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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  June 27, 2011 2:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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disappointment and the shock, patti and i have to discuss this with our children, our little girls and start planning for the future. but and, of course -- things work out best for patti, and -- but it is so important to let people know that when i fought real hard for them and what is -- >> this story, one of several my colleague wolf blitzer is tackling now. "the situation room" starts with wolf. wolf? >> brooke, thanks very much. happening now, president obama meets with the senate republican leader and makes a personal investment in a political fight over america's debt. this hour, the prospects for a deal to prevent the united states from being seen as a deadbeat nation. stand by. republican michele bachmann tries to prove she's in it to win it. she launches her long shot campaign for the white house, showing new strength in iowa. plus, blood and gore and free speech. the makers and sellers of
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violent video games score big in a brand-new u.s. supreme court ruling. but what about your children? i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." we begin with the standoff over the federal debt. lots at stake for all of us now. democrats and republicans agree on this much, something has got to give. this hour, right now, in fact, president obama sits down with the senate minority leader mitch mcconnell. it is an attempt to try to break a political stalemate that could have very serious implications for the u.s. economy. both sides face an august 2nd deadline for congress to raise the amount of america's debt or the country might potentially not be able to pay all of its bills. our white house correspondent brianna keilar is following the negotiations. >> reporter: wolf, the president is now stepping into the deficit
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reduction talks for the first time as the clock ticks towards that august 2nd deadline, when the u.s. is expected to default on its loan obligations if congress doesn't increase the debt ceiling. as president obama met separately and behind closed doors with the top democrat and republican in the senate, the white house sounded a positive note on the deficit talks. >> a significant deal remains possible. >> reporter: but white house press secretary jay carney also ratcheted up the rhetoric on white house republicans who pulled out of negotiations thursday. >> the only one that doesn't take a balanced approach has been the house republican proposal. >> reporter: talks have hit a snag over what republicans call tax hikes, and democrats call closing tax loopholes for special interests. >> this is about subsidies for oil and gas companies, $40 billion. a loophole that allows for the owners of private corporate jets to benefit enormously in the billions compared to, say, delta or american.
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>> simplify and streamline our broken tax system, eliminating loopholes so everyone pays his or her fair share. >> reporter: republicans insist any effort to raise taxes will hurt the economy and has no chance of clearing congress. >> not only are they counterproductive from the standpoint of an economic recovery, they're also politically impossible since republicans oppose tax hikes and democrats have already shown they won't raise taxes in a down economy either. >> reporter: there is this snag, but there may also be the potential for agreement in one area. that's because republicans who normally oppose talk of defense cuts are willingness to look at savings, something democrats are demanding, wolf. another republican trying to oust president obama from office made it official today. that would be congresswoman and tea party favorite michele bachmann. she kicked off her campaign in iowa, a state that is important it her personally as well as politically.
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cnn's jim acosta is in iowa for us. i think it is fair to say we saw a different side to a certain degree of congresswoman bachmann today in iowa. what have you seen? >> reporter: well, wolf, michele bachmann has a reputation of sometimes going off message, but as we saw today, she is certainly getting more disciplined, softening her tea party tone as her staff members are sharpening their elbows. ♪ meet the new michele bachmann. >> i want to bring a voice, your voice, to the white house. >> reporter: in her official announcement that she's running for the white house, the conservative fire brand traded her signature tough tea party rhetoric for midwestern nice. >> this is where my iowa roots were firmly planted, and it is these iowa roots and my faith in god that guide me today. >> reporter: the congresswoman from minnesota recalled how she was born in the town of
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waterloo, iowa, laid out her case to lower the national debt and made a surprise call for a civil campaign. >> through the rancor of a campaign, let us always remember there is always so much more that unites us as a nation than divides us. >> reporter: gone were the barbs of bachmann's past, like the time she questioned what she called the president's anti-american views. >> thank you. >> reporter: with the new poll in iowa showing her a near front-runner, 1 point behind mitt romney, bachmann was careful to stay on message. >> thank you. hi there. nice to meet you. >> reporter: as we made repeated attempts to ask bachmann a question, her staff -- >> one question, congresswoman. >> would you knock it off? >> reporter: even the candidate's husband shoved us out of the way. we later tried to catch up with marcus bachmann, to no avail. >> mr. bachmann, any chance we could talk to you for a few moments? >> jim acosta with cnn, nice it see you. are you just going to not answer questions unless it is a
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prearranged interview? her advisers told us this was bachmann's day to answer questions from the iowa media. >> congressman, can we ask you, how can you possibly get support from democrats when you've been so hard on this president. >> reporter: none of that seemed to bother her supporters. >> i don't think the media legal really knows who or what they're dealing with yet. >> reporter: we're going to find out? >> they're goinging to fi ing g >> i've never been political in my life, but i'm coming out from under my rock and she's my gal. i want her to beat obama's butt. sorry, kids. >> reporter: with michele bachmann off to a strong start here in iowa, she is now headed to new hampshire and then south carolina. the trick for bachmann is to take the success she has in this state, which doesn't always have the best record of nominating gop contenders, wolf, as you know. not everybody who wins in iowa goes on to win the nomination. >> four years ago, mike huckabee won in iowa, didn't work out the
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way he had planned. but she's raising a ton of money right now, isn't she? she's doing a really, really well on the fund-raising part of this political story. >> reporter: yeah. along with the poll numbers, wolf, the way she has built a campaign up until this point, the organization of this campaign, i think it surprised a lot of people in the gop establishment. she has some very experienced handlers leading this campaign. you mentioned mike huckabee. she has some people who are veterans of the huckabee campaign in 2008 work on her behalf. not just the poll numbers, she's off to a very, very good start, wolf. >> she has ed rollins, ronald reagan's political director as a lot of us remember he worked for huckabee four years ago, worked for us in cnn in the years since then and now running her campaign. thanks very much, jim acosta, on the scene for us. other new, the guilt
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verdicts against rod blagojevich that left him stunned and possibly headed for prison. a jury in chicago convicted blagojevich a little while ago on 17 counts of corruption including charges he tried to sell or trade president obama's former senate seat. cnn's ted rowlands is covering the blagojevich retrial for us. he's joining us from chicago. he was very sad in his comments after he got the horrible news for him. >> reporter: yeah. inside the courtroom, wolf, there wasn't a lot of reaction from blagojevich. he was trying to make eye contact with the jurors as the of the verdicts. his wife patti, she was in the front row, she was very upset. she fell back into blagojevich's brother robert's arms and there she sat for the remainder of the proceeding. he's looking at a lot of jail time. he's a 54-year-old man. you look at the counts he's been
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found guilty of, wire fraud, 20 years, extortion, 20 years, extortion, conspiracy, 20 years, solicitation of a bribe, five years. even the low -- the minimums on the sentencing guidelines would put him in jail for pretty much the rest of his life. here is rod blagojevich after the verdicts were read inside the federal courthouse. take a listen. >> patti and i obviously are very disappointed in the outcome. i frankly am stunned. there is not much left to say other than we want to get home to our little girls and talk to them and explain things to them and then try to sort things out. and i'm sure we'll be seeing you guys again. >> reporter: his little girls are 7 and 13 years old. jurors did speak, wolf, after words. they talked to the media. one juror said she wanted to believe blagojevich, but the evidence was there. prosecutors also just wrapped up a press conference saying that the jury sent a loud and clear
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message that blagojevich tried to shake people down. no sentencing date has been set yet, wolf. but clearly the former governor of illinois, rod blagojevich, going to prison, likely for a long time. >> he'll be out of jail until sentencing. is that right, ted? >> reporter: yeah, the judge did restrict his travel, said if you want to go somewhere, ask me, i may let you go, but he cannot go anywhere outside of the northern district of illinois, basically the chicago area, until sentencing. however, the judge did not remand him to custody. he is at home tonight with his family. >> thanks very much, ted rowlands reporting to us from chicago. right now, cnn is the only western television network with correspondents in both syria and yemen. stand by for their reports including an up close look at the scene of what the government says was a massacre. and could the flooding in nebraska lead it a nuclear crisis like the one we saw in japan? brian todd is in nebraska right now. he's investigating. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." ] i'm a hospice nurse.
