Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Rep. Mike Rogers; Dozens Of Advertisers Bail On Limbaugh; Soccer Mom Madam; Uganda Viral Video Raises Awareness, Controversy
Aired March 8, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S THE SITUATION ROOM: And you're in the SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, a renowned photographer makes it out of the Syria alive weeks after a brutal attack that killed two colleagues. Ahead, his minute by minute account of what happened and the wrenching images he captured up close.
Also, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee weighing in on new signs Iran may be trying to hide evidence of its nuclear activities.
And it's one of the hottest videos online. Why a viral documentary could help nab a victorious warlord on the run.
We want to welcome our viewers 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's begin with Syria right now where there are chilling new pictures that seem to say it all. Buildings ravaged by endless shelling. Their walls riddled with bullets. The besieged city of Homs now a ghost town. No signs of life on the streets at all. Another 62 people reportedly have been killed just today in this continuing slaughter.
Meanwhile, there are new signs of cracks in the ruthless Syrian regime. Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's got the late-breaking details -- Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, signs of cracks in the regime, but what happens if the regime cracks apart?
STARR (voice-over): CNN has obtained this satellite image taken Monday, showing the Destroyed Baba Amr neighborhood (INAUDIBLE) Bashar al-Assad's forces have pushed almost everyone out.
GEN. JAMES MATTIS, CENTCOM COMMANDER: He's gaining physical momentum, sir, on the battlefield. STARR: There is some weakening in Assad's support, an oil minister defected, some lower-level military as well. American officials say there are indications some elite are trying to relocate family and money.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They start with a trickle, and then, they tend to turned into a torrent.
STARR: For now, though, Assad's government is holding, but CNN has learned the Pentagon is sketching out a potential nightmare scenario, the complete collapse of the Assad government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the longer it goes on, the higher the risk of implosion, because more and more Sunni Muslims in Syrian military and in the Syrian regime have got to be appalled at the slaughter that's going on around them. More and more of them will begin to defect and move away from the regime.
STARR: The Pentagon has a classified list of key sites it might have to protect starting with the huge arsenal of chemical weapons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mostly very deadly chemical weapons which can be used on scud missiles to fire hundreds of miles outside of Syria. And It will be a free-for-all. Hezbollah and the Iranians would try to bring as much of this arsenal into Lebanon. Al Qaeda would probably try to get its hands on some of it.
STARR: Syria's shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles may be impossible to control.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you compare it to the situation that we found in Libya last year? I know we -- 20,000 man pads disappeared in Libya. So, how do we compare?
LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It's 100 times worse than what we dealt with in Libya. And for that reason, that's why it's raised even greater concerns about our ability to address how we can secure those sites.
STARR (on-camera): Now, that satellite image we showed at the top of the piece comes from the commercial satellite firm, GOI, indications for everyone at the level of destruction. You even see it, of course, in the video right on the street. Defense secretary, Leon Panetta, says he believes the opposition is growing, but the question, Wolf, is will it be enough and will it be in time?
BLITZER: What happens to all those chemical weapons? All right. Barbara, thanks very, very much.
Let's discuss what's going on in Syria, Iran and more with the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, the Republican congressman from Michigan, Mike Rogers. Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in. Is that your nightmare scenario, that al Qaeda, for example, or Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas or whoever, gets their hold on these Syrian stockpiles of chemical weapons? I assume you believe they do have these stockpiles around the country?
REP. MIKE ROGERS, (R) MICHIGAN: I am highly confident they have these stockpiles of chemical weapons around the country, and one of the problems, Wolf, is that there are multiple sites. So, it's very difficult for, A, for us to track, and B, for us to come up with a plan to try to contain those records if something -- if regime loses control.
In addition, this is a place that is stockpiled weapons that makes Libya look, you know, like kindergarten. They have huge and modernized weapons systems that have been throwing through Syria to Iraq, in some cases, to Hezbollah, to Hamas. This has been a proxy state for Iran. So, its weapon systems are more advanced, and there's lots of them.
So, that's very concerning, especially now with reports that al Qaeda in Iraq is making some effort in Syria. It is getting more confusing, not less confusing, and certainly, in the short-term.
