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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Rep. Peter King; Rape Victims Say Military Calls Them Crazy; Etan Patz Cold Case; Wasting Taxpayer Money; Bird Strikes; Secret Service Scandal Broadens
Aired April 20, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And you're in the SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, a secret service agent joked about leering at Sarah Palin long before he was caught up in a prostitution scandal. This hour, we're learning more about some of the members of the secret service who've now lost their jobs. We're expecting, by the way, more resignations fairly soon.
BLITZER: After three decades, police may be close to solving the case of the first missing child featured on a milk carton. We're going live to a home in New York City where crews, right now, are frantically tearing apart a basement.
And service members who dared to report sexual assault say they were forced out of the United States military and labeled as crazy. Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta is investigating.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
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BLITZER: Another round of resignations in the secret service prostitution scandal. It could come at any time. A government source telling CNN, at least, three more members of the agency are expected to be forced out today. We're learning more about two of the three officers who already lost their jobs in this exploding scandal. Brian Todd has been investigating for us. Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two names have been made public, Wolf. Both have supervisor positions. We've obtained more information about each man. One of them is taking serious heat for a picture and a joke he posted on Facebook.
TODD (voice-over): On his Facebook page, he posts several pictures of himself in action, on protective detail. In one, he's seen standing behind Sarah Palin, and under the photo, he posts a comment saying, quote, "I was really checking her out if you know what I mean." David Chaney is one of the secret service supervisors who lost his job because of the prostitution scandal in Colombia. That's what a source familiar with the investigation told CNN national security contributor, Fran Townsend. Palin on Fox News channel responded to David Chaney's Facebook post.
SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Check this out, bodyguard, you're fired, and I hope his wife kicks his Okole and sends him to the doghouse.
TODD: David Chaney is married, has an adopted son, according to his posting on Reunion.com, a posting which also says his father was a secret service agent. A former secret service official says Chaney started on the vice presidential detail when Al Gore was running for president in 2000, and that he later protected vice President Dick Cheney.
We tried repeatedly to speak to David Chaney through calls to his lawyer and a visit to his house in Virginia. Chaney had called sheriffs deputies to keep us from knocking on his door.
(on-camera) Would you be able to act on our behalf and ask him if he can come out and talk to us?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are not talking to anybody right now, OK? And again, I've made it clear they want no one on the property.
TODD (voice-over): Neighbor, Zlatko Jovanovic, says he spoke with Chaney on occasion.
(on-camera) What did you guys talk about?
ZLATKO JOVANOVIC, DAVID CHANEY'S NEIGHBOR: Just wanting to get approval for whatever he was doing in the backyard.
TODD: And, how did you find him to talk to you? What was his manner like?
JOVANOVIC: Very -- very personal, down to earth.
TODD (voice-over): Another neighbor says Chaney used to drive a long way to watch him play sports.
CHRIS WILSON, DAVID CHANEY'S NEIGHBOR: And truly the perfect neighbors. They're fantastic. I really like them a lot.
TODD: One former secret service employee describes David Chaney as gregarious. The other supervisor who lost his job is identified by our source as Greg Stokes. According to a radio program and a career posting on the University of Maryland's website, Stoke supervised the canine training unit at the secret service training center outside Washington.
Court documents indicate a Greg Stokes was involved in a divorce case from 2003 to 2005, a case in which there's correspondence from the secret service. His former wife was also a secret service employee.
TODD (on-camera): Attorney Lawrence Berger (ph) told CNN he is representing both Chaney and Stokes. He told us he's concerned about what he calls illegal leaks of privacy protected information coming from, quote, "rogue elements within the secret service." Berger says that's distorting the review of what happened, and he told Reuters the officers are getting, quote, "a raw deal" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You're getting also some reaction from a former high- ranking secret service agent, a supervisor, about this David Chaney posting on Facebook regarding Sarah Palin.
TODD: That's right. Very strong reaction from Barbara Riggs. She's the agent I spoke to yesterday, the first woman to become deputy director of that agency, Wolf. She told me that Facebook posting and the joke are a violation of what she calls the sacred trust that protect this place in secret service agents.
Another strong comment she made, she told me, overall, short of an assassination, this is as bad as it gets for the secret service. That's very strong.