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cnn is now the only western network reporting from inside both syria and yemen amidst the brutal political turmoil exploding across north africa and the middle east. arwa damon is in damascus for us. nic robertson is in sana, yemen. let's go to arwa first. arwa, this has been another tough time, another tough few weeks. what's going on in syria right now? tell our viewers what you're seeing firsthand. >> reporter: well, wolf, we got an opportunity to go up to the
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highly controversial town that is at the center of the military crackdown that sent all of those refugees streaming across the border to turkey. and we hoped that following our trip, we would have a better idea of exactly what it was that transpired there. take a look at what we saw. it is unsettling arriving in the town. for weeks we heard stories of brutal attacks by syrian security forces, of thousands fleeing, of mass graves. now the government is bringing journalists to this dusty and very empty town. we're escorted, not only by officials, but two truck loads of military. that's for our own protection, we're told. armed gangs that once controlled all of this town are still a threat. military officials tell us the crackdown here was unavoidable. to stop terrorist elements whose
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aim is to bring down the regime, and to establish an al qaeda style islamic state. most of the shops are closed, a handful of people wander the streets. this is what is left of the post office, where we're told security personnel trying to surrender were gunned down. this man is presented by government minders as an eyewitness. they were pretending to be peaceful demonstrators, but they had guns hidden here, he tells us, gesturing elaborately. grenades and all sorts of heavy weapons. it is a version of events fiercely disputed by opposition activists who say security forces gunned down protesters without mercy. many were reported killed, thousands more fled to the border with turkey. but getting independent firsthand accounts of what is happen here is almost impossible. when i approached a group of men, they are clearly uncomfortable.
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some walk away muttering they don't know anything. others are reluctant to talk. we're then taken to the scene of what the government says was a massacre, where over 100 syrian security personnel were slaughtered. muhammad, who owns a shop down the road, tells us more than a thousand gunmen attacked the compound. he says his wife fled to turkey fearing the ruthless government militia and refuses to come back. the first time she's disobeyed me in 20 years, he says. he entered the compound and found it littered with bodies. he's saying when he arrived into this room, back here he found three bodies. one of them, he says, was decapitated. the others had gunshot wounds to the torso and he said it seemed like they were beaten as well. back here, there is little bit
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of debris, a shoe and some dark stains on the wall. it is hard to tell exactly what it is. at the back of the compound we're shown the location of one of many mass graves. the bodies horrifically mutilated according to the government. video of the corporation is being unearthed was broadcast on state tv. the opposition has a very different narrative, claiming the massacre was a result of a mutiny within the security forces. whatever happened, it was enough to drive thousands to flee across the border into turkey. for weeks we heard their horrific stories and their fear the military would massacre them to punish them for daring to stand up to the regime. two versions of history that can't be reconciled. the last word perhaps best left to a group of children who say they learned chants on tv and
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after ex-claiming armed ga eed forced us out they dissolve into giggles. and, wolf, the government points to scenes like the ones we saw where at least on the surface it appears as if the military and the residents do have a very healthy relationship. it has been trying to encourage other families to return. and while a handful of them have, the majority are staying well away. and when we were on the syria/turkey border speaking with refugees, they were saying there is absolutely no chance, no way that they would ever go back home while the regime was in power. they simply don't trust the government and they don't trust the promise that they will be safe if they go home. they believe that the military will detain them or kill them. >> it seems, arwa, like the government in damascus is going on a -- more of a public relations offensive right now, allowing journalists like
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yourself, our own hala gorani, to come into syria for the first time in months. also, they have let congressman dennis kucinich of ohio visit. he's meeting with some of the top leadership there. is there a new strategy unfolding on the part of the syrian regime? >> reporter: well, there is a couple of different theories, wolf, as to what the thinking of the syrian government actually is. one is that perhaps it does feel threatened, it does feel as if it is losing the propaganda war given the amount of video that activists are putting out on youtube depicting the alleged government massacres. there is also the thinking that the government does now feel as if to a certain degree, it has the situation under control and that it can slightly open up the country to the media because it can control the streets and it can at the very least control the areas that we are allowed access to. because most certainly when we do travel around, it is constantly in the company of government minders.
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we have to put permissions in to the various areas that we want to visit, sometimes that permission is granted. sometimes it is not. when it is not, a lot of the time the government, again, is trying to blame these armed gangs saying that it is for our own security, but all of this combined, even though we are a country, wolf, makes it incredibly difficult if not impossible to independently corroborate anything that is happening here. >> arwa damon on the scene for us as usual. thank you, arwa, very much. and joining us now from yemen is our own nic robertson. a lot of americans are deeply concerned that al qaeda, al qaeda the arabian peninsula could take over that strategi l strategically located country and pose a huge threat to the region and to the u.s. as well. what is the late st in the struggle against al qaeda in yemen. >> reporter: no doubt that al qaeda in yemen poses the biggest
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threat as far as global jihad is concerned because of the number of attacks and type of attacks they have mounted. the underpants bomber being one of them. the government here -- that it is still fighting al qaeda. there are reports that in abian, it was taken control of three weeks ago when president saleh -- after he was attacked. they say that that town has been taken over by radical islamists or al qaeda. and the government today said they killed five al qaeda members in that province, wounded many more, arrested six and they say seven soldiers were wounded during the operation as well. we're told here that that is not untypical of what has been happening over the past week. there have been clashes with, as the government calls them, al qaeda. some people call them pro islamists. no question the government here
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face a serious threat from radical islamists, wolf. >> and the return of president saleh to yemen, we know he's been recuperating from serious injuries he sustained and he's recuperating in saudi arabia. is that realistic? a lot of the saudis thought he was never going to leave. >> reporter: i spoke to one arab diplomat who told me that his injuries are -- president saleh's injuries were so -- he couldn't return. that he had inhaled so much hot air, sort of fire in the air when the explosions were in the mosque where he was injured, that he had burns on the inside of his lungs and he wouldn't be there in the near future. he's on this huge international diplomatic pressure to not return to yemen, to allow a transfer of power and alu a transitional government or some steps to get him from power. but we had conflicting messages
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here. one adviser said president saleh would be back and then he said no, he would be making a speech or some kind of appearance within the next couple of days. and today president saleh's most senior spokesman said he wasn't about to make a speech, the president saleh would address the people of yemen. so we're getting mixed and confusing messages from within his sort of presidential loyalists here. but it does -- doesn't seem to change the sort of narrative from them. the president still intends to come back. that's perhaps the most important thing, this concern about what president saleh is going to do and it is leading to a lot of instability here, wolf. >> nic robertson on the scene in yemen. we'll check back in with you tomorrow. thank you very much. could iran emernl ge as theg inner in the middle east? details of a disturbing new report. that's coming up. and we're also learning
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u.s. forces in afghanistan are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now that the president laid out his plans to remove all surge troops by the end of next december. nick payton walsh is in afghanistan. >> reporter: afghanistan's eastern border is as alluring to outsiders as it is unwelcoming. it is a key trance it root for militants from pakistan, confronted by americans in some of the fiercest fighting of this ten-year war. this tiny outpost tests its mortars against an insurgency that they rarely see.
