tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN May 21, 2012 4:00pm-6:00pm EDT
hamid karzai sits down for his only interview with me while in the united states. we talk about his personal relationship with president obama and even his personal relationship with mitt romney. stand by for that as well. and the man sometimes nicknamed america's supermayor, has made a super gaffe. i'm wolf blitzer in chicago. you're in the situation room. but first, through my exclusive far reaching interview, i just completed only a few minutes ago with the afghan president hamid karzai,
it's his only interview while here in the united states. we sat down only moments ago, and he spoke of president obama just minutes before the interview. the three leaders are here for a meeting in chicago. listen to this. >> no, we didn't have a three-way meeting, we had a three-way photograph taking. >> just a photo opportunity? >> why not a meeting? why not have a three-way meeting and discuss the most important issues facing afghanistan, pakistan and the united states. >> it wasn't for us to decide on the three-way meeting. the united states was the host and perhaps they saw it fit for some other time. >> has pakistan agreed to resume shipments, trucks, bringing supplies to nato, u.s. troops in afghanistan? >> i believe they're negotiating
on that question. >> they have been negotiating for a long time. but right now as far as you know, there's no agreement? >> not at this point in time, no. >> we're going to have the far reaching interview with the afghan president hamid karzai, we go in depth on all the key issues involving u.s.-afghan relations, how many troops will remain in afghanistan, will u.s. troops have immunity from afghan law if they remain after 2014? their interview will air shortly after president obama's news conference. he's expected to hold that news conference at the bottom of this hour. our chief white house correspondent jessica yellin has been covering this summit in chicago, and jessica's joining us right now. looking at live pictures by the way of the summit. jessica, pretty important discussions because the u.s.
still has 90,000 troops in afghanistan, 65,000 will remain throughout this year into next year, another 2 1/2 years of true presence costing billions and billions of dollars. the stakes clearly for the united states, for afghanistan, for the region enormous. >> reporter: enormous stakes today, but the president when he goes into this press conference, he will be able to say that he has gotten the 60-plus nations who are gathered here on the same page to at least agree on a broad plan for afghanistan. they released a declaration saying the -- afghan security control of that nation, beginning in 2013 and then full withdrawal of almost all international forces by the end of 2014, here's what the
president had to say earlier today, wolf. >> the strategic partnership agreement that president karzai and i signed in kabul, ensures that as afghans stand up, they will not stand alone. today we can agree on nato's long-term relationship with afghanistan beyond 2014, including our support of afghan security forces. >> to be sure, there are differences among the nations, but what the president wants to emphasize is that all nations are agreed that they will not abandon afghanistan after 2014, the word the president keeps emphasizing is that the nations are exiting this war, quote, responsibly, and of course we'll also see if the president has any major announcements to make in the press conference about anything that may have come out of this final session that they are holding as we speak, wolf. >> it's interesting, jessica, because president karzai just told me a few moments ago, as
far as he knows there's no arrangement, no deal yet with pakistan that would allow the resumption of truck convoys bringing supplies to u.s. and nato forces in afghanistan from pakistan into afghanistan. it looks like the president just had a brief little three-way photo opportunity with these leaders and no real substantive break through which is what the u.s. wanted with president zardari of pakistan. what are you hearing? >> what happened during the summit is president zardari of pakistan came hoping for a president with president obama. he didn't get that meeting, what he got instead was a quick opportunity to exchange words for the president and then a quick photo with president obama and with president karzai later today. he did not get that big meeting for precisely the reason you point out. he and his country did not come to terms with the u.s. on an agreement to open the supply
routs back up for the u.s. to bring both troops and supplies in and out of the pakistani country, in and out of pakistan, because pakistan simply as my sources are saying, asking too much money for this. and so this is not going to be negotiated, u.s. sources are saying at a presidential level, it's going to be negotiated before the presidential level back in the region and so there is no resolution here at the nato summit, so the two presidents did not have that sitdown meeting. the u.s. has insisted this will be resolved maybe in some weeks, maybe in some months and not here. >> as you know, jessica, it's been going on for some six months since some u.s. -- the pakistanis have been demanding a formal policy from the united states, from the obama administration, there's been a lot of high level meetings from the white house about such a policy. it doesn't look like the obama
administration is going to apologize to pakistan and that's been one of the issues stalling the retemperature sh -- we'll see what the president has to say in his news conference on this sensitive issue coming up in a few minutes. jessica, thanks very much. while members of the nato alliance meet here in chicago, protesters are taking the city by storm. today's more peaceful demonstrations are drawing a sharp contrast to some violent clashes, on sunday, dozens of protesters, eight police officers injured. what is the latest, paul? >> well, wolf, i'm standing just outside barack obama's campaign headquarters and about 200 protesters are beating on drums and they are conducting a peaceful demonstration, so all is calm right now. the temperature's also much cooler, gone up to about 94 degrees yesterday. let me go ahead and bring in the superintendent of police, jerry
mccarthy. superintendent, tell us basically what the strategy is, you want these protest -- >> we're going to let them stay, you know, this is exactly what we have been doing virtually all week. there's only been a number of scheduled permitted events, other than that, we have had unscheduled marches and rallies and we have said from the beginning that we're going to facilitate people's right to the first amendment, free speech that we all enjoy as americans while preventing criminal behavior. i want to make a distinction, certainly publicly that yesterday was not a clash between protesters and police, that was a clash between criminals and police. we' they're protesters and we're facilitating their right to do so. >> reporter:'s been some reports that the protesters took some sort of paint and put the paint on and went up and confronted police? >> we know it to be true.
the people who we put our hands on, 99%, we probably got them in custody, but in the pulling and stuffing, there might have been some people that we lost. we have only had 93 arrests, i believe for the entire period of this week, regarding nato type protests. or nato protests. in regards to the event. you know, i think the issue is that, you know, the news isn't what happened, the news is what didn't happen. we didn't get the numbers that we expected and at the end of the day, it's been a largely successful event. >> some of the protesters felt that they felt that they were dealt with unjustly, that you were heavy handed and didn't need to use the batons. what do you say? >> i say that's nonsense. clearly the video is going to show a group of people getting together and challenging the cops. that was something that we knew was going to happen. we could have told you that
months ago. it's going to continue, and that's why we have to draw the distinction, this is free speech, that is criminal activity. those are criminals, these are protesters. >> reporter: we appreciate your comments, thank you for coming out, superintendent mccarthy. >> we'll stay on top of this part of the story as well. president obama's live news conference expected to begin within the next few minutes, when it happens we'll of course bring it to you live here in "the situation room." and much more of my sitdown interview with the afghan president hamid karzai. he's weighing in on the war in afghanistan, his relationship with the united states, even his personal relationship with president obama and mitt romney. and the manic named america's supermayor is doing some damage control after what some are calling a super gaffe. [ pilot ] flying teaches me to prepare for turbulence.
