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CNN NEWSROOM

Nine U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq Bombing; War of Words Escalates in Troop Funding Battle; Tornadoes Threaten Texas; Prison Riot in Indiana.

Aired April 24, 2007 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: A Colorado boy gets an early taste of the gridiron, after a big-time tackle from a college player.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Oh.

MALVEAUX: As part of a kids festival, 4-year-old Caden Thomas was playing on the sidelines of Saturday's Colorado State game, when wide receiver George Hill caught a touchdown pass. Hill's momentum carried him right into Caden and the padded stadium wall.

Caden's dad explained what all of that was like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL THOMAS, FATHER OF CADEN: There's the sickening thud. It was -- just tremendously worried about the rest of his life.

You make automatic assumptions that there's going to be some damage when you see something that horrific. And to see that he bounced back so quickly was really a blessing. He is just moving around. And his only complaint is that I don't let him jump on the trampoline.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Caden had surgery to stitch up the cut in his head, which his dad says will give him a scar to rival Harry Potter.

The next hour of the NEWSROOM, of course, starts right now with that and many stories up ahead.

LEMON: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

MALVEAUX: And I'm Suzanne Malveaux, in for Kyra Phillips. A terrible truth inspires a stunning lie. You will hear from an Army Ranger who says his commander ordered him not to tell Pat Tillman's family how he was really killed.

You're in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: It is the top of the hour. And we start with this: friendly fire and forced deceit.

A U.S. soldier says he was told to conceal the nature of Pat Tillman's death from Tillman's own family. Specialist Bryan O'Neal was with Tillman when he was mistakenly killed by his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan.

O'Neal tells a House panel he wanted to tell Tillman's brother Kevin how the former NFL star died, but a higher-up told him not to do it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPC. BRYAN O'NEAL, U.S. ARMY: I wanted right off the bat to let the family know what had happened, especially Kevin, because I worked with him in the platoon. And I knew that him and the family both needed -- or all needed to know what had happened.

And I was quite appalled that, when we were -- I was able -- actually able to speak with Kevin, I was ordered not to tell him what happened, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were ordered not to tell them?

O'NEAL: Roger that, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Kevin Tillman is an Army Ranger himself. He says the military lied and went to great lengths to do it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN TILLMAN, BROTHER OF CORPORAL PAT TILLMAN: Crucial evidence was destroyed, including Pat's uniform, equipment and notebook. The autopsy was not done according to regulation, and the field hospital report was falsified.

An initial investigation completed with eight to 10 days before testimony could be changed or manipulated and which hit disturbingly close to the mark disappeared into thin air and was conveniently replaced by another investigation with more palatable findings.

This freshly manufactured narrative was then distributed to the American public. And we believe the strategy had the intended effect: It shifted the focus from the grotesque torture at Abu Ghraib and a downward spiral of an illegal act of aggression to a great American who died a hero's death.

Over a month after Pat's death, when it became clear that it would no longer be possible to pull off this deception, a few of the facts were parceled out to the public and to our family.

General Kensinger was ordered to tell the American public May 29, five weeks later, that Pat died of fratricide, but with a calculated and nefarious twist. He stated -- quote -- "There was no one specific finding of fault -- end quote -- and that he -- quote -- "probably died of fratricide" -- end quote.

But there was specific fault. And there was nothing probable about the facts that led to Pat's death.

The most despicable part of what General Kensinger told the American public was when he said -- quote -- "The results of this investigation in no way diminish the bravery and sacrifice displayed by Corporal Tillman" -- end quote.

This is an egregious attempt to manipulate the public into thinking that anyone who would question this 180-degree flip in the narrative would be casting doubt on Pat's bravery and sacrifice. Such questioning says nothing about Pat's bravery and sacrifice, any more than the narrative for Jessica diminishes her bravery and sacrifice. It does, however, say a lot about the powers who perpetrated this.

After the truth of Pat's death was partially revealed, Pat was no longer of use as a sales asset, and became strictly the Army's problem. They were now left with the task of briefing our family and answering our questions. With any luck, our family would sink quietly into our grief, and the whole unsavory episode would be swept under the rug.

However, they miscalculated our family's reaction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Former POW Jessica Lynch also testified. She accuses the military of fabricating stories about her capture and rescue in Iraq.

