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THE SITUATION ROOM
Boehner: Obama's Picking A "Silly" Fight; Ex-Aide: Edwards Made Him Fear For His Life; New Financial Information in Zimmerman Case; New Developments in Secret Service Scandal; Terror Probe in Ukraine
Aired April 27, 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, the star witness against John Edwards tells the court the former presidential candidate made him feel scared for his life. This hour, new and dramatic testimony about the sex, the money, and the political power.
A former prostitute tells us she's planning to sue the United States embassy in Brazil. Stand by for that interview and more scandal embarrassing the United States government.
And is Google giving terrorists, potentially, a virtual guide to attack Israel? A new internet features raising some security fears in Israel.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
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BLITZER: We begin this hour with an election-year fight to win over young voters, and it got a whole lot testier today. The House speaker, John Boehner, pushed through a Republican bill that would give the president something he wanted, an extension of lower interest rates on student loans, but the bill would pay for the lower rates by cutting some health care funding including health care funding for women.
The president certainly doesn't want that, so now, he's threatening a veto. Speaker Boehner is calling the fight silly.
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REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: Ladies and gentlemen, this is beneath us. This is beneath the dignity of this House and the dignity of the public trust that we enjoy from our constituents. They expect us to come here and to be honest with each other, to work out these issues, and not pick this big political fight where there is no fight is just silly. Give me a break.
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BLITZER: Let's bring in our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, the host of CNN's "State of the Union." You had an opportunity and exclusive interview today with the speaker. You sat down with him, what did he say?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he did talk about the veto threat, and he said, look, the Senate is going to take this bill up. We'll work something out.
His main message not as heated as that, his main message in sort of the (INAUDIBLE) interview was, this is going to get done. We are going to make sure that those interest rates don't go up on student loans, and it will be done ahead of time.
How they fund it? Obviously, that's still out there. They'll figure that out. I also talked to him about Mitt Romney. You may be surprised as I was that he hasn't yet spoken to Mitt Romney.
CROWLEY: I don't know. He said, well, you know, he's called me and I've called him and we're playing phone tag.
BLITZER: He's speaker of the House.
CROWLEY: I know. I found that sort of interesting myself. But, I did ask him if he had any advice on the vice presidential front. Here's what he had to say.
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BOEHNER: Whoever he's happy with.
CROWLEY: Do you see anybody around up here that you like?
BOEHNER: There are a lot of people.
CROWLEY: You know Portman, right?
BOEHNER: There are a lot of people that I like, but this is a personal choice for Governor Romney. And I'm confident he'll have a running mate that will be helpful to the ticket.
CROWLEY: And if you had to say, look, my number one, what I really would look for in a V.P. if I were Mitt Romney, what is that quality?
BOEHNER: I think the number one quality is, are they capable of being president in case of an emergency?
CROWLEY: Does that fit someone like, say, Marco Rubio?
BOEHNER: It fits a lot of people.
CROWLEY: Does it fit him?
BOEHNER: Fits Marco, fits Senator Portman, Governor Daniels. There are a lot long list of people.
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CROWLEY: Doesn't want to play that vice presidential game.
CROWLEY: Did not throw his name in the ring, and I think they're going to have to start talking first.
BLITZER: Yes. It would be good. You'd think after all these weeks that you'd pick up a phone call, you speak --
CROWLEY: Yes. I mean, I said to him, you know, he said, well, I have to say that. as you know, we've had a lot of, you know, republicans in the race, and I said, but he's it now.
BLITZER: He's the leader of the Republican Party now for all practical purposes.
CROWLEY: So, I imagine they'll get around to it, but it certainly wasn't a priority --
BLITZER: I suspect after our conversation, they'll be speaking probably within the next few hours.
BLITZER: Candy, thanks very much.
CROWLEY: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's get to the former Democratic vice presidential nominee, John Edwards. Today, his trial zeroed in on a relationship gone wrong, not with his mistress necessarily, but with his former aide. Now, the star witness against the one-time presidential contender.
