The Web      Powered by
powered by Yahoo!


Return to Transcripts main page


American Cities Threatened By Dirty Bomb?; Interview With New York City Police Commissioner

Aired January 21, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. The president's second term has begun, but his toughest challenges remain. The violence in Iraq just keeps on getting worse with days to go before the elections. Even weddings are targets.
And homeland security, how ready are we for the unthinkable, a suicide bomb attack on U.S. soil. You might remember, earlier this week the fear of a suicide bomb plot in Boston. Well, we start with a new development. It may have been a hoax. At first, authorities were looking for four people of Chinese origin. Then 10 more names went on the list. The alarm came from a single uncorroborated source.

Well, now the Associated Press, quoting an unnamed federal law enforcement officials, says the tipster may be a smuggler who got the group into the U.S. and made up the story to get revenge when they didn't pay. they're still wanted for questioning, but Massachusetts' governor says he is growing less concerned.

Of course, the threat of terrorists setting off a so-called dirty bomb in a big city is one of the chief worries for the people defending America. And next week, that frightening scenario is coming to a television set near you.

Here's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the middle of a week of festivities in Washington, amid the security and celebration, film director Dan Percival is walking downtown and having dark thoughts.

DANIEL PERCIVAL, WRITER/DIRECTOR: The point of having a big explosion is, you want to disseminate as much of this radioactive material into the atmosphere. Washington has very low buildings. It's a very open city. so, you get a very good plume.

FOREMAN: Percival's new HBO film, "Dirty War" portrays just such an explosion.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) alarming. Repeat (UNINTELLIGIBLE) alarming. Radiation suspected.


FOREMAN: A terrorist attack on London using what is called a dirty bomb, a regular bomb wrapped in low-level radioactive waste that spreads a cloud, a plume of contamination the moment it explodes.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Suspected mass casualties.


PERCIVAL: It doesn't have to be a close target weapon. And what I mean by that is, you don't have to literally have to drive into the White House and detonate the thing to have the effect you want.

FOREMAN: As the film points out, it's not the immediate explosion that matters, but the radiation that could travel for miles.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We have no idea how bad the issue is at ground zero.


FOREMAN: Stirred by cars, pedestrians, subways, contaminating places far from the blast and complicating emergency response measures.

PERCIVAL: Anyone coming into the fallout shadow of this bomb is going to be exposed or caught within the fallout shadow.

FOREMAN (on camera): Rescue workers, police.

PERCIVAL: Absolutely.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Three years ago, authorities picked up this man in Chicago on suspicions that he was planning a dirty bomb attack. He's never been charged, but they're still holding him. And emergency officials around the world are developing plans for dealing with dirty bombs. This drill was in Los Angeles. Part of the point is to educate the public.

STEPHEN FLYNN, AUTHOR, "AMERICA THE VULNERABLE": Basic response to dealing with these is to stay inside. And if you get exposed, the issue is washing yourself down.

FOREMAN: But the economic and psychological costs could be enormous. The 9/11 attacks cost New York City $83 billion in property and business losses. And if a dirty bomb attack struck any American city...

(on camera): You were saying an area like this could be rendered effectively useless for 10, 20, 30 years?

PERCIVAL: It would be rendered uninhabitable as long as it's contaminated.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And experts say it's possible.

MICHAEL WERMUTH, RAND CORPORATION: There is radioactive material out there that is obtainable if someone has the resources and the capability to do it.

FOREMAN (on camera): Of all the ways to attack, though, isn't this a really complex, difficult way?

PERCIVAL: No. It's incredibly low-tech, incredibly simple. The explosives themselves are very simple to manufacture.

FOREMAN: Is it easy to get the radioactive material that you need?

PERCIVAL: I wouldn't say it was easy. It takes a determined effort to get ahold of it. But we know how porous smuggling routes are.

FOREMAN (voice-over): No one knows if a dirty bomb attack will ever come, but "Dirty War" suggests, recognizing the danger now could reduce the odds and the impact.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


ZAHN: And I'm now joined by New York City's police commissioner, Ray Kelly.

Good to see you.

RAYMOND KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER: It's good to be with you, Paula.

ZAHN: So, we just heard that it doesn't take a great deal of ingenuity to acquire these materials to built a bomb. How concerned are you that the U.S. might get struck by a dirty bomb?

KELLY: Sure, it's an area of concern for us, like a lot of other things. But, clearly, on our agenda is how to address, how to prevent, of course, but how to react if in fact there is a dirty bomb in New York.

ZAHN: Let's come back to the first part of what you just talked about. How do you prevent it? Can you?

