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THE SITUATION ROOM

Debit Card Fee Plan; Model Airplane Terror Plot

Aired September 29, 2011 - 18:00   ET

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


JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: Why are so many people angry with this American diplomat?

Plus, details of one major bank's plan to charge customers for using their debit cards. Millions of Americans could end up paying the price.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Breaking news, political headlines, Jeanne Moos, straight ahead.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Joe Johns, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're learning some disturbing details about an alleged terror plot that would have picked up where the 9/11 attacks left off, with airborne strikes against the Capitol and the Pentagon carried with model airplanes filled with explosives. A young Massachusetts man is now charged in the case.

CNN's Brian Todd is working the story.

And, Brian, what are you picking up for us?

TODD: Joe, just this afternoon, a six-count indictment was handed down against Rezwan Ferdaus. He's an American citizen, grew up, went to high school and college in the Boston area; federal official says he built up a hatred toward the United States, a strong desire to kill Americans, and that despite being offered a way out of this plot by undercover agents, he never wavered.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): The younger brother of an alleged jihadist won't speak to reporters but on this upper middle class street about 30 minutes from Boston, neighbors of Rezwan Ferdaus give a portrait of a young man who live with his parents, sometimes behaved strangely, and kept to himself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A loner, and he would float up and down the street always with his head down.

TODD: Among the six counts Ferdaus is now charged with, attempting to destroy a federal building and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. In court documents official say he planned to fly remote- controlled model planes like these, packed with explosives into the Capitol and the Pentagon. They say he also planned a ground attack with teams of gunmen who would fire on people as they evacuated those buildings.

A seemingly far cry from someone who, according to local media reports, quoted Mahatma Gandhi's messages of peace in his high school yearbook. The manager of a local band called Goosepimp says Ferdaus was once their drummer, this picture from the band's Web site. He graduated from Northeastern University, according to federal officials. By their accounts and all others, this was no bumbling fool.

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you're talking about someone with a physics degree. He made a point of demonstrating to the undercover agents and the cooperative witnesses that he knew how to take a phone apart and set it up to be an IED detonating device.

TODD: Federal officials say as he was researching his alleged attack plan at a local library, Ferdaus erased the browser history on the computer; according to court documents, Rezwan Ferdaus, an American, developed a hatred of the United States, calling it evil, viewing jihadist Web sites.

The affidavit from a federal agent quotes Ferdaus as saying, "I was walking through the woods one day and I thought I want to do some type of aerial plan." He eventually became enough of a concern to the FBI that the agency devoted undercover agents posing as al Qaeda operatives and a cooperating witness to track him.

Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes has supervised several undercover operations.

(on camera): What do you personally? How do you get close to this guy?

FUENTES: Well, it's kind of -- in a way it's like acting in a movie, to be a method actor, to be able to convince him that this is your culture, and this who is you are and what you believe in.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: That undercover operation played out over most of this year. At one point authorities say, Ferdaus traveled to Washington, took surveillance photos of the Pentagon, the Capitol, and East Potomac Park, where he planned to launch his model planes. A federal official says the day he was arrested, yesterday, Ferdaus packed explosives into one of those model planes.

We have called and e-mailed Ferdaus' attorney several times for a response to the charges and the accounts in the federal documents. We have not heard back -- Joe.

JOHNS: Great reporting, Brian. This is a fascinating story.

TODD: It is.

JOHNS: Do you have any sense as to whether anybody was working with him?

TODD: That's a key question here.

At one point in the affidavit, federal agents say that Ferdaus spoke with someone else in Dorchester, Massachusetts, someone who they describe a friend, spoke to that friend about different ways of attacking people. But there are really hardly any other indications of anyone involved.

I spoke to someone at the U.S. attorney's office in Massachusetts, asked them if he had co-conspirators. She would only say he's the only one charged, the investigation's ongoing. You may find out something else about this.

JOHNS: Wow, just sort of left the door standing wide open there.

TODD: They're leaving a lot of things open at this point.

JOHNS: Brian Todd, thanks so much.

TODD: Sure.