Andrew Young suggesting under cross-examination that a man who might have been leader of the free world, get this, made him feel scared for his life.
Our senior correspondent, Joe Johns, is covering the Edwards trial in North Carolina. He's joining us now. Wow! Pretty dramatic stuff happened today, John.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: That's for sure, Wolf. A dramatic first week, in fact, in this Edwards trial ending up with the jury being reminded that the government star witness had a huge role in this case, and he's gotten immunity from prosecution, a book deal, a possible movie deal, hundreds of thousands of dollars, while on the other hand, John Edwards pretty much just got indicted.
JOHNS (voice-over): Recounting the moment he and John Edwards finally had it out and parted ways, Andrew Young, the top Edwards aide, who falsely claimed he had fathered a child with his boss' mistress and field marshaled the cover-up, was now claiming he was afraid. Young said he felt threatened by Edwards and feared for his life.
He said he and Edwards went for a drive on a lonely North Carolina road. He said Edwards was driving erratically after learning that Young had received $725,000 from wealthy donor, Bunny Mellon, without telling Edwards. Young said, "I was scared for my life. It was bizarre." Young told the court, "I said, if he won't tell the truth, I was going to tell the truth."
Edwards responded to him, "You can't hurt me, Andrew. You can't hurt me." Defense attorney, Abbe Lowell, asked Young if he had threatened Edwards with exposure of the whole story. Young said, he and his family did everything that he, Edwards, "asked us to do. He completely abandoned himself from us. He walked away from us, and I was extremely angry."
Drilling down on the cost of shepherding John Edwards' mistress around the country while she was on the run from the media, Andrew Young admitted, under cross-examination, that he got hundreds of thousands of dollars more from two rich benefactors than he actually spent on Hunter's expenses.
Defense attorney, Abbe Lowell, pressed for more. Young said he had attributed expenses to Rielle Hunter that he actually spent on himself or on his family for lavish trips on a Disney cruise and trips to San Diego, Cabo San Lucas, and Legoland. And Lowell continued to press on the issue of Young's dream house on ten acres in North Carolina with a $100,000 sound system.
Lowell pointing out that Young had gotten a construction loan to build the house and did not have to draw down on the money because he had hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank from Bunny Mellon.
The cross-examination by Edwards' lawyer ended with Lowell quoting a line from Young's book asking him, "are you concerned that people will se you as a cold-blooded schemer who was motivated by ego and greed or the desire for power?" Young, "Of course, I'm concerned about how people see me." Lowell, "Isn't that exactly what you are? "
PROF. STEVEN FRIEDLAND, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: The defense is now saying they're dirty, too, and that they're playing in the same sandbox.
JOHNS: With the end of Young's testimony, his wife, Sherry, was called to the stand who talked almost regretfully about how many different jobs her husband did for the Edwards family, "things he was never able to do for my family," she said. "I allowed him to do that."
JOHNS (on-camera): They'll pick up next week where they left off with the wife of Andrew Young on the stand. Still no word yet on when Rielle Hunter, the mistress of John Edwards, will show up here at the courthouse. Wolf, back to you,
BLITZER: We'll stay in close touch with you, Joe. Thank you.
Let's go to Brazil right now where a former prostitute is preparing to sue the United States embassy in yet another scandal involving members of the United States military as well as the state department employee. CNN's Shasta Darlington spoke with the woman and her lawyer.
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we traveled to a working-class suburb of the Brazilian capital to talk to the woman at the heart of the latest prostitution scandal involving U.S. security.
DARLINGTON (voice-over): The photos show a broken collarbone and what appear to be tire marks across her abdomen. (INAUDIBLE) uses these pictures to tell her story. Fajeda says she worked for three years as a call girl and as a stripper at the nightclub Apples in Brasilia.