KELLY: Well, intelligence is the key, no question about it. We don't want to be put in a position where we're trying to cut someone off from a final run to the target. We need intelligence. The sooner the better.

There's a lot of means to gather intelligence. Obviously national assets, international assets are -- international community helpful is that regard. But we don't want to, as I say, rely on the last moment to try to stop something like this.

ZAHN: So, how prepared are we for this kind of attack?

KELLY: Well, we're better prepared now than we've ever been. But you can always do more.

We are practicing. We're planning. We've had tabletop exercises devoted exclusively to a dirty bomb explosion, our other city agencies, fire department, Office of Emergency Management working together. There are exercises done on a fairly regular basis. But can we do more? Sure.

ZAHN: But in spite of these drills, just this past summer, you had a group called the New York Academy of Medicine finding that the U.S. response plans don't really take into account what is likely to be the reaction of real people, for example, telling folks that they shouldn't go outside.

Well, if your children are trapped in a school, aren't you fearful that people will violate that and will go outside and get contaminated?

KELLY: Yes. There's a lot of complex issues.

What we tell people is, you have to listen to the media, CNN, radio. Our chief spokesman would be the mayor in any event like that. We would have to get information out as quickly as possible. What you do depends on the nature of the attack. It may be advisable to stay indoors. It may be advisable to evacuate. Again, we have to be flexible, as determined by the nature of the event.

ZAHN: Given everything you know, from all these drills you've run and all the intelligence you have access to, how likely is this kind of attack on a major urban area?

KELLY: I don't think -- I don't think we can put a number on it or percentage on it, but it is something that we have to be concerned about. We have to be concerned about CBRN, as we call it, chemical, radiological, biological, nuclear events. That's certainly on the agenda.

Of course, a conventional explosion is as well, which is at the heart of any sort of dirty bomb event. It is a conventional explosion with radiological material.

ZAHN: We always are very careful when we do segments like this, because we doesn't want to unnecessarily alarm people. But you do think it's important for us to look at this issue.

KELLY: Yes. Yes, I do. I think the film that is coming out is well done. It's sobering. It's the Powell film that is going to cause a lot of conversation. And I think it -- people should focus on this issue.

ZAHN: Commissioner Kelly, good of you to drop by on a Friday night. KELLY: Good to be with you.

ZAHN: Thanks for your time. Good luck.

Stick around. We have got much more ahead tonight.


ZAHN (voice-over): The bomber who blends in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I knew right away it was a terrorist attack.

ZAHN: An unassuming face in a crowded place a daily terror in the Middle East. How vulnerable are we? An expert looks around and doesn't like what he sees.

URI MENDELBERG, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY & DEFENSE SYSTEMS: Awareness level in this country is extremely low.

ZAHN: Also, keeping terrorists out of the cockpit. To keep our skies friendly, pilots get mean.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is going to be quick and it's going to be violent.

ZAHN: And our PZN meter question: Do you feel safer knowing some pilots carry guns? Log on to CNN/Paula and let us know. The results and much more ahead on our CNN "Security Watch," "Defending America."


ZAHN: And welcome back.

What if the unspeakable were to happen here? What if one terrorist with explosives strapped to his body walked into a shopping mall or a crowded movie theater or onto a bus and turned himself into a killing human killing machine? Well, that happens regularly in Iraq and in Israel, but are we ready for such an attack? Well, the simple answer is not very.

Dan Lothian tells us why.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: Is this something that is nonstop for you?

MENDELBERG: Yes. For me, if it is a professor, you have to think about that all the time.

LOTHIAN (voice-over): Uri Mendelberg's life is consumed with preventing the worst kind of terror, human weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A deadly attack on unsuspecting shoppers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another suicide blast in Gaza.

LOTHIAN: He's a former Israel soldier whose skills have been honed by the military and his surroundings.

MENDELBERG: These things that have been developed over living in Israel for 25 and 30 years and looking what happens.

LOTHIAN: Death, destruction, fear.

MENDELBERG: You want to take a bus, in the bus station, there are 10, 15, or 20 guys looking for possible, for potential suicide bombers.

LOTHIAN: Now the Israel security and defense company Mendelberg directs is bringing the issue into focus on America's radar, educating a country to the unspeakable. With his colleague Jean Safra, he's training private and government security officers at the Smith & Wesson Economy Academy in Springfield, Massachusetts, to, among other things, identify and potentially neutralize suicide bombers.

JEAN SAFRA, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY & DEFENSE SYSTEMS: To give to a security officer or security people or soldiers on the field, to react, again, to it.