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but who frequently attack from all sides. sometimes they watch the valley burn. other times they reach out to build. this neighbor and ally against the taliban perhaps because they built this house on his land. while americans can build their way into the affections of these people, it is further south down the valley frankly the problems begin. the road mpretty much impassabl because of the insurgency. it was here they experienced their worse losses. a roadside bomb ripping through their armor, killing four soldiers. lieutenant ryan peterson saw the blast that killed the men he led and loved. >> when i walked up to it, there was a pair of legs leaned out like crossed over and hanging out of one of the doors. and that stuck with me. if i ever think about it or dream about it, that's the first thing that comes to my head. >> reporter: seth blechb blevi
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dying in his arms. >> he was upside down, he was in my lap, and so that was when the whole -- the whole smell was the most intense -- that's probably the point that everything was the most intense, was when i was trying to hold him and make sure his head was, like, stable, like a child, you know. i was holding his head trying to make sure he didn't hurt his neck anymore. at that point, he was still alive. i felt like maybe he could hear me a little bit. and give him a little bit of encouragement that we were going to make sure he got out of there. he was -- he was a little older. i think he was 24. can't even remember his birthday right now. >> reporter: death may become routine here, but grief does not. a memorial service for another loss nearby and a pep talk for the general. but still growing disillusion at home and in america and a clear timetable for departure, some
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glad it is ending. >> my gut feeling right now is that it is good. that it is time to be done. i think that we have done as much as we can. we have done what we have done here. it is time to be done. >> reporter: a few days after the losses here, the unit dropped $3 million worth of bombs in just 24 hours. that stopped the attacks for five days. the massive cost of this war, its blood, its treasure, that is speeding it to an end. nick payton walsh, cnn, afghanistan. deep concerns about iran's growing influence as the u.s. moves to withdraw from afghanistan and iraq for that matter. we're seeing some disturbing new evidence that officials in tehran are reaching out aggressively to the leaders of afghanistan, the leaders of iraq, and pakistan. we're joined now by cnn's national security contributor fran townsend. fran, by the way, with more than 100 members of congress, some other former senior u.s.
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national security officials, has publicly advocated the united states take the iranian opposition group, the mek, off the state department's list of terror groups around the world. just as the european union has already done. fran, let's talk about what is going on. in recent days, the leaders of three nominal u.s. allies, iraq, afghanistan, and pakistan, they all went to tehran to meet with ahmadinejad, amidst growing concern, he must say, at least i'm hearing from some u.s. officials that when all is said and done, the dust settles in that part of the world, despite all the heavy u.s. investment, iran could emerge as the big strategic winner. what is your thought on that? >> reporter: this has been a concern quite frankly, wolf, throughout the gulf region. saudi arabia, bahrain, had been increasingly concerned about the growing influence of iran through -- across this region, especially it started in iraq. iran was clearly supporting the
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movement of parts, of explosive devices that were killing u.s. troops. and our allies in the region couldn't understand why we were reacting more forcefully. now pakistan and afghanistan, both places iran has been aggressive. they want to be a counterbalance. they want to be a counterweight to u.s. influence throughout the region. it is very, very concerning. it should be here in the u.s. as well as in the region. >> because given the enormous investment over a decade, in liberating first iraq and then afghanistan, you see president jalal talabani show up in tehran, the president of rauk. you see president karzai showing up there after all the u.s. has done for him and president zardari of pakistan going to tehran as well to give ahmadinejad this support, if you will, by their mere presence there. it must be so infuriating to top u.s. official. >> reporter: absolutely. it is not only infuriating, it is concerning for intelligence and national security officials who watch this very closely.
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make no mistake, when you see tensions between the u.s. and countries like pakistan and afghanistan and iraq, they use iran as a lever. they know it is a sore point with us. they know that it will increase our anxiety about that relationship. and they -- this is not an accident. the timing of these trips, the building of these relationships by these countries because they're looking to send a message to the u.s. that, look, we have alternatives. remember when it started a relationship with pakistan began to get rocky, there was the visit of zardari and pakistani officials to china. and they will look for other sponsors, other people who will fill their coffers in the event that the u.s. doesn't do that. >> it look like they're hedging their bets once the u.s. pulls out of iraq and then afghanistan. let's talk a little bit about this innational criminal court, now issuing an arrest warrant for moammar gadhafi and others in libya for war crimes, crimes against humanity. update our viewers on what is going on here. >> reporter: it is very interesting. in the end of april, we
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understood from the international criminal court they were conducting this investigation. in talking with european officials it was clear that european officials in italy and across that region were trying to convince the international criminal court to hold off issuing the warrant because, of course, once the warrant issues, it becomes much more difficult to see the path for a potential negotiated settlement. myself included, many never thought a negotiated settlement with gadhafi was ever a real strong possibility. but now that you've got this warrant, if you wanted to negotiate him out of power, how do you do that? you have to get some agreement from the international criminal court about this prosecution. so the ability now, wolf, for folks to see a way other than a military solution here is very -- much more complicated and much more difficult now. >> thanks very much, fran townsend, working with us, in new york. a major ruling out of the u.s. supreme court today concerning the violent video games many kids are playing. new details. stand by. that new world famous
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russian spy anna chapman, she's back in the headlines. up next, the person who has been charged with outing her. ♪
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two major rulings out of the u.s. supreme court today, both favoring free speech. lisa sylvester is here, she's monitoring that, and some other top stories in "the situation room" now. big decisions from the highest
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court. >> that's right, wolf. it was a big win for the video game industry. the court in a 7-2 ruling striking down a california law which would have banned the sale of violent video games to children, saying it goes too far. manufacturers argue they provide parents with the energy needed to decide whether a particular game is appropriate for their child. but the state maintains it has a legal obligation to protect children. the court also threw out an arizona law providing extra taxpayer funded support for political candidates who have been outspent by privately funded opponents or independent political groups. in a 5-4 conservative majority, the justices ruled the law uses the public finance system to level the playing field and therefore violates free speech. lawmakers argued it was in state's interest to equalize resources. a russian colonel has been convicted of treason in the outing a group of spies that includes than chapman.
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the colonel was sentenced to 25 years in a penal colony and stripped of his military title. last august, 11 intelligence officers living and working in the u.s. sleeper agents were arrested and returned to moscow as part of a spy swap. >> she became pretty famous out of that deal. >> yeah. she was living in new york and a none of them were living in suburban. some in the washington, d.c. area and they were spies. ended up going back to russia. >> sleeper agents, waiting to be used for some mission. >> sounded like a movie. >> thank you very much, lisa. nuclear fears in america's heartland, could flooding in nebraska, nebraska lead to a crisis like the one in japan after the earthquake and tsunami. brian todd is on the scene. new information about the money stolen from citigroup credit accounts by hackers. what the company is saying and not saying now about the massive security breach.