On December 29th, she and three co-workers left the club with a group of Americans from the U.S. embassy security team. "We had drinks and chatted, and then, we each set a price," she says. In Brazil, prostitution is legal. The police report says the men, three marines and one embassy employee, called for an embassy van and driver to pick them up.
(on-camera) but the lengthy police report has contradictory accounts about what happened next. After they left this strip club in the van, Fajeda says she was violently thrown out of the car by one of the marines after she argued with the Brazilian driver. Other witnesses say she was rudely forced out. Now, the marine says she simply stepped out of the car and injured herself when she tried to get back in.
(voice-over) everyone agrees the van took off while Fajeda was holding on to the door handle.
"That's when it dragged me and ripped the skin off my leg," she says. I let go and then the back tire drove over me, literally, right over me. According to the police report, the van stopped and the other women got out, then, with the embassy staffers inside, the van drove off, leaving Fajeda in the road.
This week in Brasilia, U.S. defense secretary, Leon Panetta, said the men were disciplined.
LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: They are no longer in this country. They were reduced in rank, and they were severely punished for that behavior. I have no tolerance for that kind of conduct, not here or any place in the world.
DARLINGTON: Questions about prostitution made for awkward moments at the U.S. state department briefing. VICTORIA NULAND, STATE DEPT. SPOKESWOMAN: Members of the Foreign Service are prohibited from engaging in notoriously disgraceful conduct which includes frequenting prostitutes and engaging in public or promiscuous sexual relations or engaging in sexual activity that could open employee up to the possibility of blackmail, coercion or improper influence.
So, the degree to which any employee requires investigation, that's the standard that they're held to and what a subject to be talking about on bring your kid to work day.
DARLINGTON: Fajeda says she's no longer working as a prostitute. She says she turned down an offer of $2,000 from the embassy for medical expenses because it wasn't enough for a broken collarbone, three broken ribs, and a punctured lung.
Meanwhile, her attorney is preparing a civil suit. "It's not a question of money. It's a question of honor and reputation," he says. If money will make them suffer and recognize how much pain they've caused, then let it be money.
Machado says Brazilian prosecutors are considering criminal charges against the Americans including assault, but since the men are no longer in the country, it's not clear whether they would ever face trial in Brazil.
(on-camera) Both the criminal and the civil lawsuit are likely to be launched within a week, Wolf.
BLITZER: Shasta Darlington with an amazing story for us. Excellent reporting from Shasta in Brazil. Thank you.
We're about to give you some rare access inside Syria only moments after a bombing on the streets of the capital. We're going to Damascus. That's coming up next.
And the Vatican taking on a group of American nuns. Why Pope Benedict says they're doing something wrong.
And you usually hear a CIA spies, but Pentagon spies? There's a new group of American secret agents. Not everyone, though, is very happy about it.
BLITZER: As explosions rocked Syria's capital today, officials in America's capital were making it clear that the United States will not send observers to monitor a rapidly failing ceasefire. Today's bloodiest attack targeted Syrian security forces. ITN correspondent, Bill Neely, is in Damascus.
BILL NEELY, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the heart of a capital, a bombing that has blown Syria's ceasefire to pieces. The target, riot police and troops. The attacker, a suicide bomber with an explosive belt. Syrian forensic teams looked for evidence.
The regime desperate to stem a tide of attacks that is turning Damascus into a battleground, and if President Assad loses control of Damascus, he loses everything. The troops and riot police who survived were clearly shaken. They've been deployed close to a mosque to confront demonstrators after Friday prayers.
A suicide bomber took the fight to them. Nine died, most of them security forces, and more than 20 were injured.
(on-camera) This bombing is significant not just because it happened here in the center of the capital city, Damascus, but because of the mess out of the attack. A bomber wearing a suicide vest attacking troops may be common in Iraq, but not here in Syria. Not until now.
(voice-over) Syria's crisis is no nearer to being solved. There's meant to be a ceasefire here. There's little evidence of it. Furious supporters of Syria's president shouted, "is this what freedom looks like? Is this what protests lead to?"
