Skip to main content

tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  August 22, 2011 2:00pm-4:00pm PDT

2:00 pm
jacksonville still in it, charleston, wilmington, ocracoke, long island, remember the storm that rolled through, and all the way up into massachusetts as the potential. >> for now it's puerto rico and haiti. >> it is moving out of puerto rico, brooke, but there's significant rain. you just came back from beicas. >> i did, good for me. >> the ferries to and from were completely shut down. that wouldn't be fun with the rain coming down and there is flooding going on in san juan and flooding in the d.r. and haiti. >> you're watching it, we'll be watching it. also watching the breaking news out of libya. i'll hand it over to wolf blitzer. "the situation room" starts right now. >> brooke thanks very much. happening now, breaking news the collapse of moammar gadhafi's regime unfolding right now. libyans celebrating at rebel forces gain ground and move closer to a final victory, this
2:01 pm
hour, extensive live coverage of the fight for libya. and the hunt for the man who held an iron grip on the country for decades, will gadhafi and his inner circle be brought to justice? president obama is warning the fight for libya is not over yet. cnn is using its global resources to cover the latest gasps of a brutal regime and deadly civil war. to our viewers in the united states and around the world, i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." libyan rebels say their real moment of victory won't come until moammar gadhafi is captured. we're following breaking news out of libya. the state department in washington says opposition fighters are believed to control about 90% of the capital, tripoli, and they say they have three of gadhafi's sons in custody, but moammar gadhafi remains at large. the u.s. government says it believes he's still in libya.
2:02 pm
libya's national transitional council says he may have fled to neighboring chad or algeria. president obama is calling on gra gaffie to surrender and prevent more bloodshed by telling supporters to lay down weapons. the u.s. military confirming a little while ago that gadhafi forces fired a scud missile near thesky of sirte, that happened today. sara sidner is one of our correspondents bravely covering the final push in zawiyah. what is the latest? >> reporter: we can tell you that in the city square in and around that area and around gadhafi's compound, there were loud blasts of gunfire going off for quite a while in the evening time, just before sunset. we were turned around by a rebel checkpoint. these checkpoints pop up in different places now.
2:03 pm
they're trying to take some control of the situation of the area, and what's happening is as we heard those blasts, we were told it is not safe, go away, get out of the area, turn around, so we had to turn around. we could still hear the gunfire. what we saw earlier in the day, and throughout the evening were people in the streets, they were celebrating, a lot of rapid gunfire in the air, celebratory gunfire as opposed to the gunfire we heard in the city, which we do understand the rebels are saying there were snipers in that area, which very, very scary obviously if you can't really see where the gunfire is coming from or who is shooting at you or how many. they said they were doing their best to get rid of what they call "mercenaries," and they say that a lot of these mercenaries are from places like chad, which is why you're hearing these rumors of moammar gadhafi having left the country or going into a different country such as chad, but a lot of rumors, wolf, i
2:04 pm
have to tell you they have getting stronger and stronger, first they said he was captured, then they said he was going to surrender, then they said he was sick. nobody really knows, but there's a great belief that he is still in the country, and perhaps somewhere in tripoli, when you start asking people in the streets, you will hear people think he's believed to be somewhere around there, they can't see how he could have escaped but no one really knows the whereabouts of moammar gadhafi at this point in time. >> the rebels have control, they've captured his three sons. do we know what's happened to them, where they are? >> we do not know. we just happened upon another arrest, another, people think is a member of the gadhafi regime, one of the most well-known news anchors for libya state tv. we just happened upon her detention. it happened about 60 minutes
2:05 pm
before we got to this one building along one of the main drags in tripoli. they said that this woman, her name is halla al misrati, she was taken. these detentions people were upset, this is the same woman on libyan state tv holding a gun saying "i will die or you will die" angering the rebels in the streets, they were shooting in the air, trying to get people back as the rebels tried to push into the area where they detained her but they held her and that she is unharmed, but we were unable to see her ourselves but it is interesting to know that they are trying to put together some sort of juls in the streets and going after some of the people who they believe are really a part of the gadhafi regime. >> sara is there any evidence of retribution yet? >> reporter: yes, now see this is one of those things that we
2:06 pm
watch out for, because we know it happened in benghazi. we know it happened in some of the other cities, where retribution and sometimes it was literally neighbor to neighbor, where someone knew that there were strong supporters of the gadhafi regime or they were an intelligence wing and worked for the intelligence wing of the gadhafi wing and in benghazi there were actual murders according to a judge i spoke to a few months ago when i was in benghazi so that's one things you have to watch out for. we have not heard of any of that going on in the city just yet but there is always that fear because it seems to crop up after a while, after the rebels sort of get hold of a town, the anger coming out in a violent way. one more thing to add, one thing we saw today that was different than yesterday, we did see a bit of looting in the city. people saying that these were houses that belonged to the gadhafi regime, or to people who worked for him and we did see people looting today. >> sara, don't go too fa are
2:07 pm
awafar away. be careful. fierce pockets in tripoli gadhafi's forces are putting up a fight. intense gunfire at the rixos hotel close to gadhafi's compound, where foreign journalists are staying, including our own matthew chance. matthew is joining us on the phone. matthew i understand the situation where you are has really deteriorated over the past few hours. >> reporter: yes, it has, wolf. it's been really difficult to get any communications out of the hotel. there's no electricity in the hotel and so we're all kind of sitting in the dark on the interior, in the interior sort of upstairs lobby of the hotel because it's a ferocious gun fight outside battle around the compound of colonel gadhafi. some of the bullets have been flying into the hotel. we've also, you know, been sort of, you know, less all of the
2:08 pm
government officials departed sometimes yesterday as the rebels began their advance into tripoli and what they left behind instead of letting us go out into the streets to do whatever they want they left behind some gadhafi loyalist gunmen in the lobby of the hotel, some of whom are very aggressive so we've all kind of like corralled ourselves on to the upper floors, not getting any information at all about what's going on outside of the hotel perimeter. of course what we do know clearly because we can hear it is that we're obviously in one of the pockets of tripoli that's still controlled by gadhafi loyalists and there's obviously very fierce fighting on the way between those loyalists and the opposition fighters and it's not surprising to me, wolf, because this is an area we've discussed
2:09 pm
before where there's some important, symbolic buildings, not just the rixos hotel from where all of the journalists have been supporting from this side of the libyan crieses over the last several months but also the compound of colonel gadhafi as well and much of the fighting it seems is around the compound for control of it. >> matthew, what's the situation as far as food is concerned? because i saw one of your tweets about the pantry being raided from food at the hotel. what's going on as far as food and water? >> reporter: yes, it's quite a worrying situation, actually. we've been scouring the place. it's virtually abandoned this hotel. we can't go out of it. there are still a couple of dpnmen dp gunmen in the lobby and the gates. we've got the run of the place, it's pitch black. we spent a couple of hours tonight walking around the kitchens, finding the store rooms, found some canned food, found some bottled water, found
2:10 pm
some, you know, some bread, which has gone a bit stale but we're trying to gather whatever supplies we can and put it in one place so we have a food store we've got access to. the things is we're not given any indication but the government as to or the gadhafi loyalists as to when we're getting out of here. we're hoping for the best but planning for the worst, which is that we're trying to get as much food and water together so if we are here for, you know, three or four days, a week, then we'll have enough food to get through that. but hopefully, hopefully we can kind of do some deal, negotiate some kind of exit from this hotel, because really, we don't feel we're getting much in terms of an overall picture of what's happening in tripoli. we're just confined to this one area, there's no internet no, light, no air conditioning, no running water.