BLITZER: Very strong, indeed, and appreciate your reporting, Brian. Thank you.
We're also learning today that another member of the U.S. military is being questioned in connection with the prostitution scandal, bringing the total number of military personnel under investigation up to 11 as we await for more resignations of secret service members.
Let's go to our White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar. She's also working the story for us. Brianna, what are you hearing over there?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, at least three more secret service agents are expected to be pushed out today. This is according to a government source who spoke to CNN. So, as you know, there are already three who have been pushed out, including two supervisors.
These resignations will come from among the eight secret service agents who are currently on administrative leave and have been stripped of their security clearances. Meantime, President Obama, Wolf, still has not had direct contact with the director of the secret service, Mark Sullivan.
Sullivan has been briefing a number of government officials, including President Obama's chief of staff and his deputy chief of staff, but not the president directly himself, which, of course, wolf, creates a sense of distance right now between President Obama and Sullivan.
The White House, though, says that President Obama stands behind Sullivan, but Wolf, we know how these things work. A lot of that will be contingent on what the findings of the investigation yield. BLITZER: I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, Brianna. As you know, some Republicans are now raising questions about the president's leadership on this issue, other recent scandals. What's the White House saying about this?
KEILAR: That's right, because there have been a few lately. Obviously, the secret service scandal is the largest, but there was also that exorbitant conference of that government agency, the GSA, out of Las Vegas recently, as well as coming to light some pictures of service members in Afghanistan posing with the remains of a suicide bomber in addition to this scandal involving the secret service.
You've had some Republicans like Senator Jeff Sessions, like Sarah Palin who -- Governor Sarah Palin who have raised issue with the president's leadership in connection with this, and today, White House press secretary, Jay Carney, responded to that saying that they're politicizing this.
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JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's a ridiculous assertion that trivializes. Both the very serious nature of the endeavor that our military has engaged in in Afghanistan and the very serious nature both of the work that the secret service does, a political nature of the institution, the -- and the seriousness of the investigation under way with regard to the secret service in the military and the incident in Colombia.
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KEILAR: But by and large, Wolf, most government officials including Republicans are holding fire while the investigation continues. And Sullivan still enjoys, at this point, the support of some pretty important Republicans, Peter King and Darryl Issa, some powerful chairman on the House side of the Hill.
BLITZER: Very powerful, indeed. Thanks very much, Brianna. Brianna Keilar at the White House.
Top lawmakers in Congress continue to demand answers about the secret service prostitution scandal and why it was allowed to happen.
And joining us now, the chairman of the House Homeland Security committee, Congressman Peter King. Congressman, what can you tell us about these two secret service agents that we already know have been forced out, David Chaney and Greg Stokes?
REP. PETER KING, (R) HOMELAND SECURITY CHAIRMAN: Actually, Wolf, it's still -- even though they've been removed, there's still an ongoing investigation. As far as details, the secret service is keeping them sort at close hold, and I would really rather not discuss it in public because what involves those two could pertain to some of the other nine. And I don't want to compromise the ongoing investigation.
BLITZER: Because in principle, the fact that supervisors, apparently, were also involved, that raises serious questions that there was a cultural problem. This may not have been the first time something like this happened. What's your assessment?
KING: Well, the fact that supervisors were involved is really indefensible and that's the job of a supervisor. The senior agent is to stop these things from happening. I don't know if it was the culture or not. I don't want to make that step until we find evidence of it. If it turns out there is evidence, that's one thing, but right now, I prefer to say that the right actions have been taken.
Three men who were employees are no longer working for the secret service. And again, supervisors have a special responsibility, but to say that that necessarily means that there's a culture, I don't want to make that stuff yet. I have a great regard for the secret service, and unless, we have the evidence, I don't want to jump to that conclusion.
I've been talking to Director Sullivan at the last several days. What he told me when we met face-to-face on Tuesday is that as soon as he gets evidence on any of the agents which he thinks is legally sufficient and his lawyers say he can move, he is going to take tough, strong personal action against him.
So, as evidence comes in, as the investigation goes forward, and as (INAUDIBLE), once it reaches the level which he thinks is necessary and his lawyers say it's acceptable, he's going to take action. So, that's why I think we can expect to see action today and even, perhaps, you know, over the next several days.