They're getting jumpy, because bomb attacks and shootings are now becoming more common in Damascus. Soldiers targeted as never before. U.N. monitors are stationed close to the scene of the bombing. They didn't visit it. They were on the road to another town. There are only 13 of them in the whole country.
More than 200 others still haven't arrived. But there is no peace to monitor here. No real ceasefire to keep.
BLITZER: And Bill Neely is joining us now from Damascus. Bill, first of all, your impressions. How many days have you been there? What's it like on the ground? I know there are restrictions as to what you can see and do.
NEELY (on-camera): Well, we just arrived yesterday. We've had no particular restrictions at the moment. We were freely able to go to the scene of that suicide bombing today and once the police and security forces knew that we were accredited press, they didn't try to stop us filming, in fact, quite the opposite.
I think they wanted the scene to be filmed, because they want the world to know that it's not just they who fire at rebels or fire at civilians, but they, too, are under attack. But I was really struck by the fact that so many -- I mean, dozens of police and troops were really stunned the way they were looking. They were rubbing their faces.
They were talking quietly among themselves. Some seemed almost numb by this. You know, these kinds of attacks are not frequent in Damascus, at least, they haven't been, but they are growing in number, growing in intensity. The death toll is rising as well. And I think this war is gradually coming to the capital Damascus.
BLITZER: So, it looks like all hopes of actual, genuine ceasefire, as you say, those are really gone for all practical purposes based on your own eyewitness account?
NEELY: Well, I think this peace process, if one can call it that, is being undermined by both sides. It's being discredited by dozens, if not hundreds of attacks. It has to be said it's not being helped by the United Nations' slow arrival of monitors. I mean, it's in absolute tatter, and of course, today's attack is just one more blow to that peace process.
BLITZER: Bill Neely from ITN in Damascus. We'll stay in close touch with you, Bill. Good luck over there. I appreciate it very, very much. Not often we get to speak with a western reporter who's allowed into Syria under any circumstances at all. Appreciate it.
A U.S. navy drug bust off the coast of Panama nets a huge cash of cocaine. We've got the details and some extraordinary pictures.
And the lawyer for the man accused of killing Trayvon Martin is back in court after new information is revealed about his finances. We'll update you on what happened today.
BLITZER: Just coming into the SITUATION ROOM. New developments in the secret service scandal. Our chief national correspondent, John King, is here. You've learned some steps are about to be taken.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Steps have been taken. Just in the last hour or so, new standards of conduct. They call it enhanced standards of conduct have been sent out by the deputy director of the secret service to all secret service personnel, Wolf, obviously, in response to the Colombia prostitution scandal.
Here are some of the new rules and guidelines agents will face, forgive me, for looking down to read them. Effective immediately, before any international trip, they will receive a briefing, state department briefing -- state department officials from those countries will also be involved.
They will be told if there are any off-limit establishments or areas, meaning strip clubs, places where prostitutes or the like will be deemed off limits before the trips. Also, the new standard say foreign nationals are banned from the hotel rooms of secret service personnel at all times on these trips.
You cannot, even before the president gets into the host country, bring a foreign national. In Colombia, those are the prostitutes back to your room on the president's trip hotel staff. And obviously, they excluded as well as any law enforcement officials or government officials from the host country involved in the trip.
Also, any laws in the United States would apply to secret service personnel traveling overseas. So, they would not have the excuse, Wolf, of saying, well, it's legal here, maybe it's not legal back home, and some other guidelines on alcohol consumption.
It made clear that moderate alcohol consumption is allowed when an agent or an officer is off duty, but it says they must not consume any alcohol within ten hours of reporting for duty, and if they are staying in the protectee's hotel, the president's hotel, the vice president's hotel and so on, no alcohol consumption is allowed by agents who are actually staying in those hotels.