JOHNS: Let get more with CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend. She serves on the CIA and Homeland Security external advisory boards. And CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.

Realistically, how much damage can a bomb attached to a model airplane actually cause?

Oh, Paul, go ahead and answer that question for me.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it could certainly kill people, this amount of explosive they're talking about, five pounds of explosive been put in each of these model planes and these model planes then being flown into the Capitol Building and the Pentagon.

This suspect, according to the affidavit, wanted to bring down the roof of the Capitol. An explosive expert I spoke to earlier today said unlikely that this amount of explosive would produce significant structural damage in a building like the U.S. Capitol or indeed the Pentagon, which is a very reinforced building, of course, Joe.

JOHNS: And, Fran, this sounds like a very far-fetched notion; however, we have heard reports of other people thinking about doing the very same thing.

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, that's right, Joe. And this was only the first phase of his plan. Remember, even if he hadn't brought -- he didn't have to bring down a building to successfully target and kill people.

His plan was to have two teams totaling six people, three in each location, that when these drones with explosives hit the buildings, people would, in fact, have been fearful and frightened and run from the buildings and so the plan was then to attack them with gunfire.

And so that would have -- he would have had the effect he intended. You can just imagine if these two buildings had been attacked, you would have then been shutting down all federal buildings, you would have been evacuating the city until you understood better what was going on.

It was a quite clever plan that he had, if he had not been dealing with FBI agents the whole time.

JOHNS: And, Paul, I have to ask you, realistically, if you know, is this the kind of thing that authorities might want to try to regulate for or is that just ridiculous because there are so many of threat model planes out there?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, Joe, it's certainly been on the radar screen of DHS officials for quite some time. They were aware of this threat. Obviously there are all sorts of threats they're dealing with and they didn't regard this as a top order threat, the idea that remote- controlled planes could be used to fly into buildings.

But certainly there's concern about it. There's concern that it could be used, against, say an outdoors sports venue, a rock concert, or something like that, where there's a big crowd of people. So, certainly a lot of concern. And one of the big concerns here is the amount of payload some of these remote-controlled planes can lift, up to 50 pounds sometimes. And 50 pounds of high explosives, well, that's a lot of high explosives, Joe.

JOHNS: Fran Townsend, there's this other issue that's been out there for the longest time and certainly been talked about on Capitol Hill, and that's the notion of a model plane of this type being used to deliver not an explosive, but some type of biological agent.

Do you know whether that is actually a practical concern or is it just theoretical at this stage?

TOWNSEND: Oh, no. From my perspective, that's the much bigger concern. If you imagine using a drone like this to spray aerosolized anthrax, that would be a huge problem because it would be dispersed and be widespread, moved by winds before you would really even know it had happened.

And, so, no, I think that these drones, of this size, this is not like a model plane that most people think of. This is the size of a table or a person. This is a large thing that could carry a substantial payload, more than it appears that the suspect in this case was thinking of loading on to it. I think this is a real concern that Homeland Security and law enforcement are going to have to deal with now.

JOHNS: Paul and Fran, thanks so much for coming in. Appreciate your insights.

TOWNSEND: Thank you.

JOHNS: Some frightening moments for the U.S. ambassador to Syria and his staff. They were attacked by what's described as an armed violent mob during a visit with an opposition leader.

CNN foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty is live at the State Department with the details.

Jill, what are you hearing there?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, I asked Secretary Clinton directly about this today, and she's demanding that the Syrian government protect diplomats as is required by international law. But these incidents do seem to be escalating.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOUGHERTY (voice-over): U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford in another confrontation with angry supporters of President Bashar al- Assad, like this one in August, the latest in Damascus, as Ford and his colleagues met with a Syrian opposition lead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ambassador and his party entered the opposition leader's office, they secured the door, and demonstrators actually beat on the door, and while they were there, I believe was when they called the Syrian security forces to come.

