manila's choice has raised concerns about the threats facing foreign nationals in Iraq and raised questions about the strength of the U.S.- led coalition. Many also asking this question.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is the release of Angelo de la Cruz a victory for the Philippine president or a victory for terrorists.
PRES. GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO, PHILIPPINES: Congratulations, Angelo.
VERJEE: President Arroyo took a high stakes gamble. She gave into demands of kidnappers, shifted her government's Iraq policy and made no apologies.
ARROYO: I made a decision to bring our troops home a few days early in order to spare the life of Angelo. I do not regret the decision.
VERJEE: But many do. While Mrs. Arroyo's decision saved a life, it could endanger many more in Iraq.
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Before Mr. de la Cruz, for him it was a happy outcome. With respect to the consequences it very likely may lead to more kidnappings of other members of the coalition forces and thereby setting a precedent that would only encourage the kidnappers to do more.
VERJEE: Already Japan has been threat end get out of Iraq like the Philippines or the nationals will be in danger. Some analyst say caving in to blackmail is a triumph for terrorist, because it sends them this message. This is the way to go, it's simple, cheap and works. Two Bulgarian hostages are being held captive but their government won't deal with terrorists.
SOLOMON PASSY, BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I think if one agrees to surrender to blackmailing, it makes the life more difficult for their own people.
VERJEE: It also makes things difficult for the bush administration, which wants to internationalize the Iraq effort. Even before the Filipino withdrawal, coalition troops from Spain and elsewhere had already pulled out.
PHYLLIS BENNIS, INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: We're seeing massive reductions in the numbers, which are already militarily insignificant other than the British. And I think that we're going to increasingly see the U.S. and the British out there alone.
VERJEE: Not necessarily, some observers say.
COHEN: I don't think it will have that impact. There are other countries who are increasing their contribution to the coalition forces. South Korea, by way of example.
VERJEE: Despite this, analysts say the fragility of the coalition has been exposed because it was weak to start with and not borne out of conviction in the Iraq war.
BENNIS: We'll have to keep in mind that this coalition is really a coalition of coercion. It's not a coalition of willing governments. All of these governments were under enormous pressure from their own publics not to send troops. (END VIDEOTAPE)
VERJEE: And, Wolf, the Bulgarian foreign minister suggested today that the international community adopt a code of conduct when dealing with hostage situations, one he says that has clear rules on how governments should behave when one or more of their nationals are taken hostage -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Zain, I take it that in practical terms the withdrawal of the Philippine troops, a small number to begin with, not going to make much of a difference militarily to the U.S. lead coalition.
VERJEE: Most analysts we spoke to said it wouldn't make much difference. The Philippines only had a handful of troops, 51. It also won't make much of a difference they added because most of the troops in Iraq are only there arguably for cosmetic reasons. But what would be different, according to military analysts we talked to, is that in the future military planners would consider the staying power of international troops when they're looking towards building a coalition -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Zain Verjee, reporting for us. Thanks, Zain, very much.
Remember the bunker buster bombs the U.S. military used in the Afghan and Iraq wars, well, they apparently aren't big enough for potential targets down the road and now the U.S. military is looking for a much bigger bomb.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr reports.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It would be a whole new step in shock and awe. The Air Force is trying to develop a new 30,000 pound conventional bomb. The bomb, already called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator and nicknamed "Big Blue" would be guided to its target by a satellite. It would be dropped by a B-2 or B-52 bomber that could fly from the U.S. its mission, caves as well as weapons bunkers and hardened targets buried deep underground. Unlike the 20,000 pound bomb called MOAB designed to kill troops and enemy armor in Iraq, Big Blue is being developed for deep targets, because after the war in Iraq, the U.S. discovered some of Saddam's bunkers were not destroyed by current weapons,and North Korea's bunkers are even deeper. So far it's just an idea on paper.
current weapons. And North Korea's bunkers are even deeper. So far, it's just an idea on paper. But the U.S. remains deeply concerned that enemies are burying their weapons so deep, they are outside the reach of current bombs.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: So much is going on underground today, all across the globe and particularly in terrorist states.
STARR: At 15 tons, this bomb would be six times larger than the current largest bomb that can strike underground targets, a 5,000- pound weapon. Still, there are huge engineering challenges.
Firing such a heavy weapon and maintaining stable flight is just one problem. Big Blue would have to carry a special fuse so it would blow up deep underground.
(on camera): Big Blue would not be the biggest bomb ever made. During the Cold War, there was a 44,000-pound bomb. But it was so inaccurate, by all accounts, it was never used.
Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
BLITZER: A former U.S. national security adviser says it was a mistake. Sources say he stuffed classified material into his clothing. But will the document probe affect the campaign trail? We'll get to that.
Plus, this: hostage drama, how a bulldozer brought this standoff to an end.