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right now, president obama stepping up his campaign for political donations. his re-election team is going to new lengths to rake in cash from wealthy supporters and from everyday americans. let's bring in our international political correspondent jessica yellin. they're going in the final days before they have to announce how much they raised in this quarter
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to look for the so-called small donors, people with give $5, $10, $20. what's going on? >> it is the emphasis on the everyday donors, small donors, wolf. all that attention recently on raising that $1 billion called a lot of notice to the big boundler, megadonors that can give that kind of money. you'll remember last time around, the obama campaign made a big deal they were energized by regular americans, those little donors who gave little bits of money to keep them going. you need that money to energize the campaign again, right? they're making a big push in the final days saying give us just $5 and you can get dinner not just with president obama, but also with the vice president. look at what they have put up on the internet. >> so this isn't so much dinner with barack anymore, as it is dinner with barack and joe. and to use one of his favorite expressions, that's a big deal. we're both really looking forward to it. hope to see you soon. >> so obviously this is not so
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much about the money, $5 a pop, not so much money, it is really about getting those numbers in, getting people energized again and the campaign is saying they hope to get 450,000 donors total by the time they have to report on thursday. >> if they do it average, if they say we have raised $50 million over the past foo months, and they say, but it was given by tens of thousands of people as opposed to a few hundred really rich guys on wall street or whatever, it sounds so much better. >> bigger numbers sound much better. sounds like they have a bit more energized following, exactly. >> politically, that sends a powerful message. what are departments behind the scenes telling you privately? >> the progressive base, the liberals who are so passionately behind president obama when he was a candidate last time around, who were the machine of that big movement, are saying, privately, they're not going to get the same kind of energy. they're not going to get the same kind of small donors because so many of them are angry. that's when a lot of the progressive activists are saying now. you talk to the washington hands, the political operatives
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and they say, just wait, wait until you see some of these political candidates out there, some of the republicans like michele bachmann, once some of democrats start hearing the messages coming out from the republican party, they'll get energized, they'll get enraged and democrats will start -- >> one of those guys who says, you know, the progressive wing, the liberal left and all of them, they will come to this president when all the dust settles, when they see who the republican nominee is, assuming there is no third party moderate. >> that's what the president's campaign is counting on. >> thank you very much. president obama's opposition to gay marriage is in question. is he sending mixed messages to gay and lesbian groups? our strategy session is standing by. cnn learned about a new u.s. attack that is part of a secret pentagon and cia war against terrorists. we have details. home? piggy: weeeeeee, weeeeeee, weeeeeee, weeeee weeeeeeee.
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right to our stlaet session. joining us, our cnn political contributor roland martin and the republican strategist, the former gingrich press secretary, rich gaylan, publisher of you were press secretary -- >> also dan quayle's press secretary. look how that turned out. >> that was a long time ago. long at this, the recent polls. right now should marriages between gay and lesbian couples
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be recognized as valid? right now, 51% say yes. back in 2008, 44% said yes. no is gone from 47% now, 55% in 2008. it looks like, you know, the american public is changing its attitude on this whole issue of gay marriage. why doesn't the president now, he supports civil unions, he supports equal rights for gay couples, why does he continue to refuse to say he supports gay marriage? >> because he has a right to have his own opinion on the issue. there is an assumption -- >> do you think he does or is he just doing that for political purposes? >> we haven't had a conversation on this topic. i do believe, though, that you cannot discount the political reality when it comes to this issue. we can talk about a poll of 51%. the only poll that matter for any president is the one with the electoral college, 270. when you look at this next election, you look at iowa, you look at virginia, north carolina, he won by 14,000 votes, indiana he won by 1%, it
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is a reality that an issue like this could tip -- could shift a number of votes. so he's making a political calculation, there is no doubt. >> he's also assuming the gay and lesbian community and others that support gay marriage will be with him no matter what when they see who the republican nominee is. i would surprised, and you correct me if i'm wrong, if he's re-ele re-elected, shortly there after he comes out in favor of gay marriage when he doesn't have to worry about some of the considerations. >> i'm not so sure that your original premise is correct. >> which original premise. >> about the gays and lesbians are going to be with him because of who the republicans are going to nominate. they may not vote for the republican, but they may just stay home. they may start voting with governor or senator and not vote for president because as we saw yesterday or in sunday's paper, you know, the president went out and raised three quarters of a million dollars at a gay and lesbian event in new york and still refuses --
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>> you think they will sit on their hands -- >> at some point you have to stand up for what you think is right, if it costs you a vote or two, it does. >> did the president stand up against don't ask, don't tell? yes. did the president stand up when it came to the issue of benefits. >> he's done enough, you think. >> first of all, i didn't use the word enough. what i'm saying is if there are six issues on the table and the president has sided with you on five of those issues, that's -- that's a reality. now there will be people who say, no, we want you to agree on all six, but we cannot discount what he's actually done when it comes to these issues. >> he didn't give the gay and lesbian community, okay, tell me the order the that you want me to do this. he chose, that so when you say it's -- if they would have said, let the other five go, this is what we care about and that's the one he's ignoring i think that's a big deal. >> have they said that? >> yeah, they have. >> if that's the case they wouldn't have been applauding last week when they talked about the things he's done. we can sit here and discount the
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reality, also there are democrats who have supported this president who do not support gay marriage, who do support civil unions. a president has to make a decision, and that is can i appease one group? now, a special interest group has the absolute right to fight for their issues, but there are multiple groups. >> on the republican side, i think jon huntsman supports civil unions. >> the only one. >> do any of the other republican candidates support civil unions? we're not talking about them. we're talking about president obama. >> the other republican candidates do not support gay marriage as all. >> that's a fact. they are not appealing to the gay and lesbian community, he is. >> let me -- let me read to you what maureen dowd wrote in yesterday's "new york times" because she excoriates the president of the united states. still obama's reluctance to come out for gay marriage seems hugely and willfully inconsistent with what we know about his progressive world view
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and it's odd that the first black penalty is letting andrew cuomo go down in history of the leader on the civil rights issue of our time. she goes on and says this, and worse, the young hip black president swept in on a gust of change, audacity and hope is lagging behind a couple of old white conservatives, dick chain and ted olsen. >> i'll remind you that maureen doed wrote a number of columns highly critical of then senator obama and inaugurated when it came to 2009. maureen dowd forget, might want to go out and talk to a lot of black folks, can you cite him being the first black president, even this issue in the black community is a huge issue. dick cheney in the white house, did he give a speech coming out for gay marriage? no. it ted olsen say i will not move any cases before the supreme court against gay marriage, no. so --
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>> you're -- >> allow me to finish. >> rich, president bill clinton -- >> finish quickly. >> president bill clinton signed the defense of marriage act and came out in support of gay marriage after he left office, a political calculation. that is the reality. none of the people, the conservatives, said a word about it when they had the power to do so. >> but it wasn't the issue. it didn't come before them. >> it was an issue then. that's like saying they didn't say anything about asteroids about hitting the earth. it wasn't an issue then. >> you guys are not going to agree on this. but a good discussion. thank you. the japan nuclear plant meltdown shocked and scared the world. could something like that ever really happen in the flood-frencflood flood-drenched yooiunited state? secret operations by the same commando unit that killed osama bin laden. let me tell you about a very important phone call i made.
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pentagon and cia war against a terrorist group the u.s. believes is targeting europe and the united states. the pentagon hit a stronghold of al shabaab, a somali-based al qaeda affiliate now in the u.s. crosshairs. u.s. military and cia personnel have gone to somalia secretly in recent months gathering intelligence and meeting key somali contacts, according to two u.s. officials. cia director leon panetta acknowledged covert operations in both somalia and next door yemen. >> we are doing that in yemen. it's obviously a dangerous and uncertain situation, but we continue to work with elements there to try to develop counterterrorism. we're working with jay sock as well in their operations. same thing is true for somalia.