BLITZER: Well, is that true? Your access to important information, is al Qaeda now entrenched in this opposition to the regime in Bashar al-Assad?
ROGERS: We have seen intelligence reports that indicate they're at least making the effort. I don't believe we can say with a high degree of certainty that they're there and embedded, but we can say that they're certainly making the effort and have made the effort, and are probably successful in some areas.
BLITZER: John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Service Committee, he was adamant yesterday. Let me play this clip, because, all of a sudden, people are throwing around this notion that there may be al Qaeda elements inside the opposition to the regime in Syria. Listen to Senator McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R) ARIZONA: They're not fighting and dying because they're al Qaeda. They're not fighting and dying and sacrificing their lives because they're Muslim extremists. They're fighting and dying because they want the same universal rights and freedom that we guaranteed in our constitution. So, I reject the argument that we, quote, "don't know who they are."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do you know who they are? Who is -- who this opposition is?
ROGERS: Well, I respect John McCain's passion for wanting liberty for this people and for the Assad regime to go away. I think we all want that. I'm not quite as sure about who the opposition is. They're not nearly as organized, even as bad as they were in Libya disorganized, they're not even that organized in Syria.
So, there's a problem there, and one of the things we learned from Libya is that, listen, if you don't have a game plan when you go into this thing, and they really didn't, you're going to have a problem with weapons systems, not only the chemical weapons systems there were very isolated, pretty singular site, kind of had our eye on.
We knew where it was, and we thought we had a pretty good handle on it. Here is so much different and so much more complicated, and then you have man pads, these ground to air anti-aircraft missiles and other munitions systems that worry us a lot that are everywhere. We better walk into this knowing exactly who's who, who we can trust and who we can't.
And we probably should use all of the capabilities the U.S. government before we decide we're going to go into something like that.
BLITZER: How good is U.S. intelligence in Syria right now?
ROGERS: You know, it's a very difficult place. I think some days it's better than others. I would put it on the low end side right now, and that's one of our problems with trying to understand who the opposition is and the different fractions within the opposition. And remember, you're not only working with the Syrian problem, you have the Iranians all over Syria.
They're helping them financially. We believe with weapons systems. Other nation states are also up there up to no good. So, you got a very complicated scenario in Syria that we didn't see in other places, including Libya, or Tunisia, and Egypt, places like that.
BLITZER: Because you've seen evidence lately that Iran is beefing up its assistance to the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. Talk a little bit about what you're seeing.
ROGERS: Well, clearly, they cannot afford to lose Syria, and I'm talking about Iran. This is their proxy state. This has been their extension and their arm on state-sponsored terrorism. They have used it to support and arm Hezbollah. They've used Syria to move weapons and operatives we believe into Iraq that may have been responsible.
By the way, state department reports said about 600 U.S. soldier deaths. This is an important thing for them. And it's the psychology -- not only for the reasons of moving those kinds of munitions and having that kind of support, but the psychology of controlling a proxy state like Syria. So, yes, they don't want to let it go. And they will do anything, which is why it's really difficult, Wolf, to say, well, it's in three or four weeks this thing is going to come tumbling down.
Not quite sure, because this is something different than we have seen in the other countries that took on their regimes. Mainly because you had the strong external force who had that iron-fist grip, who is willing to spend money, and weapons and blood of the Syrians, by the way, not of themselves, of the Syrians to hold onto power.
And that is that -- that's that mix-up in the equation. We're just not sure how we're going to get through right now.
BLITZER: As you know, congressman, there's been some confusion lately about what the U.S. intelligence assessment is about Iran and its supposed effort to try to build a nuclear bomb. Is there hard evidence that, right now, the Iranians are trying to assemble or build a nuclear bomb?
ROGERS: You know, I think it's all about parsed words here. There are three different ways they have to get there. They have to develop the missile system that would carry a nuclear weapon. They have to have enrichment capabilities so they can enrich the uranium, so that it's weapons grade that can actually form and build a nuclear device, and then, they have to figure out how to weaponize it.
In other words, they have to figure out how to make it go off and deliver its payload. All three of those programs, I have a high degree of confidence, Wolf, are under way. What this whole parsing of the words is, is when they're going to sprint to get to the assembly part of the bomb, but you can do a lot of damage, you can do a lot of enrichment capability increase.