BLITZER: And you still have confidence in Mark Sullivan, the director of the secret service.
KING: Wolf, since this started, since he first learned about it, last Thursday afternoon until today, everything I've seen, he's doing the right thing. He moved effectively and quickly right at the start, and he's continued to do that. From all I know and have heard and seen, this is a very tough and thorough investigation that following every lead, pursuing every lead.
And so, yes, the only way to judge him is how did he react when he first learned about it. After the moment he learned about it, he has moved quickly, and swiftly, and effectively.
BLITZER: We know the investigation is focusing in on members of the secret service and members of the U.S. military who may have been involved in this prostitution ring. Do you have any indication at all that White House staffers are also being investigated?
KING: Wolf, all I'm here is probably the same room as you are (ph). I'm focused on the secret service. As chairman of the homeland security committee, the secret service is within my jurisdiction. I'm not going into the lane of the military or the White House. That is for others. I am focused entirely on the secret service. That's my responsibility and that's what I intend to stay focused on.
Obviously, if I hear anything, if the investigations overlap, that's one thing. But right now, I don't see that. The investigation of the secret service is conducting and what I'm doing is focused entirely on the secret service.
BLITZER: Do you know if U.S. investigators on the scene in Colombia who had access have been able to question the women who were involved?
KING: My understanding is they've not yet spoken to the women, even though that may have changed today. They spoke to the maids who were in the rooms, but my understanding is they have not made contact with the secret service as of, at least, as of yesterday or this morning.
BLITZER: One final question, David Chaney, one of the secret service agents who was relieved and has been in the secret service since 1987, he is the one that on his Facebook page posted that some would regard as a snarky comment about Sarah Palin when he was on her detail when she was a vice presidential nominee saying, I'm checking her out and something along those lines. That's obviously totally inappropriate. When you heard about that, what went through your mind?
KING: Yes. That really bothered me. And believe me, I'm no moralist, but when you're talking about protecting, it's your job to be protecting someone, especially when that person is female, to be making those types of remarks, to be posting them is absolutely indefensible. It's entirely unprofessional.
And again, it really raises serious questions about him, because again, you have an obligation to the person you're protecting. You have an obligation to the secret service which has the professional duty to protect the president and the vice president, and obviously, there were sexist remarks about Sarah Palin, but any remark whether it was again President Obama or John McCain or George Bush or Joe Biden.
You cannot make any type of remark and post it. Your own private thoughts and if you don't like someone or whatever, that's one thing, but to be going public and letting the world know how you feel, it really -- it does put a cloud over it because we are under the absolute belief and impression that no matter how a secret service agent feels toward someone, they're going to guard them totally professionally.
And when you see that type of thing, it just makes you wonder. It was wrong. Totally unprofessional.
BLITZER: All right. Congressman Peter King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, thanks very much, as usual.
KING: Wolf, thank you.
BLITZER: New scary close encounters between jets and birds. Wait until you hear which famous Americans were in planes that took a hit.
And a watchdog group says Newt Gingrich is wasting about $38,000 a day in taxpayer dollars. What's going on over here?
And they thought they would get help, but instead, rape victims say the U.S. military labeled them as crazy.
BLITZER: U.S. military is launching a new crackdown on rape. The Pentagon estimates right now there were about 19,000 sexual assaults within the U.S. armed forces last year alone. 19,000. Most were unreported and unpunished. Some assault victims who did come forward say they were pushed out of the military, and essentially, labeled as crazy.
Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has been investigating this story for us. Sanjay has this report.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Doing the right thing was in 21-year-old's Stephanie Schroeder's blood.
STEPHANIE SCHROEDER, FORMER MARINE: I joined shortly after 9/11. I thought it was the right thing to do.
GUPTA: Six months after enlisting in the marines, she found herself training in a base in Virginia. One Saturday, she decided to blow off steam with some fellow marines.
SCHROEDER: We went out to dinner. I got up to go to the restroom, and my attacker followed me and forced his way into the bathroom. I went to pull the door shut, and he grabbed it and he flung it back as hard as he could, and charged into the bathroom and slammed the door behind him.
GUPTA: Back on base, Schroeder reported what happened to the officer in charge.
SCHROEDER: I told her I need to report an assault, and she just looked at me, and then, she started laughing and said don't come bitching to me because you had sex and changed your mind.