MALVEAUX: Brazen Iraqi insurgents, bomb-filled trucks, casualties on a scale U.S. troops have not seen in a long time -- nine Army paratroopers killed, 20 wounded in a twin suicide truck bombing at a small base in Diyala Province.

It happened yesterday, the deadliest attack on U.S. ground forces in Iraq since December 2005. Early reports say insurgents used bomb- filled dump trucks, causing a huge blast that collapsed two walls at the base. The Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility. The same group said it pulled off a deadly attack at the Iraqi parliament complex -- complex two weeks ago.

LEMON: And, Suzanne, all of the soldiers killed came from Fort Bragg, which hasn't seen a loss like this in years.

CNN's Rusty Dornin is at the base in North Carolina.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was the worst attack against U.S. forces since 2005.

But, for the very tightly-knit 82nd Airborne, this was the worst loss of life since the offensive began against Afghanistan more than five years ago, right through the Iraq war.

The family notification teams began the very difficult task of telling the families yesterday afternoon. It's unclear whether they have finished that task. But, for many here, the mood is somber, the news devastating.

MAJOR TOM EARNHARDT, U.S. ARMY: The loss of any one paratrooper is -- is catastrophic to us, and it's unacceptable. But, at the same time, when you talk about losing nine paratroopers, nine of your brothers that aren't coming home with the unit, it is a gut check for the entire division. And we're all profoundly affected.

And we -- and, automatically, we shift to thinking about the families, because our families are our backbone. If they're not there, we can't get our job done.

DORNIN: Base officials say they will pay special attention to the family members, that there will always be someone from the 82nd Airborne standing by to help them with funeral plans, to help them with counseling.

Apparently, they will not release the names of the troops that were killed until 24 hours after the last family member has been notified. Now, 20 other paratroopers were wounded in this attack. Fifteen of them have returned to duty. Five of them remain hospitalized, but, apparently, their injuries are not life- threatening.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: And, if there were the faintest glimmer of a doubt as to whether President Bush planned to veto any war spending bill that calls for a troop pullout -- and there really wasn't -- he wants to squash it.

But these aren't the only heels being dug in over headlines -- deadlines and war strategy, as Congress comes to a big step closer to testing the president's veto threat.

Our CNN's Kathleen Koch watching all of this from the White House.

It's almost, like, mind-boggling to keep up with the pace of all of this, but clearly, Kathleen, a lot of strong rhetoric today.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of strong rhetoric, Suzanne.

I think it's certainly an understatement to say that this fight right now is getting very nasty. And both sides, the White House, the Republicans, and then the Democrats, are claiming the moral high ground, claiming that they are doing the best thing for the troops, for the country.

Vice President Dick Cheney himself was up on Capitol Hill just about an hour ago. And he lashed out then, very vigorously, at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, actually accusing the Democrats of opposing the Iraq war for political gain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator Reid himself has said that the war in Iraq will bring his party more seats in the next election.

It is cynical to declare that the war is lost because you believe it gives you political advantage. Leaders should make decisions based on the security interests of our country, not on the interests of their political party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: Well, obviously, Democrats were not about to sit still for that. They fired back, insisting that the supplemental war funding bill that they have approved is, as Senator Reid said, good for the troops, good for the country. He asked the president to -- quote -- "stop being so brusque in waving it off, insisting that it was more than generous to the war effort.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: It does far more than the president has asked. We do more money for Iraq and Afghanistan. And we do money for military medicine and veterans. And, so, I'm not going to get into a name-calling match with the administration's chief attack dog.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: As he calls the vice president an attack dog -- yes, so no name-calling here.

So, clearly, some very sharp words on both sides, and this coming to a head because a vote in Congress, votes are due to begin taking place both tomorrow and Thursday, so, a lot at stake here -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Obviously, both trying to get an upper hand on the debate.

Thank you very much, Kathleen Koch, at the White House.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Well, we are going to get you to Indiana now for some breaking news.

But we want to go over to the breaking news desk.

T.J. Holmes, what's going on?

T.J. HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I need to show you these pictures out of Indiana, where we understand there's some kind of disturbance at a prison there.

The pictures we have been looking at show that at least two fires possibly burning in the courtyard. This is a live picture. What you are seeing is the New Castle Correctional Facility. This is New Castle, Indiana, about 40 miles east of Indianapolis.

Well, initially, the reports were that there's some kind of disturbance there among the prisoners that broke out there today. Well, the mayor there of New Castle saying to a local affiliate of ours there that he was told this is a full-scale riot that is going on at the prison.