And is Lance Armstrong poised for another big win? New developments from the Tour de France, that's coming up as well.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
Secret documents missing. Now a former national security adviser is under investigation. We'll have reaction from the campaign trail. We'll get to that.
First, though, a quick check of other stories now in the news.
Better weather is helping firefighters get a handle on some of those big wildfires burning in the Western United States, including the so-called Foothill Fire near Los Angeles. Winds and temperatures are lower and the humidity is higher in that area today. Right now, the Foothill Fire is about 65 percent contained.
In Salt Lake City, Utah, hundreds of volunteers are searching for a missing jogger. Lori Hacking, who is pregnant, was reported missing yesterday after she failed to return from a run and did not show up for work.
And Lance Armstrong is closing in on a record sixth consecutive Tour de France title. The American cyclist is now the leader of the pack after stage 15. The race has been going on for three weeks. It rolls to a stop in Paris on Sunday.
Keeping you informed, CNN, the most trusted name in news. As you heard just a few minutes ago, the former National Security Adviser Samuel Berger stepped down today from his role as an informal adviser to the Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry. The move came after Berger admitted removing some secret documents from the National Archives.
With a look at how today's developments may affect the campaign, let's go to CNN's Judy Woodruff. She's just outside the CNN Election Express bus in Boston, the site of next week's Democratic National Convention.
Judy, this is a sensitive, very sensitive, delicate issue for John Kerry and John Edwards.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: It certainly is, Wolf.
The notion that President Clinton's former national security adviser, Samuel Berger -- you and I both know him well. We've interviewed him many times. He's been a major figure in Washington and he has been advising John Kerry and the campaign. The fact that he has been accused, we now learn, since last October, for the last nine or 10 months, of taking documents related to the Clinton administration response to terrorism from the National Archives is a potentially explosive thing.
And the timing of it, Wolf, of course, coming right -- just days before the Democratic Convention and two days before the 9/11 Commission issues its final report, makes it -- really puts it right smack in the middle of both politics and policy.
BLITZER: Well, the point being -- and we heard Tom Daschle say this, suggest this earlier -- that there could be a whole political motivation now to try to embarrass the Democratic ticket, the Democrats, on the eve of not only the convention, but maybe to even deflect attention from the 9/11 Commission report that's coming out on Thursday.
How far are the sort -- the people you're talking to in the Kerry-Edwards campaign going in suggesting that there is this political motivation?
WOODRUFF: Well, Wolf, that's what they're -- you're hearing. Nobody wants to be quoted on this. But it's the campaign and it's also some members of the 9/11 Commission. I spoke with one of them today. And they said they find it difficult to believe.
They've known this investigation of Samuel Berger has been under way since last October. They know that it has not been resolved, for whatever reasons. And even they are asking questions about why this comes out two days before their report. They're concerned about it undermining the report.
But, Wolf, from a political standpoint, no question about it, people are asking questions. This is a week when John Kerry wants a lot of focus on his message. He wants it to be the message that he wants to talk to the American people of making the country more secure. This is a distraction.
BLITZER: All right, Judy Woodruff out with the CNN Election Express in Boston. I'll be joining her tomorrow from the campaign trail. Judy, thanks very much.
WOODRUFF: See you then.
BLITZER: The Justice Department says it takes issues of classified information -- and I'm quoting now -- very, very seriously. Dick Thornburgh served as the U.S. attorney general under President Reagan and the first President Bush. He's joining us now live.
Attorney General Thornburgh, thanks very much for joining us.
You heard Lanny Breuer, the lawyer representing Samuel Berger make the case, an innocent mistake, sloppiness. You buy it?
RICHARD THORNBURGH, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it is a serious matter whenever you have a potential compromise of highly classified material.
And I think there are a lot of troubling aspects to this case. Both Mr. Breuer and Mr. Berger indicate that the removal of the documents was inadvertent, in their words, and the destruction of documents was accidental. That's kind of hard to accept from a person who was a national security adviser and who news reports indicates was really stuffing these documents in his pockets as he left the National Archives.
BLITZER: He differentiated between the notes he took, which he knew were against regulations of the National Archives, but not necessarily against the law, as opposed to removing a top-secret classified document, which he supposedly inadvertently removed.
THORNBURGH: Kind of hard to forget that Mr. Berger forgot the experience of John Deutsch, the former CIA chief who was pardoned on the verge of acceding to criminal charges relating to his removal of classified information when he was serving in office.
That was a cause celebre at the time. And it's hard to believe that that wasn't -- couldn't have been impressed on Mr. Berger's mind.
BLITZER: So you're skeptical?
THORNBURGH: I'm not skeptical. I'm just an old prosecutor and I want to see this investigation unfold and developed.