GUPTA: Schroeder said she took a lie detector test about her assault and passed, but charges were never filed against her attacker. In fact, she was forced to work with him side by side for over a year. Meanwhile, her rank was reduced, and her pay was docked. She says all because of the incident.
SCHROEDER: If you want to keep your career, you don't say anything. You just -- bear it. You just deal with it.
GUPTA: But dealing was a struggle. In early 2003, five months pregnant with her now husband in Iraq, Schroeder felt suicidal. She went to see an on-base psychiatrist.
SCHROEDER: The first time he was very nice. The second time we got into the assault, and then shortly after that, the chain of command said well, we're starting an administrative discharge against you.
GUPTA: On June 30, 2003, Schroeder received her discharge papers. The reason given for separation, personality disorder. A disorder that the textbook for psychiatrist defines as a long standing pattern of maladapted behavior beginning in adolescence or early adulthood.
ANU BHAGWATI, SERVICE WOMEN'S ACTION NETWORK: It makes absolutely no sense medically for people to be diagnosed, all of a sudden, after being sexually assaulted as an adult in the military to say no, you've had this all along.
GUPTA: Anu Bhagwati is a former marine and also executive director of Service Women's Action Network. That's a veterans advocacy group.
BHAGWATI: It's also extremely convenient to slap a false diagnosis on a young woman or man and then just get rid of them.
GUPTA: I'll tell you as well the whole issue of a potentially false diagnosis leading to the discharge of these military members, Wolf, that's really what's at issue here. We had the chance to talk to defense secretary, Leon Panetta, asked him about that issue specifically. Listen to what he said.
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LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Obviously, our goal here is to try to put in place what we need in order to deal with these cases as we move forward. There are procedures within the department of defense that allow these individuals to raise these concerns and determine whether or not they have not been treated fairly.
But I think, and I hope that they'll follow those procedures to determine whether or not that has been the case.
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GUPTA: And the pentagon also gave us a statement, Wolf, saying if any military member out there feels that they were discharged unfairly, there is a discharge review board, which is something Stephanie Schroeder, who you just met in the piece, is going through, but it's been cumbersome, Wolf. It's been many years now, and you know, and still unresolved for her, Wolf.
BLITZER: How often, Sanjay, are these victims getting these psychiatric discharges and does it really impact their benefits after they're discharged?
GUPTA: You know, I was surprised by the number, Wolf. And you know, people listen to a story like this and they think is this an isolated case? What we found between the years 2001 and 2010, 31,000 military members were discharged because of the diagnosis of personality disorder. And again, you heard the description, personality disorders are usually something that come on in early adulthood, even adolescence.
These are people who are older than that being diagnosed for the first time. So, that was part of what raise people's suspicion. As far as benefits go, yes, one thing that you and I talk about all the time, Wolf, is once you have a preexisting condition which they now have, it's very hard to get insurance even through the VA after they leave the military, after they leave the act of military.
And also things like the G.I. bill and educational benefits, they may not eligible for either. So, you know, some of the folks went into the military with the hopes of being able to offset costs of their education in the future. They don't have that as a benefit anymore, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. What a story. Sanjay, thanks so much for doing it. And I want to alert our viewers right now. Sanjay is going to have much more on this very powerful and important story tomorrow morning, Sunday morning, 7:30 a.m. eastern on "Sanjay Gupta M.D." only here on CNN.
If the idea of Starbucks using bugs in some of these drinks doesn't sit so well with your stomach, there's an important new dramatic development you're going to want to see. Stand by.
And a rare glimpse of dust clouds -- dust clouds in galaxies hundreds of light years away. What these amazing new images could tell us about the universe. Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Excellent news for Starbucks fanatics out there who are upset about the company using some bugs to color a few of its drinks. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring this story and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what's the latest?
SYLVESTER: Hi, Wolf. Well, the coffee chain now says it plans to stop using an extract made of dried insects and will instead use one made of tomatoes. The OrganizationChange.org wants partial credit. They gathered 6,000 signatures to pressure Starbucks to switch to a vegan-friendly coloring.
And a dramatic new image of one of Mexico's largest volcanoes erupting just southeast of Mexico City. Scientists started recording its activity Tuesday, and precautions are being taken for the more than 19 million people living there. Schools were closed, and residents were advised to avoid the outdoors. The volcano's last major eruption was back in 2000.