You can get a lot of design testing of your missile program, and you can do a lot of -- there's other ways other than physically to develop your weaponization program to get you very close to the real deal.
And so, the Israelis have a different time line than us on this, because they argue, hey, you can't (ph) let them get to where -- all they have to do is put the thing together where the United States, at least the current administration, is saying, hey, we need to make sure that they're going to run that extra mile and put it together for the capability to have a bomb.
And that's where you have all of this disagreement in a very, very aggressive, it seems to me, across the pond political exchange.
BLITZER: All right. So, one final question. We only have a few seconds left. Best case scenario, worst-case scenario, how much time in this window before they have a bomb is there?
ROGERS: Well, that is the million dollar question. I don't think we have long. I think if you look at it from how the Israelis perceive the problem, that timeframe is very short. Even if we get to that timeframe, you're talking, you know, estimates anywhere from six months to 24 months. And that's the unfortunate thing is that gap. The Israelis argue we can't let them get to a place where we think it's 24, but it's only six. So, you can see their problem.
BLITZER: So, you see can see there's a difference of opinion there. All right. Thanks very much. Mike Rogers is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, as always, thanks for coming in.
ROGERS: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it. BLITZER: Thank you.
Meanwhile, a legendary photographer brutalized in Syria lives to tell the horrifying tale. He's going to take us inside the infamous attack that took the lives of two close colleagues.
Plus, more advertisers jumped ship in the wake of the growing Rush Limbaugh firestorm. Could it put the conservative radio giant's empire in serious jeopardy?
And supposed so-called soccer mom by day, but by night, an alleged soccer mom -- madam. Ahead, details on the high-end prostitution ring she's now accused of running.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here. He's got the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: Wolf, while it's true that Mitt Romney may have issues with conservatives, independents and the south, there is at least one group, besides the very rich, that loves him -- senior citizens. Michelle Cottle (ph) writes for "The Daily Beast" about Romney's surge among seniors, quote, "The bulk of the American electorate may not consider mittens scintillating, but the 65-plus set clearly finds him pretty darn charming," unquote.
Exit polls from Super Tuesday show voters 65 and older were among Romney's staunchest supporters. In Ohio, crucial state, he beat Rick Santorum among seniors by 15 points. Even in Tennessee, where Romney lost, he still won seniors. Seniors were also key to Romney's earlier victories in Michigan, Nevada, Florida, and they were the only age group that he won in Iowa.
Looking beyond the national nightmare of the Republican primaries, senior voters are the only age group where Romney outpolls President Obama. Experts say the old folks like Romney, because he focuses on things they care about, like the economy. Also, they like the fact that Romney's generally more moderate in a field that keeps moving farther to the right.
Even some of Romney's more awkward moments like trying to sing "America the Beautiful" play well to the plus 65 crowd. Maybe it's because a lot of them couldn't hear it, but if he's going to be the next president, he's got to pick up broader support among other voting blocs. Remember this, though, on Election Day, seniors vote maybe more than any other group. (INAUDIBLE).
Here's the question, why is Mitt Romney so popular with senior citizens? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile, post a comment or go to our post on the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Seniors vote in much higher percentages than younger people. Take a look at -- you know, Ron Paul, he's got a lot of young people to support him, but not necessarily translating into wins in these primaries and these caucuses. If you're running for office in the United States, you want the Seniors to support you, because they actually show up and do the voting. You know that.
CAFFERTY: They vote in much higher percentages than any other group. Absolutely right.
BLITZER: That's absolutely true.
CAFFERTY: I am one. I know these things.
BLITZER: And you vote every single election. We know that, Jack, thank you.
More than 40 advertisers have now pulled their commercials from Rush Limbaugh's radio talk show, Allstate, LegalZoom, NetFlix, Sears, just a handful of the companies making sure their ads aren't running during Limbaugh's show ever since he used those choice words to describe a Georgetown University law student.
CNN's Erin Burnett has been looking into the advertising situation for us. Erin, Rush Limbaugh isn't the only one having some trouble with advertisers these days. What are you finding out?