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the president will be answering questions on a wide range of issues, i assume, including the u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan over the next two and a half years, also, i'm sure politics will come up and we'll see what the president has to say. following the president's news conference, you'll hear my exclusive interview and you'll see it as well. with the afghan president hamid karzai, he weighs in on a whole bunch of issues relating to afghan conduct. one united states congressman, that congressman even though he was democratically elected will
not, not be allowed ever to come into afghanistan because of the certain he has made. you're going to want to see this part of the interview, the entire interview will air after the president's comments. our national political correspondent jim acosta is -- what's going on today, jim? >> reporter: the romney campaign has dubbed it the bain backfire, the rnc has the episode up on its main page all pointing to what democrats once considered an obama campaign super surrogate, but then cory booker then stepped on his cape. he's been the stuff of super here row status.
cory booker started a fire of his own. >> this kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides. >> reporter: openly kris sites the president's a -- lumping it in with republican attacks on mr. obama's former pastor, jeremiah wright. for team baobama, it was campai kryptonite. if you look at the totality of bain capital's record, they have done a lot to support businesses that grow businesses and this to me, i'm very uncomfortable. >> the mayor retreated to a political fortress of solitude to explain his comments. >> i used the word nauseating because that's the way i feel. >> reporter: the obama campaign
then selectively tweeted out that less nuanced portion of the video. >> i believe that mitt romney in many ways is not being completely honest with his role and his record, or even while a business person. >> i really feel in my heart, people don't know what romney did to marian, indiana in 1994. >> senior advisors to the president say the gop contender's business experience is still relevant. >> we're not questioning the private equity industry as a whole, we're questioning what lessons and values mitt romney took from that experience, and whether that's the economic philosophy you would like to see in the oval office. >> have you had enough of president obama's attacks on free enterprise? >> reporter: but the come my campaign is ready to talk about. booker's defense of wall street also comes as he's said to be
considering a run from the senate when he'll need plenty of support from high-dollar donors, that is if he can reclaim those political superpowers. >> i got this. >> booker! >> reporter: the obama campaign said it did not ask booker to release that web video. the romney campaign has plenty to say. one advisor told me they now see the president as punishing anybody who strays from the democratic message, even cory booker. >> jim acosta, thanks very much. let's dig a little bit deeper now on this part of the story as well as new attacks on the romney campaign coming from the obama campaign. our chief political analyst gloria borger joins us. are these-what's going on here? >> reporter: i think they're a little bit of both, wolf. first of all, the obama campaign is coming out and saying, okay,
mitt romney has campaigned about business being able to create jobs, well, take a look at his business experience, the campaign says, he's a job killer, not a job creator. but what they're also doing, wolf, and this is the sort of more subtle attack if there's anything such as subtly in political campaigns. the more subtle attack is to say this is a matter of character, this is about mitt romney's values. in one of those calls that campaign advisors have to kind of spin the media, the obama campaign says these same values would have severe consequences for the middle class. so a two-pronged attack that they think is going to work for them in the long run. >> what about the reaction coming in from bain itself? is bain reacting to these attack. >> reporter: bain is reacting and saying 80% of the companies
in which we invested did very well. and a particular -- they said, you know, we left that company in 1996, we had it since 1992, and it closed in 2000. so the question, wolf, is, is the obama campaign trying to blame bain for something bain says was very much marketplace related and by the way, after they left control of it. >> will bain, some analysts, i guess democratic analysts suspect will be the case, will bain become an albatross around romney? >> that's clearly what the obama campaign is hoping, wolf, they would like for this to be an example of how mitt romney doesn't care about the middle class, isn't a job creator but a job killer. i think what mitt romney has to do is fire back. they run a couple of these web
videos, mitt romney has come out and said, okay, barack obama criticizes private equity, but that doesn't stop him from raising money from private equity. and he talks about creating 100,000 jobs. i think mitt romney needs to get a little bit more focused about how he responds to these bain capital attacks, wolf, because they're going to keep coming, it hu hurt him once, it could hurt him again. the president's news conference is expected to begin begin any minute. you'll see my exclusive interview with hamid karzai, we go into a wide range of issues. after the next two years, will u.s. troops be subject to afghan law? the answer from the afghan
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president of the united states about to walk into this room and hold a news conference attend of this nato summit here in chicago. the president will presumably open up with a statement about afghanistan, the exit strategy for the united states in afghanistan, some other relateded issues and then he'll open it up for some questions from some reporters who have gathered at this nato summit to see what the president has going on. the president has just come from a meeting with the afghan president hamid karzai it was more like a photo opportunity as opposed a meeting, but he's been meeting individually with a lot of these nato allies and nato officials that have come here. the president now joined by some
of his top national security advisers, including secretary of state hillary clinton. hamid karzai, my interview with him will follow. >> i want to say thank you to my great friend rahm emanuel, the mayor of the city of chicago and the people of chicago for their extraordinary hospitality and for everything they have done to make this summit such a success. i could not be prouder to welcome people from around the world to my hometown. this was a big undertaking. some 60 world leaders, not to mention folks who were exercising their freedom soft speech in assembly. the very freedoms that our alliance are dedicated to defend. and so it was a lot to carry for the people of chicago, but this is a city of big shoulders, rahm, his team, chicagoans have proved that this world class
city knows how to put on a world class event. and this was a perfect place for this summit because it reflects the bonds. the -- and i just add that i have lost track of the number of world leaders and their delegations who came up to me over the last day and a half and remarked on what an extraordinarily beautiful city chicago is and i could not agree more. i'm especially pleased that i have a chance to show them soldier field. i regret that i was not able to take in one of the cross town classics. although i will note that my teams did okay. white sox fan in the back, right on. now, as i said yesterday, nato
has been the bedrock of common security, freedom and prosperity for nearly 65 years. it hasn't just endured, it has thrived, because our nations are stronger when we stand together. we saw that of course most recently in libya where nature toe afforded capabilities that nowhere elsewhere in the world match. one of my top priorities has been to strengthen our alliances including nato. and that's exactly what we have done. two years ago in lisbon we took action on issues that were -- in chicago we would do more. over the last two days, we have delivered. first rereached agreement on a series of -- strategic concept, we agreed to in lisbon and in order to fulfill our article
five eselection. we agreed to supply a fleet of unpiloted aircraft, we agreed to continue air patrols over our baltic allies. we also agreed on a mix of conventional, nuclear missile and missile defense forces that we need and importantly we agreed on how to pay for them. and that includes pooling our resources in these difficult economic times. we're moving forward with missile defense and agreed that nato is declaring an interim capability for the system. america's approach that we're pursuing on european missile defense and i want to commend our allies that are stepping up and playing a leadership role in missile defense as well. our defense radar in turkey will be placed under nato control.