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>> reporter: joint special operations command, the same covert military unit that killed osama bin laden. retired officer led missions to somalia in the 1990s. it's still a dangerous place for u.s. personnel, he says. >> it's extremely risky, because if they are captured by al shabaab or similar groups, they basically face death, and it's a very, very difficult environment. they have to be very careful. >> but the white house believes al shabaab and al qaeda are now hand in glove. we do have intelligence that indicates that they, too, are looking at targets beyond somalia. >> when this al qaeda operative was recently killed by somali forces, the cia rapidly stepped qaeda targeting plans were found with him showing targets in britain, including eaton college. think of it all as the war on terror 2.0. >> going after high-value targets like the leadership of
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al shabaab, any of the similar organizations that are out there, that is part and parcel of what jsoc obviously does and the best kind of environment for somalia. we want to stay away from getting involved in a big land war there. >> reporter: and general david petraeus, who will be taking over for panta at the cia, has already endorsed these types of joint operations between the intelligence community and the u.s. military. wolf? >> barbara starr, thank you. and to our viewers, you're in "the situation room." happening now, floodwaters of historic proportions closing in on a u.s. nuclear power plant. could the kind of disaster that happened in japan also happen in america's heartland? and former illinois governor rod blagojevich is facing years in prison now as a jury fund him guilty on multiple corruption charges. we'll have the latest. shielding kids from violence versus free speech. the supreme court here in the united states weighing in on a pivotal case. we want to welcome our viewers
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in the united states and around the world. breaking news. political headlines and jeanne moos all straight ahead. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." the world watched in horo as a flooded power plant in japan became the site of the worst nuclear disaster since chernobyl, and now there are very serious concerns about a nuclear power plant in the u.s. heartland being inundated with historic flooding along the missouri river. parts of the facility are already two feet under water. cnn's brian todd is in nebraska for us. he's at the ft. calhoun nuclear station. it's near omaha. brian, what's latest? wolf, at two nuclear power facilities here in nebraska, officials are struggling to keep this historic missouri river floodwater at bay. this is behind me where the need is most urgent. the ft. calhoun nuclear power
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facility just outside ft. calhoun. our photojournalist will zoom in where can you see the floodwaters creeping very, very close to the main building there and really engulfing some of the outer buildings around there. now, this is the facility where yesterday a worker accidentally punctured a hole in a three-quarter mile long aqua birm that had been built to protect that facility. that was filled with water. a hole was punctured in it allowing some of the water and floodwaters to creep closer to the building and vaughn the transformer. that's a key development because as that point this plant had to go offline and be powered on generator power for a few hours. back on the power grid now, but officials here are keeping a very close watch on that because as the water kind of stays near the power transformer, it does run the risk of a repeat of that japanese fukushima daiichi situation where the floodwaters knocked out the power. they couldn't power the pumps that put water in there to cool the reactor, to cool the spent fuel rods at that plant, and three reactors melted down.
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obviously they are trying to avoid a repeat of that here, and they say this plant is in a much different situation. they say it's much more safe right now, and they have this under control, but they are watching those transformers because, again, they power the pumps that send in the cool water to basically cool the reactor, to cool the spent fuel rods. if the transformers are flooded, if they get knocked out, that's going to be a pretty dicy situation, but they say that right now this plant is safe, and they are operating off the regular power grid right now. this plant was shut down in april for refueling, so it's not actually functioning to power, you know, electricity around this area. they still need the power to cool those rods and reactor, and that's what they are watching very closely as water creeps towards the transformer. at another plant 80 miles south of here, the cooper station plant, that's built on higher ground. it's a lot drier, but, again, the missouri river water is fairly close to that plant. they are keeping a very close eye on that. now, at this plant here, we're
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told we'll get access to this plant. hope to get inside and see the real damage where it's at the worst point and what officials here are saying about it, if we can get out in time. we'll of course show some of our viewers, the pictures of what we saw inside. either way we'll show viewers those pictures. as soon as we get out, wolf, but, again, pretty much the most urgent area where officials are trying to keep the floodwaters from compromising this nuclear power plant. wolf? >> brian todd on the scene for us. we'll check back with you. meanwhile, it's not water but fire that's threatening the u.s. laboratory at los alamos. mandatory evacuation orders have gone out for people who live nearby. the lab was closed today because of the wildfire which has already burned 44,000 acres. special crews have been dispatched to protect lab. officials say all radioactive and hazardous material is accounted for and safe. let's go to syria right now where hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators have been killed in months of protests against the regime of president bashar
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assad. today opposition leaders took a different tack and cnn was there. we're the only television network with reporters inside syria and yellen as well. let's go to damascus where cnn's hala gorani filed this report. >> reporter: it was crowded in the barroom of a hotel in the syrian capital monday. where about 200 government opponents gathered for talks on democracy in syria. some here have spent years in prison for speaking out against the regime. like this man, a prominent intellectual. he says the regime hasn't shown signs of wanting real change. so we must change this tyrannical rescream to a democratic civilian one, he tells me. how that transition happens is a question that this conference is trying to address.
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at this opposition meeting at a damascus hotel there's several of the significant industries of the 2005 damascus declaration that called for a democratic transition in syria but those demonstrating in the protests across the country and those that represent them abroad say these individuals don't necessarily speak for them. this man is a pro-democracy activist based outside of syria. >> we are the people who have been protesting and taking the streets and are asking for democracy and freedom of speech and serious change and a change of regime. are those voices are in the conference. >> reporter: responding to critics like tarif, one of the conference organizers says there is room for more than one dissenting voice. >> i think it's time for -- for us to say our political statement, the statement coming from the street, the statement coming from the authority and
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the statement coming from everywhere outside the country. it's time for this group to say what they think and to find solutions. >> for all the criticism and the support, dissidents gathered here don't forget the years they spent jailed for speaking out. if the street doesn't put pressure on the state to stop its dominance over society, hussein says, then we're definitely at risk of going back to jail and for a very long time. something all opponents agree on, the fears and the uncertainty of what tomorrow's syria may bring. >> hala gorani is joining from us damascus right now. hala, does the government of bashar assad of syria have a problem with the pro-democracy activists meeting as open as
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they are right in the syrian capital? >> reporter: that's an interesting question. the organizers told me that they informed the authorities that they were going to meet, and they told the authorities in which hotel they were going to meet, and were waiting for a fax or communique or some sort of note to be sent to them by the government acknowledging that they are aware that the gathering was going to take place. they told me that up until 1:00 a.m. the night before they had not received word from the government and finally a note came through, and the meeting did take place in the end this monday. now, the government is authorizing/tolerating this meeting. they did not sponsor it, but there are many critics out there. you heard in my report saying that the dissidents who were meeting today at the damascus hotel does not -- do not represent those protesters out on the streets. for one thing, they are of another generation. another criticism that was directed at them, that they
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don't take part in any of these demonstrations and they are giving a veneer of legitimacy by meeting in damascus with the tacit authorization and approval of the government, wolf, so this meeting is -- did take place with dissidents that did hard jail time. these are definitely intellectuals who paid with their freedom for some of the things they have said against the regime, but many outside and inside syria are saying that perhaps this meeting is counterproductive in a way, and one of the dissidents who was expected to attend didn't show up, and he said he did not want to give the impression that the regime is legitimate while killings continue in the country, wolf. >> and just remind our viewers, hala, because i want to be transparent with our viewers in the united states and around the world, you still are under severe restrictions where you can go, with whom you can meet, is that right? >> it is right. we are accompanied when we film out on the streets of damascus
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by government minders. we're able to walk out on our own when we're not filming, when we're out doing the work of television journalists on the streets of the capital but we are under close supervision. we ask for permission to shoot in certain neighborhoods where we know anti-regime demonstrations are either going to take place or are in the process of unfolding, and in many cases we're told we're working on that permission, we're working on it. just be patient with us and by the time we get the permission to go there the demonstrations and demonstrators have disbanded so, indeed, we are working under the close supervision of government minders, and we have very real restrictions when we do our job here, but it is -- wolf, i have to say, it's still a fascinating insight into the story in damascus. this is three months plus into the uprising, and our first opportunity to see the syrian capital, and as much as we can
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talk to ordinary people away from the ear shot of our -- our government escorts. >> excellent. glad you're there, hala. thanks very much. we'll check back with you tomorrow. forced labor, sexual exploitation and modern day slavery. the u.s. state department says those abhorrent practices are flourishing in countries including the democratic republic of congo, north korea, saudi arabia and iran. the department is out with its 2011 trafficking in persons report. it's one of the most comprehensive analyses of worldwide human trafficking. cnn has been going in-depth on the problem, ant state department has noted our efforts. >> a lot has changed in the last decade. the fight against trafficking has become a social and a cultural imperative. go to the underground railroad freedom center today, you'll see an exhibit on modern slavery and how it affects you. because they realize that the walk to freedom didn't end 150 years ago. it's a journey that someone is
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having to take every day. and just like the editor of that harrisburg newspaper, the folks at cnn know that this fight is newsworthy, having aired dozens of stories in the last few months through their innovative freedom project. >> secretary of state hillary clinton spoke exclusively about u.s. anti-trafficking efforts with cnn international's jim clancy. >> i have been caring about and working on this now for, you know, longer than a decade, and the passion is there because it's such a violation of human rights and human dignity, to see men, women and children forced into bondage, slavery, in the 21st century is just absolutely unforgettable and unforgivable, so we do take seriously the -- the mission that the united states, along with many international partners, has undertaken which is to prevent
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and to prosecute and to do everything we can in our efforts to stop modern day slavery, and that means we have to have partnerships which is very important, and we have to protect those who are at risk and those who are put into it, so we went from three ps to four ps but passion underlies all of them. >> you can learn much more about the problem of human trafficking through the cnn freedom project aimed at ending modern day slavery. go to is it airport security run amuck? there's outrage right now over allegedly what happened to this 95-year-old cancer patient, but now the tsa is telling its side of the story. we have details. also, hundreds of thousands of credit card accounts robbed. new details coming out right now in the wake of a massive attack by hackers. plus, guilty on 17 corruption charges. so what's next for former
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illinois governor rob blagojevich? stay with us here in "the situation room."