2:11 pm
it's become quite desperate. >> you can't recharge the batteries for a cell phone for a satellite phone, i assume you're talking on that right now. how many journalists are stuck in that compound in that hotel together with you? i know the international journalists have been there. how many are with you? >> reporter: actually about 35 i suppose all in all. the telephone issue i'm running out of options when it comes to communication. i'm using a telephone kindly lent to me by chinese television. the chinese television crew here. they've got this satellite phone which still has battery power and they're kindly letting me use it for the interviews i've been doing with you and with our sister network cnni before this, but you know, when their goodwill runs out, you know, it's very difficult to see how i'm going to get any reports out of the hotel. as i say the internet's down. all our batteries are down in
2:12 pm
our phones. we've got some satellite phones but they're not working properly. and so we're having a bit of a nightmare technically and of course we've got no solution to that, and so you know we're doing what we can, wolf. >> matthew just so be precise in the lobby of the hotel, there are armed gunmen loyal to moammar gadhafi who are threatening to shoot you if you try to escape to leave this hotel and other armed gunmen at the main gate of the compound threatening to shoot anyone who tries to leave, is that right? >> reporter: you know, they don't characterize it in those terms. what these people say is that you have to stay in the hotel because if you don't, you could be shot by others. we're here to protect you. we're not going to let you go anywhere because we're going to protect you, but you no he what? throughout the course of the day we're basically, a lot of the journalists here, myself included, we became quite panicky, quite frightened
2:13 pm
because there were these gunmen downstairs, three or four of them kind of youngish, green bandanas on, clearly not regular army, carrying assault rifles, walking up amongst us, cocking their guns, telling us, "you guys are spies, you're nato spies," things like that, and really quite hostile, and we started thinking to ourselves, the collective group of journalists started thinking to ourselves, this is turning really ugly, this could go badly wrong. and so we sort of have been keeping ourselves away from those people, trying to separate ourselves from them as much as possible, keeping ourselves to ourselves, we're not taking any pictures inside the hotel. that angers them and so we're not doing that. we try to ask them if we can leave and picked up by some multinational agency or something like that, that's not being allowed at the moment. we were always under these kinds
2:14 pm
of restrictions in the rixos hotel with the government of libya, when we were doing that but now the situation changed so trau dramatically outside the tension has gone up a lot and it's become a lot more uglier. >> we used to see the briefings from gadhafi loyalists and the press spokesman see this, moussa ibrahim, they've all left. seif al islam is under arrest, we used to see him show up at the rixos hotel all the time. none of the senior officials are still hiding out there as far as you know? >> reporter: well i mean i can guarantee you they're not still hiding out here. it's totally deserted apart from the gunman i can tell you. the officials left 24 hours ago. moussa ibrahim left with his family, other people,
2:15 pm
broadcasters from state television were here, broadcasting from the basement of the hotel, from the makeshift studio, they've left, left their cameras there, left the sets there, left all of their desks and chairs, equipment and things like that, left it all there, they just completely vanished. we don't know where they've gone. the assumption is there's some safe house close by for them where they've relocated but we can't possibly confirm that, we're not allowed to get out of the gates of the hotel so yeah, more or less we're pretty much on our own with the exception of those guards who are essentially keeping us here. >> matthew, be careful over there. we'll try to stay in close touch. thank your chinese journalistic counterparts for allowing you to use that phone. we'll get back to you and hoping and praying for the best for you and all of the other journalists there. thank you, matthew chance and sara sidner in libya. meanwhile moammar gadhafi vowed the only way he'll leave libya is dead.
2:16 pm
will he find sanctuary? will he be brought to justice or will he become a martyr? we'll talk about the ways this bloody conflict could finally end. and not that long ago some libyan rebels didn't know how to shoot straight. we're taking a closer look at whether they're ready for a final battle in tripoli and the challenges after that. stay with us. you a're in "the situation room" we take it on ours. this summer put your family in an exceptionally engineered mercedes-benz now for an exceptional price during the summer event. but hurry, this offer ends august 31st.
2:17 pm
but hurry, or creates another laptop bag or hires another employee, it's not just good for business -- it's good for the entire community. at bank of america, we know the impact that local businesses have on communities, so we're helping them with advice from local business experts and extending $18 billion in credit last year. that's how we're helping set opportunity in motion.
2:18 pm
and so too is the summer event. now get an incredible offer on the powerful c300 sport sedan. but hurry before this opportunity...disappears. the mercedes-benz summer event ends august 31st.
2:19 pm
jack cafferty is here with "the kafthe cafferty file." ? >> libyan rebels have control of most of the capital of tripoli. the main prize, colonel gadhafi, it's unclear where he is. some think he's hiding in tripoli, others think he may have fled to a neighboring country like chad or algeria. the pentagon said today thinks gadhafi is still in libya. if he is captured alive, the question becomes what happens to the man who ruled libya with an iron fist for more than four
2:20 pm
decades. the international criminal court in the hague has warrants for the arrest of gadhafi and one of his sons along with his brother-in-law who happens to be the head of military intelligence. but it's yet to be seen if the libyans will want to hand gadhafi over to the international criminal court or administer their own brand of justice. my money is on the latter. look at egypt, former had the hosni mubarak standing trial for the crimes he committed against his own citizens. it's highly unusual for an arab leader to be called to account by his own people. there are surely millions of libyans who would like nothing better than to see gadhafi brought to justice. think saddam hussein. since taking power in a 1969 coup, gadhafi destroyed any and all opposition, even sending hit squads to shoot down libyans in exile, people he referred to as stray dogs. gadhafi's also been tied to some of the most notorious terrorist atrocities worldwide before the 9/11 attacks including the bombing of pan am flight 103.
2:21 pm
the question is this, what should happen to libya's moammar gadhafi if he's captured? go to and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on "the situation room's" facebook page and render your opinion there. seems strange to me, wolf, with all the sophisticated satellites and communications and spying equipment that nobody knows where this guy is. >> how long did it take to find bin laden? >> true, and it took a while to find saddam hussein. they found him in some hole somewhere, it was a long while after the invasion happened. >> that's right. >> you're right. >> jack, thank you. the libyan dictator insists he won't be captured but instead go down fighting. listen to what he said back in february. >> translator: it's not possible that i leave this place, i will be a martyr at the end. >> let's discuss, get some
2:22 pm
analysis with fareed zakaria, also editor of "time" magazine. will be become a martyr or surrender and hope for the best? will he fight or surnder? >> my gut is he'll fight. gadhafi is different from ben ali or assad. gadhafi is a founder, a revolutionary. he was a rebel. he initiated the coup that brought him into power. he is more a castro-like figure, originally charismatic, populist figure, also militarily skillful and accomplished, somebody who takes risks. he's not a bureaucrat, he's not going to lay down the sword and go quietly into the night.
2:23 pm
of course if he feels like he is outnumbered and there's certainty, who knows but my gut is this guy's going to fight 'til the end. >> we're showing our viewers a picture of when you interviewed gadhafi a couple of years ago, right, fareed. that was in new york. give us a little reflection on who this man is because the whole world wants to know where he is, will he be captured and what happens to him >> he is without question the strangest foreign leader i have ever interviewed. he kept us waiting for hours on end. we were in the libyan mission to the u.n. because he insisted he had to be someplace where he could pitch a tent. he tried to rent donald trump's house, there were guerrilla clad women, his son was one of the ones who hasn't been captured
2:24 pm
yet, the leader of the guards the guy i was negotiating with to get the interview and finally hours later this guy turns up, an atmosphere of complete chaos and seemed like he was on drugs, completely out of it. he seemed bizarre, constantly quoting from his own green book, unaware of what was going on around him. you certainly had the feeling that this was a regime where the intelligence elements, his sons were very tightly in control. they were the coos, the operational heads of the regime and he had some weird mystical, sort of place in that firmament but it may well have been an act. it was the strangest interview. he went on and on, series of nonsequitors, very difficult to understand what he was saying.
2:25 pm
it was like interviewing yoda. >> i remember you once describing that to me. once the rebels capture him, assuming they capture him alive, what will they do to him, put on on trial in libya, send him to international court in the netherlands, what do you think they'll do with him? >> my guess, they will probably try him in libya. i think every country prefers to do that by themselves, but i have to say the libyan opposition so far has shown itself to be quite responsible, so i don't think it will be a show trial. i don't think there will be an immediate execution. i think it's interesting to listen to what they have saying. they almost seem to have learned the lessons and the mistakes of the iraq occupation better than we, the united states, did. they're emphasizing they want to keep intact the police, they want to keep intact the administrative services, the health system. they don't want to disband anything.
2:26 pm
they want to be inclusive. made a reference that everyone will share in libya's future. so in that context, you have to imagine that they're going to try to deal with gadhafi in a way that doesn't send a signal of retribution. this is not going to be the french revolution and the guillotine, rather some kind of legal process, some kind of fair trial. >> fareed, thanks very much. we'll stay in close touch with you as well, fareed zakaria gps airs sunday on cnn. check out my blog, i write about if you're in damascus, watching what's going on in tripoli and your name is bashar al assad how this might affect you, go to to check out my blog on what's happening in libya right now. meanwhile as rebels close in on gadhafi, there are new concerns here in the united states about the security of his weapons stockpile, just ahead i'll ask the libyan ambassador for the transitional government just how safe the situation is. have i got a surprise for you!
2:27 pm
a mouthwatering combination of ingredients... i know you're gonna love. [ barks ] yes, it's new beneful healthy fiesta. made with wholesome grains, real chicken, even accents of tomato and avocado. yeah! come on! [ barking ] gotta love the protein for muscles-- whoo-hoo!