spain, romania and poland have agreed to host assets and we look forward to contributions from other allies. since this system is neither aimed at or undermines russia's strategic conferens, i believe this can be an area of cooperation with russia. second, we're now unified behind a plan to responsibly wind down the war in afghanistan. a plan that trains afghan security forces, transitions to the afghans and builds a partnership that can endure after our combat mission in afghanistan ends. since last year, we have been transitioning parts of afghanistan to the afghan national security forces and that has enabled our troops to start coming home. indeed we're in the process of pulling down 33,000 u.s. troops by the end of the summer. here in chicago, we reached the next milestone in that
transition. this morning we agreed that afghan force also take the lead for combat operations next year. in mid-2013. at that time, isaf forces will have shifted from combat to a support role in all parts of the country. this will mark a major step toward the goal we agreed to in lisbon, completing the transition for afghan lead so that afghans can take responsibility for their own country and our troops can come home. this will not mark the end of afghanistan's challenges obviously, or our partnership with that important country. but we are making substantial process against our core objective in defeats al qaeda and denying its safe haven, while leaving afghanistan to stand on their own. the u.s. is committed to bring our war in afghanistan to a responsible end. we also agreed on what nato's
relationship with afghanistan will look like after 2014. nato will continue to train, advise and assist and support afghan forces as they grow stronger, and while this summit has not been a pledging conference, it's been encouraging to see a number of countries making a significant financial commitment to sustain afghanistan's progress in the years ahead. today the international community also expresseded its strong support for efforts to bring peace and stability to south asia, including afghanistan's neighbors. finally nato agreed to cooperate with its partners that have been critical to alliance operations as in afghanistan and libya. today's meeting was unprecedented. our 28 allies joined by 13 nations from around the world. europe, the middle east, north africa and asia. each of these countries has contributed to nato operations in different ways.
military, political, financial, and each wants to see us do more together. to see the breadth of those companies represented in that room is to see how nato has truly become a hub of global security. so, again, i want to thank all my fellow leaders, i think the bottom line is that we are leaving chicago with a nato alliance that is stronger, more capable and more ready for the future. as a result, each of our nations, the united states included, is more secure and we're in a stronger position to advance the security and prosperity and freedom that we seek around the world. so with that, i'm going to take a couple of questions and i'm going to start with julie pace of ap. >> thank you mr. president, you said that the united states can't deal with afghanistan without dealing with pakistan.
in your talks with president sardari today did you make me -- larger tensions with pakistan can't be resolved does that put the nato's gains in afghanistan at risk? >> keep in mind my conversation with the president was very brief as we were walking into the summit and i emphasized to him what we have emphasized publicly as well as privately. we think that pakistan has to be part of the solution in afghanistan, that it is in our national interest to see a pakistan that is democratic, that is prosperous and that is stable. that we share a common enemy and the extremists that are found not only in afghanistan, but also within pakistan and that we need to work through some of the tensions that have inevitably
arisen after ten years in that region. we didn't anticipate that the supply line issue was going to be resolved by this summit, we knew that before rearrived in chicago, but we're actually making diligent process on it. and i think ultimately, everybody in the alliance and most importantly, the people of afghanistan and pakistan understand that neither country is going to have the kind of security, stability and prosperity that it needs unless they can resolve some of these outstanding issues and join in common purpose with the international community in making sure that these regions are not harboring extremists. so i don't want to paper over real challenges there. there's no doubt that there have been tensions when isaf and
pakistan, the united states and pakistan over the last several months. i think they are being worked through both military and diplomatic channels. but ultimately, it is in our interest to see a successful stable pakistan and it is in pakistan's interests to work with us and the world community to ensure that they themselves are not consumed by extremism that is in their midst. so we're going to keep on going at this and i think every nato member, every isaf member is committed to that. >> yesterday your friend and ally said that -- alleged that romney at bain capital was, quote, responsible for job losses at a kansas city steel mill. is that your view that romney is personal responsible for those
job losses, will comments from booker and your former auto czar ken ratner call on you to pull back a little bit? and generally, can you give us your sense -- three-part, mr. president. could you give us your sense of just what private equity's role is stemming job losses as they seek a return on investment for their investors? >> first of all i think corrie booker is an outstanding mayor. he's obviously helping to turn that city around. i think it's important to recognize that this issue is not a, quote, distraction. this is part of the debate that we're going to be having in this election campaign about how do we create an economy where everybody from top to bottom, folks on wall street and folks on main street, have a shot at success. and if they're working hard and
they're acting responsibly, that they're able to live out the american dream. now i think my view of private equity is that it is set up to maximize profits and that's a healthy part of the free market. that's -- that's part of the role of a lot of business people. that's not unique to private equity and as i think my representatives have said repeatedly and i will say today, i think there are folks who do good work in that area, and there are times where they identify the capacity for the economy to create new jobs or new industries. but understand that their priority is to maximize profits. and that's not always going to
be good for communities or businesses or workers. and the reason this is relevant to the campaign is because my opponent, governor romney, his main calling card for why he thinks he should be president is his business experience. he's not going out there touting his experience in massachusetts. he's saying, i'm a business guy and i know how to fix it, and this is his business. and when you're president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to max nice profits. your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot. your job is to think about those workers who get laid off. and how are we paying them for their retraining? your job is to think about how these communities can start creating new clusters so they can attract new businesses. your job as president is to think about how do we set up an
equitable tax system so that everybody's paying their fair share and it allows us to invest in science and technology and inch from structure. all of which are going to help us grow. so if your main argument for how to grow the economy is, i knew how to make a lot of money for investors, then you're missing what this job is about. it doesn't -- it doesn't mean you weren't good at private equity, but that's not what my job is as president. my job is to take into account everybody, not just some. my job is to make sure the company is growing not just now but in ten years from now and 20 years from now. so to repeat, this is not a distraction. this is what this campaign is going to be about.
is what is a strategy for us to move this country forward, in a way where everybody can succeed? and that means i've got to think about those workers in that video just as much as i'm thinking about folks who have been much more successful. what i would say is that mr. romney is responsible for the proposals he's putting forward for how he says he's going to fix the economy and if the main basis for him suggesting he can do a better job, is his track record as the head of a private equity firm, and both the upsides and the downsides are worth examining. hold on a second.