It's complicated by Mr. Berger's relationship to the Kerry campaign. There's no question about that. News reports indicate that the documents that were removed included highly sensitive materials about the vulnerability of infrastructure, particularly ports and airports in this country. And that's become a major theme of the Kerry campaign. And that -- you've got to connect some dots there as well.
BLITZER: Well, what's taking so long for the Justice Department -- if they're going to prosecute, if they're going to charge him with something, they've been on the case since October. The actual incident occurred last July, we heard from Lanny Breuer. Is this normal for this kind of investigation to be taking this long?
THORNBURGH: Investigations generally last until they're over. And I'm not going to second-guess or anticipate when this investigation will end. It's clearly a serious matter. Everybody acknowledges that. You don't deal lightly with highly classified materials.
And I think it's very important that the investigation go forward and be completed.
BLITZER: I want you to listen to what Tom Daschle, the Senate Democratic leader, said today, because he's raising this issue that politics may be behind the timing of this disclosure. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: He deserves certainly the benefit of the doubt here. He's cooperating. But I do think the timing is very curious, given this has been under way now for this long. Somebody leaked it obviously with an intent, I think, to do damage to Mr. Berger and I think that's unfortunate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
THORNBURGH: I think those concerns are kind of beside the point. Both Mr. Berger and his lawyer have come forward and admitted to the essential facts that occurred here. He stepped down as an adviser to the Kerry campaign. And I think all that he and we can do is wait until the investigation is complete.
BLITZER: As far as you know the law on these classified documents, intent -- he says he didn't intend to remove the document. It just got stuck in a bunch of papers in his briefcase. He took it out and then he's sloppy at home and it just disappeared at some place at home. Intent is very important, I take it.
THORNBURGH: Yes, I think the studious use of the words inadvertent and accidental is clearly designed to rebut any notion that this was an intentional act.
But if it wasn't intentional, it was certainly foolish and he did himself and his candidate no service.
BLITZER: Do you go to jail for foolish behavior, as opposed to criminal behavior?
THORNBURGH: Not really. That's the duty of our law, that criminal law requires evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of a criminal act.
But, clearly, Mr. Berger acted unwisely, both in his own interests and in the interests of the candidate he's supporting.
BLITZER: I think he will acknowledge that himself.
Dick Thornburgh, as usual, thanks very much.
THORNBURGH: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Hundreds of thousands of displaced countless people, others starving, it's the humanitarian crisis the world can no longer ignore. We will not ignore it on this program. Now horrific new claims about the despair in Sudan.
Plus, bailout on a bridge. A dramatic high-speed chase comes to an even more dramatic finish.
And later, more bad luck for a former Tarzan just one week after losing his favorite tiger.
BLITZER: African Union officials will try Thursday to revive peace talks aimed at ending the humanitarian crisis in western Sudan. About 1 million people there have been displaced and up to 30,000 killed in what some call a government-backed campaign of ethnic cleansing, although Sudanese leaders deny that.
We get more on the crisis now from Neil Connery of Britain's ITN.
NEIL CONNERY, ITN REPORTER (voice-over): The vulnerable are clinging to life. The severely malnourished babies are no more than skin and bones. The aid agencies are battling to do what they can in the fight against hunger and disease.
Dr. Jerry Erhlich is inundated with cases and fears things could get even worse.
DR. JERRY EHRLICH, MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES: If we get something like a cholera epidemic or if we get a meningitis epidemic, it would be a nightmare, an absolute nightmare.
CONNERY (on camera): There are more than 63,000 people in this camp alone and over 130 such camps spread across Darfur. That's one million displaced people in this part of Sudan who the humanitarian agencies are having to cope with.
(voice-over): Traumatized by their experience, everyone has their own story of despair. We were surrounded by those desperate for the outside world to hear what they have endured.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The militia killed many people in our village. The government planes bombed us and then the militia attacked us.
CONNERY: The aide agencies say the situation inside the camps is critical. STEVE MATTHEWS, WORLD VISION: We are on the brink right now of a catastrophe and rapid action is needed here in Darfur to assist the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people who are in need.
CONNERY: We traveled across Darfur and found a recurrent pattern in this unfolding tragedy. In the town of El Geneina, near the border with Chad, more suffering, a 3-month-old baby fighting to live. The head of the World Health Organization told me the world cares and is here to help.
DR. LEE JOHN WOOK, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: For these people that they know that the world cares for them. Otherwise, why would we be here? It's also a very important message for the people, for the political leaders, that we care. We do care.
CONNERY: Darfur's pain is etched all over Abdullah's face. The latest casualty of this conflict, his arm is shattered by a bullet. It's taken a week to reach this hospital and he's one of the lucky ones. His friend told me the Arab militia known as the janjaweed attacked their village.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The janjaweed come for all people in Yassin.
CONNERY (on camera): How many people in Yassin died?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sixty-three peoples.