2:28 pm
and omega-rich nutrition for that shiny coat. ever think healthy could taste so good? [ woman announcing ] new beneful healthy fiesta. another healthful, flavorful beneful. has adaptive cruise control. it has a radar sensor in the bumper -- radar that detects the distance between you and the vehicle ahead and manages that distance automatically. it also allows you to say to people, "dude, my car has radar," which, in these competitive times, is kind of a game-changer. the s.u.v. is back. right now, get $2,000 cash allowance or 0% apr financing on the 2011 dodge durango. [ male announcer ] they'll see you...before you see them. cops are cracking down on drinking and riding. drive sober, or get pulled over.
2:29 pm
2:30 pm
i'm wolf blitzer, more libya angles next hour, inside nato's plan of attack, just ahead how the international alliance helped rebels close in on moammar gadhafi. also president obama praises the "360" month mission bringing down a leader 42 years in the making. republican senator john mccain says that's too long. stand by for my interview with senator john mccain coming up live. what happens if ga doofie is turned over to the international criminal court? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. you're in "the situation room."
2:31 pm
we're told the state department here in washington is focused like a laser right now on getting funding to the libyan opposition. let's bring in our foreign affairs correspondent jill dougherty working the story for us. you also learned about a last-minute appeal, jill, by gadhafi to the united states. what's going on? >> really some fascinating stuff, wolf. right now that the briefing today here at the state department they said that 90% of the city of tripoli, the capital city, is in the hands of rebels but they say there's another big battle looming, and that's a political battle for a functioning democracy. right up to the last minute before libyan opposition forces launched their assault on tripoli, officials close to moammar gadhafi reached out to the u.s. in a desperate attempt to stop the attack, that's what a senior state department official tells cnn. assistant secretary of state jeffrey feltman says there was a
2:32 pm
"sense of desperation" an attempt by the regime to buy time. the libyans claim they wanted to negotiate, but refused to talk about moammar gadhafi leaving power, he says. now as the rebels try to consolidate their military gains in tripoli, the opposition national transitional council in benghazi is trying to activate plans for a political transition. first priority, security. >> because we don't need any more civilian life lost in libya. >> reporter: u.s. officials say they're encouraged by reports that the rebels have set up checkpoints around public buildings to promote public safety. tripoli does not look like baghdad looked after the fall of saddam hussein with widespread looting, assistant sect tear feltman says. next step an interim authority. >> the transitional national council would broaden, become an interim government that would represent a broad cross-section of libyans from different walks
2:33 pm
of life, nimpb parts of the country, different political backgrounds. >> reporter: tribal loyalties, control over oil revenues and libyan government assets including $30 billion worth frozen by the u.s. could cause rifts in the opposition. a former undersecretary of state warns things could turn ugly. >> i think we're going to have to expect to see a slow transition perhaps of chaotic transition, perhaps unfortunately a violent transition, that want to' be surprising at all, given the disaffection and disunit this country suffered for so long. >> getting that interim government in place as soon as possible is really critical, the state department says. it would lay the basis for writing a constitution and moving to elections. they are the building blocks of democracy, something that libyans have really been deprived of for the last 40 years under moammar gadhafi.
2:34 pm
>> let's go in-depth with the national transitional government's ambassador to the united states ali aijali, served with gadhafi and now represent the opposition, the rebel, recognized by the obama administration as the legitimate government of libya. so you're a happy man. >> i'm a very happy man, very happy man since yesterday when tripoli became under control of the tnc. >> it's moved so -- >> -- in a short time with less casualties. >> because it's moved so quickly. we had dinner at the qatar dinner two weeks ago, you were so depressed, worried, didn't look right. what changed? >> they are well organized, the communication between the tnc and leader of the military groups in the western part is important and smooth and the
2:35 pm
achievement by the fighters in the western mountains of libya did a great job and because it's important, tripoli always, always invasion of tripoli from the west, not from the east and that's exactly what happened. >> where is moammar gadhafi? >> in tripoli i guess. >> in tripoli. >> i guess. >> where in tripoli? >> i wish i know, then i can tell to get him straight away, i think in tripoli, probably in his compound, which is a stronghold, maybe one of the hospital hospitals. >> he's often gone to hospitals like it's a human shield that no one would bomb a shot hospital. >> that's right. >> you think he might be in one of the hospitals in. >> exactly, children hospitals, maternity hospitals. >> you any it's a matter of time before they find him? >> i hope so. i think to find him is a crucial
2:36 pm
matter. it's important for security. >> what will you do with him, your government once you find him? >> i think the libyan people have to answer this question. let us find him first and then the libyans will take care of him. there are two options i think there is no third one. >> what are the two options? >> he presents to the libyan court or the libyans decide to send him to the icc? >> what do you personally prefer? >> to me maybe if the situation like this now, we have to take other issues into consideration. maybe to me the icc is the right choice maybe. but i think the libyan people do not agree with me. >> because you know a lot of libyan people would be upset if they let him leave the country given what he's done. >> my concern is the security situation. >> you're a diplomat so you have a different level of concern. his sons, seif al islam specifically he's under your control. >> that's right. >> what are you going to do with
2:37 pm
him? >> the same with his dad. >> where is he being held? >> this i don't know but i know he's under the tnc control. >> we heard today from the chairman of the house intelligence committee here in washington, mike rogers saying his major concern is the stockpiles of poisonous gas the military had, the sarin and mustard gas, the weapons of mass destruction as they used to be called. how concerned should the world be that gadhafi and his supporters may have control? >> gadhafi is unpredictable. he will do anything now. what is he going to gain to win this battle? no. but this is revenge. he just wants to kill. he wants to teach the libyan people a lesson. he will do anything against his own people, but i believe he doesn't have the means and the space and the ways to act to take this action. >> he still controls his forces,
2:38 pm
a chunk of tripoli, right? >> they control a small pocket. one of them is babylizia. >> mohammad and sadi? >> mohammad was arrested yesterday and when they want to take him somewhere else for his protection, mr. abjalil interfered and said let him stay where he is, according to his request, but i do understand -- >> so he's escaped. >> i do understand he did escape. >> how is that possible? i mean the son of moammar gadhafi, i understand sadi is under your control. seif al islam under your control but mohammad escaped after he's arrested? >> mohammad is less aggressive among his brother. and then mr. abjalil want to
2:39 pm
deal with him this way. mohammad is son from a different woman, not from the same wife moammar gadhafi has. then they want to show the world this is the tnc, how they are dealing with gadhafi's sons. >> they let him go? >> they don't let him go. he had been hijacked by maybe gadhafi's forces. >> sounds very strange. >> sounds very strange and to me upset also. >> hijacked, sounds like there was a plot to get him free. >> exactly. because when they surrounded the security forces from libyan national army when they surround the house, the residence of mohammad he came out voluntarily, and they said, ask them what they want to do, okay, you are under arrest, we want to take you. he said no, i am not leaving my house and then they communicate mr. abjalil, he spoke to him, they allow him to go under the protection of some guard, they knew, not all of them are professional fighters,
2:40 pm
professional police, they are young people, they take care of them. we don't know the story how he was taken out from his house. >> mr. ambassador we have to leave it there but we'll stay in close touch with you. good luck to you and the people of libya. >> thank you. >> it's a sensitive moment in the history of africa and the middle east as well. >> thank you. >> appreciate it. > chloe is 9 months old. she is the greatest thing ever. one little smile, one little laugh. honey bunny. [ babbles ] [ laughs ] we would do anything for her. my name is kim bryant and my husband and i made a will on legalzoom. it was really easy to do. [ spits ] [ both laugh ] [ shapiro ] we created legal zoom to help you take care of the ones you love. go to today and complete your will in minutes. at we put the law on your side. that's me
2:41 pm
with the blow dryer and the flat iron until i see smoke. so pantene said, "breakage and split ends? no problem." they gave me this pantene called breakage to strength. [ female announcer ] the keratin protection pro-v system helps prevent then repair split ends. zero fear of breakage, 100% more strength. no regrets, just health. i'm not giving up the heat. [ female announcer ] the breakage to strength system from pantene. handle more than 165 billion letters and packages a year. that's about 34 million pounds of mail every day. ever wonder what this costs you as a taxpayer? millions? tens of millions? hundreds of millions? not a single cent. the united states postal service doesn't run on your tax dollars. it's funded solely by stamps and postage. brought to you by the men and women of the american postal workers union. ♪ and see katie before she goes home.
2:42 pm
[ male announcer ] with integrated healthcare solutions from dell, every file is where dr. ling needs it. now she can spend more time with patients and less time on paperwork. dell. the power to do more.