alist alister? >> thank you, mr. president, i would like to take you back not to this summit but the one you hosted at camp david a couple of days ago. whether you can assure investors that there are contingency plans in place to cope if greece leaves the euro, to leave a lehman like shock to the u.s. and the global economy? >> we had an extensive discussion on the euro zone and everybody is keenly interested in getting that resolved. i'm not going to speculate on what happens if the greek choose to exit, because they've got an election and this is going to be an important debate inside of greece. everybody who was involved in the g-8 summit indicated their
decide to -- consistent with the commitments that have already been made. and i think it's important for greece as a democracy to work through what their options are in a time of greet difficulty. what happens in grease, has an impact here in the united states. businesses are more hesitant to invest if they see a lot of uncertainty looming across the atlantic because they're not sure whether that's going to mean a further global slowdown and we're already seeing, very slow growth rates and in fact contraction of all a lot of countries in europe. so we had an extensive discussion about how do we strengthen the european project generally in a way that does not harm world economic growth, but instead moves it forward. and i have been clear, i think in not just this week, but over
the last two years about what i think needs to be done. we have got to put in place fire walls that ensure that, you know, countries outside of kbrees who are not doing the right thing. we've got to make sure that banks are recapitalized in europe so that investors have confidence. and we have to ensure that the's a growth strategy to go alongside the need for fiscal discipline. as well as a monetary policy, that is promoting the capacity of countries like a spain or an italy that have put in place some very tough targets and some very tough policies to also offer -- improving job growth, increasing incomes, expanding, even if it may take a little bit
of time. the good news was you saw a consensus across the board, from newly elected presidents to chancellor merkel, to other members of the european community that that balanced approach is what's needed right now. they're going to be meeting this week. to try to advance those discussions further. we have offered to be there for consultation, to provide any technical assistance and work through some of these ideas in terms of how we can stabilize the markets there. ultimately, what i think is most important is that europe recognizes this euro project involves more than just a currency, it means that there's got to be some more effective colored nation on the fiscal and
monetary side and on the growth in general. and i think that there was strong intent there to move in that direction. of course they have got 17 county tries to have to agree to every step they take. i think about my one congress, and i start thinking about 17 congresses and i start getting a little bit of a headache. it's going to be challenging for them, the last point i'll make is, i do sense greater urgency now than perhaps existed two years ago or 2 1/2 years ago. and keep in mind, just for folks here in the states, when we look backwards at our response in 2008 and 2009, there was some criticism because we had to make a bunch of tough political decisions. in fact there's still criticism about some of the decisions we made. but one of the things we were
able to do is to act forcefully to solve a lot of these problems early. which is why credit markets that were locked up started loosening up again. that's why businesses started investing again. that's why we have seen job growth of over 4 million jobs over the last two years, that's why corporations are making money and that's why we have seen strong economic growth for a long time, and so, acting forcefully, rather than in small, bite sized pieces and increments i think ends up being a better approach, even though obviously we're still going through challenges ourselves. i mean some of these issues are ones that built up over decades. all right? >> as you of the summit try to
continue the work of stopping afghanistan from reverting to it's former role as a terrorist haven, terrorists day in yemen massacred 100 soldiers. are you concerned that despite u.s. efforts, yemen seems to be slipping more on anarchy and what can the u.s. do to slow that process? >> we are very concerned about al qaeda activity and extremist activity in yemen. a positive development has been a relatively peaceful political transition in mem yemen, and we participated diplomatically along with yemen's neighbors to diplomatically lead to a political transition, but the work is not yet done, we have established a strong counter terrorism department with the yemeni government, but there's no doubt that in a country that
is still poor, that is still unstable, it is attracting a lot of folks that previously might have been in the fatah before we started putting pressure on them there. and we're going to continue to work with the yemeni government to try to identify aqap leadership and operations and try to thwart them. that's important for u.s. safety, it's also important for the stability of yemen and for the region. also important for stability of yemen and for the region. b but, you know, i think one of the things that we've learned from the afghanistan experience is for us to stay focused on the counterterrorism issue, to work with the government, to not overextend ourselves, you know, to operate smartly in dealing with these issues. and it's not unique to yemen, by
the way. i mean, we've got similar problems in somalia. what's happening now in mali and the sahel. this is part of the reason why not only is nato important but these partnerships we're establishing are important because there are going to be times where these partners have more effective intelligence operations, more diplomatic contacts, et cetera, in some of these parts of the world where the state is a little wobbly, and you may see terrorists attempting to infiltrate or set up bases. i'm going to call on jack tapper. because jay carney told me you've been talking to more troops in afghanistan. since so much of the topic of this summit has been on afghanistan, obviously none of this would be working were it not for the extraordinary
sacrifices that they're making. >> thanks, mr. president. i appreciate it. yeah, i put out an invitation for some troops and their families that i know. i'll just give you two or three of them. mr. president, if this handoff and withdrawal prove premature, what plans are in place for dealing with an afghanistan that's fallen apart or is possibly again under taliban rule? and i'll just do one more. do you feel that the reporting you receive from the pentagon fully represents what the on-ground commanders assess? is there any disconnect between what leaders feel the public and president want to hear versus what is actually occurring on the ground? these are from troops i've met who served. >> let me take the second question first. i mean, i think that one of the things that i emphasize whenever i'm talking to jon allen or the
joint chiefs or any of the officers who are in afghanistan is i can't afford a whitewash. i can't afford not getting the very best information in order to make good decisions. i should add, by the way, that the danger a lot of times is not that anybody is purposely trying to down play challenges in afghanistan. a lot of time it's just the military culture is, we can get it done. and so their thinking is, how are we going to solve this problem? not, boy, why is this such a disaster? that's part of the reason why we admire our military so much and we love our troops. because they've got that can-do spirit. but i think that we have set up a structure that really tries to guard against that. because even in my white house, for example, i've got former officers who have been in afghanistan who i will send out
there as part of the national security team at the white house, not simply the pentagon, to interact and to listen. and to go in and talk to the captains and the majors and the corporals and the privates. to try to get a sense of what's going on. and i think the reports we get are relatively accurate in the sense that there is real improvement in those areas where we've had a significant presence. you can see the taliban not having a foothold. that there is genuine improvement in the performance of afghan national security forces. but the taliban is still a robust enemy. and the gains are still fragile. which leads me, then, to the second point that you've made. in terms of premature withdrawal. i don't think that there's ever going to be an optimal point
where we say, this is all done. this is perfect. this is just the way we wanted it. and now we can wrap up all our equipment and go home. there's a process. and it's sometimes a messy process. just as it was in iraq. but think about it. we've been there now ten years. we are now committing to a transition process that takes place next year. but the full transition to afghan responsibility is almost two years away. and the afghan security forces themselves will not ever be prepared if they don't start taking that responsibility. and, frankly, the large footprint that we have in afghanistan over time can be counterproductive. we've been there ten years.
and i think, you know, no matter how much good we're doing and how outstanding our troops and our civilians and diplomats are doing on the ground, ten years in a country that's very different, that's a strain. not only on our folks, but also on that country. which at a point is going to be very sensitive about its own sovereignty. so i think that the timetable that we've established is a sound one, it is a responsible one. are there risks involved in it? absolutely. can i anticipate that over the next two years there are going to be some bad moments along with some good ones? absolutely. but i think it is the appropriate strategy whereby we
can achieve a stable afghanistan that won't be perfect, we can pull back our troops in a responsible way, and we can start rebuilding america and making some of the massive investments we've made in afghanistan here back home. putting people back to work, retraining workers, rebuilding our schools, investing in science and technology, developing our business climate. but there are going to be challenges. the one thing that i'm never doubtful about is just the amazing capacity of our troops and their morale. when i was in bagram just a couple of weeks ago, the fact that you still have so much determination and sticktuiveness is a testament to that.