ERIN BURNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been pretty interesting. And in part, Rush Limbaugh, obviously, a very well-known figure, but some lesser-known shows as well, Wolf, have had problems in part because of the power of social media. A few upset and angry people can have a very significant influence on shows.
Remember "All American-Muslim" which was airing on TLC, it's not going to have a second season due to ratings, but as you may recall, it was the power of the Florida Family Foundation, essentially run by one man, that cause the controversy and names like Lowe's pulled their advertising from "All American-Muslim."
It's actually interesting, Wolf. I looked back in the summer of 2010. "Jersey Shore" had had some problems, maybe this doesn't surprise you, but in its first season, a lot of advertisers were very concerned. It was actually an issue that came up on Viacom, it's parent company's conference call. Investors were worried it would hurt the company's bottom line. It didn't.
Advertisers are ended up flocking to "Jersey Shore," but it also had problems. Remember that happened, obviously, over on Fox News with Glenn Beck's show. So, it has happened in other shows, and even this weekend, I don't know if you saw this morning, there was a report Good Christian -- GCB refers to the book, Good Christian Belle is maybe ABC would like you to have it call.
There was a report that Kraft had pulled our advertising from that show. ABC says not true, the show is fully sold out, but this is something that is happening more and more over the past couple of years, in part because of social media.
BLITZER: Rush Limbaugh, as you know Erin, has had a hugely successful radio empire. So, here's the bottom-line question, is this uproar right now going to hurt him? BURNETT: Well, he's a very, very rich man. So, even if it ends up hurting him, he should have so much money in the bank that he's going to be rich no matter what. But even in terms of the advertisers, you're talking about more than 40. You listed a few of them there, Wolf. But Rush Limbaugh's show airs in 600 stations around the country.
He is saying each of those stations, because it has a lot of local advertisers, has at least 30 local advertisers. So, he has about 18,000 advertisers. So, in light of that, 42 doesn't look like very many. Now, we'll see if it ends up percolating through, but Rush Limbaugh's contract, he's in the middle right now of an eight-year deal for $400 million.
He had said $100 million of that was paid out in cash. Last year, "Forbes Celebrity 100," he earned $64 million. So, Rush Limbaugh is a very wealthy man. And it looks like, as of now, he will weather this storm.
BLITZER: Erin is going to more coming up later on her show, 7:00 p.m. eastern, and we'll watch as we do every single day. Erin, thanks very much.
BURNETT: All right, Wolf.
BLITZER: Afghanistan has long been the world's biggest source of opium, but are members of the country's own air force using cargo planes -- get this -- to run drugs? We have details of a new investigation.
And she won a million dollars in the Michigan lottery. So, why has the state been giving her hundreds of dollars each month to buy food? Stay with us.
BLITZER: Mary Snow is monitoring some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now, including a key ruling coming out of Mississippi. What happened, Mary?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Mississippi's Supreme Court is upholding the controversial pardon of former governor, Haley Barbour. Barbour pardoned 214 inmates before leaving office, four were convicted murderers.
But by a vote of 6-3, the court says the pardons may not be set aside or voided by the judicial branch. The dissenting opinion called it a victory for, quote, "lawless convicted felons."
The U.S. is investigating allegations that members of the Afghan air force have used their planes to transport drugs. Eight U.S. air force officers were shot at a Kabul airport last year. And investigators now think the deaths may be related to drugs. The "Wall Street Journal" reports that at the minimum, Afghan Air Force members turned a blind eye. European Union is in hot water for making a video similar to Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" movies in which a White woman is surrounded by menacing non-White men. In the clip, the men prepare to attack her before she multiplies, and they all form the EU flag. Some say it's racist. Now, the EU is pulling the ad, saying, they quote, "obviously regret it."
And after widespread outrage, a Michigan woman who won a million dollar lottery prize in October won't be getting state food assistance anymore. Despite taking home more than $500,000 in winnings, Amanda Clayton (ph) was still getting $200 a month in food aid. Michigan requires (ph) on welfare recipients to report any changes in their assets or income, and she didn't do that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Mary, for that.
A neighborhood under constant shelling and civilians on the brink of death. Ahead, we're taking you inside CNN's extraordinary 72 hours under fire.
Plus, one photographer's dangerous escape from the bloodshed. How he managed to survive at attack that killed two legendary colleagues?