2:43 pm
just four months ago we showed you images like this, a rebel armed with a shoulder fired surface to missile launcher pointed in the wrong direction. brian todd, how did the rebels go from they can't hold the weapon correctly to all of the sudden taking over tripoli? >> an extraordinary image from four month ago. several reasons for the advancement toward tripoli and the improved performance of the libyan rebels. they've gotten better weaponry, weapons from qatar, france and other places and essentially learned how to use the weapons and second cite the presence of western special forces on the ground in libya training the rebels how to fire the weapons, better tactics and logistics, how to take orders and where to
2:44 pm
go when and where and get to the places in a streamlined way. also what we're told is that in recent days over the past week especially the coordination between nato and the rebel forces has been very, very sharp, lethal in fact according to some experts with the rebels being able to pinpoint for nato where some of the gadhafi forces have been massed, nato giving the rebels better intelligence on the ground. as a result we've had kind of a flanking movement essentially toward tripoli from the south and west. you have it from the nafusah mountain range in the southwest, going toward tripoli from the southwest, north from the city of zawiyah, that coordination between nato and the rebels, improved coordination especially over the past week really less than a week is the reason why the rebels right now have control of most of tripoli. >> a lot of the rebels are totally inexperienced but moving in tripoli, show us, take us inside tripoli right now, show
2:45 pm
us the flash points of what's going on. >> a few and not all of tripoli is in rebel hands. the rebels claim they have at least 80%, some u.s. officials believe they have 90% of the city. the rebels have captured state tv, that's gone dark while the rebels figure out what to do with it. what they're afraid of now is gadhafi massing his forces around this, there has been fighting there, what the rebels are concerned about, they'll mass in an intense way and have an intense fight outward if there's more pressure put to bear on the compound which there will be in the next couple of days. you spoke to matthew chance a little while ago a precarious situation at the rixos al nasr hotel. they left gadhafi loyal gunmen
2:46 pm
in that hotel. we had images from sunday night rebels in green square firing shots in the air in celebration giving the impression that they had the square under their control. what we're told now the rebels have essentially come out of the square not out of the area completely but pushed back out of the square and are planning to return back in. the reason? they are concerned about sniper positions in and around green square and all over tripoli. that is of main concern, they have not gone back into green square enforce, they're planning a final push. >> sarah sider in have been in there twice and said you better goet out because it's dangerous. brian todd reporting. good report. as we watched the collapse of gadhafi's regime we can also see an impact on the world's oil supply and the price of gas. the final battle in libya could affect all of us. stay with us. you're in "the situation room."
2:47 pm
pain relief that works at the site of pain... up to 12 hours. salonpas.
2:48 pm
president obama says moammar gadhafi's regime is clearly coming to an end, that's a direct quote, a little perspective on how long gadhafi has ruled libya.
2:49 pm
the united states has had eight presidents over the course of his reign when he took power in september 1969, richard nix quon was in the white house. president obama was only 8 years old. that same year americans landed on the moon for the first time, "sesame street" debuted, gasoline cost 35 cents a gallon. 42 years later, gadhafi is almost gone. meanwhile a rebel victory in libya could have positive ripple effects for all of us at the gas pump. mary snow is working this part of the story for us. the impact on gas, mary, what's going on? >> what we saw today in international markets was reaction to the expectation that libyan oil production may soon resu resume. brent crude, the european benchmark, was lower, but there are still many unknowns about libya's oil facilities. as the gadhafi regime falls one of the big questions is what happens now to one of libya's biggest assets, its oil.
2:50 pm
libya supplied about 2% of the world's oil until civil war broke out in february, bringing production to a virtual halt. before the war started, libya was producing about 1.6 million barrels of oil a day and it has one of the largest reserves in africa with about 46 million barrels of oil in its reserves. it exports most of its oil and its biggest customers are in europe. italy gets about 28% of its oil from libya. france is its second biggest customer. while europe will feel bigger impact than the u.s. since the u.s. doesn't use libyan crude oil, one energy analyst says drivers everywhere could wind up paying less at the pump. >> it will have an impact on worldwide gasoline prices, and that will end up helping u.s. consumers by about four to six cents a gallon, i predict, over the next month or two. >> reporter: that timetable is up for debate. what's unknown is how much damage has been done to
2:51 pm
refineries, pipelines and oil wells, and then there's the political question. >> if we don't have a stable security environment in libya, if you have the sense that you're looking at a protracted political and security vacuum, western companies are going to be reluctant to go back in. >> reporter: there are predictions it could take 8 months to three years for libya to restore its oil production to full capacity, but analyst peter beutel doesn't see western countries allowing that to happen. >> here's an opportunity for them to help a struggling democracy stand on its own two feet. if that means every single oil expert from texas to rotterdam is suddenly on a plane to libya to get their oil up and running, i think there's a chance that that could happen. >> reporter: some of the u.s. energy companies that were in libya and had to leave said they have no timetable on when they would send personnel back into the country. one company though, marathon oil, told us today that it's had
2:52 pm
preliminary talks with the national transitional council about coming up with a working plan to restore production when the situation stabilizes. wolf? >> all right. thanks very much, mary, for that report. gadhafi is at large. rebels are going after his family and inner circle. we're taking a closer look at the fate of the sons. stay with us. [ male announcer ] the network -- a network of possibilities. in here, the planned combination of at&t and t-mobile would deliver our next generation mobile broadband experience to 55 million more americans, many in small towns and rural communities, giving them a new choice. we'll deliver better service, with thousands of new cell sites... for greater access to all the things you want, whenever you want them. it's the at&t network... and what's possible in here is almost impossible to say. [ male announcer ] this is our beach. ♪ this is our pool. ♪
2:53 pm
our fireworks. ♪ and our slip and slide. you have your idea of summer fun, and we have ours. now during the summer event get an exceptionally engineered mercedes-benz for an exceptional price. but hurry, this offer ends august 31st.
2:54 pm
2:55 pm
the breaking news this hour, the battle for libya. we don't know where moammar gadhafi is right now. lots of speculation, but we just learned that one of his three sons who had been captured by rebel forces has in fact escaped. we're talking about his youngest son mohammed, the transitional council's ambassador to the united states described him here in "the situation room" as being hijacked. mohammad gadhafi was reportedly conducting a phone interview with the al jazeera tv network when rebels first surrounded his home. >> translator: i'm standing outside my house. i'm being attacked right now. there's gunfire outside my house. there's gunfire inside my house. good-bye, good-bye, good-bye. >> rebel leaders believe
2:56 pm
gadhafi's four other sons are in hiding or run away and another gadhafi son saif al arab was killed in a nato air strike back in april. there's much more on the dramatic situation unfolding in these moments. in libya just ahead we're going to cnn's sarah sydner on the ground with the rebels. we'll get the latest. cause thatw it ought to be my brother credit 'cause you'll need a loan for one thing or another score 'cause they break it down to one simple number that you can use dot to take a break because the name is kinda long com in honor of the internet that it's on put it all together at the end of the song it gives you freecreditscore-dot-com, and i'm gone... offer applies with enrollment in host: could switching to geico reon car insurance? or more host: do people use smartphones to do dumb things? man 1: send, that is the weekend.
2:57 pm
app grapgic: yeah dawg! man 2: allow me to crack...the bubbly! man 1: don't mind if i doozy. man 3: is a gentleman with a brostache invited over to this party? man 1: only if he's ready to rock! ♪ sfx: guitar and trumpet jam vo: geico. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance. ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] with the most advanced engine in its class, 50 horsepower, dual overhead cams and fierce acceleration, the gator xuv 825i will shatter your expectations. discover the fastest most powerful gator yet, at
2:58 pm
jack is back with "the cafferty file." >> the question this hour is what ought to happen to libya's moammar gadhafi if he's captured and doesn't get away like apparently one of the kids did. b. writes i would love to see a democratic government formed and a civilized trial held. a the end of the trial they would take gadhafi to the gallos and hang him. the oil would start flowing again, and the price of gasoline would come down to the prediction made by michele bachmann of $2 a gallon. tripoli would then become a large tourist attraction for people to go on their vacation. when i dream, i dream big.
2:59 pm
james in denver writes, he ought to have as fair a trial as possible. we can't consistently accuse a man of human rights violation and then treat him as if we didn't believe in his own rights. that is also why osama bin laden should not have been murdered. from the description of his demise, it seems clear he could have been captured and given a trial. robert writes gadhafi should be turned over to the international criminal court, along with his three sons. failure to do so will show the world what the libyan transitional council is really all about, and by the way, who who is going to govern libya? ed in harrisburg, pennsylvania, he ought to be asked how he likes to spell his last night for his obituary and then shot. rick says that shall be up to the people of libya. considering the violent nature of that part of the world, i would expect their actions to be violent. joe on facebook writes he ought to be arrested and held accountable in a court of law. facing his victims or families of his victims. this is an opportunity for the libyan people to demonstrate that they are better than
3:00 pm
gadhafi, and it would be an appropriate beginning to a new democratic state. kevin in california suggests he ought to be returned to lockerbie from 30,000 feet. if you want to read more on this, go to my blog, or from the post on "the situation room"'s facebook page where the quality of the communications continues to improve. wolf? >> certainly does, jack. thank you. and you're in "the situation room." happening now. breaking news. rebels now hold 90% of libya's capital. president obama says the gadhafi regime is coming to an end. but as celebrations begin in the streets of tripoli and elsewhere, the fighting rages on. full comments on the ground with the very latest. republican senator john mccain says the obama administration should have been tougher sooner. i'll speak with him live this hour. i'll ask him why he's critical of the president despite the success on the ground. and moammar gadhafi now a hunted man.