it's extraordinary. and we're very proud of them. all right. since i am in chicago, even though my press secretary told me not to do this, i am going to call on a chicagoan to ask a chicago question. >> mr. president. >> good to see you, how you been? >> good to see you, mr. president. good to see you in chicago. chicagoans see you standing there with chicago, chicago, chicago on the wall behind you. there's an undeniable sense of pride. in your view, how did reality match up to fantasy in welcoming the world leaders to chicago? and did the demonstrators in any way on the streets undermine your efforts, mayor emanuel's efforts, to project the image of chicago you would have liked to have seen? >> i have to tell you, i think chicago performed magnificently. those of us who were in the summit had a great experience. if you talk to leaders from
around the world, they loved the city. michelle took some of the spouses down to the south side to see the komer center where wonderful stuff is being done with early education. they saw the art institute. i was just talking to david cameron. i think he's sneaking off, doing a little sightseeing before he heads home. i encouraged everybody to shop. want to boost the hometown economy. we gave each leader a bean. a small model for them to remember, as well as a football from soldier field. many of them did not know what to do with it. so i -- people had a wonderful time. and i think the chicagoans that they interacted with couldn't have been more gracious and more hospitable. so i could not have been prouder. now, i think with respect to the protesters, as i said, this is part of what nato defends is free speech and freedom of
assembly. and, you know, frankly, to my chicago press, outside of chicago, folks really weren't all that stressed about the possibility of having some protesters here because that's what -- part of what america's about. and obviously rahm was stressed. but he performed wonderfully and the chicago police, chicago's finest, did a great job under, you know, some significant pressure and a lot of scrutiny. the only other thing i'll say about this is, thank you to everybody who endured the traffic situation. obviously, chicago residents who had difficulties getting home or getting to work or what have you, you know, that's -- what can i tell you? that's part of the price of being a world city. but this was a great showcase. and if it makes those folks feel
any better, despite being 15 minutes away from my house, nobody would let me go home. i was thinking i would be able to sleep in my own bed tonight. they said i would cause even worse traffic. so i ended up staying at a hotel. which contributes to the chicago economy. all right. thank you, everybody. >> so there he is, the president of the united states wrapping up the nato summit here in chicago, getting ready to head off to joplin, missouri, to give a speech. a commencement speech to high school graduates. complete coverage, complete analysis of what we just heard analysis of what we just heard coming up right now. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com here in the situation room, happening now. my exclusive and wide ranging president with the afghan president, hamid karzai at the close of this nato summit. i'll press him about the
dispute. why he's refusing to allow an american congressman into afghanistan. stand by for the interview. plus, syria's president could cling to power for months to come because of help from iran. cnn has learn eed about the sect way that bashar al assad is coping with the strain of international sanctions. and the biggest ship salvage operation in history is about to get under way. we're taking a closer look at the challenges involved in raising a 50,000-ton floating city in one piece. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in chicago and you're in t"the situation room." we heard president obama talking about the u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan over the next 2 1/2 years.
and a new agreement for afghan forces to start taking the lead in combat operations beginning next year. nato leaders signed off on president obama's timetable to end the war in 2014 during their summit here in chicago. it wrapped up just minutes ago. the president briefly appeared with the presidents of pakistan and afghanistan after much anticipation about whether there would be a three-way meeting of these crucial players. i asked the afghan president, hamid karzai, about that and much more in my exclusive interview with him here in chicago. president karzai, welcome back to the united states. >> thank you very much. happy to be with you. >> let's talk about your meeting you just had moments ago. you met with the president of the united states and the president of pakistan. how did that go? >> both meetings went very well. >> did you have a three-way meeting, the three of you? >> no. we didn't have a three-way meeting. we had a three-way photograph taken. >> just a photo opportunity?
>> just a photo opportunity. >> why not a meeting? why not have a three-way meeting and discuss the most important issues affecting afghanistan, pakistan and the united states? >> well, it wasn't for us to decide on the three-way meeting. the united states was the host. and perhaps they saw it fit for some other time. >> has pakistan agreed to resume shipments, trucks, bringing supplies to nato, u.s. troops in afghanistan? >> i believe they're negotiating with the united states on that question. >> they've been negotiating a long time. as far as you know, as of right now, there's no agreement? >> not to the extent that i know. >> you would know, because this affects afghanistan security. >> exactly. >> you need those shipments. >> absolutely. >> why is pakistan resisting? >> well, there was an incident on the border of pakistan some months ago that has caused some anger in the public. and subsequent to that the nato supplies were stopped.
i believe they're talking about it with the united states, and hopefully they will resume. >> but as far as you know right now, there's still no agreeme agreement -- >> today that i know right now, it's not there. >> because, as you know, the pakistanis in addition to demanding a formal apology from the united states, they want to increase the fees for each container, each truck from a couple hundred or $300 to thousands of dollars. is that reasonable? >> well, i can't pass judgment on -- on the fee that pakistan is asking for the transit of goods. but that is an issue, yes. >> because you met privately with president zardari yesterday, right? >> yes. >> did you raise this issue with the pakistanis? >> no, we didn't raise this issue. >> why? >> we raised the issue in general, not in specific. >> but this affects your security. >> not in the specifics of the ima imams. >> but you told them you need these trucks to bring supplies in. he understands your position. >> absolutely.
>> does he also know how concerned you are about the protection pakistan is providing the haqani network? >> the prime minister will be visits in about a week's time in kabul. and we're supposed to be discussing all the issues that are -- among both countries. among those issues, on top of those issues, of course, is the issue of terrorism and the damage that it does to both countries and the need for us to work together to find ways out. >> you believe elements of the pakistani military intelligence, the pakistani government, are protecting terrorists from the haqani network. >> we are in a dialogue with pakistan. we hope that this dialogue will move forward to result in the
removal of the terrorists from pakistan and the consequences that these terrorists have for both afghanistan and pakistan. so we're working towards a constructive relationship with pakistan in all these areas. >> you know, mr. president, you and i have known each other for many years. we go way back. you're being very diplomatic, aren't you? >> well, pakistan is a neighbor of ours. and we -- we have begun a dialogue with them. and the dialogue is quite ahead now in seeking solutions to the problem that we have. and it's in keeping with this dialogue that we're moving forward. and we hope that the end result of all this activity, of all this effort, the endeavor on the part of both of us and the united states, will be the removal of the terrorists from the region. >> i'm going to move on.
but i know -- i'll say it. you don't have to say it because i know you're trying to be diplomatic. there's no love loss right now between afghanistan and pakistan because of the protection they're providing the haqqani network. >> there's no doubt that haqqani network is there. that the pakistani government will not deny that there are other sanctuaries as well across the border. the difference is today that we're talking about these issues more openly and in a friendlier environment than ever before. and it's in keeping with this new environment that we hope we can find solutions. >> one historic footnote. do you believe they were protecting bin laden in a abbottab abbottabad. >> he was killed in abbottabad. whether he had official protection is something i can't tell. >> what do you think?