LOTHIAN: In this sensitive business, no one in the three-day class wanted to be identified or speak on the record, but they spoke volumes just by being here.

SAFRA: People come and say, OK, give us your experience, give us your knowledge. We need it. We need it now.

LOTHIAN (on camera): Is this training on target? Is there a real threat of suicide bombers plotting to attack a crowded mall in New Jersey or a sold-out concert in California? Before 9/11, there would have been a lot of doubters. But, since then, there's been growing demand for this specialized training from law enforcement to private security firms. For many, it's a real concern.

(voice-over): That's why the training is so intense, so real. In this exercise, a suicide bomber is charging forward to set off his explosives belt, but is quickly confronted. Martial arts techniques are taught, swift moves to disable a deadly threat.

MENDELBERG: Physically how to control the guy, bring him down to the floor, grab his hands so he won't go for the switch. It might fail, but the guy will not get in. He might explode together with a security guard. And that happens in Israel. So one security guy goes, but 30 are saved.

LOTHIAN: We went for a ride in Mendelberg's New Jersey neighborhood. Block by block, he pointed out America's vulnerabilities.

MENDELBERG: The mall is a potential target.

LOTHIAN: A mall packed with shoppers, a rich target, he says, especially during the holidays.

MENDELBERG: Could be an easy target, a soft target because nobody's guarding these malls.

LOTHIAN: But that's changing. Malls across the country are sending their security guards to his classes and other programs to be trained in spotting a suicide bomber long before a cord is pulled.

MENDELBERG: Is he looking for the guy who is wearing a long coat or not in the summer or carrying a suitcase? What -- that an indication that something is wrong and the guy is out of place.

LOTHIAN: The power of awareness, priceless.

JOE BERGERON, SMITH & WESSON: It's very difficult to prevent it. It's something that if you pay attention to or analyze and watch, you can try to decrease what is going to happen.

LOTHIAN: Not only at malls, but at major sporting events or at big concerts or on a crowded college campus. Mendelberg and other antiterrorism experts say a bombing is almost twice as likely at a commercial target than at an government facility. Success, they insist, depends on intelligence and knowledge.

MENDELBERG: The whole idea is put yourself in the shoes of these guys and think the way they think. Eat like they eat, and think like they think.

LOTHIAN: Fighting this threat begins with law enforcement, but doesn't end there. Just look at Israel and its history of suicide attacks.

SAFRA: In my country, we do a lot of public awareness, a lot of security awareness about suicide bombing.

LOTHIAN (camera): Everybody is looking out for everything?

SAFRA: Yes, everybody is looking around.

LOTHIAN: In the end, says Mendelberg, this training will only prevent or contain so much. Law enforcement needs the eyes of the American public.

MENDELBERG: The awareness level, the awareness level in this country is extremely low. They think that's a job for the FBI. We've got to teach people a certain awareness of potential dangers, because you don't know when it's going to come.

LOTHIAN: Civilians and law enforcement learning the skills to defend America against a threat Israel and other countries have known for decades.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Springfield.


ZAHN: Knowledge and awareness possibly the keys to preventing suicide bomb attacks.

Coming up next, security in our nation's seaports, protecting our harbors from the dangers below -- that when we come back.


ZAHN: In our weeklong series "Defending America," we have learned that our nation's seaports are vulnerable. We have looked at the Port of Los Angeles, the largest in the country. And every year, more than nine million cargo containers come and go with little or no inspection at all. In other words, if terrorists were to hide a bomb inside a container, it could pass through the port unnoticed.

At Miami's port, police are inspecting above the water line and below it.

Here's John Zarrella.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): They wear wet suits, not spacesuits, unassuming guys with the right stuff who defend America from below.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got Lupo Jiang (ph) on No. 4, Paul Toy No. 5. That's a crease.

ZARRELLA: These Miami-Dade County Police divers are helping to protect the Port of Miami, the largest container port in Florida and home to 18 cruise ships carrying four million passengers a year.

PAUL TOY, MIAMI-DADE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Since 9/11, it has become very critical that -- if you have got that terrorist out there and they want to try and disrupt something, a cruise ship is a good target.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, what we do is, I'll go in the water. Paul goes in the water. Paul goes down to the bottom.

ZARRELLA: Paul Toy has been diving since he was a teenager. He's been a police diver since the '80s. Today, Toy and nine others search beneath the 881-foot cruise ship, Majesty of the Seas.