DOUGHERTY: Describing it as a violent mob, the State Department said the crowd damaged embassy vehicles, breaking windows. Neither the ambassador nor his colleagues were injured. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the attack ugly and wholly unjustified.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. Secretary of State: This inexcusable assault is clearly part on an ongoing campaign of intimidation, aimed at not only American diplomats, but diplomats from other countries, foreign observers who are raising questions about what's going on inside Syria.

DOUGHERTY: A Syrian Foreign Ministry statement made no mention of the violence, claiming the protesters were rejecting foreign influence in Syria's internal affairs.

Defying Syrian government restrictions, Ambassador Ford has met with the opposition, traveling to the city of Hama in July, where he was greeted with flowers. The State Department says he has no intention of stopping the outreach.

Asked whether there are any plans to recall Ford to Washington, the White House was blunt.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, there aren't.

DOUGHERTY: Ford played down the marker for his job as ambassador in August at his confirmation hearing.

ROBERT FORD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA: It's not an easy job. But the strategic stakes and the strategic opportunities for us that we have in Syria now are quite dramatic. And there is a hugely important story about the struggle for human dignity now under way in Syria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOUGHERTY: And even as Robert Ford is under attack in Syria, he still has not been confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Syria. There was a bit of opposition to sending an ambassador back to Syria after a five- year absence. So at the end of last year, the president named him in a recess appointment, and now Secretary Clinton is urging the Senate to confirm him as soon as possible -- Joe.

JOHNS: Jill Dougherty at the State Department -- thanks, Jill.

They're the highest ranking American officials to visit Libya since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi. Four Republican senators, including John McCain, they met with members of the National Transitional Council today, and while McCain says the revolution in Libya has inspired the world, he also notes there is a lot more work ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: My impressions are is that they are making progress, they have gotten some of the money freed up that's necessary to supply goods and services to the people.

They do have significant challenges in a variety of ways, including the fact that a lot of the militias that are out there that have taken part in the fighting against Gadhafi's forces are still not under their control. There is some Islamic elements that obviously would like to take over this revolution, which was not religious one. It was against a cruel dictator. We still have a couple places still under Gadhafi's control. And I think it's pretty clear that they have got a lot of work to do to unite the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: For years, banks have been pushing us use their debit cards. Now one of the largest U.S. banks wants to charge you for it.

Also, the presidential primary calendar in disarray. Which candidate stands to benefit?

And legal drama as an American student appeals her murder conviction in an Italian court.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

JOHNS: For years, banks have been pushing us to use their debit cards. Now one of the largest U.S. banks wants to charge you extra for it every single month. And the first votes are around the corner. But the Republican presidential primary calendar is still in disarray -- details of why party officials are so nervous.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNS: Republican Party leaders are working quietly, but nervously to keep the presidential nominating calendar in place. Florida officials are threatening to throw it into disarray by moving up their primary.

CNN's Tom Foreman has details.

Tom, what is going on with the GOP primary?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What's going on is the kind of thing, Joe, that keeps political bosses up at night.

Really, what's happening is the same thing you have seen many, many times when they have a sale at a store. Everybody lines up and says we're going to go in orderly, and then the doors open and they all go rushing in like crazy. That's really what's going on right here, because the simple truth is, this is the calendar as it stands right now.

All the voting's supposed to start here in February, with the Iowa caucus always first. That's going to come up here. Then you go down the calendar here and you get to the New Hampshire presidential primary and then down to the Nevada caucus and then to Florida, and then to South Carolina. And in this continuing quest for states to matter more, particularly great big hefty states like Florida, which often aren't too happy about sitting behind everybody else, and they sure don't want to be jumped by someone else, Florida has said that they're going to move from there to the 31st of January, in violation of the RNC rules.

That would mean that they'd lose half of their delegates for the process of nominating, but basically what they're saying is, look, if you get to speak early in the process, you have more influence than you do with delegates anyway.

So if Florida moves here, then here's the problem. All the other ones then come moving over also, and if they move over, it's going to be a whole land rush to the early part of the year in January. And heaven knows what happens to the rest of the calendar.