And a notorious warlord on the run. Why a video that's gone viral may be the key to tracking him down?
BLITZER: This is new video just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM out of Syria, reportedly showing dozens carrying the coffin of a trooper who refused to shoot peaceful demonstrators. The procession was later attacked by Syrian government security forces. Dozens were arrested.
It's just another story of the endless brutality we see in Syria every single day. CNN is taking an extraordinary look at the devastation our reporters have seen there in a special documentary running this Sunday night 8:00 p.m. Eastern. It's entitled "72 Hours Under Fire".
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: CNN's Arwa Damon, Neil Horsworth (ph) and Tim Crockett (ph) are in Baba Amr, a neighborhood that endured constant shelling where civilians are killed and wounded every day, where a makeshift clinic tries to help.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're here with Dr. Mohammed (ph), who's actually been on numerous YouTube videos throughout this uprising, and now we're actually getting a firsthand look of exactly what he and his team are up against, a 30-year-old man lies on the brink of death after shrapnel hit him in the head.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: He will die if he doesn't get out.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Dr. Mohammed (ph) is one of only two doctors in this clinic. The other is actually a dentist.
DAMON: Dr. Mohammed (ph), he's not sort of front line trained in emergency --
DAMON: -- combat medic. He's an internal medicine specialist.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)
DAMON: Yes, and now I mean look at what he's dealing with. Look at the casualties he's dealing with, the kind of casualties he's dealing with, the way he's had to cope, and the fact that it's day in and day out for him. It's relentless.
BLITZER: And Arwa is joining us now from Beirut. Arwa, based on what we know, and I know journalists can't get in there, what's the situation like in both Homs and Baba Amr.
DAMON: Well you know since we left Baba Amr a few weeks ago government forces have gone in. And as far as what we were able to gather from activists who managed to flee, that clinic that you just saw there that doesn't exist anymore. They had to evacuate it before government forces arrived. We did, however, hear that both doctors, who worked there, Dr. Mohammed (ph) and Dr. Ali (ph), did manage to get out of Baba Amr (ph) and are now in hiding somewhere safe in Syria.
But what's especially chilling about all of this is every single person that you see in that video, other than those two doctors, we don't know what happened to them. We don't know if they managed to survive the artillery that --
DAMON: We don't know if they even managed to flee in time before government forces arrived because just today, for example, we've been hearing a report by activists that 44 people were summarily executed in a field just outside of Homs -- Wolf.
BLITZER: As you know, the former U.S. secretary-general, now a special envoy, Kofi Annan (ph), he's expected to visit Syria this weekend. Is there any hope at all this visit might make a difference?
DAMON: You know it's very difficult to imagine or see how it could, since there are so many activists will tell you this is a regime that doesn't really intend to come to the negotiating table. Many people will also say that the window for some sort of political resolution to all of this has closed a long time ago. Both sides are more hardened than they ever have been in their position, and the opposition is not going to negotiate with the Assad regime unless of course Assad and those around him and anyone who has blood on their hands, is somehow held accountable. When you have such a polarized situation, it's really hard to see what sort of solution Kofi Annan (ph) is going to be able to bring to the table following this visit to Damascus.
BLITZER: Arwa Damon reporting for us; Arwa thanks very much. It's important programming note to our viewers. You can watch the one-hour documentary, "72 Hours Under Fire", it's powerful, it's important, this Sunday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
Thousands of people have died in Syria and among them some of the most courageous journalists in the world. "TIME" magazine photographer William Daniels was one of the lucky ones. He's now telling his story in the latest edition of "TIME" magazine. The article is called "Escape from Syria, One Man's Journey Out Of The Killing Fields".
BLITZER: We know you were with Marie Colvin when she was killed and the photographer, your friend Remi, when he was killed. Tell us a little bit about Remi because you have a very dramatic photograph of him that I want to show our viewers.
WILLIAM DANIELS, TIME MAGAZINE: Remi was a great, great photographer. He just won the World Press (ph) two or three weeks ago. He was 28, was very young, but very (INAUDIBLE) photographer and he was a great guy too. He was my friend and we are so, so, so shocked by his death.