>> really difficult to say one way or the other. but where he was, how could he have been without some knowledge? >> that's what a lot of people suspect. all right. let's talk about u.s./afghan relations. and right now you've had some successful, i think, meetings with the president of the united states. >> mm-hmm. >> but a lot of americans, as you know, and you look at american public opinion polls, they're concerned. they want the u.s. out of afghanistan. about 70% say it's time for the u.s. to come home. the u.s. is spending to keep 90,000 troops $2 billion a week in afghanistan. $100 billion a year. why is this money well spent? >> we have already agreed on -- on a process of transition to afghan authority. whereby afghanistan will be looking after itself, after its security and the defense of the country almost entirely by 2014.
and that's also the time that the american forces and other forces will withdraw from afghanistan. that transition and the eventual withdrawal in 2014 of the u.s. forces and other nato forces from afghanistan is good for afghanistan. and good for our allied countries. today we discussed that. we have finalized plans. so 2014 will be a year in which the united states will not be spending as much money in afghanistan as it is spending today. it will save money, and we will be providing security ourselves. >> but for another 2 1/2 years, until the end of 2014, there will be thousands of american troops in afghanistan. >> yes, yes. >> and that will be expensive. >> it will be expensive, like it was in the past ten years. but this is a commitment that the world community has made to the war on terror, to the security of the united states, to the security of the world, and also to the security of afghanistan. >> are you satisfied with this withdrawal schedule or is it too fast from your perspective? >> no, we are satisfied. >> are you redty to take over
all of afghanistan by the end of 2014? >> absolutely. we've already worked out a plan to have in six months' time 75% of the country taken over with regard to security by the afghan security forces. >> you know the new president of france, president hollande, he wants all french troops out by the end of this year. >> and we support that. >> you're ready for that? >> absolutely. not only ready for it, we support it. it's a good move. >> the chairman of the u.s. house and senate intelligence committees, they recently were in afghanistan. they came back. dianne feinstein, mike rogers. >> i met with them. >> they said the taliban is stronger now than it was a year ago. >> what i don't like to contradict senator feinstein, but if that suggests that the taliban will come and take over afghanistan, no. afghanistan has moved far enough not to be reversible to those days of the taliban takeover. >> they had a major show of
strength in april when they launched that attack in kabul. >> that's a terrorist attack. >> that's a taliban. >> but that's not a show of strength. that's a terrorist attack. >> so is the taliban stronger now than it was a year ago? >> to -- to put it in answers yes and no, you will not project the real scene of afghanistan. let me put it this way. the taliban may have the ability to launch attacks, to explode ieds, to send suicide bombers. but for them to come and take over the country and take it backwards, no. afghanistan has moved forward, and afghanistan will defend itself. and the progress that we have achieved, the afghan people will not allow it to be put back or reversed. >> are you ready to bring the taliban into your government to negotiate a peace deal with the
taliban? >> absolutely. we have been working on the peace deal for a long time now. and with quite a heavy dedication and perseverance. we will continue the peace process with the taliban and with the government of pakistan, with our allies as well. this is something that the afghan people want, and it's something that we have as an obligation towards the afghan people to do. >> but do you really believe the taliban will ever accept equality for women, women's rights, education for girls in afghanistan? do you believe the taliban would accept that? >> see, we have to -- we have to divide the taliban into category. those taliban who are -- who are afghans who have been forced out of their homes by circumstances or by events beyond their control, they're ready to come back to their own country and participate in the social life in afghanistan. >> like girls going to school? >> absolutely. and they have not said to us so far, we've been talking to them, that they have a condition of girls not going to school or of
the constitution not being democratic. no. that has not been said. but those who are part of al qaeda, part of terrorist networks, with those elements or such elements, we are not talking. >> where does the leader, the former leader who's now in exile some place, mull la mohammed omar, are you ready to work with him? >> if he wants to have peace in afghanistan, if he renounces violence and if he accepts the afghan constitution and embraces the afghan people as his brothers and sisters, in will be in respect of their lives, most welcome to have peace with us. >> so even mullah mohammed omar who was in total alliance with al qaeda and bin laden before 9/11, if he were to pop up some place, and your troops were to find him, let's say, would they arrest him? would they kill him? or would you negotiate a deal with him? >> well, we are talking of peace. we are not talking of arrests or of kill. >> even mullah mohammed omar.
>> we are not talk of that. we are talking of peace for afghanistan. we are talking for stability and security for afghanistan. and we would give all those afghans, let me repeat, all those afghans, whether taliban or other groups who are not part of al qaeda, who are not part of any terrorist network, who are not inimical to their own country people, they're welcome. but if they're part of those categories of terrorists that i just mentioned, no. >> i also asked the afghan president hamid karzai whether he's ready to apologize to the united states for the assassinations of american soldiers. and i challenged him on why he's banning a united states congressman from entering his country. part two of my exclusive interview with the president of afghanistan, that's coming up later this hour. also, we're learning just now that the syrian president, bashar al assad, is feeling the financial burden of sanctions
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responsibility -- what's your policy? more of my interview with hamid karzai coming up. some other news we're watching, including the nation's top nuclear regulator stepping down. lisa sylvester is monitoring that. some of the other top stories "the situation room" right now. >> nuclear regulatory commission chairman gregory jaczko is resigning ahmed allegations he created a hostile working environment for women. something he denies. industry experts say during his eight-year tenure he pushed for tighter safety standards on the nuclear power industry. in a statement issued today jaczko offers to remain at his post until a replacement is confirmed. just over a week after president obama's ground breaking announcement supporting same-sex marriage, the naacp is following suit. the organization reiterated its mission to, quote, ensure the
political, social and economic equality of all people. some in the black evangelical community have opposed the president's decision. and the u.s. supreme court says it will tackle a major privacy dispute involving the government's foreign surveillance program. the government monitors search of foreign people. the american civil liberties union is challenging the law. the key issue, how do you challenge the law without proof that you're being spied on? the aclu calls that a catch-.22. facebook is having a rough time on wall street. the stock closed slightly over $34 per share today. that's about 10% below its ipo price of $38. other social media stocks have also fallen sharply over that period. i think some people surprised. $34 is where it's at right now, wolf. >> maybe that initial ipo number was a little bit too high for investors. we'll see what the market does the rest of this week.
thanks very much, lisa. stand by for more of my exclusive interview with the afghan president, hamid karzai. >> what do you think of president obama. >> a good man. >> how is your relationship with him? >> very good. >> what about with mitt romney? >> all right. the afghan president, the man who could potentially be the u.s. president. you'll hear what he has to say when we return. our neighbors... and our communities... america's beverage companies have created a wide range of new choices. developing smaller portion sizes and more low- & no-calorie beverages... adding clear calorie labels so you know exactly what you're choosing... and in schools, replacing full-calorie soft drinks with lower-calorie options. with more choices and fewer calories, america's beverage companies are delivering.