Why does all this matter? This all matters because if you think about it, this now pushes heavy, heavy campaigning into December and November, right on top of the holidays when voters are preoccupied, the candidates are preoccupied. It really shortens the early calendar and front-loads everything. Then you can start moving into March, when you get the Super Tuesday vote, where Georgia just joined that group right then.

The important part here though is what this does to the race. And one of the things it does to the race is it tends to favor the people who are more widely known and who already have the most money, people like Romney, for example, because they could take advantage of a calendar like this.

You know who doesn't benefit from something like this? People like Sarah Palin and Chris Christie, who are not in the race. People keep saying they might get in the race. But if they get in the race and they have lost a whole month of calendar, that's going to make a great big difference in how well they can run.

That's why the party officials are so concerned about this possible move by Florida. It's all got to be in by Saturday. That's when all the states have to let the RNC know when they're going to hold their contest.

JOHNS: Boy, it looks more like a chessboard than a calendar, quite frankly.

Tom Foreman, thanks so much for that.

With me now is CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser.

Now, you heard him talking a little bit about Romney and whether it benefits him. Why is that? Why is it that Romney is a guy who benefits because of this change in the calendar, if you will?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Great question. And here's why. A lot of people say Mitt Romney has been running for president basically since 2006. Remember he ran in the last cycle. He's been running most of this year.

He's already got a ground game in those early states like Iowa, South Carolina, New Hampshire. And if those states move up a month, there's less time to get ready, he's already got the people, the advisers, the get-out-the-vote people in those states.

Rick Perry, the other front-runner right now, well, wait. He only jumped in six weeks ago. He's doing that kind of stuff right now, and now he will have one less month to get ready. And also for these candidates it's one less month to get out and talk to voters.

JOHNS: Is it hopeless, though, for these other people who seem to be thinking about putting their feet in the water if you will, Chris Christie, for example? Can he just forget about it right now or what?

STEINHAUSER: Well, not forget about it. But Tom makes a good point. If Christie, if Giuliani, if Palin, if they are going to run, they need to announce now, Joe. They need to get into this race immediately so they can start raising money but also getting to those early states, getting advisers, getting campaign aides in those early states. Time's a wasting, Joe.

JOHNS: Now, we're talking about Mitt Romney, you just mentioned him, Tom just mentioned him. We're hearing a little bit about the kind of money he's been able to raise. STEINHAUSER: Yes. Tomorrow of course is the end of September and that means the end of the third quarter of fund-raising. And that's important because all the campaigns will start showing us their money, how much they raised these last three months.

A source with knowledge of what Romney raised just reported, just told us that he's going to bring in about $11 million to $13 million in this third quarter.

Sounds like a lot, but he raised $18 million in the second quarter, Joe. Why do we spend so much time looking at campaign cash? Because before people start actually voting, public opinion polls and campaign cash are good barometers of how a candidate's doing, how strong his campaign is.

JOHNS: Do you think people have been sitting on money out there, waiting to see if somebody else gets in? Is that a possibility?

(CROSSTALK)

STEINHAUSER: Yes, some are, and that's what -- some of those people with a lot of money are urging others like Christie to jump in. They haven't committed yet. They haven't fallen in love with a candidate yet, Joe.

JOHNS: We have just announced here at CNN that we have another debate for people to watch. It's December 1. Let's talk a little bit about it.

STEINHAUSER: Yes, Arizona. And why Arizona? It's becoming a power player in the primaries. It's moving up. As Tom said, it's going to be now on February 28. It's going to be a lot earlier in the process. Two other reasons Arizona matters.

I will tell you, it's been the poster child basically in the fight over illegal immigration. We have seen that over the last two years. It's also a state where the home foreclosure crisis really started along with Nevada, and the candidates now are starting to go there. Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann just spent some time in Arizona just in the last few weeks.

JOHNS: Thanks so much, Paul Steinhauser, deputy political director. And we will be checking in with you again.

STEINHAUSER: Thanks, Joe.

JOHNS: All right.

A major American bank is planning to charge customers an extra $5 every month to use a debit card. Is there anything we can do to stop it?

Also, they want to occupy Wall Street. And their protest has been going on almost two weeks. Who's behind this fight against corporate greed?