And check this out. It looks almost like a giant eye. Actually, though, it's an aging star hundreds of light years away. It's just one of a thousand amazing photos captured by NASA's special infrared Spitzer space telescope and posted online. The telescope allows astronomers to learn more about the universe by looking inside dust clouds and studying distant galaxies. Very (INAUDIBLE) there.
And one of the country's most historic stadiums turns 100 years old today. Boston's legendary Fenway Park is known for its huge left field wall nicknamed, "The Green Monster." It has been home to some of baseball's biggest stars, including Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.
Eighty-four years after Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees, Boston finally won the World Series in 2004 and again 2007. And Wolf, a lot of people say the curse was finally lifted -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly was. My team, the Washington Nationals are doing very, very well, so far, this year. Thanks very much.
A landmark cold case could be broken wide open at any minute. We're following the frantic dig for clues about the first missing child to appear in the milk carton.
And is New York City doing enough to make sure airplanes are safe from bird strikes? We're looking into the problem after a very scary emergency landing.
BLITZER: Authorities are combing through the basement of a lower Manhattan building for a second day hoping for clues that could crack the 1979 cold case of Etan Patz, the first missing child to appear on a milk carton. They say it was a carpenter that sparked interest in the building. CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti is working the story for us and she's joining us now from the scene. What's the latest, Susan?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. The case is moving forward because of leads police say they got from that former carpenter. He is now 75 years old and his name is Othniel Miller (ph). It turns out according to sources that he had befriended that little boy and even given him money. Remember this basement is only about a half block away from where the Patz family lived and this carpenter had been in his basement the day -- with the boy the day before the boy disappeared and the reason the FBI says it is cautiously optimistic is because when investigators sent in a cadaver dog to the basement about 10 days ago it picked up a scent.
The FBI also questioned this carpenter and during that time sources say that the man blurted out quote, "what if the body was moved" and that led to this massive excavation that began yesterday and is still going on at this hour. Now we need to point out that Mr. Miller is not under arrest. He is not in police custody and his attorney says he has nothing to do with the disappearance of Etan Patz.
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MICHAEL FARKAS, ATTORNEY FOR MR. MILLER: I am not saying anything further other than Mr. Miller denies involvement with what happened to this beautiful young boy and he is going to remain cooperative to the extent that's reasonably possible given this investigation.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The FBI's been here to investigate the case. He cooperated with them and went to the site and he doesn't have anything to do with it.
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CANDIOTTI: And that is Mr. Miller's daughter. Meantime all this excavation work is still going on. At one point FBI agents earlier this day even put together sort of an assembly line, Wolf, to pick up and carry out huge chunks of concrete that they're pounding away at in the basement. I am told that they're digging at least six feet down that deep, below the cement surface of that basement trying to get any indication as to whether any of that earth and floor had been moved or changed in any way and they plan on being here probably through Monday -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Susan Candiotti on the scene for us. Thank you. Etan Patz's disappearance certainly has had a huge impact on this country. CNN's Tom Foreman is joining us now with more on this part of this story. Tom, it's hard to believe 33 years.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is and it's just amazing to see the story come up again and the thing is even if you never heard about this story, if you never heard his name, if you're too young or you just don't recall it, the simple truth is it has changed our world in terms of missing children because it really was the first case, and because of the rise in local news and the technology of transmitting images and the instant live capability of television at the time became a national cause.
FOREMAN (voice-over): The baffling disappearance of the 6-year- old boy electrified the whole country in 1979. Etan was walking alone to his bus stop for the first time that day. He was eager for school. The distance was only two blocks and suddenly he was gone, with few clues or witnesses to shed light on what had happened. His face was one of the first of a missing child to ever appear on a milk carton, a national manhunt ensued and yet even as the leads led nowhere, public awareness grew about the whole problem of missing kids. Five years later President Reagan signed legislation which led to the creation of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Etan was the face of the movement. In many ways he was the first missing child. He was America's missing child --
FOREMAN: Ernie Allen (ph) is president and CEO and has followed the Patz case for years. Did it make things better or worse for missing children? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's bad in that it created in many ways too much fear. I think it was good in that it awakened the nation, and it made parents think that we couldn't anymore engage in benign neglect and assume that the world was a better place.