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power in syria for months to come. one key reason, assad's finances. the assessment is that he started the war with about $30 billion in cash reserves. down now to about $6 billion to $9 billion. and the war's costing him about $1 billion a month. all of that would have put him out of business by the end of the year. but now sources are telling us that he is getting a cash infusion from iran through lebanese banks. it's all causing a lot of worry here. jordanian and u.s. forces are now training on what they think is the worst case scenario, how to maintain control of assad's chemical and biological weapons. if it came down to it, the belief is some troops from some country would have to move within 18 hours to keep control of that. wolf? >> barbara starr in jordan for us, thank you. coming up, part two of my exclusive interview with the afghan president, hamid karzai.
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all right. more of my interview with hamid karzai coming up. but i want to check this other story we're watching right now. first, the biggest and most expensive ship salvage operation in history is about to get under way off the coast of italy. new information coming into "the situation room." we're told it will take workers months to pull the kosta concordia out of the water and off the jagged reef where the cruise ship ran aground in january. we now know, we now know how they plan to do it.
brian todd is getting the story for us, getting the information. brian, this is an incredibly huge and complicated project. update our viewers. >> huge, complicated and experts say there are dangers involved, wolf. while the investigation into the captain's conduct is ongoing, the salvaging of the costa concordia will likely begin this week. we're told it's going to take between 30 and 200 workers at a time to get the ship off that reef. >> reporter: nearly 1,000 feet long. weighing close to 50,000 tons. every day on its side is a looming environmental disaster. experts now say they'll salvage the wrecked costa concordia cruise ship in one piece off the coast of italy. one marine expert says it's like raising a floating city. a salvage leader calls it the largest ship removal by weight in history. >> we feel confident that we can do it. and we feel confident that with our partners, we will do it safely and with the least
disturbance to the environment and the least disturbance to the economy. >> reporter: american owned titan salvage, its italian partner and the cruise line provided journalists with footage and anl mags of the plan. they'll attach heavy cables from poles to keep the concordia from slipping hundreds of feet into greater depth. then steel plated slings to support the hull. under water flat forms 40 meters by 40 meters will be anchored to the seabed by the hull to support the entire vessel. tanks filled with water will be affixed to the side of the ship above water to help with leverage. at that point probably the most crucial part of the operation. it's called harbuckling. massive cranes fixed to the platform will pull the concordia up right. the cases will be emptied of their water. concordia will be towed to a nearby port and demolished. rerecently skirted around port everglades, florida, with
officials from resolve marine group which bid on the concordia salvage job. officials at resolve say one of the options tis cussed, cutting the concordia into pieces where it sits, would have been easier but environmentally harmful. as for the personnel involved? how dangerous is it to dispose of a ship like this, whether you're cutting it up, floati it away? >> anybody doing any work is going to be in a weird position. you're going to have to have safety harnesses and training and equipment that can deal with that kind of environment. nothing's straight. your bulkheads are your floor. your floor is your bulkhead or walls. >> salvage and cruise line officials say this recovery operation could take up to a year and could cost around $300 million. joseph ferrell says cutting the vessel up to sell the metal and other parts for scrap could recoup some of the money lost. when i asked whether they will sell off parts of the concordia, an official at the cruise line said no decision on that has been announced. wolf? >> brian, they haven't recovered
everyone from inside that vessel still, have they? >> no, that's right. they have not, wolf. 30 bodies have been recovered, but two are still missing. the search for those two is going to continue while the salvaging operation goes on. so that could get a little dicy. you've got people inside that vessel looking for bodies while they're trying to right this thing. >> all right, brian. thanks very much for that report. brian todd working the story. coming up, more of my exclusive interview with hamid karzai. up next, he explains why he's banning a united states congressman from entering afghanistan. stand by for that. and the afghan leader also talks about his history with mitt romney. to become a better investor has gone mobile. with features like scanning a barcode to get detailed stock quotes to voice recognition. e-trade leads the way in wherever, whenever investing. download the ultimate in mobile investing apps, free, at e-trade. sadly, no. oh. but i did pick up your dry cleaning and had your shoes shined. well, i made you a reservation at the sushi place around the corner. well, in that case,
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the ten-year period in that joint strategic partnership agreement. i spoke with the afghan president, hamid karzai, about some of those concerns in my exclusive interview. >> john kerry, chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, you met with him recently. he just came back. he said one of the biggest issues is going to be after 2014. after all u.s. and nato troops are out. he told the national journal, he said the basic issue will be do our troops have the immunities they need to operate. you don't want them subject to afghan law. will u.s. troops who are helping you after 2014 be subject to afghan law? >> this is, i know, a very important issue for the united states. but this is also a very important issue for the afghan people. if a u.s. soldier, like the one who went into a village and killed 17 people, including a
pregnant woman with her baby, a killing like that, do you think is immunable? can you give immunity to someone like that? but if there's an accident along the way and it's not intentional and by way of a mishap, that's a different issue. so this a difficult issue. i understand the u.s. position on this. but i hope the united states, its congress, its government, would also understand the afghan position and the afghan view on violations of this nature. >> the u.s. military won't stay in afghanistan to help you if they're subject to afghan law. >> we will talk to them about all these issues. we'll go across the afghan sensitivities and reasons for that. i'm sure we'll also hear the u.s. side as to what it is they're seeking. we'll try our best to reach a compromise where afghanistans' lives and loss are respected. where also the united states
finds it easy to work in afghanistan. >> there's a ten-year tragic partnership agreement from 2015 to 2024. this is going to be a sensitive issue. but i hear you saying there's no agreement yet. >> there is no agreement on this yet. >> on this sensitive subject. >> this is going to be discussed in the security agreement. >> here's what's very alarming. american troops, they go into the ministry of interior in kabul, and afghan troops assassinate them in the back of their heads. wearing afghan military uniforms. and this is happening. it's happened on several occasions now. and this is something that shocks americans. because they're there to help you. >> yes. these are incidents. you have them within the u.s. troops as well, incidents like that take place. >> but they're very alarming. and they seem to be increasing. >> that is something that can happen anywhere. it happens in afghanistan.
it can happen in the united states or elsewhere. >> should you apologize for this to the american people, the american government? >> these are -- these are incidents. as far as the afghans are concerned, if something wrong is committed by an afghan and we believe that that is wrong and has negatively affected our u.s. allies, definitely. but in the same vein, we would also expect that the united states would apologize for mistakes that are made in afghanistan. >> the u.s. has apologized. >> for civilian casualties, for the kills of the innocent in afghanistan. so reciprocity is very important. that shows respect from both sides. >> corruption. the department of defense in washington recently issued a statement saying that corruption was among the long-term and acute challenges facing afghanistan right now. we see these reports of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars disappearing. what's going on? how bad is the corruption?