Can't tell too much about whether or not that disturbance is being kept under control or it's gotten under control at this point. We do see what appears to be prisoners outside congregating in certain areas around the courtyard and around these buildings that we're watching -- but, also, the mayor saying that the entire police force there in New Castle has been activated.

But, again, what you are seeing, a live picture here out of New Castle, Indiana -- just perspective, 40 miles east of Indianapolis -- where the mayor is telling local affiliates that, in fact, there is a full-scale riot that is taking place at this prison in New Castle. Do not know how this started, if anyone is hurt or even worse, or, again, how this whole thing started in the first place.

But we have just been keeping an eye on these live pictures. You see some of that smoke out there. It doesn't appear that any of the actual buildings here are on fire. But it appears just a couple of fires. Something is burning in a couple of locations on the courtyard there, see a little smoke. Can't exactly tell where that's coming from either.

But -- and you see people around. So, we're trying to get more information about -- about this prison, just exactly how many prisoners are kept there and what kind of offenders are kept here as well, information we're trying to get, just wanted to bring you this live picture about what was happening and what we know -- but, again, the mayor saying a full-scale riot is what he is being told is going on at that prison.

Trying to see if police officers at this time maybe have this situation under control, but hard to tell from these live pictures, just kind of people scattered around. Doesn't look like too much, too active going on, but something is up there.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: Go ahead, Don.

LEMON: And, T.J., that was my question, whether this is a maximum security prison, what kind of prison is it, because, clearly, at this point, I saw some big gates there, what have you. I'm not sure the level of security, but one would think that the caution and the concern now would be for the safety of the prisoners and not necessarily for escaping.

But you never know, because we need to get more information on -- on this prison.

HOLMES: Never know, but that -- but that's the concern. When you have it in quotes there from the mayor saying it's -- he is told it's a full-scale riot, that's kind of a...

LEMON: The entire police department, huh?

HOLMES: And the entire police force being activated now -- so, some -- kind of some strong words there.

We're keeping an eye on it, Don.

LEMON: Yes.

HOLMES: We are going to get back as soon as we know more about this prison and know about what is going on.

LEMON: Yes. I'm sure we will be checking back in with you. Thank you for bringing that to us, T.J.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: We want to turn now to the weather, more stormy times today.

And our very own Jacqui Jeras saying we're going to see thunderstorms, snowstorms, and the threat of tornadoes.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: They are all happening right now, Don, actually, as we speak.

The tornadoes have finally arrived. We have got several warnings we have to get through, really deteriorating at this hour, as the storms continue to develop and strengthen.

We also have a new watch, by the way, in southern parts of Nebraska, concern about some big hail makers here.

We're going to take you down into Texas at this hour, into the Dallas- Fort Worth area, two lines that you can see with strong thunderstorms. We have got a few warnings that have just been issued at this time. The first one is to the south and west of the city. We have got a tornado warning in effect for Johnson County. That storm is moving off to the east. It's just to the south of DFW. Here, you can see the storm itself.

It's moving east. So, we think it's going to stay south of the city. But there you can see a severe thunderstorm warning just issued in your neighborhood.

Now, on the north side of the system, meteorologist Dave Hennen running the radar for me at this time. We have got a new warning up here. This is Denton County. This is a Doppler-radar-indicated tornado. And all those flashes that you see, those are live lightning hits at this time, a very severe storm. In addition to a tornado, we very well could be seeing some very large hail associated with that.

We will take you a little farther on up to the north now and take you out into Oklahoma, where it's been a strong line of thunderstorms that's been pushing through that area at this time. It's coming down through the downtown area at this time. We have got a live picture to show you what it looks like in Oklahoma City right now.

There you can see the rain -- visibility near nothing. Expect to see maybe some small hail with these thunderstorms, a lot of lightning, and downpours. So, we could see some localized urban flooding in the next half-an-hour or so in the Oklahoma City area.

We also have some fresh video just coming in that I want to show you. This is from yesterday, though, speaking of severe weather. And it's in Texas. This was shot by some storm spotters from our affiliate KWES-TV. This is at Lorraine (ph), Texas. That's in western Texas.

And you can see, yes, the debris field from that storm. Just a little bit of damage was reported there, just some broken windows and also some twisted street signs -- no injuries with that storm.