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bundling and saving made easy. now, that's progressive. call or click today. a lot of people all across the united states were shocked and horrified when they heard about this. tsa agents apparently required, get this, a 95-year-old cancer patient to remove her adult diaper for a pat-down. now the tsa is responding. our homeland security correspondent jeep meserve has the very latest for us. it's shocked a lot of people out there. jeanne, what's going on here? >> reporter: a very disturbing
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incident which has fueled a heated debate about whether security should trump privacy. this 95-year-old luke can a patient was going through security at a florida airport on june 18th. because she was in a wheelchair she was given a pat-down, and the transportation security administration found a problem. >> a wee bit embarrassing. >> it had something to do with her depends, that it was wet and it was firm and they couldn't check it thoroughly. she would have to remove it, and -- and i was -- i said i don't have an extra one with me. this normally isn't a problem, and she said that she could not complete the security check without the depends off. >> reporter: her nephew thinks it was ridiculous. >> i felt sorry for her. i mean, you know, dignity and self-esteem. >> reporter: the tsa says they did not require her to remove the diaper an provided the elderly woman and her daughter with options. >> they offered to get her bag
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off of the -- out of the plane and bring it back so i can get a clean depends, and i said, well, i can't see how you can get the bag here and i can get my mother changed in that amount of time. >> it bothered my daughter more than it did me because i guess i'm too old to care. >> reporter: why was a dipary security issue at all. remember the so-called underwear bomber who allegedly tried to bring down a plane on christmas in 2009? authorities say abdullah farouk abdulmutallab had explosives sewn in his undergarments. experts could plant explosives on anyone but this woman's relatives aren't buying it. >> people have no common sense. >> reporter: common sense is exactly what the tsa promised after the video of a 6-year-old being patted down in new orleans
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went viral earlier this year. the woman says she didn't let the incident bother her, but publicity about it is bothering plenty of other people and has intensified debate whether tsa is in its lane or out of bounds. wolf? >> usually there's an adult supervisor at some of these locations that does have a little common sense and could overrule what the tsa operators are going by the book, full there. has to be a little reasonable common sense in these kinds of situations. what are they saying about that, jeanne? >> reporter: what the tsa is saying is that the people at the checkpoint followed the established security protocols. they are defending how they handled this, and i have to tell you, the more we learn today, the more gray this situation seemed to become, and it became quite unclear as to how much of this was forced on this woman by -- by the tsa and how much her daughter volunteered to do. in an interview with cnn this afternoon, the daughter said it
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was her decision to take off the undergarment, so there really are still a lot of questions here, wolf. >> keep checking because there's high interest in there and a lot of outrage out there right now, and i know they are doing their job the best they can, but sometimes you've got to have a little common sense in dealing with a 95-year-old cancer patient, a survivor in a wheelchair in a situation like this with her daughter present. all right. thanks very, very much. interview them and get some questions and see if they do have any connections with al qaeda or whatever. that could be clarified pretty quickly. we are learning right now just how many millions of dollars hackers stole when they infiltrated hundreds of thousands of supposedly secure accounts belonging to citigroup credit card customers. lisa sylvester is here and joining us with this part of story. what do you have. >> reporter: nearly 3 million taken from citigroup customer credit card accounts. customers are not on the hook for that money and already been put back in the customer
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accounts, but this is latest example of hackers growing bolder by the day. $2.7 million swiped from customers credit card accounts. citigroup says the money was taken from 3,400 customer accounts. the thieves were able to tap into nearly 100 times as many accounts. 360,000 during the may security breach. security analysts say it's part of a wider trend of cyber attacks on the rise. sony corporation, lockheed martin and various other agencies. >> whenever a bank robber would come to the bank, whatever money you had in the bank, it would be gone and now bank robbers are coming through digital doors that you could not even see? citigroup isn't saying whether they know who is behind the attacks citing the ongoing investigation. a spokesman added our customers are 100% protected from any fraud. we don't want our customers
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thinking they are liable, but even still, data thieves can bide their time for weeks or months after stealing personal information. consumer union urges people to monitor their accounts on a weekly basis. >> a lot of time the way these things work, identity thieves will place small transactions on your account, maybe $10, maybe $15. you don't recognize it. you probably won't follow up on it. it's a very small transaction, but they place these transactions on hundreds of thousands ave counts hoping that nobody will follow up and report on it. >> reporter: consumer groups are also pushing for a federal policy outlining requirements for data storage of customer information. right now it's left up to each state to decide the rules. >> what we would like is for there to be a standardized policy coming from here from washington that tells companies these are the ways to store information, these are the ways to keep the information safe and in case of a data breach this is what you have to do to notify. >> reporter: now 46 states have their own legislation in place on cyber security breaches, and
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legislation has been introduced in congress to have one uniform policy, one proposal which would require companies that collect personal information on more than 10,000 people in a 12-month period, they would have to disclose the breach. right now, wolf, the rules are all across the board. >> thanks very much. good report, lisa. another case involving citigroup to tell you b.this one involves one of its own, the former citigroup executive gary foster is under arrest accused of embezzling more than $19 million from the bank. he allegedly transferred the money into his own personal account. citigroup spotted the suspicious activity and notified law enforcement. from the governor's mansion to most likely a federal prison, a jury in chicago hands down multiple guilty verdicts for rod blagojevich. the former illinois governor says he's stunned and disappointed but is his legal battle over? and the biggest surprise at wimbledon today was not on the court. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." h insurance many people can
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she's a tea party favorite. known for some times explosive rhetoric, but today minnesota congresswoman michele bachmann's tone was very much that of a national candidate as she announced her bid for the republican presidential nomination. she made the announcement in iowa where she was born and which also happens to hold the nation's first caucuses, but her message wasn't entirely watered down. >> our voice is growing louder. our voice is growing stronger, and it's made up of americans from all walks of life, like a three-legged stool. it's made up of peace through strong conservatives, and i am
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one of those. it is made up of fiscal conservatives, and i am one of those. it is made up of social conservatives, and i am one of those. [ applause ] and it's made up of the tea party movement, and i am one of those. it's a very powerful coalition that the left fears, and they should because make no mistake about it. barack obama will be a one-term president! >> cnn's joe johns has more on the newest republican contender and what sets her apart from the gop field. >> reporter: tea party darling, anti-obama fire breather, now congresswoman michele bachmann is ready for an even bigger microphone on a bigger political stage. >> maybe we need to send a change of address form for him
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to 1600 pennsylvania avenue. >> reporter: with sarah palin undecided, balkman may be the only woman among a field of male contenders. she's known for tough talk. >> the powers at be here in washington, d.c., specifically in the white house, have been wrong about a few things. >> wrong about everything. >> wrong about everything, is that it? >> reporter: while seeking support, the 55-year-old minnesota republican will tout her ideology and biography. she and husband marcus have five biological children. she's been a foster mother to 23 others. balkman is chairwoman of the house tea party caucus and often rails against excessive government spending and what critics call obama care, but her message is not always on message, like this gaffe from new hampshire. >> you're the state where the shot was heard around the world at lexington and concord. >> reporter: that revolutionary war battle actually happened in massachusetts. balkman later admitted her mistake though blamed media bias for widely reporting it and this