FOREMAN: Etan was officially declared dead back in 2001 as part of a civil lawsuit filed by his family against a drifter, Jose Ramos (ph), who was long suspected in the boy's disappearance. A judge found Ramos responsible for the death and ordered him to pay the family $2 million.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
FOREMAN: The parents made it clear their lawsuit was never about the money, but justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
FOREMAN: Still Ramos has never paid the money or been criminally charged in the Patz case. He is currently finishing up a 20-year sentence in a Pennsylvania prison for molesting another boy and he's set to be released later this year. Whether the family will know anything more about Etan's disappearance by then depends as it has for 30 years on the slow, steady work of investigators following a long, cold trail.
FOREMAN: What we do know is this, so many of the technological changes we've seen over the years, efforts to track children, efforts to set up Amber Alerts and things to let whole communities know that a child is missing and to coordinate police efforts to find them have been dramatically improved, all these years driven first by the case of Etan Patz and the results have been dramatic, Wolf.
Back in 1990 that Center for Missing and Exploited Children says that they only had about a 62, 65 percent recovery rate on kids who went missing in this fashion. Now it's much closer to like 97, 98 percent. So huge, huge improvements and hopefully some answers for this family and maybe for the whole nation (INAUDIBLE) few days.
BLITZER: It's a sad, sad story all around. Thanks very much, Tom -- Tom Foreman reporting.
A watchdog group is taking direct aim right now at Newt Gingrich accusing him of wasting about 38,000 taxpayer dollars every single day. Stand by.
BLITZER: Now to the presidential race and complaints that Newt Gingrich is wasting tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars every single day. He's continuing to campaign and he's getting Secret Service protection even though Mitt Romney is considered the all, but certain Republican nominee. Lisa Sylvester is looking into this story for us. He's out there I guess on the campaign trail and he has got Secret Service protection. That's not cheap.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that certainly is right, Wolf. You know Newt Gingrich's bid for the White House has basically been just limping along. The former House speaker's campaign is so low on cash that earlier this month it rented out its donor list. But one expense that Gingrich doesn't have to worry about is his personal security and car service. That's because they're being picked up by the taxpayers.
SYLVESTER (voice-over): You see them here, the men and women in the background at campaign stops. It's Newt Gingrich's Secret Service detail.
SYLVESTER: Gingrich and Mitt Romney both have Secret Service protection, but unlike Romney, Gingrich has fallen way behind in the delegate count and all but admits he has no chance of being the GOP nominee. Still Gingrich wants to ride it out until the convention and riding along with him, his security detail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we look at the numbers --
SYLVESTER: The cost to taxpayers can run about $38,000 a day for one candidate according to 2008 testimony from the Secret Service director. Candidates can opt out of Secret Service protection. Ron Paul, for example, has done that. David Williams of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance says it's time Gingrich pulls the plug.
DAVID WILLIAMS, TAXPAYERS PROTECTION ALLIANCE: A lot of people are going to look at this story and read about this and hear about this and go you see? This is why I don't trust Washington. They don't get it. They don't understand that $40,000 is a lot of money to me and a lot of money to my neighbors, and they say politicians lose sight of money. They talk in millions, billions and now trillions and they forget that us people out here in the (INAUDIBLE) you know $40,000, boy, that's our income for a year.
SYLVESTER: Former Secret Service agent Larry Cunningham says a typical detail includes coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
LARRY CUNNINGHAM, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: We furnish the vehicles and the agents of course, but there's also an area beyond the immediate perimeter, if you will that where a significant security infrastructure exists with local police and other first responders.
SYLVESTER: Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond dismissed complaints about the security detail, quote, "We think taxpayers make great tax experts and we think security experts make great security experts so if we need tax advice we'll check in with the tax experts." Watch dogs say cutting out $38,000 a day isn't going to narrow the deficit, but it would send a powerful message.
WILLIAMS: It would be a hugely symbolic gesture for Newt Gingrich to say listen, our country is in really bad financial shape. Symbolically I'm going to do this. I understand the campaign is pretty much over so let's just save money wherever we can.