Plus, we will take you live to Italy, where an American student is asking a court to throw out her murder conviction.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNS: A controversial move by one of the largest U.S. Banks. It's going to start charging customers to use their debit cards. CNN's Carter Evans has details -- Carter.

CARTER EVANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Joe.

Forget about the monthly fee on your checking account for a moment. This is a fee just to use your debit card. And it's on top of any checking fees that you might already pay.

Now Bank of America says it will start charging a $5 monthly debit card fee at the beginning of next year. Even if you only use your card once a month although certain premium customers are exempt. Now, this is the first major bank in the country to charge this type of fee, and it's all related to those new rules that limit the fees banks can charge merchants each time you swipe your debit card. Those caps kick in this weekend.

The banks have been charging stores an average fee of 44 cents every time customers swipe their cards. Now the max fee is only 21 cents, and analysts say that means billions of dollars in lost revenue for banks. As a result, banks across the country are raising all sorts of other fees on consumers.

Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase are also testing out debit card fees. Now Bank of America says this fee will apply to any purchase made with your debit card, even if you push the credit button on the terminal and sign for your purchase.

You see, Joe, banks are really testing out the waters here right now with all these new fees. So if you see some new charges on your bank statement and you don't like them, it would be a good idea to call your bank and tell them exactly how you feel about paying so much just to use your own money -- Joe.

JOHNS: Bank of America isn't alone. Wells Fargo announced last month it will start charging a $3 monthly fee for debit card usage to customers in Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada, and Oregon, beginning October 14.

They want to occupy Wall Street, and their protests have been going on for almost two weeks. Who's behind this fight against corporate greed?

And an American student convicted of murder in Italy. Now there's a critical phase in her appeal. We'll take you there live for details of a dramatic day in court.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNS: Final arguments have wrapped up in a case that's drawing worldwide attention. An American student, Amanda Knox, is appealing her murder conviction in an Italian court. We'll go live to Italy for the latest in just a moment.

But first, CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance shows us what makes this case to captivating.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She looks pale, under stress, perhaps with good reason. These are the final days of Amanda Knox's murder appeal, and her father told me it's taking an emotional toll.

CURT KNOX, AMANDA'S FATHER: Well, you know, it's been a struggle, you know, this entire time being in prison, having your freedom taken away for something you haven't done.

But you know, these -- these past few months have been a struggle for her just because, you know, there's -- the light is really on at the end of the tunnel, as a real opportunity to have a chance to come home.

CHANCE: It's the DNA evidence that's the source of the family optimism. It was key in the 2009 conviction of the American exchange student, along with her then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, for killing her British flat mate, Meredith Kercher, in when prosecutors said was a sex game gone wrong.

Independent forensic experts told the appeal hearing that DNA traces on the suspected murder weapon and on Kercher's bra clasp are unsound. That's crucial, says her father, to the outcome.

KNOX: Well, I think it is virtually the outcome of the appeal. I mean, there was no evidence of Amanda or Raffaele associated to that room. I mean, there was no saliva. There was no skin cells. There was no blood. There was no fingerprints. There was nothing. To me, that completely takes the case away from the prosecution.

CHANCE (on camera): Here in Perugia, there's a growing sense of anticipation as the appeal hearing for Knox and Sollecito enters its final phase.

The Knox family has arrived in the city from the U.S., hopeful Amanda will soon be released from jail. But it's a mistake to think that that outcome is a done deal. The jury has thousands of pages of other circumstantial evidence to consider before a final decision is made.

(voice-over) In closing arguments, the prosecutor sought to discredit the expert DNA defense testimony as selective, ignoring blood and bloody footprints found in the bathroom.

And prosecutors are demanding the judge not only uphold the guilty verdicts, but increase the murder sentences of Knox and Sollecito to life. Both could yet spend decades behind bars.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Perugia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Let's get more now on what happened in court today and what happens next. CNN's Paula Newton is live for us in Perugia, Italy.