OK. Let's go back to the radar picture. And I want to take you a little farther up to the north and off to the west, because we also have had a few reports of tornadoes going on in Lincoln County, Colorado.

This little cell right here, probably a weak tornado, but the sheriff's department here telling us that they have had five separate touchdowns, though no reports of any damage at this time. The snow has begun now into the Denver area.

We also have our I-Reporters out in full force today. And we have got a great picture to show you from our I-Reporter in Castle Rock, just to the south of there. This is from Robert Morse. He took this picture early this morning, about 9:30, several inches of snow on the ground already.

If you see severe weather happening or beautiful I-Report pictures like this, keep yourself safe, but send us them to CNN.com/ireport.

MALVEAUX: OK.

JERAS: Back to you guys.

LEMON: A lot -- deep breath, Jacqui.

MALVEAUX: We got it all in.

LEMON: You got it all...

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Thank you. We will check back.

JERAS: OK.

MALVEAUX: A father watches his firstborn son go to war and come home forever scarred. Now their battle is only beginning. Our "Children of War" series is ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And a shaky peace deal gets even shakier, as rockets flare in the Middle East. We will have the latest from Jerusalem.

That's straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

MALVEAUX: And cooperate with cops to solve crimes. Some say, over their dead bodies -- ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM, Anderson Cooper on the hip-hop message, no snitching.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: It's 3:19. And here are three of the stories we're working on here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Pat Tillman killed in Afghanistan, Jessica Lynch captured in Iraq, were they also casualties of misinformation? House lawmakers have opened a hearing into allegations the military made up accounts of Tillman's death and Lynch's rescue. Tillman's family and Lynch herself accuse the military of flat-out lying.

Former Presidents Bush and Clinton heading overseas -- they are leading the U.S. delegation at tomorrow's funeral of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

The health of Vice President Cheney is in the spotlight again. Cheney had that troubling blood clot in his leg checked out today. His spokeswoman says the clot appears to be thinning out.

LEMON: Well, for police, having a witness to a crime should mean a slam dunk. But what if a witness won't talk?

Well, in many urban neighborhoods, a person who helps police is known as a snitch. The growing campaign in hip-hop urges people to stop snitching. Police say it means many crimes are going unsolved.

And CNN's Anderson Cooper joins us now with more on that.

It sounds like the mob, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Yes, it's really remarkable.

And, you know, the term snitch used to refer to one criminal who ratted out another criminal in order to get a lesser sentence. Now, thanks in no small part to rappers, it has spread to mean anybody who has witnessed a crime, whether it be a burglar, a rape, or a robbery or a murder, anyone who has witnessed a crime and actually goes forward and talks to police.

African-American educators are appalled by the message. They say this is literally killing people in the African-American community. It has become a major problem that they say needs to be dealt with.

I spoke to multimillionaire rap star Cam'ron about why he uses the term snitch and encourages people not to talk to police, says he himself would never talk to police. And, for him, it's all about business. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So, for you, it's -- it's really about business?

CAMERON GILES, RAPPER: It's about business, but it's still also a code of ethics.

COOPER: Is there any situation where you think it's OK to talk to the police?

GILES: Yes, definitely, say, hello. How you feel? Everything all right? Period.

COOPER: That's it?

GILES: There's not really anything to talk about with the police. I mean, for what?

COOPER: If there's a serial killer living next door to you, though, and you know that person is, you know, killing people, would you be a snitch if you called police and told them?

GILES: If I knew the serial killer was living next door to me?

COOPER: Yes.

GILES: No, I wouldn't call and tell anybody on him, but I would probably move. But I'm not going to call and be like, you know, the serial killer is in 4-E.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Very interesting, Anderson. And it's worth noting that it's not just rappers and the people around them following this no- snitching code. You also talk with kids about this. Were you surprised at what they had to say about snitching?

COOPER: You know, kids have clearly gotten the message from the world of hip-hop. I spoke to a number of kids. All the kids here who you are seeing had all witnessed crimes. One young woman had seen a person shot. None of them had come forward and talked to police about what they saw.

And they all said, look, it's -- these are the rules. You are a snitch if you talk to police about anything.

The question, of course, how will any of this change? And that's something that is clearly going to take time. But it is having an impact in these communities. I talked to one criminologist who said, in -- in some inner-city communities, the murder clearance rate is down to the single digits, because people simply are not coming forward to -- to tell police what they saw.

LEMON: And no snitching reinforced by hip-hop.