It is called a hull search. The team is not acting on any tips or information. It's just an unannounced peak beneath the water line. That's the way they want it, no schedule for terrorists to track.

SGT. NELSON RODRIGUEZ, MIAMI-DADE POLICE DEPARTMENT: We can be here two or three days in a row and not come for a week and then come back for two weeks in a row.

ZARRELLA: The divers line up along the entire length of the ship, eyeballing every inch. Because visibility is about five feet, flashlights look like light sabers in the green-tinted water. Paul Toy makes his way to the very bottom at the center line of the rope, 30 feet down. TOY: We learn what's supposed to be on the ship. And when there's something that appears it's not supposed to be there, we can recognize it.

ZARRELLA: The dive can be disconcerting, the ship's sounds, the whirring of generators and throbbing of pumps filling the water. Not every diver can hack it.

TOY: The sound just vibrates through the ship and comes through you. So, you have to be in the right frame of mind to be able to get down there and do things like that.

ZARRELLA: While the divers scour the hull, other police officers are in the engine room and on the bridge making sure a propeller or one of these giant thrusters is not accidentally turned on. That would shred the divers in an instant.

Diver Lewis Sierra (ph) is literally inside the thruster housing. This kind of danger goes with the territory. In 1996, Paul Toy dove the murky crater in the Everglades to bring up pieces of a crashed ValuJet airliner.

TOY: There was no visibility at all. It was all by feel. We call it diving by braille.

ZARRELLA: Much of what they do goes unnoticed, but not unappreciated.

TOY: The people see you, the people on the ship, and they love you, because it gives them a good feeling, like, our ship's OK. These guys are down there checking it out.

ZARRELLA: Cruise ships don't get all the attention. It could be a Navy cruiser, like the USS Leyte Gulf just pulling out. Before she arrived a week ago, Toy and the other divers searched the seawall and bottom, where the guided missile cruiser would dock. These divers believe in their work. They know that they are a deterrent and that they make a difference swimming in the shadows of the big ships.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


ZAHN: And our "Security Watch" heads for a cockpit next and the last line of defense against hijackers, teaching airline pilots to land a lethal blow.

That's next.


ZAHN: As every traveler knows, some of the biggest safety changes since 9/11 are at our airports. The actual hijackers got through security on the ground that day, as we see in these startling pictures. But if such a thing happened now, there's an extra layer of protection in the cockpit. Here's Miles O'Brien with a story you'll only see here.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Airline pilots are used to spending endless hours drilling in simulators for unlikely problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back to your seat. Back to your seat.

O'BRIEN: But this is not your average simulation or your traditional aviation emergency. They are training to be pistol- packing pilots, sworn federal officers with perhaps the smallest jurisdiction in the world, an airliner cockpit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People have to realize, hijackers, they're professionals. They've been through training also.

O'BRIEN: He is a captain for a major airline. And for security reasons, we agreed to leave it at that. We met at the federal law enforcement training center in remote Artesia, New Mexico, a veritable boot camp for federal agents of all stripes, including, for the past two years, federal flight deck officers, or FFDOs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you look at the personality of pilots, a lot of us have never been into a fight, some of us, well, maybe in the second grade on the sandbox. But most of us are so naive in this area that we wouldn't have a clue what to do.

O'BRIEN: They are here on their own time, their own dime to get a clue. You could call it hijack defense 101, a weeklong course in the basics, hand-to-hand combat.

GEORGE BARRETT, TRAINER: We're fighting in a phone booth-type cockpit, so not a whole lot of room, so everything we do is designed for fighting in close quarters.

O'BRIEN: Marksmanship and shoot/don't-shoot scenarios.

BARRETT: We need to do it very aggressively and getting into the swinging-all-the-way-through concept, somewhat acting as though a pack of hyenas do when they take the animal down in some of those African shows, is they have their teeth sunk into that flesh, and they're shaking their heads back and forth and delivering as much pain as they can.

JOHN WILEY, CNN AVIATION CONSULTANT: I realize I've gone through training all my life for situations, engine failures, hydraulic failures and stuff.

O'BRIEN: Retired U.S. Airways Captain John Wiley carried a gun to work for the last seven months of his 25-year career.

WILEY: I have to prepare myself. Although engine failures are remote, the likelihood that I would incur an attack, that is remote, too, but you prepare for the worst. O'BRIEN (on camera): The Transportation Security Administration won't say just how many pilots have gone through this training program so far, security reasons for that. But this program is about deterrence as anything else. Simply the perception that a pilot might be armed forces a would-be hijack to change tactics.