3:01 pm
we'll take a closer look at his reign of terror, and we'll look ahead to the war crimes trials that may, may await him and his inner circle. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. breaking news, political headlines all straight ahead. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." the breaking news out of libya where after 42 years the regime is collapsing. there are still fierce battles raging, but the rebels now control most of the capital. they have captured three of moammar gadhafi's sons, but now we've learned, just learned, one of those sons has actually escaped, and there's no sign of gadhafi himself. the pentagon says it believes he remains inside libya somewhere. regardless of gadhafi's whereabouts, president obama today said the regime is coming to an end. listen to this. >> although it's clear that gadhafi's rule is over, he still has the opportunity to reduce
3:02 pm
further bloodshed by explicitly relinquishing power to the people of libya as we move forward from this pivotal phase. the opposition should continue to take important steps to bring about a transition that is peaceful, inclusive and just. true justice will not come from reprisals and violence. it will come from reconciliation and a libya that allows its citizens to determine their own destiny. >> as the chaos swirls around them, thousands of foreign nationals have asked for help in leaving libya. one boat has left benghazi and is due in tripoli to start evacuating foreigners. sarah seidner has been with the rebels in their desperate fight to take control of the capital and they celebrate their successes on a moment-by-moment basis. sarah joins us now from the nearby city of zawiyah. set the scene for us, an
3:03 pm
historic, dramatic day, but this civil war, i should call it, is not yet over. >> reporter: it's not yet over, and i was just pausing for a moment because we think we hear planes which can only mean one thing, that if we do hear planes with what it sounds like it has to be nato because of the no-fly zone and we're wondering what kind of action might be taken to the. it gives us pause. we're hearing lots of blasts and gunfire against and oddly it doesn't sound like the same kind of celebratory fire that we were used to hearing. we're not quite sure actually what is going on down near the edge zawiyah. >> it looks like we've, unfortunately, lost our connection. we're going to try to reconnect with sara. she's joining us from zawiyah. let's see if we can get her back. i think she's coming back. sara, can you hear me?
3:04 pm
>> reporter: okay. so basically what we were hearing in the square today was a lot of gunfire, and i think that for a lot of reasons there are also reporters that are in a particular hotel. they are also hearing blasts and booms, but i do want to caution while you hear some of these what sound like these massive blasts that do not belong in a city, we were watching them blow off these huge bits of ammunition from cannons even in celebration, and so it's hard sometimes to tell whether or not there's an actual major battle going on or whether or not you have a small fight with small arms fire and then celebrations going on in another part of the city. we're hearing a lot of gunfire again here in zawiya, and, again, very difficult to tell sometimes if there hasn't been some movement. there are going to be areas
3:05 pm
where, for example, some people who support gadhafi or those who were fighting for gadhafi has made themselves look like perhaps civilians have found a place for themselves and then start fighting back. it's just very hard to tell. that's what happens in urban warfare. you just never know what's around the corner so it's still very tense in the city though earlier in the day, when we first rolled into the city, it was very smooth sailing with the rebels going everywhere, waving their flags. they were shooting their guns in the air. there were some families that were beginning to come out and cheer on the rebels. seemed very jubilant, very excited, people very happy saying libya is free. libya is free. no more moammar gadhafi, but then as the night falls, it starts to feel a little bit different because you're not quite sure exactly what it is you're going to be dealing with in the dead of night. wolf? >> amazing when you think about these rebels, they were basically a ragtag army, and now they are about to control tripoli and the rest of libya,
3:06 pm
for that matter, sara. you know, the ambassador of the opposition, the libyan transitional council here in washington, he was just here, and he told us that one of gadhafi's sons muhammad has in his words been hijacked others cape. how is that possible? you're with the rebels all the time. how is it possible that one of gadhafi's sons arrested in their control all of a sudden escapes? >> reporter: it's not hugely surprising, to be perfectly honest with you, wolf. there's a time in which groups of people are having to come together. that time is now, but there is, of course, going to be dissension. there is, of course, going to be questions about how well prepared they are to deal with things such as an arrest of a very high-profile person. you don't know who that person's contacts are, who may have had some loyalties towards him or
3:07 pm
moammar gadhafi, for that matter, so this is going to show some of the cracks that exist in the national transitional council and in the judiciary system that is still quite shaky, if you will, because they are still fighting a real battle here. they do not have full control of tripoli, and you cannot say that they have full control of every single city in libya, and there are things that are going to be shaky, and that is one of the big questions that if and when moammar gadhafi is found, if he is detained or if he is killed or if he is found to have left the country, then what? then what happens? then who runs this country? then who takes over and tries to create a sense of rule and order in this country? a very difficult thing to do, and the national transitional council has its job cut out for it, wolf. >> sara, we'll get back to you. sara sidner doing heroic work in
3:08 pm
libya. let's bring in our national security reporter fran townsend who serves on the external and homeland security advisory board and has had extensive experience dealing with the gadhafi region. this is amazing what's going on right now. is there an insurgency potentially that's in the works? >> i think there is, wolf. you know, one of the interesting things is as the forces around gadhafi have slowly begun to disintegrate and allowed the rebels into tripoli, what you worry about these forces will take off their uniforms and live to fight another day, much like what we saw in iraq, so the potential for that is quite dangerous for the transitional national council, and one of the things that the u.s. and western european allies will have to help them as they begin to try and form a government. >> because it's amazing to me that one of the sons of moammar gadhafi, mohammed gadhafi is taken prisoner and then he
3:09 pm
escapes. here in "the situation room," let me play a little clip. >> sure. >> muhammad was captured yesterday, arrested yesterday, and then when they went to take him somewhere else for his protection, mr. al jalil interfered and tell him to stay where he is, but i do understand -- >> he's escaped? >> i do understand that he did escape. >> he did escape. how is that possible? i mean, the son of moammar gadhafi -- i under saadi is under your control, saif al islam is under your control, but muhammad escapes after he's arrested by the forces? >> muhammad is the less aggressive. >> so they let him escape? >> among his brothers and mr. al jalil, he's the first son from a different woman, not from the same woman or some wife now
3:10 pm
gadhafi has, and then they want to show the world that this is the tnc how they are dealing with the gadhafi sons. >> so they don't let him go? >> they don't let him go. he had been hijacked by maybe gadhafi's forces. >> well, i don't know what that means, he's been hijacked by gadhafi's forces, but what does that say to you that the rest of the guy, the son of gadhafi and now he's free. >> well, it certainly sounds from the ambassador's interview, wolf, that they made a decision. there was a conscious decision to permit him without a fight to leave the control of the rebels, and this really goes to is there a cohesive command-and-control structure? are these decisions made by a central political authority within the tnc, and it's not at all clear. and that's going to be a challenge for the tnc as they move forward and try to form a government. >> because it's not a well-organized opposition. it's not the institutions as existed in egypt, for example, to deal with a transition after mubarak. >> that's right, and, you know, there's gadhafi, moammar gadhafi
3:11 pm
to blame for that. there are no civil institutions, and there's no experience and history with civil institutions in libya for the last more than 40 years because of gadhafi not permitting them, and so this is a real challenge to organize themselves, for there to be internal communications so that policy decisions, political decisions of this nature can be taken at the most senior level. >> it's hard to believe, but there are a lot of people in libya who are still, after all is said and done, loyal to gadhafi. >> it's not clear what's holding them together, wolf. we've heard a lot of rumor about mercenaries and individuals being paid by gadhafi, so it's not clear what the binding force is there, or how long it will hold. i mean, you know, as they get closer to either the capture or killing of gadhafi, as they move into tripoli, the question is will those forces hold, and i suspect eventually they will peel away. >> the ambassador also said that they don't know where gadhafi, is but he suspects he may either be in that presidential compound in tripoli, or he may be hiding out at a hospital convinced that the nato allies would never bomb
3:12 pm
a hospital and that might be sort of a human shield for him. >> right, i wouldn't put it past gadhafi. imagine him in a helicopter or a hotel. i worry for remaining journalists that are there. we've seen the risks that sara and matt chance have taken. i mean, it really is a dangerous time there, and as the pressure mounts on gadhafi and the guards still left around him, desperate men do desperate things so you really do worry about what actions they will take, like using journalists and hospitals and all those sorts of things as human shields. >> let's get back to the notion of an insurgency along the lines what have happened in baghdad after the u.s. and its allies went in and got rid of saddam hussein, but then a civil war, an insurgency developed, and it went on and on and on. you could potentially see that happen in libya? >> i think we have to watch for that. this is a very tribal society. there are some of those tribes still supporting gadhafi. you have the transnational council, and you have to be very careful to try to bring as many people into this transitional government to avoid such a
3:13 pm
thing. it cannot be that those who had supported gadhafi, even late, feel that they are not wanted and not heard inside the new government they are going to have to bring them in. >> fran town accepted, thanks very much. while the world wonders what happened to moammar gadhafi, defense experts worry about what's happening with his chemical weapons. should the u.s. send troops in to secure the weapons? plus, libya's rebels are on the brink of victory. senator john mccain is standing by live. we'll talk to him. he's slamming the obama administration for not doing more to help the rebels earlier on. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." [ male announcer ] members of the american postal workers union
3:14 pm
handle more than 165 billion letters and packages a year. that's about 34 million pounds of mail every day. ever wonder what this costs you as a taxpayer? millions? tens of millions? hundreds of millions? not a single cent. the united states postal service doesn't run on your tax dollars. it's funded solely by stamps and postage. brought to you by the men and women of the american postal workers union. ♪ until i tried this. nothing helped me beat arthritis pain. of the american postal workers union. it's salonpas. pain relief that works at the site of pain... up to 12 hours. salonpas. stay with us. he d re copd. my son and i never missed opening day. but with copd making it hard to breathe, i thought those days might be over.