BLITZER: This is a picture of the street in Baba Amr, the house where you and the other journalists were holed up for days behind -- with the building under fire.
DANIELS: Yes, as you can see (INAUDIBLE) most of the streets in Baba Amr are like this (INAUDIBLE) it's I guess (INAUDIBLE) now and even crossing such streets in the day was very, very dangerous. And at night it was less dangerous (INAUDIBLE) some snipers in some streets, so while (INAUDIBLE) is so, so, so low in Baba Amr.
BLITZER: Very, very sad moment, there's another -- really a heart wrenching picture of a little baby who was hit by shrapnel in the clinic in Baba Amr and you got the picture of this baby holding a little bottle of milk. It's a heartbreaking picture. Do you know what happened to the baby? Did the -- is the baby OK?
DANIELS: He's fine now. Yes, he's fine. It's actually a rocket who hit his house and one shrapnel went directly in his face and -- but he's fine. It looks very bad, but it's not a very, very big injury compared to many others, so this baby could be operated quite quickly. Such injuries, they can -- they can treat them in this hospital, but the (INAUDIBLE) injuries.
BLITZER: Excellent pictures, the cover story in "TIME" magazine, "Escape from Syria". We're happy, William that you managed to escape from Syria. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and our deepest condolences for the loss of your friends. Thank you very much.
DANIELS: Thank you to you. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BLITZER: A 30-minute video has now reached the hands of millions of people via YouTube. It's a trending topic on Twitter. We're going inside the Kony 2012 campaign and the controversy surrounding it.
And how did a suburban mother of four end up at Rikers Island in New York accused of running a high-end prostitution ring? We have details.
BLITZER: An online video about a violent warlord has gone viral with almost -- get this -- 39 million views on YouTube. Certainly isn't flattering. Our own Brian Todd has been taking a closer look at the video, the group that's behind it. First of all, Brian, who is the man at the center of this new video?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You've actually got two central characters here Wolf. You've got the maker of this film who's gotten more attention for the video than anything we have seen on YouTube recently, but who is now drawing fire for being misleading, and you've got the subject of the video, a violent warlord, who many in the west had never heard of until now. We have to warn viewers this story contains images that some might find disturbing.
TODD (voice-over): He's a warlord who experts say is responsible for the kidnapping of up to 70,000 people, many of them children, operating first in Uganda, now in three other African countries. He and his militants have killed and disfigured tens of thousands of villagers, forced young boys to become child soldiers, forced girls into sexual slavery.
Joseph Kony (ph) and his so-called Lord's Resistance Army have been doing this for a quarter of a century trying to overthrow the Ugandan government in favor of a regime based on the Ten Commandments. He's on the run from African forces and their American advisers, but Joseph Kony is getting more attention now than ever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop the rebel group, the L.R.A., and their leader Joseph Kony.
TODD: That's thanks to a new video called "Kony 2012", a half hour long, it's gone viral, tens of millions of views on YouTube in just a few days. The filmmakers used the hacktivists group Anonymous and others to blast it out over the Internet. They sent tweets to celebrities like George Clooney, Rihanna, to American lawmakers. The film highlights Kony's atrocities partly through the eyes of a former child soldier, who according to the video saw his brother murdered.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) I saw my brother once again, I don't --
(CRYING) TODD: The video is produced by a nonprofit activist group called Invisible Children. Filmmaker Jason Russell's goal to gather momentum for Kony to be captured and brought to justice at the international criminal court.
JASON RUSSELL, FILMMAKER, "KONY 2012": He's been getting away with murder and what he does is he brainwashes them, makes them kill their parents, slaughter people, cut off people's faces.
TODD: But some say this popular crusade is misleading.
(on camera): Critics say the film manipulates the facts ignoring the Ugandan military's human rights abuses and its war with the L.R.A., ignoring the fact that Joseph Kony and its forces have been significantly reduced to --
TODD: We were just saying there before our technical problems that critics say the film is misleading, saying that the -- it ignores the Ugandan government's own atrocities against villages in this war, that it ignores the fact that Joseph Kony and his forces have been reduced in number in recent years and have not launched attacks.