SYLVESTER: Now we contacted the Secret Service, but they could not comment on this story and Gingrich, it's clear, has no intention of giving up Secret Service protection and as long as he remains a candidate he will continue to have around the clock detail at taxpayer expense -- Wolf.
BLITZER: If he goes on another 100 days to the convention that's almost $4 million right there of taxpayer dollars that will be used to try to protect him.
SYLVESTER: You can see how it could add up considerably and you know you heard what David Williams said. You know 38,000, $40,000 that's a person's salary for an entire year. That's what they're spending on one day.
BLITZER: Ron Paul has declined Secret Service protection. He says he doesn't want to waste taxpayer dollars.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for that, Lisa.
A scary emergency landing raising new concerns about bird strikes and just how safe you are when you fly. Also where do chimpanzees go to retire? We're catching up with some at a fascinating new place.
BLITZER: We are now learning of at least three planes that were struck by birds in the past 24 hours or so. And top Obama administration officials were onboard two of them. Joe Biden's office, the vice president confirming birds hit the C-32 carrying the vice president when it landed in Santa Barbara, California. And the State Department says a bird was sucked into the engine of a plane carrying Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from Brussels to Paris.
You may remember CNN's own Ali Velshi was on a flight from New York to Los Angeles that was forced to make an emergency landing yesterday because of a bird strike. Our Mary Snow is taking a closer look into what appears to be a growing problem. Mary, what's going on?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that incident on Thursday that you just mentioned the emergency landing it's still being investigated. It is not certain the kind of bird that struck the engines, but you know here in New York the city has stepped up efforts in recent years to cut the risk of bird strikes and that's because the population of Canada geese has been increasing and they flock to areas near the city's major airports.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SNOW (voice-over): Just moments after Delta flight 1063 took off from JFK Airport Thursday it was clear something went wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Delta 1063 has had an engine failure on the right engine declaring an emergency due to a bird strike.
SNOW: Passengers described a loud grinding noise and smoke in the cockpit. The pilot decided to turn around.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Delta 1063, we'll clear the right. We lost our right engine due to the ingestion of birds --
SNOW: The plane landed safely. Everyone was OK. But there was visible damage to the engine. The problem stems from spots like this with the main culprit Canada geese. This sanctuary is in the shadows of JFK Airport and wildlife biologist Steve Garber who once worked for the airport counts 300 species of birds.
STEVEN D. GARBER, WILDLIFE CONSULTANT: Because this is such a metropolitan built up area there aren't too many spots to land that look good and if birds see other birds, it's an oasis and naturally they're going to land there.
SNOW: A host of things has been used from pyrotechnics to falcons (ph) to control Canada geese. But it's not just JFK. It was LaGuardia Airport where U.S. Air Flight 1549 took off when a flock of Canada geese struck its engines and it landed on the Hudson River. In response, the city started working with the Department of Agriculture to euthanize Canada geese to cut down on the risk of another midair mishap, but they only have a small window over the summer when the geese are malting (ph) and can't fly. But now the city is the target of a lawsuit over this garbage transfer center. It's being built right near LaGuardia. Attorney Georgia Winston represents advocates suing the city to try and stop it.
GEORGIA WINSTON, ATTORNEY: Birds like garbage. Birds like the smell of garbage, so what we're saying to the city is this doesn't make any sense. This is 2,000 feet from the LaGuardia Airport runway and all it can do is attract more birds.
SNOW: For years the city has maintained it's safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FAA thinks it's safe and they're the professionals.
SNOW: The city also says there was garbage kept at the site up until 2001 without incident. And it says this new facility will be covered. But critics point to Thursday's emergency landing as one more reason they don't want anything else attracting birds so close to runways.
SNOW: And the city says that last year it euthanized 575 birds. It's down from roughly 1,600 the year before. It says it is on track to carry out the program again this year in June and July -- Wolf. BLITZER: We have any sense how common all this is, Mary?
SNOW: Much more common than you might think. According to FAA statistics, the FAA says there have been over 100,000 wildlife strikes between the years of 1990 and 2008 and that includes civilian and military aircraft. And it's really when those large birds can do damage to the engines that we hear the reports about it.
BLITZER: Mary Snow reporting from New York. Thank you.
Snacks of roses and cut-up fruit. Ahead inside the cushy new haven where chimpanzees, yes chimpanzees, can go to retire.