3:15 pm
so my doctor prescribed symbicort. it helps significantly improve my lung function, starting within 5 minutes. symbicort doesn't replace a rescue inhaler for sudden symptoms. with symbicort, today i'm breathing better, and that means... game on! symbicort is for copd, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. it should not be taken more than twice a day. symbicort may increase your risk of lung infections, osteoporosis, and some eye problems. tell your doctor if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure before taking it. [ whistle ] with copd, i thought i might miss out on my favorite tradition. now symbicort significantly improves my lung function, starting within 5 minutes. and that makes a difference in my breathing. today i'm back with my favorite team. ask your doctor about symbicort. i got my first prescription free. call or click to learn more. [ male announcer ] if you can't afford your medication, astrazeneca may be able to help.
3:16 pm
jack cafferty is here with "the cafferty file." jack? >> here's some great news. u.s. troops may stay in afghanistan until 2024. ten years later than when the u.s. said it would hand over security to kabul. the british newspaper "the daily telegraph" reports that the u.s. and afghan governments are close to signing a deal that would allow thousands of u.s. troops
3:17 pm
to stay in afghanistan for an additional ten years. for what? the reason we went there, osama bin laden, he's dead. the u.s. economy collapsing under a mountain of debt. we're either unable or unwilling to fix our own financial problems, so what exactly is the point of dumping additional billions of dollars, not to mention human treasure, into that sand pit, afghanistan? according to "the daily telegraph" the agreement will allow both military trainers and u.s. special forces, plus air power, to remain in afghanistan until at least 2024. top officials for both governments reportedly say they want to sign this pact before december. no surprise of a egneighbors, iran, pakistan, none too happy about the news. the prospect of american troops staying for at least another decade. it's also likely the taliban would reject such a deal. they have said all along that foreign troops have to leave before they will negotiate with hamid karzai's government. meanwhile, u.s. troops have
3:18 pm
already begun withdrawing from afghanistan to meet the 2014 deadline. earlier this summer president obama announced that the 33,000 additional surge forces would all be home by next fall, just in time for the election. back then mr. obama said that it's time to focus on nation-building here at home. there's an idea. once the surge forces withdraw from afghanistan, that would leave about 70,000 u.s. troops. so here's the question. u.s. troops may stay in afghanistan until 2024. what exactly is the point? go to and post a comment on my blog. go to our post on "the situation room"'s facebook page. lined up like germany or japan or those places, korea 50 years later. we're still there. >> and they want to keep troops in iraq after the end of this year. they are all supposed to be out, there too, but now they are trying to negotiate a deal with iraqis to keep u.s. troops in iraq as well. >> we should put troops
3:19 pm
everywhere. just let's put troops everywhere. >> thank you. with his regime about to collapse, the hunt is on for moammar gadhafi, and there are now fresh concerns about his stash of chemical weapons. our pentagon correspondent chris lawrence has been tracking this part of the story for us. what's going on here, chris? >> reporter: yeah, wolf. we've learned that u.s. and nato officials have been talking to national transitional council officials for several weeks now about libya's stockpiles of mustard gas. look, nato was instrumental in helping the rebels fight their way into tripoli, but now there are serious questions about how far nato will go to help secure those chemical weapons. the pentagon has released new numbers that show u.s. air attacks on gadhafi targets nearly doubled over the past 12 days. and as the rebels captured territory and gadhafi fighters pulled back towards the capital, it isolated the regime's leadership. nato was able to focus on tripoli and began to destroy
3:20 pm
moammar gadhafi's command and control. >> they would not be anywhere close to where they are without nato's support. >> reporter: pentagon officials believe gadhafi is still in libya and say his forces fired a scud missile monday near the city of sert. >> he's not acting like someone who will give up and i suppose we could see a very bloody end to this. >> reporter: former defense secretary paul wolfowitz is concerned about the stockpiles of weapons left behind. >> they may include mustard gas and other noxious stuff. >> reporter: it's estimated that libya that is ten tons of the deadly blister agent. a nato official says they have used sat lines, drones and other aircraft to keep an eye on libya's weapons of mass destruction. they have also asked rebel leaders to keep track of it, but pentagon officials insist there will be no american troops involved on libya soil. >> i'm very concerned with the united states stating with so much certainty that they are not
3:21 pm
going to put boots on the ground. >> reporter: retired general james "spider" marks said even though libya gave up its nuclear program, they are still dangerous. >> the smart technical brains i would imagine are still in place, and what side are they on? where do their loyalties lie? >> reporter: marks and wolfowitz say the u.s. cannot step back too far. >> i don't know what boots on the ground means, but if it means no combat troops, that's great. if it means no assistance to libyans to secure mustard gas, it's not a good idea. >> reporter: yeah. the nato official says that u.s. intelligence officials and also other countries' officials have been in libya for the past several weeks helping some of the rebels secure those weapons storage sites. one u.s. official says he hopes that those items do not get out of the control of the national transitional council. wolf? >> i know u.s. officials are very worried about that snareio.
3:22 pm
all right. thanks very much. chris lawrence at the pentagon. here's something you don't see every day. a television anchor woman. she pulled out a gun on the air and vowed to kill or die for moammar gadhafi. we're going to tell you what happened to this libyan television anchor. and he actually met with moammar gadhafi. we'll be speaking with senator john mccain. he's standing by live to join you. we'll ask him what's going on and what happens next. we'll be right back. naturals from purina cat chow. delicious, real ingredients with no artificial flavors or preservatives. naturals from purina cat chow. share a better life. two of the most important are energy security and economic growth. north america actually has one of the largest oil reserves in the world. a large part of that is oil sands. this resource has the ability to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. at our kearl project in canada, we'll be able to produce these oil sands
3:23 pm
with the same emissions as many other oils and that's a huge breakthrough. that's good for our country's energy security and our economy.