And one more footnote, the car (ph) teams. Some of these agents who've been disciplined from that of the agency in the wake of the Colombia scandal were part of the motorcade team that goes in the head (ph) of the president, the military plane brings in the trips, they will now have a second supervisor along the GS15 level, a senior supervisor from the office of the professional responsibility.
That's essentially the internal affairs division of the secret service. So, they're getting high-ranking chaperone on these trips.
BLITZER: And these rules, I assume, apply not only to the secret service agents but also the uniformed officers of the secret service as well.
KING: Across the agency. Anyone under the control of the director of the secret service received these guidelines today. They go into effect immediately. So, the next time the president leaves the country, new rules, new standards of conduct. And a promise from the direct, I am told, they will be strictly enforced.
BLITZER: I think they all wish they would have done this a long time ago, but you know what, we only get smarter with (INAUDIBLE). Much more coming at the top of the hour on "John King USA."
KING: Sure will.
BLITZER: That's for our North American viewers.
Meanwhile, new financial information is revealed about the man charged in the Trayvon Martin death. We're going to tell you why that information could affect George Zirmman's bail. Stand by.
BLITZER: The judge in the Trayvon Martin shooting case is deciding whether to raise bond -- to raise the bond for the defendant, George Zimmerman, just days after he was released from jail.
It turns out Zimmerman has received more than $200,000 in donations on the internet, a fact he didn't reveal during his court hearing last week, and that has now prompted new legal wrangling. CNN's Martin Savidge is following the case.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it was another surprising day in the case of George Zimmerman. Last week, you may remember that George Zimmerman took the stand and apologized. This week, now comes the revelation of the fact that he has raised over $200,000 online. This, at about the same time his attorney had been arguing that the family was indigent, broke, and had no money at all. As a result of this, the state of Florida has now come forward and said that the bond in this particular case should be raised and maybe raised significantly.
The judge has three possible courses of action he could take. One is raise the bond. Two is revoke the bond or the third is don't do anything about the bond. Today he decided not to render any kind of decision because he simply says he doesn't have enough information. The judge wants to know where did the money come from, who had control of the money and when? Until he has that information well he decided to hold off on any decision. After that hearing, Mark O'Mara, who is the attorney for George Zimmerman tried to look at the bright side. He basically said well the new found wealth shows one thing; George Zimmerman has a lot of support out there.
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MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: I'm also quite happy that there are enough people out there who felt it in their hearts that they wanted to support somebody like George and have given that much money.
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SAVIDGE: But then Crump who is the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family saw this money as indicating something else, that you simply cannot trust what George Zimmerman has to say.
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BEN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN'S FAMILY: He did not come forthright to the court when he understood completely what the court was inquiring about his financial status and his ability to pay a bond, and it went so far that his attorney inquired about that website. The special prosecutor's office inquired about that website over and over again and they all (INAUDIBLE).
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SAVIDGE: In fairness, we should point out that Trayvon Martin's family has always been raising money online. It is for a foundation that eventually will be used for advocacy work. So far the family says they've raised about $100,000 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right Martin Savidge thanks very much. Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. What is your reaction? What do you think as far as this pretty surprising development is concerned?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It is a surprising development and it's certainly embarrassing for the defense team here. I think the judge has done exactly the right thing because this is a somewhat unclear situation, at least to me, and I assume to the judge which is who controls this money? I mean presumably at some level George Zimmerman controls it, but actually how the mechanism works of actually extracting the $200,000. I think that's something the judge needs to look into. I do think that it's very likely he'll raise the bond and I don't think the defense will have much of a problem with that. The worry is, is he'll get angry enough to revoke the bond and lock George Zimmerman up and that would be a catastrophe for him.
BLITZER: Does it pass the smell test that the attorney would not have known about this going into this legal proceeding last week?
TOOBIN: You know I actually think it does pass the smell test. It's an unusual situation. Most lawyers aren't used to dealing with fund-raising in this way. Mark O'Mara is a really experienced lawyer with a very good reputation. I don't think there would be any reason for him to know about this and simply lie to the court. I think he was probably a little careless in not finding out exactly how much money was involved and who had access to it, but I don't think it's sort of -- it suggest some sort of sinister activity.