Paula, how did the defense make its case today that Knox should be set free, after all this?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, two very important things, Joe. The first thing they did was point to what Amanda's father was saying, is that, look, there is no evidence here. Any evidence that there was, was botched by a very shoddy police investigation, and there is nothing to link Amanda Knox to this murder.

The other thing, Joe, is they hit on motive. They say that the prosecution had never made it clear there ever was one, that they changed their mind. The defense's words they created fantasy around this.

But other crucial thing they did, Joe, was really try and present a young woman who was terrified. They said she was crucified in the media and that that is the reason that she finds herself in the mess that she's in today. The words were kind of incredible. I mean, defense lawyers describing them, how they feel about her, saying they're treating her like their own daughter, that she was a mere child, a baby, when she came to this town, and that her rights were violated by police and investigators when she was questioned about this murder.

Crucial, though, Joe, is what's coming up. On Monday, Amanda Knox, weighing heavily on her right now is the 15 minutes that she will get to plead her own case in front of that jury and convince them, something she's not been able to do until now, convince them, that she's innocent.

Joe, I want you to hear now from her defense lawyer and her father again about how they felt after today's final arguments in the appeal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a big mistake. There's a principle of law that you need. There's no evidence here. So we're very comfortable that this will be accepted and recognized by the court.

KNOX: I think that the biggest thing was really the independent experts' reports. I mean, that -- that was something that we had asked for during the first trial, since there was such a discrepancy between the prosecution and the defense. And with them coming back and essentially eliminating any of the physical evidence of Amanda and Raffaele in that room, under the prosecution scenario, I think that's probably the biggest piece right there.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NEWTON: At this point, Amanda Knox's case really does hinge on that lack of DNA evidence and her own, what will be a very impassioned plea to the jury on Monday -- Joe.

JOHNS: Well, you know, Paula, here in the United States, DNA evidence is seen as just so persuasive in so many different kinds of criminal trials. Do you get the sense that over there in this trial it's going to get the same amount of, if you will, persuasive weight?

NEWTON: Well, the fact that today, it was -- it wasn't very dramatic in the way that this video was used. You saw the police video, and the defense was able to point out how that DNA evidence was collected improperly. They used the same swab two or three times and then submitted that sample to a laboratory, pointing out, look, it doesn't take a scientist to figure out that was not a clean swab.

These are the kind of pieces and the elements that are coming together.

The problem in this case, though, Joe, and you alluded to it, they've had conflicting DNA evidence, and that's when the jury, perhaps, would be more persuaded by an impassioned plea from either the defense and Amanda herself or the prosecution on the other hand. And Joe, I have to tell you the prosecution was leaping out of its chair and did a couple of things out of order today, you know, basically calling the defense liars.

JOHNS: Drama and certainly what we could call in the United States a chain-of-custody problem. Thank you so much for that reporting, Paula.

Occupied Wall Street, details of an almost two-weeklong protest and why it's so disorganized.

Also, fighting terror under water. We get up close with an elite FBI dive team.

And don't read her lips. CNN's Jeanne Moos looks what some people thought was Rick Perry talking.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNS: The most visible U.S. effort to fight terror focuses on air travel. We see it much of the time every time we fly. But there's a growing emphasis on terror under water. CNN's John Zarrella has more -- John.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joe, the FBI has had dive teams for quite a while, but they've always been referred to as agents first, and divers second. Now they have a full-time dive team, and it's so new that many within the ranges of the FBI itself don't know they exist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Big step.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): The diver needs help getting in the water is tricky. The state-of-the-art equipment, including stainless steel diving helmets, are heavy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watch out. There's an air line right behind him.

ZARRELLA: The diver is FBI, specially trained.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So our team is being certified down to 300 feet where we can safely conduct evidence recovery operations and then chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear-type diving as well.

ZARRELLA: That's the primary mission of the ten-member team, to recover evidence in water environments too polluted or contaminated for anyone else. Called the technical dive team, it was formed a year ago, in response to the threat of terrorists using water as a means of attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you look at various international incidents that have occurred where it's attacks on American civilians or attacks on American interests, where water has been involved, that we've determined that we really do need to expand our capabilities.