Anderson Cooper, thanks so much.

And you can see Anderson's full story tonight on "A.C. 360." That's at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

MALVEAUX: And, Don, there's a story that we have been following. Want to update our viewers on this -- this, of course, an apparent riot at a prison facility -- the Indiana Department Corrections spokeswoman saying that there is a disturbance there at the New Castle Correctional Facility. So, we are going to bring more of those details as soon as they become available.

LEMON: Yes.

CNN NEWSROOM continues right after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Breaking severe weather news.

Straight to Jacqui Jeras in the Severe Weather Center.

Jacqui, what do you have?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, we have got a tornado on the ground.

That tornado that we were talking about earlier, well, the storm spotters have actually seen it now in Crowley. And this is right here in southern parts of Tarrant County. Here's Fort Worth. The storm is right in this area, where we think the rotation is.

Johnson County, the one we were talking about before that, you are still under the warning, as it's kind of right along the county line right now. This storm is pushing right now off to the northeast at 25 miles per hour -- there, you can see the two counties -- until 3:00 local time.

I will name a few cities, in addition to Crowley, that are in the path of this storm, Edgecliff, Everman, and Rendon by 2:50, also Kennedale and Forest Hill by 2:55 local time -- so, again, Tarrant County -- this is southern parts of the county -- under a tornado warning right now. It does not include the downtown Fort Worth area. You need to be seeking shelter immediately -- back to you guys.

LEMON: All right, good advice, Jacqui. We're going to check back with you. Thank you so much for updating us.

Jacqui, again, let's stay with this, because there may be some more developments.

Jacqui, so, again, explain to us what -- it's a touchdown, right...

JERAS: That's right. LEMON: ... confirmation on the ground?

JERAS: That's right.

Dave, did you get an -- Meteorologist Dave Hennen is also working behind the scenes and running this radar.

Dave, did you say that there was an actual touchdown reported in Johnson County, was it, with this cell?

(CROSSTALK)

DAVE HENNEN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We did, Jacqui, in fact, a little bit south, in the town of Burleson, some unconfirmed reports of tornadoes. That's a little bit further to the south.

That is, though, the same storm cell that is moving towards this area. We have been watching this very closely. So, in the Fort Worth area right now, even though you aren't under the tornado warning, you are in the part of the storm that could produce very large hail as it continues to move towards the northeast.

This will be affecting the Dallas-Fort Worth area as well, the Dallas area, specifically, in the next hour or so. Been watching this cell for a while. This has a history of producing that tornado.

One thing, too, point out, Jacqui, is, look how close this is to the radar site. So, this...

JERAS: Right.

HENNEN: .... may be a little bit hard to figure out exactly what's going on. That's why it's so important to have these storm spotters who are out tracking this storm.

And that's where we got the information, the storm spotters indicating that this tornado was indeed on the ground. So, it is in that area just south of Fort Worth, heading towards, perhaps Arlington, heading towards Dallas.

If you are in downtown Dallas or near Dallas, watch out in the next 30 minutes or so, because this storm is at least tracking in your direction. And it's storms like this that have the history of producing severe weather that we need to watch closely -- Jacqui.

JERAS: Absolutely. Thanks, Dave.

And, of course, we will be checking in with our local affiliates, too, out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. If we get any reports of damage or any video of this tornado, of course, we will bring that to you right away -- Don.

LEMON: Mm-hmm, the best weather team, I should say, on television as well, and team of meteorologists, Dave Hennen and Jacqui Jeras...

JERAS: Dave is great.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: ... thank you so much for that.

MALVEAUX: And the suspense is building. The Dow industrials are posting a late-session rally.

Now, to see if the world's best known stock index makes it to the 13000 level, we will go to Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange.

Susan, you have been teasing us all day. What does it look like?

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

LEMON: Several developing stories happening here in the CNN NEWSROOM. We told you about one weather-wise.

Now another one happening in New Castle, Indiana -- a prison riot. We're going to give you the latest on that.

Here's what the mayor says about that. "The entire police department is working to get this situation under control."

Details straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Two stories at this hour in the CNN NEWSROOM.

On the left side of your screen, a prison riot in Indiana. And on the right side of your screen, a look at the radar, severe weather bearing down on parts of the Midwest and Texas.

Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

MALVEAUX: And I'm Suzanne Malveaux, in for Kyra Phillips.