JOHN MORAN, TRANSPORTATION SAFETY ADMIN: Our idea behind this program is have as many of those folks out there to represent the largest deterrence we can possibly put forth as well as be able tactically respond should it be necessary.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): John Moran is a former federal officer and the man in charge of the FIDO program. While he and the government are pushing the program now, the Bush administration initially fought the idea. It happened only after the pilot's unions and ultimately Congress forced the issue. Why the resistance?

MORAN: Well, I think the perception was, how would you have a pilot who is not a law enforcement person become a law enforcement person?

O'BRIEN: To allay that concern, pilots who land here must first endure a rack of personal questions, a psychological screening and a thorough background check. If they pass the course course, and the vast majority do, they must carry their gun in a locked case except when they're in the cockpit or at a shooting range.

JOHN WILEY, CNN AVIATION CONSULTANT: It is a little bit burdensome. But again, you find these guys who are willing to take on that additional responsibility for whatever reason, whatever their philosophy, or whatever, they came to the point, they said I want to be involved in this program, I want to carry a weapon, I want to be able to defend myself and the cockpit.

O'BRIEN: But not all pilots are on board. Many believe guns are a distraction from their primary task, flying the airplane.

ALAN PRICE, RETIRED DELTA CHIEF PILOT: When you get into armed resistance, and I think you introduce a new element in the cockpit. And all along that was the concern.

O'BRIEN: Alan Price is a recently retired chief pilot for Delta.

PRICE: Our primary focus needs to be on safe flying, not on worrying about constantly being alert to a possibly an armed intervention.

O'BRIEN: To be sure, the cockpit is much more secure these days, the door more stout, the screening better and passengers and flight attendants are poised to intervene, as they did when the so-called shoe bomber tried to down a plane over the Atlantic.

But by nature and training, pilots like to be in control.

WILEY: I have a very highly vested interest in doing a good job with the airplane. O'BRIEN: John Wiley has left the guns and Boeings behind. He now flies small planes for fun with uncomfortable memories of what it meant to carry a gun on to an airliner.

What was it like flying with that responsibility of having a weapon? Did it change it fundamentally for you?

WILEY: Well, you came away with a certain amount of paranoia. You're a little bit antsy about the whole thing. But it is a very serious premise. And hear you are, you are carrying a weapon and you are the last line of defense.

O'BRIEN: The last line of defense. This captain will soon join the ranks. But even mid-way through his course, he already sees the world a little differently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, you're looking, you're seeing and you will be a lot more aware. That's what flying is 90 percent about, being aware of what's going on around you.

O'BRIEN: And for thousands of airline pilots, that now means learning how to fly and fight, and if needed, shoot to kill. Miles O'Brien, CNN, Artesia, New Mexico.


ZAHN: Well, we wish them luck with all those challenges.

We want to know what you think about airline pilots carrying guns. Does it make you feel any safer? Log on to and tell us. We'll have the results at the end of this hour. And remember, we're always on the lookout for stories about your safety and security.

With just 8 days before the big vote in Iraq, there is some hope, as you'll see, in a small village facing a strange new custom, democracy. We'll share that with you when we come back.


ZAHN: Well, there are only 8 days left until Iraq's election and the violence continues non-stop. This evening, South of Baghdad, an ambulance drove into a wedding party and explode killing several people. Reports say the bride and groom are among the 38 people wounded.


ZAHN (voice-over): Earlier today, a car bomb at a Shi'ite mosque near Baghdad killed at least 14 people and wounded 42. A soldier saw it happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A car bomb pulled up. You can see there is a spot in the ground here where it stopped and exploded, just as the mosque was letting out. ZAHN: There are developments on the political front as well. An Iraqi official tells the Arabic al Jazeera network that the government is getting ready to arrest Iraqi National Congress member Ahmed Chalabi. Once a U.S. favorite, Chalabi said nothing about the controversy during an interview with Christiane Amanpour. Instead, he sounded upbeat.

AHMED CHALABI, IRAQI NATIONAL CONGRESS: I believe the election will produce a government legitimate in the eyes of the Iraqi people. And I believe this government also will be able also to exercise sovereignty in a real serious and fundamental way.

ZAHN: Also today, U.S. intelligence said, the voice in an hour- long message posted on the Internet Thursday is likely that of terrorist leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi. He urges his followers to be patient and warns the fierce battle doesn't end quickly.


ZAHN: And the Zarqawi message makes it sound like the battle for Fallujah isn't over. In fact, U.S. forces swept through the city and secured it in November and December. And now, as Jane Arraf show us, a remarkable change is coming to the area.


JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Along the Euphrates River canals near Fallujah, the idea of democracy seems to have taken route though they are fuzzy on the details.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They talk about the elections with they're friends.

ARRAF: U.S. Marines patrolling this volatile area are trying to find out whether the Sunni population here is prepared for elections, less than two weeks away. The children, out of school for holidays, are pre-occupied with the candy they know the Marines bring. And with modeling their new outfits.

(on camera): Here in the countryside, people say they don't know where they'll have to go to vote. A lot of them say they don't know who's running, but they seem to agree that the elections are a good thing and they say, and they say they'll vote if they can.

(voice-over): It's only a few weeks since the fierce battle for Fallujah. But here, unlike in nearby Baghdad, people say they're not afraid to vote.

They're not quite sure what's involved, though. We know the date of the election but nothing else, this man tells Regimental Commander Craig Tucker.

We haven't been told anything yet another says.

Butcher Abdel Qadr Ali Hayyeb (ph) has come from slaughtering sheep for the religious holiday. He says, he'll vote for the only candidate he knows. Asheyef (ph) from his tribe.

Others mention Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a household name. One man here says he'll vote for Allawi, because his organization has been giving out cash.

The Marines hand out flyers. They tell Iraqis they should vote to build a strong country. There's no apparent hostility here towards U.S. forces, but there is discontent.

As Colonel Tucker stops to talk, people want to vent about the price of gasoline and about roadblocks rather than discuss the benefit of democracy. Village leader Thaleb Sarbatali (ph) tells us he's encouraging his people to vote. He's never done it, but it can't be complicated, he says, you just go in and check a box.

He doesn't believe the elections are a threat to his own power. Whatever happens, he says, traditional leaders will always have influence.


ZAHN: That was Jane Arraf reporting from near Falluja in Iraq.

Again, the Iraqi election is scheduled for Sunday, January 30. Nobody expects it to be perfect but how good is good enough?

Let's get some perspective now from retired General Wesley Clark, a former supreme allied commander of NATO.

Always good to see you, sir. Welcome.


ZAHN: So I'm going to make you a different kind of general tonight, a general on the ground in Iraq. And let's assume for a moment that you've inherited all the circumstances that are in place today. What would you do to make this election safe?

CLARK: Well, the principle thing the military has to do is work the security angle. And to do that, of course, you've got to get the Iraqi National Guard and police that have been trained out to the areas that are threatened. And then you need to back them up with U.S. forces and U.S. reconnaissance and all of that.

You need the right rules on the ground at the time. So you're going to want to keep the cars away, because vehicles can carry bombs. You want to disperse the polling places as much as you can so large crowds don't gather.

And you're going to want to be especially alert. You'll have helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles overhead to prevent trucks carrying mortars from getting in there and shelling. You'll try to secure these polling places and make them the safest place in the country.

ZAHN: And isn't that just what the U.S. military is attempting to do now?

CLARK: Well, the U.S. military right now is actually engaged in a whole variety of operations depending on where they are. They're going after insurgents in Mosul. They're trying to run offensive operations and counter terrorist operations and secure the borders and minimize movement so they don't create more targets for improvised explosive devices. So there's a whole lot of things going on.

I imagine as we get closer to this election, we'll see the military net down its activities to really focus on the polling places.

ZAHN: So based on what you've seen so far, do you think the U.S. military has the right plan, given all the curveballs it's been thrown?

CLARK: Yes. I think the military's done an absolutely brilliant job under all circumstances they've had to face with in Iraq. They have really done well.

ZAHN: And how much confidence do you have in the Iraqi police forces, in the security police from Iraq?

CLARK: They'll do moderately well. I mean, some are not going to be able to stand up under heavy assault. Some might, but they've got to be backed up with communication linkages and reinforcements to stronger forces, to allied forces, American forces.

That's what it's going to take to really do the security. And what the military is doing is concentrating on putting those links in place as well as training the Iraqis themselves.

ZAHN: And we heard numbers all over the place, Condoleezza Rice saying 120,000 of those trained Iraqi security forces, Joe Biden just coming back from a trip, and Senator Hagel saying if you really look at the ones that are adequately trained, you're talking about 4,000. Any insights into that?

CLARK: It's really about leadership, not the numbers of the troops, Paula. And the question is, can you put the leadership there on the ground to inspire the troops to want to -- policemen to come to work? Can you make their families feel safe?

And then can you reinforce them at the critical moment, so when they're challenged they know they'll have overwhelming firepower and support against any adversary?

So it's not just the troops themselves. It's a lot of other factors.