BLITZER: Jeffrey, thanks very much.
All right, this just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- an unprecedented controversy that's rocking the Secret Service as all of you know and now CNN has identified the agent who actually triggered the prostitution scandal that exploded during President Obama's trip to Colombia. Drew Griffin of CNN Special Investigations Unit has just returned from Cartagena. He has this exclusive report. Drew, tell our viewers what you've managed to uncover.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it may not mean much in the whole long run scheme of things and we're talking about a culture that needs to be changed. That's certainly the message from Capitol Hill, but we've identified the one agent now who had the run-in with the escort who started this entire scandal. Here's what we've learned.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): A hotel security guard at the hotel Caribe says the commotion began in the seventh floor hallway where some of the agents were staying. Through hotel records CNN can now confirm at least three agents assigned rooms on that floor apparently left Cartagena early. Sources with knowledge of the investigation had indicated to CNN that two agents have been cleared, but that the agent who stayed in room 707 may already be gone from the service.
According to hotel records reviewed by CNN, agent Arthur Huntington (ph) was checked into this room. Two sources with knowledge of the investigation say it was Huntington (ph) who had the dispute with the escort named Dania Suarez (ph). Suarez (ph) has now hired an attorney and through statements credited to the attorney demands she was an escort, not a prostitute. Her attorney isn't talking. Earlier this week a man who identified himself as Arthur Huntington (ph) declined comment to a CNN producer. Yesterday CNN returned to Arthur Huntington's (ph) home where the door was gently pushed shut without comment. The home was just listed for sale this week. (END VIDEOTAPE)
GRIFFIN: Wolf, we've been trying to reach Arthur Huntington (ph) since Monday, multiple calls and multiple trips to his home. There has been no comment, no word he has an attorney. We'll wait and see when and if he appears in public -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What's the Secret Service saying about all of this?
GRIFFIN: Wolf, the Secret Service has been very tight-lipped about all of this. As you can imagine, this is somewhat of a personal matter and a personnel matter for the Secret Service. We have been busy all week clearing other agents quite frankly, narrowing it down to who this person is. We now believe it is this one agent who you might say sparked the entire controversy that has shaken up the entire service.
BLITZER: And you say he's actually now no longer a member of the Secret Service, no longer affiliated, completely severed his ties.
GRIFFIN: That's correct. We don't know if he was fired. We don't know if he was retired. The Secret Service will not tell us that. Our sources say he is just no longer with them.
BLITZER: Martin Savidge -- excuse me, Drew Griffin, thanks very much for that report. We are also learning more about the Secret Service agent in question, his pivotal role in this prostitution scandal. Brian Todd went to the neighborhood where he lives in Severna Park (ph), Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. Tell us what you're seeing there, Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, we've been here in Severna Park (ph). This is Arthur Huntington's (ph) house. We've been here most of the day today and over the past few days. As Drew mentioned, my colleague Paul Corson (ph) and I have knocked on this door several times today, no response today, no response to our phone calls. We're going to let a vehicle pass here, excuse me, so no response today at Huntington's (ph) house.
We have combed up and down this neighborhood, talking to neighbors, trying to talk to them about Arthur Huntington (ph) about what kind of a neighbor he is. Most of the neighbors say they either don't know anything about Mr. Huntington (ph) or won't comment about him. However, I did reach someone who does not live in this area who identifies herself as a friend of the family and when I asked about the situation or about Mr. Huntington (ph) the quote was "I know him. I know his character. I would question the allegations."