Let's get right to T.J. Holmes with the latest on that situation in Indiana.

T.J., what do you have?

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Suzanne, the situation is now word that at least two staff members of this prison in New Castle, Indiana, have been injured. That's according to a spokesperson for the New Castle Correctional Facility.

This is New Castle, Indiana. This is about 40 miles east of Indianapolis. But at least two staff members, we're told, have been injured.

Now, this started as a disturbance, is what we got first. Earlier, some kind of disturbance. The mayor there in New Castle is calling this a full-scale riot at this prison.

To give you an idea, again, this is a minimum security prison here. That's how it's described. About a thousand inmates, according to a spokesperson for the prison.

However, what's been happening the past few months or so is that Arizona inmates have been in the process of being moved to that prison as well. A deal was struck between the two states, and Arizona was sending some of their inmates to this new prison, to this new spot here.

Well, at least 600 or so Arizona inmates are here at this prison now. Don't know if that had anything to do with what is happening today with this riot. Don't know if the process was going on. Some were just showing up today. Don't know, but we are told that that process has now stopped while they try to work out what's happening there at the prison.

If you look at these live pictures, can't tell what's going on. You can see people running down there on the bottom. Don't exactly know if this situation is any close -- anywhere closer to being taken care of.

But we have been watching these live pictures. We can tell at least two or three fires have been burning in the courtyard outside of some of these prison buildings.

We haven't noticed from the live pictures we've been looking at that any of the buildings appear to be on fire. We also know that emergency squads, county police, state police have been activated to try to help out. Also, the mayor says the entire police force of New Castle has now been activated.

Still don't know how this started, why this started, how badly anyone might be injured. Don't know the severity of the injuries to the staff members. But we are told at least two staff members have been injured.

Don't know about the -- any possible injuries or worse to any of the inmates there. But we do know this houses some 1,000 inmates, called a medium security prison. And trying to get more idea of exactly what's going on and how close they might be to getting this situation under control.

We are certainly keeping an eye on this, and we'll get you as much updated information as we can from here -- guys.

MALVEAUX: And T.J., we see obviously there are people who are running. And now it looks like the activity has stopped. Perhaps they are down on the ground on something.

But again, we'll get right back to you as those events unfold. Thanks, T.J.

HOLMES: All right, Suzanne. LEMON: We're talking about severe weather here, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM as well, bearing down on Texas and parts of the Midwest.

Our Jacqui Jeras, you see her there working the severe weather center and all of the day's weather news.

(WEATHER REPORT)

LEMON: We're following several developing stories happening here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

To the left of our screen, a prison riot in Indiana. And on the right side of your screen, that is the radar. Severe weather bearing down on parts of the Midwest and Texas. You heard our weather team talk about that.

We're going to continue to follow both of these developing stories right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We're going to get a quick break in. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Severe weather happening in Texas. Our radar clearly shows that.

Let's go right now to Roland Asebedo. He is the assistant chief in Denton County of the Emergency Services Department there.

What are you seeing, sir?

ASST. CHIEF ROLAND ASEBEDO, DENTON COUNTY, TEXAS, EMERGENCY SERVICES: Good afternoon, Don.

At the present time, we have just received report from trained spotters in the northeast part of our county. They are currently reporting to us that there are two tornadoes that are currently down on the ground right now.

We do have limited amount of damage in the northeastern part of our county. It has not been determined as to whether that was due to tornado activity or straight line winds.

The damage that we have sustained is to a structure that has been under construction to billboards in the area. At the present time, we do not have any injuries reported.

But we are monitoring the situation very closely. We've got trained spotters in the area. And we're just following the storm cell as it passes through our county.

LEMON: OK. So spotters. Two on the ground. Two tornadoes on the ground.

You said there are two structures that were in the process of being renovated, or under construction. And so they have been damaged. But nothing of any homes or any people who have been hurt, correct, sir?

ASEBEDO: That is correct. We do not have any residential structures that have recorded any damage. And we do not have any injuries reported as of yet.

LEMON: OK.

What might the evening entail for you? What are you dealing with now and then later on once this passes? What do you have to do?

ASEBEDO: Well, unfortunately, we're hitting the heat of the day. And it seems like the storms may appear to be regenerating. So it look like it's going to be a long evening.

We're just encouraging the citizens of our county and surrounding areas to continue to monitor their weather radios and public access television and radio. And just to stay alert and to make sure that they have their supplies readily available, their shelter within reach, and that they just stay abreast of the information that's being provided to them, and that they make good -- good common sense decisions.