The filmmakers actually deny that. They say that it is true that they have not launched that many attacks in recent years, but they say it's because of their work. They also deny charges that they're being kind of naive in assuming that you know white westerners can come in and solve Africa's problems.
They say they never purported to do that. They just want people to pay attention. They want western youth to do more than just watch this phenomenon, Wolf, and 40 million-plus hits right now on YouTube.
BLITZER: Forty million --
TODD: It's close to 40 million now --
BLITZER: -- two or three million, it's all of a sudden it's really gone viral.
TODD: It's somewhere around 40 million. I believe the video was posted on Monday --
BLITZER: What do they want people to do?
TODD: Well right now they want people to just keep watching the video, but also on April 20th, they have set up this kit that people can go and online and get. It's called "Joseph Kony 2012", you get a t-shirt. But what they want people to do on April 20th is take part of this kit, these posters that say "Kony 2012", plaster them all over street corners nationwide. They say they're going to capture the night on the night of April 20th into that Saturday, the 21st, and they hope that people will wake up in almost every city in America and see these posters all over the place just to you know, just to glean awareness for this man and what he's doing.
BLITZER: 40 million hits --
TODD: 40 million and some, yes.
BLITZER: Wow. All right, thanks very much, Brian. Good report, sorry about those technical glitches. It happens sometimes. Live TV.
The men behind the documentary join CNN's Piers Morgan for an in- depth interview later tonight. The "Kony 2012" filmmaker Jason Russell and CEO of Invisible Children Ben Keasey (ph) are on "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
So why is Mitt Romney so popular with senior citizens? That's coming up. And she may not be the average soccer mom she appears to be. Why this woman is now accused of running a high-end multimillion dollar prostitution ring.
BLITZER: She's a mother of four who lives in the suburbs, but right now she's staying at Rikers Island, accused of running a multimillion dollar prostitution ring. Our Mary Snow is investigating the so-called soccer mom madam. Mary, who is this woman?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, her name is Anna Gristina (ph) and prosecutors claim she ran a prostitution ring from a Manhattan apartment with business contacts around the world. And they say her arrest follows a five-year investigation.
SNOW (voice-over): Headlines like "Madam X" and "High Class Madam Busted" are splashed across New York's tabloids in an odd case that raises questions about who may be exposed through her little black book. By day 44-year-old Anna Gristina (ph) is a married mother of four, described as a soccer mom, living outside of New York City. By night, prosecutors claim she ran a brothel out of this modest Manhattan apartment house and boasted of making millions.
To prove it, they say, they have hundreds of hours of video and audio recordings. Private investigator Vincent Parco says he's a friend of Gristina (ph) who met her when she wanted to start a matchmaking Web site with high-end clients. He says she asked him to do background checks. He says he can't confirm if she had call girls working for her, but he thinks the accusations by law enforcement are overblown.
VINCENT PARCO, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: It's sexy. It makes good headlines, but a lot of the things that they're talking about are not true.
SNOW (on camera): Such as?
PARCO: All right, that she's a millionaire madam. Definitely not a millionaire, if she was a millionaire madam, she would be out on bail now.
SNOW (voice-over): Gristina (ph) remains on Rikers Island after her bail was set at $2 million. She pled not guilty to prosecution charges. Prosecutors requested high bail, arguing she's well connected, and has gone to Canada at times to avoid being picked up, adding there have been repeated assertions during the course of the investigation that she has connections in law enforcement who are poised to help her out, to let her know if there's trouble on the front that she needs to be concerned about.
Prosecutors also allege Gristina (ph) enlisted minors, something her lawyer denies. Authorities say their five-year investigation ended with Gristina's (ph) arrest as she met with a Morgan Stanley banker at his office. Prosecutors believed she was trying to solicit money for an online venture linking clients and prostitutes.
SNOW: And now there's action against that Morgan Stanley broker tied to Gristina (ph). Morgan Stanley saying today that that broker's been placed on leave pending the investigation into his involvement with Gristina's (ph) case -- Wolf.
BLITZER: The New York newspapers must be having a field day with this one. Thanks Mary --
SNOW: They certainly are.