you're familiar with this issue. >> well, if it's hundreds of millions, it's not ours. >> who's stealing all this? >> we don't have hundreds of millions. it's the -- it's the contractual mechanism that the u.s. applies in afghanistan. and we don't give those contracts. those contracts are awarded by the united states government. >> but you acknowledge there is corruption? >> sure, sure, sure. i'm not saying there isn't. i'm saying who is party to what in this whole affair. the part of corruption that is that of the afghan government, we fully take responsibility for. and we must work with immense dedication, especially after 2014, to have it eradicated. because that's going to affect our future livelihood and well-being. but the part of corruption that is not ours, that we have nothing to do with, but that we are affected by is the responsibility of our international friends, including the united states, to address and to work together with us to
find ways out of. >> i was shocked recently when i heard that you denied permission to an american congressman, dana rohrabacher, a member of the house -- the house foreign affairs committee, subcommittee chairman. he was with a congressional delegation about to fly from dubai into kabul. and you said, you're not going to let this democratically elected congressman into your country. why? >> a democratically elected congressman of the united states of america should not be talking of an ethnic divide in afghanistan. should not be interfering in afghanistan's internal affairs. should not be asking the afghan people to have a federal structure against what the afghan constitution has asked for. should not be speaking disrespectfully about the afghan people or the -- various ethnic
groups in afghanistan. if an afghan did that from afghanistan, how would you react to him in america? >> so you're not going to let him back into your country, dana rohrabacher? >> definitely not. >> ever? >> till he changes his -- till he shows respect to the afghan people, to our way of life and to our constitution. no foreigner has a place asking another people, another country, to change their constitution. have we ever asked the united states to change -- >> even after all that america has done for afghanistan? >> but it doesn't give you the right to -- to play with our lives. >> and you think he's that dangerous to you? >> not dangerous. it's a matter of principle. international relations are based on certain principles. we are not america. we are afghanistan. >> but there is a concept known as freedom of speech. >> the freedom of speech is good. we respect that. but the freedom of speech with
regard to other countries is another issue. he has freedom of speech within the united states. and we have freedom of speech within afghanistan. but if an afghan member of parliament stood up and said the united states should be divided in five different regions, would you accept that? >> all right. we're not done with president karzai. up next, we'll get his take on president obama and mitt romney.
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lisa, what's going on? >> wolf, at least 100 people are dead and more than 200 wounded in what appears to be the deadliest attack ever against yemeni troops. a suicide bomber dressed in military uniform infiltrated the heavily secured area which is only about 200 yards from the presidential palace. a security official at the facility has since been fired. it comes one day after an american service member was wounded in a separate shooting. the university of notre dame is filing one of 12 lawsuits challenging the federal mandate that religious employers must provide contraception and birth control. over all, 43 catholic institutions are suing the white house, arguing that it violates the first amendment guarantee of religious liberty. a white house spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuits. and a 24-year-old correctional officer is dead after a violent riot at a mississippi prison. [ gunfire ]
the riot lasted about 12 hours before authorities were able to regain control. the guard died from head wounds, while another 19 people were treated for other injuries. no inmates escaped. authorities say that at one point, as many as two dozen people were held hostage. wolf? >> all right, lisa. thank you. up next, the last part of my interview with president karzai. we'll get his take on president obama and mitt romney. recently, students from 31 countries took part in a science test. the top academic performers surprised some people.
back to my exclusive interview right now. i asked the afghan president for his tame on president obama and the man running for his job, mitt romney. >> we're out of time but i have a couple of quick questions with quick answers from you. what do you think of president obama? >> good man. >> how is your relationship with him? very good. >> what about mitt romney? >> mr. romney i have known for quite some time being he was the governor of mazz massachusetts, very kind to receive us in boston and we attended a university program and so i know him very well and quite a capable person and we met two
years ago too and as for the american people to elect the president. >> so you like them both. >> i like them both. i have worked well with both. >> do you ever think about a movie starring ben kingsly as hamad. >> he is a great actor, and i would be very happy and honored if he took that role. >> thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you very much. >> good luck to you. good luck to the people of afghanistan. we're counting on you. >> thank you, sir. >> all right. up next we're going to go live to afghanistan. we'll get a reality check on what the president has just said. stand by. 1
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with have a live news conference by president obama and my exclusive interview with hamid karzai. peyton walsh is on the ground for us in kabul. i have to tell you, president karzai was upbeat that things are definitely moving in the right direction. he thinks by next year the afghan security forces will be ready to take charge. what does it look like on the ground where you are? >> doesn't really much more choice as you heard from barack obama they're very keen on pushing this narrative forward. we heard in plain language from barack obama today saying it will have shifted from combat to support role by the middle of next year. that timetable dictates the domestic politics and the american commander here in afghanistan john allen emphasized the potential for further combat operations and
has to appeal to afghans and nato l lies that america is not walking out on this war and in terms of how ready the afghan security forces are to take up that job, i have seen them regularly and whether they're trainers or partners on the ground and i have seen co-manders in training and there is definitely doubts that it is created quickly and soon to reach the maek size of 352,000 soldiers and will end suddenly in the next couple of years be shrunk to 230,000 because there isn't enough money to keep the force that size that long and at the same time the operations in the entire country so massive challenges and president karzai today very much the salesman of productivity and eight months left and faces an election where nobody knows who the successor will be and you saw a man keen to stability and control and that he can help push this effort through the next year.
>> what about the taliban, nick? you heard president karzai say that he is doing serious damage to the taliban but u.s. intelligence officials think the opposite, the taliban is stronger now than they were a year ago. what's your sense? >> i don't think anybody really doubts taliban. we have seen it and there are significant sways in the country where they're considered to be the dominant force and localing regard them higher esteem sometimes than the afghan government and there is no real doubt it is not a broken force and may be confused after failed peace talks and maybe not necessarily sure how much to fight and how much to wait until nato is a reduced force next summer and there is no doubt it is still very much a force in play here. >> they still want to negotiate with the taliban. clearly he is ready for a deal own with omar, the former leader
of the taliban, who worked with al qaeda. >> that was the most remarkable part, i think, about interview. this direct almost open appeal on an international quorum talking to you to the man that used to harbor bin laden and came with the caveat that it may be impossible for omar to agree to respecting the afghan constitution and things like that but at the end of the day we're talking about a president here making a warm embrace for negotiations at a crucial time. wolf. >> significant moment. thanks very much tochlt our viewers, thanks very much for joining us. i am wolf blitzer in "the situation room." the news continues next on cnn. good evening. i am john king. tonight president obama delivers his most direct critique yet of mitt romney's business record and in the process ignores allies who say the president's attack on bain capital have crossed the line. the nato summit ends with a pledge to wind down the