BLITZER: Here's a look at some of this hour's "Hotshots" that are just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. In England, look at this, a giant deep sea diver puppet roams the streets of Liverpool as part of a street theater production. In India, a worker cuts bamboo that will be transported to a factory to produce books and paper. In Egypt, thousands take part in Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in protest of the ruling military government. And in India, look at this, the National Fisheries Development Board opens a new building designed as you guessed it, a fish. "Hotshots", pictures coming in from around the world.
For decades, chimpanzees have been used in all kinds of research. But what do you do when it's time to retire them? Let's bring in CNN's John Zarrella who caught up with a few of them at a fascinating new place -- John.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is, Wolf. And you know the question is becoming really a concern. Because in the near future, they may not be able to use chimpanzees any longer for invasive research. So what do you do with nearly 1,000 chimpanzees that nobody would want anymore? Here's a real special place where some of them might end up.
ZARRELLA (voice-over): A red rose snack. Some like the stems. Others the petals. And cut-up fruit, mm-mm. But you get the sense they'd prefer you hand it to them.
(on camera): Here, have some more.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Susie, you're not catching very well.
ZARRELLA: You've got to catch.
(on camera): This is chimp haven, the only federally subsidized chimpanzee sanctuary in the nation sits on 200 acres outside Shreveport, Louisiana. There are forested habitats. Great for climbing. Fruits and veggies are always scattered around. In essence, this is a chimp retirement home.
LINDA BRENT, DIRECTOR, CHIMP HAVEN: We look at what a chimpanzee needs. We base that on what they're like in the wild. What does a wild chimp need? They need a lot of friends, a lot of space.
ZARRELLA: There are 130 of these great apes here and there's a growing chance that in the near future hundreds of chimps now in research facilities might need a home like this.
ZARRELLA: Legislation awaiting action in Congress would put an end to all invasive research using chimpanzees. And a much anticipated study commissioned by the National Institutes of Health, NIH, found the use of chimps in most cases, quote, "unnecessary".
ZARRELLA: The growing concern for sanctuary and laboratory officials is what to do with all these animals if suddenly they can no longer be used for research. Chimps can easily live more than 50 years. And the daily cost for care between 25 and $50 per animal.
BRENT: We could probably take 40, 50, 60 more chimpanzees if just this outside area was completed.
ZARRELLA: Money is the reason it's been sitting unfinished for six years ever since the contractor went bankrupt and costs escalated. The chimps here come from a variety of backgrounds. Henry was a pet. He lived 15 years in a cage in a garage before his rescue. Fifty- year-old Sarah was used in cognitive research.
(on camera): So these chimpanzees here behind me, there are five of them, are here for one very specific reason. Nobody else will take them.
(voice-over): They were at one time infected with and carry the AIDS virus. Most of chimp haven's animals were research subjects.
KATHLEEN TAYLOR, SANCTUARY MANAGER: It's amazing to see them experience breeze for the first time. Some of these chimps haven't even had outdoor access before.
ZARRELLA: Right now if the law were to change there simply aren't enough retirement sanctuaries for all the chimps. Many would likely stay in the research facilities where they've already spent most of their lives.
ZARRELLA: Now, Sunday at 8:00 p.m. on "CNN PRESENTS" we're going to take the viewers on a cross country journey with 10 chimpanzees who spent decades in what is now a defunct research facility from that facility to a sanctuary here in Florida. It's really fascinating stuff -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I'm looking forward to it, John. Now are taxpayers paying the bill for any of this?
ZARRELLA: Yes, they do and in fact, that unfinished portion that we just saw of that enclosure, it could be finished for $1 million. Taxpayers already footed the bill for the construction of what's built. And for about a million bucks they say it could be finished and they could take all -- these other chimps. But there just aren't enough federal dollars there, although they are subsidized. But they have to raise money as well to offset the subsidies. There just isn't enough money, so it sits there wasted, Wolf, right now where it could enclose a bunch of chimps. The government doesn't have the money to finish it.
BLITZER: And how many chimps did you say are involved in this?
ZARRELLA: There are 130 there now. If legislation goes through, if laws change, you could be looking at 1,000 chimpanzees in half a dozen research facilities around the country that are going to be looking for homes.
BLITZER: John Zarrella thanks very much.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.