LEMON: Absolutely.

Roland Asebedo, who is the assistant chief of the Denton County Emergency Services.

Thank you so much.

Not good news. He said that it may be regenerating with the weather happening now. We're going to check in with our very own weather team in just a bit.

But first, we have a bit of other developing news here -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Another story that we're following, breaking news, of course.

We're going to get to T.J. Holmes. The latest on the situation in Indiana, obviously, a prison riot that seems to be developing here.

We saw some dramatic pictures moments ago, T.J. The last report you had, that two staff personnel were injured on site. What do you have for us?

HOLMES: We don't know the severity of those injuries, but we did get that word just a short time ago from the spokesperson at the New Castle Correctional Facility -- that's in New Castle, Indiana -- that, in fact, two of the staff members of that prison had been injured in what the mayor described as a full-scale riot.

We're looking at pictures here from the scene, some taped pictures from the scene. And we had local affiliate reporters over the scene in a helicopter. We're going to listen in to the reporter as he describes what he was seeing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They appear to be -- we also see some inmates who are going into that building. There's a building with the letter "E" on it right above the door. The inmates are going into that building.

You can see that the inmates -- you can see a group of them now running from the right side into that doorway. There's a long line of inmates running into that doorway. So it looks like the officials here have this situation under control, and are at least getting the inmates back inside the building to secure them.

Again, you see a line of what appear to be -- there you can see them right there, right above the breaking news. A line of what appear to be prison officials, law enforcement officials, and then the prisoners who are wearing white shirts mainly are streaming into the doorway there of that building. That's one of the pods, one of the areas where these inmates are housed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: So again, that was from a local affiliate reporter who is over the scene in a helicopter there watching this.

Back to a live picture of the prison here in New Castle. Again, at least a thousand inmates housed there. And another 600 or so had just been transferred here from another prison in Arizona.

So, certainly maybe around 1,500, 1,600 prisoners here on this site. But a medium security prison. A full-scale riot is how it was described, as the mayor, the Indiana State Police, others who have been evacuated, other emergency officials, and the entire New Castle Police Department had been activated.

Trying to get word on whether or not this situation is, in fact, now calming down and now taken care of and under control by the authorities. We heard the affiliate reporter there talking about it looks like from his vantage point -- you can't see too much because of the glare on this picture, but from the vantage point that he had, many of the prison officials and others seem to be standing there watching guard over those prisoners. So maybe getting them back into the buildings and getting them back secure.

This is a live picture here as you see those folks gathering there. So, hopefully, maybe this thing is under control. It is ending now, possibly, but some scary moments there, no doubt, at the New Castle Correctional Facility -- guys.

MALVEAUX: Well, hopefully it is ending -- going to be ending soon. Thank you very much.

T.J. Holmes.

LEMON: And you are watching the CNN NEWSROOM. Getting close to the top of the hour. We're following two developing stories here.

You see that radar and those flashes on the left of your screen. That is severe weather hitting parts of the Midwest and Texas. Two reported tornadoes you heard just moments ago.

And on the right side of your screen, a prison riot. Is it under control? Is it slowly coming under control? What's the situation there?

We'll continue to follow these two developing stories for you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: New information on a breaking weather story. There's our Jacqui Jeras. She's standing by in the severe weather center, following all of this for us.

(WEATHER REPORT)

LEMON: Time now to check in with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

MALVEAUX: He is standing by in "THE SITUATION ROOM" to tell us what's coming up at the top of the hour.

Wolf, what do you have working?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, guys. Thanks very much.

Ending political polarization, that's the goal of a new third party movement. It's called unity '08. We'll be joined by its spokesman, "Law & Order's" Sam Waterston.

Also, the vice president, Dick Cheney, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid trading some very pointed barbs over the war in Iraq. Cheney calls Reid cynical. Reid calls Cheney an attack dog.

And Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich will join us to talk about his call to impeach the vice president.

Plus, a growing crisis for Iraq's fragile government. Is it on the verge of collapse?

All that coming up right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM".

Back to you.

MALVEAUX: Wolf, thanks again. Looking forward to a great show.

LEMON: The closing bell and a wrap of all the action on Wall Street straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: The closing bell is about to ring on Wall Street. Susan Lisovicz standing by with a final look at the trading day.

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

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