ZARRELLA: Side scan sonar maps the bottom, identifying targets of interest. The water is murky. Visibility is low. The sonar operator's job: guide the divers to the targets. The operator's learning, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Step right, five feet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five steps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five steps.

ZARRELLA: So far the team has one mission under its belt.

(voice-over) A lot of the drugs smuggled into the United States these days are coming in not on boats on top of the water, but on submarines below the surface. And the technical dive team's expertise were called into service on just one of those cases.

(voice-over) The surveillance video shows a mini-sub in the Caribbean off Honduras. The Coast Guard intercepts, the crew sinks the sub and abandons it. The technical dive team is called in. Twenty-four hours and 15 dives later, they recover 15,000 pounds of cocaine. Street value, $180 million.

Advance capabilities, says former federal prosecutor Michael Keene, will make it all the more difficult for defendants.

MICHAEL TEIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Once the case is made by the FBI, it's going to be virtually impossible, except in maybe 2 to 3 percent of cases, for the defendant to even have a thin reed of a hope of convincing a jury of his innocence. ZARRELLA: In the case of the sub, the team was successful in the war on drugs. If called upon, they plan to be ready in the war on terror.

(on camera) A second drug sub was seized on the 17th of September by the Coast Guard. They recovered some cocaine and the crew before the sub sunk. In this case, the FBI dive team was not called in -- Joe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: John Zarrella.

America's financial heart occupied by protesters trying to get out a message about corporate greed, but this is no organized demonstration. CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti takes us in-depth.

Susan, what's going on out on Wall Street?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Joe.

Well, under normal circumstances, this is a public park near Wall Street that's usually quiet but not so for the past couple of weeks or so. It is filled with everything from protesters to drum beats to guitars playing and saxophones, and their message, and you put it right, is against corporate greed.

Thirteen days and counting for a protest calling itself "Occupy Wall Street," turning a public part into a mini campsite near New York's Wall Street. Their message: end corporate greed they say is killing America's economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Solidarity forever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Solidarity forever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Solidarity forever.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): But will they be heard in Washington?

EDDIE MAHONEY, PROTESTOR: Politicians can be bought. Political influence can be bought through political donations. This needs to be addressed.

CANDIOTTI: But organizing isn't easy. There's no money for microphones, so protesters act like human megaphones to relay messages to the ground.

Supporters come and go. Organizers claim they peaked at about 600 during a weekend demonstration. But numbers of the park dwindled to an average of about 200 this week. Admittedly, most of the time is spent trying to figure out what they're trying to say and how to organize. No one's in charge, and that's the way they like it.

ROBERT SEGAL, PROTESTOR: We're gathered here, in this place, to join the craft, that mission statement, to shape a statement of what it is we want and how we're going to get to it.

CANDIOTTI: OccupyTogether.org boasts rallies were held or are planned in more than a dozen U.S. cities. CNN has confirmed one other in Chicago.

In New York last weekend, 80 people were arrested in one demonstration held without a permit. Police say there's an internal investigation into their use of pepper spray during a confrontation. The video went viral on YouTube. Authorities say in retaliation, the group published the names of a police official's children, quote, "to threaten his family."

This New Jersey mother used a school holiday to take her 4- and 5-year-old to join a peaceful protest for a day.

ANDREA, PROTESTOR: We're 99 percent. You know, the rich and the powerful are 1 percent. We all need to be a lot more equal than that.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): Is it hard to put together a solution?

ANDREA: Very hard. Very hard. That's why I'm skipping over my words here. There's -- there's so many ways you can come to the end, to a solution. But, you know, in the meantime, it is just kind awakening people up to know, you know, what's going on out there.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): The New York group insists it's staying put with no exit strategy. And police say they have no plan to move them out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: So for the last couple of weeks, the numbers have been fluctuating up and down. And, again, there's no telling how much longer everyone will be here, but, Joe, they're predicting that their movement will grow. We'll have to see.