ZAHN: And I'm going to let you answer your own question there briefly. Do you think all of those things will happen, yes or no?

CLARK: I think we'll -- I think we'll get a pretty good turnout in the election. I think there will be a lot violence. And I think after the election, there will still be violence. ZAHN: That's the last time you'll ask yourself a question, General. No, it's a point well taken. It is an interesting thing when you look at all the challenges of the U.S. military.

CLARK: It really is.

ZAHN: General Wesley Clark, have a good weekend. Always a pleasure to talk with you.

CLARK: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: And from the politics of the present to the politics of the future. California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, when we come back.


ZAHN: This coming Sunday at 10 p.m. Eastern, Carlos Watson goes "OFF TOPIC" with California Governor Schwarzenegger. And Carlos joins us now with a preview.

Always good to see you.

CARLOS WATSON, HOST, "OFF TOPIC": good to be here.

ZAHN: So I can't even imagine what going off topic with the governor is like, because he can talk about a lot of different arenas.

WATSON: Arnold can talk about almost anything. I thought it was interesting to hear him talk about his mother and that for all of Arnold's successes, he still remembers the huge doubts his mom had about him as a kid.

Hearing him talk about how he raises his kids, because you don't think about Arnold and parenting. And he was actually pretty expansive even about political issues like the constitutional amendment that may allow some foreign-born people, like Arnold, to maybe run for president.

ZAHN: Well, I'm sure he admits to you he's going to run for president some day, Carlos.

WATSON: He was as candid as anything I've seen yet.

ZAHN: Right.

WATSON: Tune in. And watch this clip we have. I think you'll -- you'll read through some of what he says. He definitely doesn't say no interest.


GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I had, you know, big visions. I mean, when I was a kid, I had visions of coming to America and being a body building champion and making millions of dollars.

WATSON: You really had that vision?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes, absolutely.

WATSON: Where did all this ambition come from?

SCHWARZENEGGER: The hunger and the desire, and this burning desire inside that I want to be somebody and I want to make it and I want to be the best. I think it came from growing up in a little village and wanting to get out of there and wanting to kind of be part of something big. And for me, America symbolized that.

WATSON: Have you ever had a major failure, something that to this day you still regret?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, you know, I've had failures. I mean, I've been in competitions that I didn't win. I considered that a major failure. I've done movies that I thought that were going to be a big hit and they went in the toilet.

WATSON: Which one?

SCHWARZENEGGER: "Last Action Hero." We thought this was a great concept and it is a movie that is going to go through the roof.

A bomb!

And it didn't. You know, so you have to just look at this and say, "Well, that didn't work," and then just move on. You can dwell on it.

But you know, there are sometimes things that you want to make happen and it doesn't happen. See, it's all about risks. Otherwise you don't know how far. So you take risks and more risks and more risks, and eventually you're going to fail. And then it sets you back and then you start all over again and you take risks and risks. That's what I do.

WATSON: Your next risk, assuming everything that goes well here in California. You know there's a speculation about, if there's a change in the Constitution, would you run for president?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I don't even want to think about it.

WATSON: Not at all?

SCHWARZENEGGER: No. I'm just thinking about one thing, and this is fixing this. Because it's like a movie. You don't have to worry about your next movie and the movie after that. Make your movie that you're doing right now perfect. Make it a 10.

If it's a 10 and it goes through the roof in the box office, then everything will be laid out for you anyway. So why worry about it?

So the same is with this. This has to work. I am totally committed to California. I'm totally committed to turn the state around. WATSON: When you look for inspiration in politics, what politicians, either current or in the past, do you admire and do you draw inspiration from, thinking about how to govern?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Nelson Mandela is one of the persons. Mikhail Gorbachev, he's another one. Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. So these were people that really made things happen.

WATSON: Why do you admire Nelson Mandela? What about these people stand out to you as figures to admire?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, first of all, I think Nelson Mandela, I mean, he is a guy that has never involved in politics or running anything. And then all of a sudden, he's running the country.

And the reason why he could really run it, is because it was a time for an outsider to come in and to bring people together.

And Mikhail Gorbachev is another one. He was brought up during the communist system, worked his way up step by step to become the mayor of Moscow. Then he became the head of the party and then all of a sudden, there he was, President Gorbachev.

And then to look at the system, the communist system and say, "This is wrong. It's a dictatorship. There's no democracy. We are not feeling (ph) for the people. We aren't representing the people the right way."

And to dismantle, slowly but surely, communism, I mean, that man is a huge hero for me. And it's like something that is very rarely you see.