BLITZER: Thanks, Mary, very much. Let's get back to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: The question this hour is, why is it that Mitt Romney is so popular with senior citizens? He really does quite well with that voting bloc. J.D. writes "I'm 63, technically a senior citizen, and I can't stand the guy. For starters Romney wants to take away my medical care. And then there's that whole Seamus the dog on top of the car thing. What kind of person does that to an animal?"
A guy calls himself "old geezer", "the seniors like Mittens because he looks like the game show host they watch all day. They watch the debates and they think its "Family Feud." Joshua writes "because old folks still have honor, integrity and love of their country and they are looking forward to replacing the current occupant of the Oval Office with someone who has those same qualities."
David writes "It's because he isn't black, and let's face it, there are still a ton of old racists white people out there who have yet to die off." Tom in Pennsylvania, "I disagree, Jack, I'm a senior citizen. He's not popular with me or my pinochle playing friends." Bill in Ohio "Older folks remember when the two parties were more interested in a better America than trying to destroy each other. Mitt represents a middle ground in the Republican Party that unfortunately has been lost to the conservative right."
Larry on Facebook "They have him confused with gin rummy." Conor in Chicago "It's because of his soothing vocal stylings when singing 'America the Beautiful'." And D. writes "No wonder they like him. He's the only one with enough money to cover their Social Security checks." If you want to read more about this go to the blog, CNN.COM/CAFFERTYFILE or to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page. This senior citizen will see you on Monday.
BLITZER: Have a great little weekend, Jack and see you on Monday indeed. Thank you very much.
A giant rock is making a slow journey to a Los Angeles museum. Jeanne Moos, she's tracking the trek. Stay with us.
BLITZER: All right let's take a look at this hour's "Hot Shots". Let's start in Romania, coalminers protest in favor of a wage increase because of unsafe working conditions. In Israel, look at this. People dressed up as clowns to celebrate during a forum parade honoring the salvation of the Jews from the ancient Persians -- happy forum. In Pakistan, Hindus celebrate the festival of colors marking the end of winter. And in England -- look at this -- a Dalmatian peeks out of its kennel on day one of the competition -- "Hot Shots", pictures coming in from around the world.
So what's 340 tons and has its own Twitter account, a giant boulder making a slow move to a Los Angeles museum. CNN's Jeanne Moos has the story.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Move over "The Rock" because the real rock is coming through.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: And it's like billions of pounds.
MOOS: Three hundred and forty tons, actually. It dwarfs mere man.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn't it big?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've never seen anything like that.
MOOS: Well actually she still hasn't seen it. It's covered in shrink wrap. They're calling it the biggest mega-move since the pyramids. The rock came from this quarry in Riverside, California, where its unluckier relatives are turned into gravel but not this bruiser.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The piece is actually called levitated mass.
MOOS: It's destined to become part of an artwork at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, but first it has to get there. It only moves at night when roads can be closed and traffic signals temporarily removed. Fans come out to shoot video of it even at 2:00 in the morning. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here comes the rock making a turn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are a lot of truck and engineering nerds.
MOOS: They want to know that 196 wheels are helping to carry the load. Usually there's one truck pulling from the front, two pushing from the back. The speed ranges from five to eight miles per hour. The whole trip of 105 miles is supposed to take 11 days. When it stopped in Long Beach it was an excuse for partying and puns.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely there's a party going on. They're playing music with the songs rocking it I guess, right?
MOOS: People pose in front of it. People paint it. The security guard made a "that's a big rock" sign to deter people who kept asking, what is it? But Sarah Cohen (ph) was inviting questions with an "ask me" t-shirt. She's from the museum where the rock is headed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a little bit of trouble making a turn, so it's -- we stopped here instead.
MOOS: Which is ironic because --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's parked right in front of the church called Roca De Salvacion.
MOOS: The Roca De Salvacion Church with its own rock, it must be a little jealous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're the wackiest questions. I had somebody ask me if it was going to be earthquake safe.
MOOS: Actually it will be because museum goers will be walking underneath. A rock this big can make a kid's imagination run wild.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I imagine like it's going to knock all the houses down.
MOOS: No houses, but just moments later there was a rubber- necking rear ender. Chalk it up to the rock, a rock star Queen would appreciate.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: Love Jeanne Moos. Thanks Jeanne, thanks very much. And to our viewers that's it for me. Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.