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from iowa, about slavery and the men who wrote the nation's founding documents. >> the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the united states. >> reporter: not exactly. many of the founders owned slaves, and delivering tea party reaction to the last state of the union address she appeared to look off camera, blaming a two-camera mishap, but that didn't stop "saturday night live" from poking fun. >> unfortunately that response was marred by some technical difficulties, and it seems that its core message was not properly conveyed. accordingly, i have asked for this time tonight in order to try again so here goes. >> reporter: joe johns, cnn, washington. >> let's get more on michele bachmann right now. our chief political analyst glornlger is here and a new "des moines register" iowa poll that
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came out this weekend, statistically tied with mitt romney for number one. >> reporter: she's got the hometown advantage, born there in iowa. look, she has a message to the tea party constituency, and, you know, when you look at michele bachmann, i've talked to lots of republicans, who kind of compare her to howard dean in 2004. he kind of sucked all the oxygen up out of that race. eventually john kerry got the democratic nomination, but howard dean was a very important factor, not only before iowa but also after because he -- he represented the liberal wing of the democratic party, so she may represent a very important wing of the republican party. she's a very good retail politician. people have to pay attention to her, wolf >> so if she's howard dean, mitt romney is john kerry. >> could be. >> is that the analogy you're trying to make? >> it could be. obviously the front-runner is mitt romney. he's got the money and got the establishment backing, and
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that's where kerry was. >> let's talk a little bit about her record in congress. she's five and a half years or so, five years as a member of congress. >> right. >> what is her record? >> well, she's quite conservative. she's always been conservative on the social issues, conservative on the fiscal issues. her -- her big claim to fame is that she is against government spending at all levels, including pork spending. now you and i know congress very well, and everybody is against pork until they are for pork in their own districts, and the "l.a. times" did some reporting over the weekend which showed that in 2009 michele bachmann wrote a letter to the secretary of agriculture praising the federal government for propping up pork prices. she also applied for stimulus money after she voted against the stimulus, she applied for stimulus money in her district, and her father-in-law's farm was the recipient of farm subsidies which she opposes, so this could
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be a problem for her if she continues in the race >> i know the new congress, she wanted to be a leader. >> she did. >> she ran for a leadership position. she didn't win. what do her colleagues think of her? >> they don't love her, wolf. >> you're talking about republicans, too? >> republicans have some problems with her because they feel she's not a team player. they feel that she always takes the opportunity to separate herself from the republican party, which, by the way, is something she's going to do on raising the debt ceiling. in the end, the speaker of the house john boehner and the leader of the republicans in the senate, mitch mcconnell, are going to have to go along with some kind of package to raise the debt ceiling. she will oppose it. she opposed all the compromises made during the lame duck session as well, and so she wants to separate herself, be an outsider, even though she's been inside washington, and, you know, people in congress, when they have served and they know they have to make some tough decisions, they don't appreciate
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that. >> gloria, thank you very much. >> he spent six years as illinois' governor, and now rod blagojevich could spend more than three times that long in prison. details of his corruption conviction today. also, accused mob boss and former fugitive reveals how he snuck back to boston armed to the teeth.
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lisa sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in "the situation room." what's going on. >> reporter: hi, wolf. two apparent u.s. drone strikes have killed six suspected militants in pakistan's volatile tribal region bordering afghanistan. 13 other people also died. there have been 38 drone strikes in pakistan this yearagering islamabad. the pakistani government has demanded they stop. the los angeles dodgers are facing hard hits financially. the team filed for bankruptcy protection today. the move comes less than a week after a major league baseball
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blocked the dodgers from signing a new $3 billion television deal. the dodgers need the money to pay the players. the team's owners have been locked in a bitter divorce fight. the bankruptcy move to ease the way to selling the dodgers. and look at who turned up at wimbledon today, yeah. that's britain's royal newlyweds, prince william and katherine getting out the car there. they saw british andy murray triumph on the court and moving on to the quarterfinals. looking pretty good. getting around. >> happy newlyweds. >> who wouldn't be happy going to wimbledon right now. thanks very much. are violent video games putting your children at risk in the u.s. supreme court weighing in today. you'll find out if it's putting violent games out of kids' reach, and multiple verdicts of guilty rang out in the courtroom today for rod blagojevich. he could spend decades in prison. we're going to tell you what his first words to the press were
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after the stunning verdicts. [ waves crashing ] ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] and just like that, it's here. a new chance for all of us: people, companies, communities to face the challenges yesterday left behind and the ones tomorrow will bring. prudential. bring your challenges.
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protecting children versus protecting free speech. that was at heart of a closely watched u.s. supreme court case pitting the video game industry
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against the state of california. now the ruling is out. let's go to cnn's kate balduan over at the supreme court for us. tell our viewers, kate, what happened. >> hey there, wolf. the goal of this law that is at issue here was to protect children from potentially harmful material. much like states regulate access to cigarettes, alcohol and eastern pornography. but while the justices said this law may have been well-intentioned, they also said it went too far. 15-year-old matt myers is like most every teenager today. >> oh, that's not cool. >> reporter: high school tenth grader can't get enough of video games like call of duty. its most recent release block ops sold a record breaking 5.6 million copies in the first 24 hours. but games with even more brutal depictions of violence like postal two, beheading women, mass killings and urinating on
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victims fell under california's law that would ban the sale of video to anyone under the age of 18. >> the loss is for parents and kids across the country. it's about the sale of ultra violent content to minors period. >> reporter: the court disagrees. the justices say the game went too far violating the game's free speech rights. justice antonin scalia calling the law, quote, seriously overinclusive because it breaches the first amendment right of patients who think video games are a harmless pastime. video game-makers argued they have already imposed an industrywide rating system that effectively limits access of graphic material to minors, and stuck in the middle were parents. two-thirds of american households have game consoles and two-thirds of patients are under the pressure to buy the newest, hottest games. >> it's a challenge to keep the
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teenager off the game without you having to hover over them constantly. >> i prefer if matthew wasn't playing the games, not only because i think they are a little violent or very violent, but because i'd rather he do other things with his time. >> reporter: as for their son matt, he's just looking for the next big battle. >> it's invigorating. it's captivating. i find it interesting, and it's also in a major part the game my friends are playing. >> reporter: states across the country were watching this gays closely, but even they were divided on the issue. now this issue is sending a clearer message making it harder for states to impoets similar laws, but not only with respect to video games but also with things like movies and graphic lyrics to music, wolf, all largely protected by free speech. >> free speech, that's an important concept. all right. we're going to dig deeper.