CONNERY (voice-over): We were taken into the wards of Nyala Hospital. We found them full of victims from the Arab militia attacks. Fibid (ph) was doused in petrol and set alight; 10-year-old Muhammad (ph) was shot in the hip. In Darfur, the innocent suffer in silence.
Darfur is a land devoid of hope. Its people urgently need their cries for help to be heard.
Neil Connery, ITV News, Darfur.
BLITZER: This is a story that won't be going away, unfortunately, any time soon.
Let's take a quick look at some other news making headlines around the world.
BLITZER (voice-over): An explosion at one of the most dangerous coal mines in Ukraine has killed more than two dozen miners and a search for survivors is under way. Authorities are trying to determine what sparked the blast.
The death toll from the annual monsoon rains in southern Asia is rising by the day. Right now, it's more than 500. Parts of India and Bangladesh are among the hardest-hit areas, with almost 300 flood- related deaths reported in India alone. Almost half of Bangladesh is under water.
In Japan, a relentless heat wave has brought misery to one of the world's biggest cities. The temperatures in Tokyo today topped 103 degrees, the highest ever on record.
In the German state of Bavaria, tempers are flaring over the sponsorship of a 2006 World Cup. German beer, sausages and cars won't be in the spotlight during the tournament. Instead, the official sponsors will include Budweiser Beer, McDonald's and Hyundai. Protesters are pushing for a compromise that would allow German products to be sold near the tournament.
And that's our look around the world.
BLITZER: A high speed chase with a dramatic end. See what happens when the state trooper following this car catches up with the driver.
Plus this: dramatic actions taken to end a convenience store standoff. The story behind these amazing pictures -- all that coming up.
BLITZER: A state trooper saved a woman's life as she tried to jump off a bridge in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He almost got pulled over the side of the bridge himself. We have the dramatic pictures.
BLITZER: Wisconsin State Trooper Les Boldt was on the lookout for a possibly suicidal woman driving a white Oldsmobile when he spotted the car. He began to pursue her and the chase was captured on video taken from the trooper's car. She took a sudden turn at a highway exit, cutting off two other cars.
The trooper managed to follow her at speeds of up to 105 miles an hour when the car stopped on a bridge 200 feet over the Fox River, the highest in Green Bay. The woman got out and started over the side of the bridge.
LES BOLDT, WISCONSIN STATE TROOPER: I saw her going around the front of her car and it's like she's going for the edge. It's either I don't go up to her thinking that she's going to go over the bridge or I've got to get there before she gets there. So I just made the decision and once I committed myself, I just kept going.
BLITZER: Look carefully at this picture. When he grabs the woman, the trooper's feet are being pulled off the ground.
BOLDT: Well, When my feet first slipped it was, oh, get down lower or otherwise you're going to go with her. She was pulling and pushing and she grabbed the support cable that was there with her left hand and was using that as leverage against me, pulling away from me and I was pulling her. But luckily, she -- her grip slipped first. So she came my direction. And then I was able to get the momentum and pull her arm back over.
BLITZER: The trooper managed to keep the woman in his grasp 16 seconds until backup officers arrived.
BOLDT: She didn't say anything to me throughout my whole contact with her. The only thing I heard her say was, when the paramedics got there to ask her what hospital she wanted to go, she responded to them, but she didn't say anything to us.
BLITZER: The woman, a recent mother, was said to be suffering from a severe case of postpartum depression, a feeling of hopelessness that can be treated with medication and counseling. Trooper Boldt concedes the bridge rescue was the most dramatic incident of his career, but he says it was just part of his job.
BOLDT: There's a lot of other law enforcement officers and other people out there that do the same thing I do. I get it on tape, which, you know, then it gets in the limelight. So whenever other people do the same type of things, it just doesn't always get into the limelight.
BLITZER: A good job indeed, a very good job by that trooper.
A different kind of drama in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where a 13-hour hostage standoff had a violent end. Police bulldozed the side of the building where the suspect and captive were held up. They say the suspect fired at least 10 shots while the hostage ran off. A police sniper hit the suspect in the shoulder. He's still hospitalized. The former hostage is fine, says she's glad to be alive.
Things just keep getting worse for Steve Sipek. A fire broke out at the home of the former actor who played Tarzan in Spanish-language films and just last week made headlines when one of his pet tigers escaped. Bobo was shot and killed by animal control officers. Police say the fire at Sipek's home yesterday was caused by a new air conditioner and left extensive damage.
Where were you 35 years ago today? Our picture of the day may help jog your memory.
We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Our picture of the day actually was taken 35 years ago today. It was 4:18 in the afternoon, Eastern time, when the module Eagle landed on the moon with only 30 seconds of fuel worth to spare. But it wasn't until 10:56 that night that Neil Armstrong became the first person to step on the lunar surface. I'll be in Boston tomorrow.
"LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now.
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