3:24 pm
3:25 pm
the collapse of the gadhafi regime playing out right now. the u.s. government says libya's rebels control 90% of the
3:26 pm
capital. president obama says gadhafi's rule is over. but amid growing jubilation there is still fierce fighting under way right now in the streets of the capital tripoli, and the libyan leader is nowhere to be found. the rebels captured three of gadhafi's sons, but libya's ambassador to the united states tells us that one has now escaped saying he was, quote, hijacked by gadhafi's forces, and just this weekend a libyan state television anchor pulled out a gun on the air and vowed to fight to the death for moammar gadhafi. now she's been captured by rebels. state tv is off the air. we're watching all of these developments, lots of loose ends unfolding right now. a missing dictator continuing heavy fighting. the u.s. says the libyan regime is just about finished. let's if to the white house correspondent dan lothian covering the president's vacation in martha's vineyard right now. dan, set the scene for us. the president came out and spoke
3:27 pm
tod today. >> reporter: that's right, but, wolf, the white house acknowledging there's still a lot of uncertainty on the ground there in libya. where is moammar gadhafi? the white house believes that he is still inside libya, but as the president himself pointed out, the situation is still fluid. nonetheless a white house aide says that the president's strategy over the last six months has yielded, quote, favorable results. with the toppling of libyan dictator moammar gadhafi seemingly hours or days away, president obama all but declared the u.s. nato strategy a success. >> gadhafi regime is coming to an end, and the future of libya is in the hands of its people. in just six months the 42-year reign of moammar gadhafi has unraveled. >> reporter: rebels known as the national transitional council have the full support of the u.s. government, and while the white house policy against putting boots on the ground remains unchanged, the president vowed to be a friend and partner in the peaceful process to
3:28 pm
democracy. >> we will continue to work with partners to continue safeguarding the safety of the libyan people. >> reporter: while the demise of gadhafi is being praised by some of the president's critics, the six-month time line is not. >> i grieve a bit because this -- this conflict didn't have to last this long. the united states air power could have shortened this conflict dramatically. >> reporter: president obama's strongest rebuke came in march when he publicly called on the dictator to go. >> he has lost legitimacy with his people. >> reporter: gadhafi thumbed his nose at the west and its allies, but the white house stuck to a supporting role, unlike in iraq, international partners did the heavy lifting. steven cook, a middle east expert on the council of foreign relations works like the president is vacationing on martha's vineyard, said the administration's game plan was the best possible strategy and what is a complex situation. >> president after president has been looking to push moammar
3:29 pm
gadhafi out of office. i think it vindicates the intervention on behalf of the libyan rebels, and i think the hard part now is going to be helping the libyans build a new state. >> reporter: now president obama spoke with british prime minister cameron about working with other allies to build a peaceful transition to democracy. that was also the focus of the president's meeting with his national security team in a conference call this afternoon. wolf? >> all right, dan. thanks very much. dan lothian reporting for us. senator john mccain, as you saw, was among first to call for intervention in libya. now that the regime has basically collapsed senator mccain says the obama administration should have opinion more aggressive. senator mccain is joining us right now. senator, thanks very much for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. >> let me get your quick reaction to the news that we broke here in "the situation room." the libyan ambassador here in washington represents the rebels, the transitional authority in libya.
3:30 pm
he says that one of the sons of gadhafi, muhammad gadhafi, has been hijacked or escaped. what does that say to you? >> seems to me that the situation is still rather unsettled, and, again, there's two steps forward and one step back, and there's still a lot of work to dork not only militarily, but there will be a great task ahead as building a democracy in a country that's never known it and it's going to rare a lot of work and a little luck. >> some have suggested that the gadhafi loyalists, the mercenaries, the troops, the others, they may just take off their uniforms and blend in and start some sort of insurgency along the lineof what we saw in baghdad after 2003. should we be worried about that? >> i think we should be worried about a lot of things, but the fact is, wolf, you saw the rapid collapse of the gadhafi forces. the only thing that was holding him in power was money and fear, and once those are dissipated by
3:31 pm
military strength, it's very difficult for anyone to be loyal to gadhafi unless they are a blood relative, so i -- i worry about that. i worry about the different tribes. i worry about the piece that you just had on weapons of mass destruction. i worry about the prisons. i hope we can secure them soon because there's hundreds if not thousands of political prisoners. i hope that we won't see a repeat of what happened in baghdad, looting, of public buildings. i -- i'm -- i think that there's a number of other, especially and i appreciate the national transition council's message on reconciliation, there's a lot of bad blood. >> you said it could have happened much more quickly but the president saying, you know what, in six months they have
3:32 pm
eliminated a 42-year reign of terrorch how much credit does he deserve for this strategy that he put together? >> well, i think the president deserves credit for stopping gadhafi when he was at the gates of benghazi and vowed to go house to house to kill anyone when opposed him, but the fact is if we had used the full weight of american air power, it would have been over a long time ago, and the fact is that the young libyans were wounded and killed because of that, quote, leading from behind. that's -- i am pleased that the outcome. i'm sure the president will take a lot of credit for it, but the facts on the ground are that it could have been over a lot earlier than it was, and now let's move forward, trying to work together, republicans and democrats, without spending federal dollars because it's not money that they need in working to help libya make this transition to democracy and a
3:33 pm
beacon of freedom. >> well, explain why you believe the u.s. air power would have been more successful than the french and the british, the other nato air power, because they launched thousands of sorties, as you well know, over the past several months. >> wolf, i've seen the sortie count before. i saw it in the vietnam war. the ac-130, the a-10 and other capabilities that our allies do not have, could have been put into -- into action, and we could have taken out gadhafi's forces earlier. that's just a military reality. our allies are wonderful people, eight nations out of the 28 in nato were involved in it. especially helpful were qatar and uae. they deserve great credit, but there's no country in the world that has the unique air power, as well as other power, and particularly air power we could have deemployed by deploying u.s. air power into the fight. it's just fact.
3:34 pm
>> but no american lives have been lost over these six months. that's a significant fact as well, right? >> yes, and no alied lives have been lost that i know of. this is unique terrain and unique advantage to air power when you have long stretches that the enemy has to go over unprotected, and the -- and it's -- it's ideal for the use of air power and has been since the conflict in world war ii. so air power is the key and dominant factor, and our allies, as wonderful as they wrshs didn't have the capabilities that we have. by the way, we did supply predator and we gave them some additional information. we did help in some way, but not with a full weight of u.s. air power which is unique in the world. look, that's over with. i want to work with the administration and with the tnc and these brave people to move forward, and now meet the challenges which will be incredibly difficult but
3:35 pm
achievable of building democracy. >> two years ago you actually met with gadhafi at his ranch. you got to know him a little bit. i -- there's a tweet that's now been widely distributed that you put out at that time in which you said late evening with colonel gadhafi at his ranch in libya. interesting meeting with an interesting man. what were your impressions of him? specifically will he give up now, or will he fight till the death? >> i don't know because there's different -- you can't read somebody after -- know somebody after a brief meeting. i think that if i had to guess, and it's a pure guess because i don't know him, that he would probably fight to the death, but i don't know that for sure. i do know that he has american blood on his hands because of pan am flight 103. i know he is responsible for other acts of terror in the region, and i think that people who worry about what comes after
3:36 pm
gadhafi, i think we would be well served if we make sure that there is not an extremist takeover or hijacking of this revolution, and the ones that i met of the transition council are very fine people. >> one final question, senator, before i let you go. what do you say to those republicans, include some republican presidential candidates like michele bachmann or ron paul who say the u.s. has no business getting involved in these countries? there's plenty to do here. just stay away from countries like libya. what do you say to these republicans? >> i say that the united states of america is a unique experiment in history. i believe in american exceptionalism. i wasn't for sending ground forces into libya. it would have been counterproductive, but we are an inspiration to these people. i know because i've looked them in the eyes and they looked at me. they look to america for inspiration and leadership, and
3:37 pm
when they are struggling for freedom under brutal and oppressive dictatorships, if we can help them, and it's a big if from time to time, then we should go to their assistance and make ourselves and our children and our grandchildren and their children and grandchildren proud. >> senator mccain, thanks for coming in. >> thank you. >> appreciate it very much. senator john mccain of arizona. under fire in libya. there's fighting still going on right now in the libyan cap tag, and one of our own correspondents is trapped in a hotel there. his dramatic vantage point. that's coming up. [ man ] behind every business is a "what if."
3:38 pm
what if we designed an electric motorcycle? what if we turned trash into surfboards? whatever yo what if is, the new sprint biz 360 has custom solutions to make it happen, including mobile payment processing, instant hot spots, and powerful devices like the motorola photon 4g. so let's all keep asking the big what ifs. sprint business specialists can help you find the answers. sprint. america's favorite 4g network. trouble hearing on the phone? visit energy is being produced to power our lives. while energy developement comes with some risk, north america's natural gas producers are committed to safely and responsibly providing decades of cleaner burning energy for our country, drilling thousands of feet below fresh water sources within self contained well systems and using state of the art monitoring technologies,
3:39 pm
rigorous practices help ensure our operations are safe and clean for our communities and the environment we are america's natural gas. [ male announcer ] they'll see you...before you see them. cops are cracking down on drinking and riding. drive sober, or get pulled over. cops are cracking down confidence. available in color. depend for women is now peach. looks and fits like underwear. same great protection. depend. good morning. great day.
3:40 pm
the first atlantic hurricane has the u.s. in its sights. lisa sylvester is here monitoring that and other stories in "the situation room" right now. what's going hon? >> reporter: hi there, wolf. hurricane irene is storming through the caribbean unleashing
3:41 pm
widespread flooding and power outages in preako and now it's moving its way towards the dominican republic and could reach north carolina by friday. forecasters say it's still too early to say for certain where it will hit. another bombshell in the dominique strauss-kahn case. sexual assault charges against the former head of the international monetary fund will be dropped. that coming from the lawyer of the hotel housekeeper who aaccuses strauss-kahn of attacking her. attorney kenneth thompson met with the manhattan district attorney's office ahead of tomorrow's status hearings. he said the d.a. is denying his client justice. wolf? >> what a story that is, too. thanks very much. desperation setting in for foreign journalists trapped in a hotel in tripoli right now. our own matthew chance is one of those journalists inside the hotel. we'll speak with him when we come back.