So those are the people that I admire and that everyone ought to admire.


ZAHN: Which makes you wonder whether he feels his ties to the Kennedy family are an advantage at this stage or a disadvantage.

WATSON: Well, I think certainly in California, a state where every constitutional officer until Arnold won in the recall was a Democrat, I think being married to Maria was a good thing.

But one of the interesting things about Arnold is he clearly is willing to dip into different buckets. Right? Not only Democrat and Republican, but when you hear him mention his heroes, he doesn't refer just to FDR or just to John F. Kennedy. He goes overseas. He talks about Nelson Mandela in South Africa or Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia, or the former Soviet Union.

So I think this is a guy who's got an expansive view and consequently, he's a guy who, in 2005, may deliver as much political action on the west coast as President Bush does on the east coast.

ZAHN: Carlos Watson, thanks so much for your time.

WATSON: A pleasure. Thanks for having me.

ZAHN: Well, you never know who will run for president next, like our own Tom Foreman. Wait until you hear some of his campaign promises: biscuits for everyone.


ZAHN: Inaugural celebrations are over. And this morning, President Bush began the first day of his new term with a tradition, an interfaith prayer service led by the Reverend Billy Graham.

The inaugural prayer service was started by the first president, George Washington.

And in four years, the Oval Office will need a new occupant. What a coincidence, because our own Tom Foreman is considering a career change.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pageantry is over. The bunting is down. The new president, the old one, is snug in the White House. So what better time could there be to start thinking of election 2008?

(on camera) That's right, my fellow Americans, I am considering a run for the presidency. And while the planks in my platform may not be traditional fare, I think they have a certain common sense appeal.

First up, under my administration, all shoes will be waterproof.

(voice-over) What is the purpose of a shoe except to keep your foot safe and dry? How can democracy, the economy and podiatral hygiene stand unimpeded if we stand in the damp moss of our own footwear?

In the Foreman years, biscuits will be served with every meal. Professional sports teams must have all player trades approved by a simple majority of their fans.

No state will be called red or blue while I'm in office. There are Republicans in Massachusetts, Democrats in Kansas and independents all over. Let's not oversimplify.

(on camera) All business phones will be answered by people, not machines.

While I'm in the White House, dry cleaners will be responsible for broken buttons. I don't care what that little sign on the wall says.

(voice-over) And perhaps they can stop stapling their tags into our shirts, too. A presidential committee will consider the abolition of ties. I hear one day people look at us as the same way we look at the powdered wig crowd of long ago.

And if it will help with the women's vote, I'll consider a high heel ban, too.

(on camera) During my presidency, manners will count. If you do not say please and thank you and hold the door for the next person, you will be deported, perhaps to one of those ridiculous reality show communities where everybody seems to be pigheaded and mean.

(voice-over) I will retire certain words. There will be no more "happy campers," no more "begging the question" or "empowering" or "efforting," no more "24-seven." And you will not be able to say "an historic" unless you also say "an history book" or you want "an kick in the pants."

My plans may lack the vision of the leaders who have gone before. Perhaps you simply do not like them. But if you think so, vote for me anyway. After all, winning the presidency ought to be punishment enough.


ZAHN: Go Tom, go. Tom Foreman reporting for us tonight.

Well, sorry about this, Tom. It was "an historic" week. Here's another look at the inauguration, courtesy of late night TV.


JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": Let me ask you this, Senator. Did you see the inaugural speech?

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I was right there on the platform.

STEWART: Were you really?


STEWART: How did you get on the platform?

LIEBERMAN: I'm a senator.

STEWART: They wouldn't even let me in the D.C. area.

LIEBERMAN: Yes, but they had reason. But...

STEWART: Settle down!

LIEBERMAN: No, I was sitting next to John McCain.

STEWART: Was he muttering at all during it?

LIEBERMAN: Well, funny you ask, because when the president took the oath, John and I were lip-syncing. You know?

So we actually -- both of us have actually been sworn in as president. We're prepared to take office whenever necessary.


ZAHN: Very funny.

Now, for tonight's "PZN Meter" results: "Do you feel safer knowing that some pilots carry guns?" Fifty-three percent of you said yes; 47 percent say no.

Remember, it's not a scientific poll, just a sampling of those of you who logged on to our web site.

Thanks so much for joining us this week, joining us on the road in Washington. Hope you'll be back with us Monday night, where we start an investigation as more airlines outsource repairs to other. What does that mean to your safety?

Up next, "LARRY KING LIVE." Again, thanks for joining us tonight.


International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.