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kate, thanks very much. joining us now is our senior legal analyst, jeffrey toobin. first of all, were you surprised by this decision by the supreme court? >> not at all. one of the things about this particular court is as we know they are very divided, liberals and conservatives about a lot of issues, but free speech is not one of them. this is a court where free speech claims often win, and in the oral argument, in all the leadup to this case, it really seemed likely that they were going to strike down this law. justice scalia's opinion was actually very funny and very wise, and he talked about all the literature, children's literature, "hansel and gettel," grimms fairy tales and the iliad and odyssey very violent for their day. they didn't have the technology to be this violent. >> what are the consequences from this decision? >> well, i think the consequences, the status quo pretty much remains intact. the games have the ratings that they do. store owners are obligated to keep them from the kids for whom
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it's inappropriate, but the law is not going to be use toned force it. i mean, there's really not going to be a lot of change in how american life works as a result of this decision. >> there was another decision involving arizona and campaign funding in arizona that the supreme court ruled on today. explain what happened. >> okay. this is i think a huge case that's part of a big, big development in the supreme court. as you'll remember, last year the citizens united decision, the court said the first amendment protects corporations from any probation on spending money in elections. this was another version of that case. this was an arizona law that said the playing field had to be somewhat even between candidates who spend a lot of money and candidates who don't spent a lot of money. supreme court said that's unconstitutional, and where we really appear to be heading here is towards almost deregulating campaigns. no limits on campaign expenditures. no limits on who can give money,
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and no limits on how much they can give. that's really where the court is heading. this case is really another step in that direction. >> so all of that campaign fund-raising finance reform that so many have talked about in washington over the years, mccain/feingold as a lot of viewers will remember, what happened to all of that? >> in citizens united, the supreme court already got rid of a big chunk of mccain/feingold, but i think the rest of it is only a matter of time as long as the supreme court remains constituted as it is. this court really believes in free speech. as we saw in the video game, and their idea of free speech also includes spending money in campaigns. so they really look to me like they are on the verge of getting rid of all of mccain/feingold and all of those kinds of laws. >> money talks in politics, and we'll see a lot more of it as a result. quickly on rod blagojevich, the former governor of illinois. convicted on most of those counts today.
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he's looking at a long time in prison right now. were you surprised by what happened? >> no, i was surprised he didn't get convicted the first time, and what makes it worse for him this time is that he testified, so the judge is going to see that blagojevich testified for search days and the jury didn't believe him. judges don't like lying defendants. that's why most defendants don't take the witness stand, so this judge really could give him a long time in prison. we're talking eight years, ten years. there are no mandatory sentencing guidelines so it's all up to the judge, and blagojevich is in a world of trouble. >> yeah. he said he's going to go home and speak to his two little kids. he's 54 years old, facing many years in prison right now, but he'll be out until sentencing. >> and wolf, he's second consecutive illinois governor to be convicted of felonies. >> and about to go to jail. thanks very much, jeff toobin, assessing what's going on for us.
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meanwhile, a legal attempt to take libyan leader moammar gadhafi out of power. we'll explain the news, what's going on, and some surprise twists and turns in the murder case that's captivated millions of people across the united states. we'll go to florida for the latest developments in the casey anthony case.
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some up expected twists and heel maneuverings in the closely watched trial of casey anthony accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter caylee. fine answers today solving the mystery of what happened over the weekend and why court was abruptly stopped. with that mystery going away, another is taking its place. court documents made public reveal. after 27 days on trial for her life, casey anthony's attorneys felt it necessary to stop everything and check on her mental well-being. >> based upon the reports that the court has reviewed, the court will find that the defendant is competent to continue to proceed. >> reporter: two court-appointed psychologists and a psychiatrist determined that anthony is able to aid and assist in her own defense. the details of their
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examinations are sealed. her lawyers only say their request was based on privileged communications between casey marie anthony and her counsel. the announcement puts to rest speculation on the cause of the abrupt and mysterious halt to the trial saturday. judge perry sent everyone home with only this vague notice. >> as both sides concur that a legal issue has arisen. >> reporter: that came a day after casey anthony was brought to tears in the courtroom listening to emotional testimony from her mother and brother. a sharp difference from the casey anthony we see today, greeting her defense team with a smile, and appearing more animated and involved than she seemed in days. but none of this has happened in front of the jury. they are completely unaware of what's been going on because all of this has taken place with them out of the room. >> what about the testimony today? what are we hearing today? >> reporter: the highlight today is actually going on right now.
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we are hearing from an investigator, a private investigator who was guided by a psychic, who was searching the woods for caylee anthony's body where it was found. he says he was searching those same woods a month earlier and did not see her body. the defense wants to put some doubt in the minds of the jurors that the prosecution's case claims that her body decomposed in that area and want to show somebody placed her body there earlier before the body was found. >> thank you very much, david mattingly. lisa sylvester is monitoring the other stories in "the situation room." libyan leader omar gadhafi is a wanted man. the international courts issued arrest warrants for him and his son and brother-in-law. they are accused of crimes against humanity. the white house says the warrants are another sign
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gadhafi lost his validity. reputed south boston mob boss james "whitey" bulger may have been right under the nose of police. in newly released court documents, bulger admitted he returned to boston several times while, quote, armed to the teeth, to take care of unfinished business. he admitted he went to las vegas on numerous occasions to play the slots. he slipped across the border into tijuana to buy medicine. bulger and his long-time girlfriend were captured last week in southern california. a lot of people out there are rooting for a penguin. new zealandered nicknamed the penguin happy feet. veterinarians operated on him. take a look at these twitter pics. they removed piles of what they called gunk in his stomach, including rocks, sticks and stones. x-rays show he also had a belly full of sand. the penguin turned up on a new
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zealand beach far from his home in antarctica and may have been eating the sand to cool down. he was in bad shape, but they are taking care of him. hopefully he'll have a full recovery. a lot of people rooting for the penguin. >> thank you, lisa. ahead, up close and personal with michele bachmann.
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how else could one explain the headcam trailing republican presidential candidate michele bachmann? here is jeannie moos. >> together we'll do this. >> reporter: it was a day of feel-good photo opes. ♪ i feel good >> so nice to see you.
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>> reporter: posing with a butterfly, playing dentist. >> let me see your teeth. >> reporter: did we mention officially announcing for president? the campaign may be new, but michele bachmann's got a favorite line. >> barack obama will be a one-term president. >> a one-term president. >> reporter: the only fly in the ointment other than the one that landed on this bachmann supporter's head was when chris wallace asked an indelicate question based on what critics said about bachmann. >> are you a flake? >> i think that would be insulting to say something like that because i'm a serious person. >> reporter: wallace later apologized. >> i'm sorry. >> reporter: you know who probably resents questions about michele bachmann being a flake? her husband. dr. marcus bachmann is a clinical therapist with a degree in psychology. as she reached out to supporters -- >> nice to see you. >> reporter: he spent the whole time holding on to her waist.
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if bachmann did become president, her son might be the first mull et in the white house. one guy in particular has a picture of michele bachmann up here -- no, not a mental image. an actual camera strapped to his head. that's in addition to regular hand-held cameras. >> the camera i'm wearing on my head, like a 6'5" tripod is called the go-pro. she called me doctor and was joking that i looked like a surgeon, i guess. >> reporter: freelance photographer dave davidson says the head cam takes a shot every few seconds. meanwhile, bachmann started taking shots for a supposed gaffe, speaking about her hometown of waterloo, iowa. >> it's like john wayne was from waterloo, iowa. that's the spirit i had. >> reporter: blogs said it wasn't john wayne the actor, but john wayne g