Now as far this particular neighborhood, we did reach one neighbor. We spoke to one neighbor who did not want to give a name, did not want to go on camera. This neighbor describes the family as being a very nice family. The neighbor says that Arthur Huntington's (ph) wife leads a bible study group in the neighborhood that they have two boys. The neighbor believes the boys range in age maybe from around 8 to maybe a little bit older than 12. The ages are very unclear at this point. The neighbor says the two Huntington boys are home schooled. The neighbor does say that he does not know Arthur Huntington (ph) well, doesn't hang out with him.
He says that he's never here, he's always gone. The neighbor said quote "the family is going through a tough time" and I asked the neighbor I said well if you don't know him, how do you know that and he said well the wives talk in the neighborhood. Others in this neighborhood, one other person described the family as being nice but did not want to say anything further, did say that from when he knows of Arthur Huntington (ph) that this is, quote, "totally out of character", but when we approached other people in the neighborhood the response was actually pretty much hostile, Wolf. We approached four other sets of neighbors and we got fairly hostile responses. One saying don't you have any sense of decency, why are you hounding this nice family, another telling us just to go away -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Do we know how long Arthur Huntington (ph) served inside the Secret Service?
TODD: We don't have that information yet, Wolf. We're trying to get it. We know that from what we've talked to with the neighbors that apparently the Huntingtons (ph) have not been in this neighborhood for too long, but that doesn't necessarily tell you much about his term in the Secret Service, so this is all information that we're going to be trying to get in the coming days. It's worth mentioning as Drew said in his piece, my colleague Paul Corson (ph) did come to the house yesterday morning and knocked on the door right there. When he knocked on the door the door kind of -- just kind of jimmied open a little bit, the door was loose and Paul called in and said hello? Can someone talk to us and the door just closed very slowly and came to without anybody responding, Wolf, so at least though we know people have been here over the past few days, but no one responding to our inquiries today.
BLITZER: Brian Todd on the scene for us -- thank you -- Drew Griffin of course breaking the news here in THE SITUATION ROOM, thanks to both of you.
Trouble within the Catholic ranks, why a group of nuns, yes, nuns are now being condemned by the Vatican.
BLITZER: Everyone can now take a virtual tour of Israel, the first Middle East country to participate in Google's street view service, but the 360-degree images of street -- city streets also raise some security concerns. CNN's Elise Labott has the story from Jerusalem.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Thousands of tourists flock each year to Jerusalem's Old City and now you can view these historic sites and tour the Old City's cobblestone streets from your home computer. This week Israel joined Google's street view service, offering up close-up images of its streets and world famous tourist attractions in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a lot of historical cultural sites and religious site that speak to our faith. Our hope is that you know they see these treasures, the beauty of these and that after they see and browse virtually from their PC or from their mobile they're going to fall in love with the country and also come and visit.
LABOTT: So you think it could be used as a tourist attraction?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
LABOTT: Now many Israelis love the idea and they agree that it will attract a lot of tourism to Israel, but in a country where security is paramount, many others are concerned that Google service will provide a convenient road map for terrorists to plan attacks against Israelis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is very valuable information for everyone who is gathering intelligence or pre-operation intelligence especially if they're using statistical weapons like rockets and missiles that hit an area, not a pinpoint target.
LABOTT: I'm here with Ido Kenan (ph). He's a very influential blogger here in Israel and we're just across from the Resto Bar (ph), which is a very well-known establishment that was the site of a terrorist attack about 10 years ago and it's just a few hundred feet across from the prime minister's residence and we can see the Resto Bar (ph) right here on the Google program. What happens when we pan over to the Israeli prime minister's residence?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We get a big blur.
LABOTT: You get a blur. And why is that?
IDO KENAN, TECHNOLOGY BLOGGER: The government gave permission to take photos of specific places in Israel. What's interesting is that if taking a photo of a street that is open and putting it up on the Internet is not a security risk, why is this blurred and if it is a security risk why isn't my house blurred?
LABOTT: Can you see your house from the Google program?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, definitely.
LABOTT: Are you comfortable with that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No, definitely not.
LABOTT: They can find your house now.