3:42 pm
3:43 pm
3:44 pm
moammar gadhafi is now a hunted man. if and when he's found, the once all powerful leader could end up before an international war crimes court. but will the rebels try to keep him there and try him in libya instead? cnn's lisa sylvester is
3:45 pm
following all of this for us. >> reporter: in the opening days of the conflict, protests. then violence. civilians killed. the international criminal court at the hague says moammar gadhafi, his son saif al islam gadhafi, and his chief intelligence officers systematically murdered and persecuted civilians. they have been charged with crimes against humanity. moammar gadhafi's whereabouts are unknown but saif gadhafi is now in cut difficult libyan rebel forces. talks are under way between the transitional national council of libya and the international criminal court to hand saif gadhafi over. do you believe that he will ultimately be transferred, that it's just a matter of time to transfer saif al gadhafi? >> as i indicated, there are legal obligations that they have to cooperate with the icc, and
3:46 pm
previously they had indicated their intention to fully cooperate. >> reporter: according to the arrest warrant, saif gadhafi exercised control over crucial parts of the state apparatus, including finance and logistics and that he conceived and orchestrated a plan to deter and quell by all means the civilian demonstrations against gadhafi's regime. moammar gadhafi and abdullah al sanusi are accused of international criminal games. libyan rebels might want to hold on to them to face charges at home but there are obstacles because the libyan government and the court system are in tatters. >> if he's ever arrested he'll likely be turned over. it remains to be seen whether he will allow himself, of course, to be arrested. libya is required to turn him over. >> reporter: if they are taken into icc custody and eventually found guilty, they would face decades in prison but not the
3:47 pm
death penalty. the international criminal court says it is investigating more accusations against the regime, including allegations of rape and possible cover-up, and it says it could eventually add more charges. wolf? >> what a story that is. thanks very much, lisa, for that. moammar gadhafi is accused of terrible crimes against his own people. if libya's rebels find him, what happens after that? stand by. if something is simply the color of gold, is it really worth more? we don't think so. chase sapphire preferred is a card of a different color. unlike others, you get twice the points on travel, and twice the points on dining, and no foreign transaction fees. call now or apply at my son and i never missed opening day. but with copd making it hard to breathe, i thought those days might be over.
3:48 pm
so my doctor prescribed symbicort. it helps significantly improve my lung function, starting within 5 minutes. symbicort doesn't replace a rescue inhaler for sudden symptoms. with symbicort, today i'm breathing better, and that means... game on! symbicort is for copd, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. it should not be taken more than twice a day. symbicort may increase your risk of lung infections, osteoporosis, and some eye problems. tell your doctor if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure before taking it. [ whistle ] with copd, i thought i might miss out on my favorite tradition. now symbicort significantly improves my lung function, starting within 5 minutes. and that makes a difference in my breathing. today i'm back with my favorite team. ask your doctor about symbicort. i got my first prescription free. call or click to learn more. [ male announcer ] if you can't afford your medication, astrazeneca may be able to help.
3:49 pm
3:50 pm
many libyans say they feel hope today for the first time in four decades. the man who ruled them with an iron fist, moammar gadhafi, is a fugitive. his regime is crumbling. suzanne malveaux takes a closer look back at takes a closer look back. >> reporter: since 1969, moammar gadhafi has controlled nearly everything in his country. business, media, military, are and oil. he expelled american and western gas companies an investor, tortured and assassinated libyan opposition. by 19 #80, the u.s. had severed all diplomatic ties. >> gadhafi is an irresponsible
3:51 pm
animal who has no skrup spell, no morals. >> reporter: in the early '80s, tension intensified. >> we know that this mad dog of the middle east has a goal of a world revolution muslim fundamentalist rev collusioluti. >> reporter: after years of minor skirmishes, gadhafi turned in to public enemy number one. bombings in rome, vienna, and then a disco in west berlin all ringed to libya. the u.s. retaliates. >> at 7:00 this evening, air and naval forces of the united states launched a serieses of strikes against the headquarters terrorist facilities and military assets that support moammar gadhafi's sub ver sif activities. >> reporter: that led 100 dead,
3:52 pm
including gadhafi's daughter. some believe he responded with a about him aboard pan am flight 103, leaving 270 dead. the u.n. security council answered with cripplingfusinref finally relented. following the september 11th attacks, gadhafi went even further. libya took responsibility for the bombing and agreed it to compensate the victims' families. the u.n. lifted sanctions. and that same year, gadhafi abandoned his effort hes to development weapons of mass destruction. >> colonel gadhafi correctly judged that his country would be better off and far more secure without weapons of mass murder. >> reporter: the u.s. eased travel restrictions and western oil companies returned. the u.s.'s closest ally great britt pip took the lead. >> i'm conscious of the pain that people who have suffered as
3:53 pm
a result of wrist actions in the past. must feel, but the world is changing. >> reporter: in september, 2008, u.s. secretary of state condoleezza rice met with gadhafi in libya. the first such meet between libya and a high ranking u.s. official in over half a century. >> i thought he was serious. he said at one point that it has taken too long, that the lessons of history had to be learned. >> reporter: but the very next year with great britain's corporation, scotland released a lockerbie bomber on humanitarian grounds. but he's still alive today. his release has raised questions about if there was something else at play behind the deal. further complicating the thawing relationship between libya and the west. suzanne malveaux, cnn, atlanta.
3:54 pm
and we're just getting this in from sara sidner. east in zawiya. she says there are now renewed sounds of fighting all around zawiya. tracer fighter, aircraft guns are firing sporadically along with sounds of they have shelling. ambulances have gun racing through the city. lots going on in zawiya right now. stay with cnn. we'll update you on what's going on. also, moammar gadhafi as you know,'s gone he's gone into hi. he's being hunted. the latest on the search coming up on on john king usa at the top of the hour for our north american viewers. and u.s. troops to stay in afghanistan until 2024? that's jack's question.
3:55 pm
naomi pryce: i am. i'm in the name your own price division. i find empty hotel rooms and help people save - >> - up to 60% off. i am familiar. your name? > naomi pryce. >> what other "negotiating" skills do you have? > i'm a fifth-degree black belt. >> as am i. > i'm fluent in 37 languages. >> (indistinct clicking) > and i'm a master of disguise and u.s. troops to stay in > as am i. >> as am i. > as am i. >> well played naomi pryce. what if we designed an electric motorcycle? what if we turned trash into surfboards? whatever your what if is, the new sprint biz 360 has custom solutions to make it happen, including mobile payment processing, instant hot spots, and powerful devices like the motorola photon 4g. so let's all keep asking the big what ifs. sprint business specialists can help you find the answers. sprint. america's favorite 4g network. trouble hearing on the phone? visit
3:56 pm
3:57 pm
right back to jack with the cafferty files. >> the question this hour is u.s. troops may stay in afghanistan until 2024. what exactly is the point in
3:58 pm
that? dave in seattle, we have 93% of the nuclear weapons in the world, our military budget exceeds the budgets of all other countries combined. you don't fight terrorists with conventional military tactics. it's all about intel and special ops. obsession with military dominance in foreign countries is exactly what precipitated the end of the british empire. we need to wise up. john and n. louisiana, ron paul has the right idea. bring all our troops home from wherever they are, iraq, afghanistan, core re, a et cetera. we are not the world's police force. scott writes keep an embassy with 100 people, 35500 means ana drone base and 9,000 emergency military in kabul. that's about 10,000 troops. this will allow us to bring 96,000 personnel home at a taxpayer savings of $96 billion a year. collectively the group left behind can smash the crap out of
3:59 pm
any terrorist that moves with the assistance of the regular afghan police, of course. rick in detroit writes, the reason for our extended stay in afghanistan is so we can continue to test drive our high tech play toys like the predator dreen. rob on facebook, it's good question. what is the point? we went into get bin laden. then we left that mission to go to iraq. then we found bin laden in pakistan. of course this is several thousand american lives later. the point is there are no point. just another attempt to spread the u.s. military machine further across the globe. and sacramento, no point. look back over american history count. the number of times there's been a point to warfare. stopping hitler, of course. stopping communist threat in vietnam, probably not. looking the other way as a corrupt regime in afghanistan with little motivation to grow a backbone grows rich while our soldiers die there. sometimes the