JOHNS: Susan Candiotti, thanks for that great piece and that great reporting. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Lisa, testimony in the trial for Michael Jackson's personal doctor suggests that Conrad Murray looked like he didn't know how to give CPR.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this was very bizarre, Joe. One of Michael Jackson's bodyguards, he is telling the jury that he didn't see any medical monitors in the room.

In the third day of the trial against Jackson's physician, Conrad Murray, Alberto Alvarez testified the doctor told him to scoop up all the drug vials by the bed before they called 911. Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the pop star's death in 2009.

Rapper T.I. is out of an Atlanta halfway house. The road to freedom begins now as the performer, whose name is actually Clifford Harris Jr., serves a yearlong probation. He was given an 11-month prison sentence on a parole violation.

And if you ever wondered what happened to the little boy in the movie "The Shining," well, Steven King sure did, and he is now working on the sequel, called "Dr. Sleep." It promises to be just as terrifying a tale for character Danny Torrence. King says Danny works in a hospice center for the terminally ill, where he falls prey to evil people who use his special powers for their own good.

It's actually going to come out in a book form first and then presumably...

JOHNS: His facial expressions, that was one of the scariest movies I think I've ever seen.

SYLVESTER: I don't watch scary movies so I actually haven't seen it. So...

JOHNS: And to show the two twins walking around the hotel, going, "Daddy."

SYLVESTER: Yes, I know. Can't do it.

JOHNS: All right. Thanks.

Political candidates, sometimes they say the darnedest things.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ice cream, that is cheap. Fact. And then I suspended Marcia off this bridge and took a virgin heifer night riding for a while.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: Hear how someone is talking [SIC] the words right out of Rick Perry's mouth and doing whatever they want with them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNS: Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry gives some pretty memorable quotes already. But Jeanne Moos is on the trail of some pranksters taking indecent liberties with Perry's words.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you thought presidential candidate Rick Perry rambled at the last debate...

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Was it before he was before...

MOOS: ... you ain't seen nothing yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then I suspended Marcia off this bridge and took a virgin heifer night riding for a while. MOOS: No, Rick Perry's not the victim of a neurological seizure. He's the victim of Bad Lip Reading. A group of jokesters turned Rick Perry's real words...

PERRY: Last week, that leadership failed.

MOOS: ... into this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ice cream, that is cheap. Fact.

MOOS: And this...

PERRY: With the support of my family.

MOOS: ... became this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm bored by famine.

MOOS: Next thing you know, he's saying all sorts of nonsensical things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tuna, eggs, Doritos, cheesecake, tamale, see you.

MOOS: Up until now, Bad Lip Reading was known for taking music videos and giving them parody lyrics that match the mouth movements. For instance, Black-eyed Peas hit was transformed into a song about poop.

FERGIE (singing): I like to poop, poop out

MOOS: But the Rick Perry video is exposing Bad Lip Reading to a whole new audience, using his official announcement video.

PERRY: I declare to you today as a candidate for president of the United States.

MOOS: Well, now look what he's declaring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot wait for a medieval cookie, a Cinnabon, hot yellow Kool-Aid, and save a pretzel for the gas jet.

MOOS: One smart-aleck posted, "This is the most sense he has ever made."

(on camera) The trick is finding different words that lip read alike. For instance, I love you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Olive juice.

MOOS: I love you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Olive juice.

MOOS: I love you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Olive juice.

MOOS (voice-over): The creators of Bad Lip Reading are still being mysteriously mysterious. One of them e-mailed CNN, "I'm interested in maintaining the anonymity of BLR for the time being."

The group also took President Obama's words...

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A default on our debt would have been a devastating blow to our economy.

MOOS: ... and transformed them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because even long-legged women can tell there's a blue-eyed hobbit.

MOOS: But it's not as funny as Rick Perry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, what I want you to do is build me a small doghouse.

MOOS: There's something about that Texas drawl that enthralls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hot yellow Kool-Aid and save a pretzel for the gas jets.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: I'm Joe Johns in THE SITUATION ROOM. For our international viewers, "WORLD REPORT" is next. In North America, "JOHN KING USA" starts right now.