RON BEN YISHAI, MILITARY INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Not only find my house, but plan how to penetrate it and get me.
LABOTT: And, Wolf, when you see the close-up view of these streets you can also get a real first hand view of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. For instance, you can see these separation fences between Israeli and Palestinian areas and you also -- when Google's cameras mapped Jerusalem last year they caught a vigil of that kidnapped soldier Gilat Shalit (ph) who has since been released. All of the checkpoints, Wolf, however are blurred out -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Elise Labott a fascinating story indeed from Jerusalem, Elise, thanks very much.
A series of explosions in Ukraine leads to a terror probe. Mary Snow is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, authorities say a wave of bombing southeast of Kiev (ph) were the work of terrorists, 27 people including nine children at a movie theater were injured. Ukraine's president vows to punish those responsible. The country is set to co- host the European soccer championships in June.
The U.S. Navy fishes $360 million worth of cocaine out of the ocean. Drug smugglers were spotted in so-called fast boats off the coast of Panama, that's when a naval warship and helicopter gave chase, causing the smugglers to throw nearly 5,000 pounds of cocaine overboard. The drugs seized will be turned over to the feds.
And finally finishing a season with the lowest winning percentage in NBA history isn't a title you'd want on a t-shirt, but it's all the Charlotte Bobcats can say now after last night's 104-84 loss to the Knicks. The albatross belongs to none other than owner Michael Jordan. The legendary player said he knew a season of rebuilding would be tough, but he never thought it would be this bad. It's got to hurt, Wolf.
BLITZER: Very painful for Michael Jordan, I am sure. Thanks very much for that.
American nuns helping the poor but the Vatican says they're doing something wrong. We're going to explain what's going on and why it's making these nuns angry.
And the president turning into a comedian this weekend -- he's not the only one. We have a sneak peek at one of the funniest nights of the year in Washington, D.C.
BLITZER: Here is a change of pace. A lot of us are getting ready for one of the most star-studded nights of the year at least here in Washington, D.C. We are talking about the White House Correspondents Association Dinner. Many celebrities are expected to attend tomorrow night along with the president, top government officials, lots of Washington journalists. As always, the president is expected to give a joke-filled speech but he'll have to compete with some previous presidential performances.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Members of the White House Correspondents Association, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here I am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am married to the president of the United States and here's our typical evening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nine O'clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I'm watching "Desperate Housewives".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ozzie, mom loves your stuff.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight for the first time, I am releasing my official birth video.
(MUSIC AND SINGING)
OBAMA: I want to make clear to the FOX News table that was a joke.
OBAMA: That was not my real birth video. That was a children's cartoon. Call Disney if you don't believe me. They have the original long form version.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just look at the options the Republicans are kicking around. Palin, Huckabee, Gingrich, Trump. That doesn't sound like a field of candidates. That sounds like season 13 of "Dancing with the Stars". I tell you who could definitely beat you, Mr. President, 2008 Barack Obama. You would have loved him.
OBAMA: This is a tough holiday for Rahm Emanuel because he's not used to saying the word "day" after "mother".
BLITZER: You just saw the comedian Seth Myers from two years ago. This year's headliner by the way is late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who actually showed up at the White House briefing room a few hours ago to give everyone a little preview of his routine tomorrow night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: So obviously the Secret Service thing is something that I'm going to talk about, but I'm not necessarily going to do 30 jokes about it, probably stop at (INAUDIBLE). We're in the White House. I have never been in the White House before. I probably will never be asked back, either. But it's really very cool actually.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Very cool and Jimmy Kimmel a very, very funny guy, looking forward to seeing him tomorrow night. When we come back, we'll switch gears. There is trouble right now within the Catholic ranks.
BLITZER: Catholic nuns here in the United States under fire right now by the Vatican. The surprising move is raising questions about the church's politics and its priorities. Our Mary Snow is taking a closer look at the story for us -- Mary.
SNOW: Well Wolf, U.S. nuns are under the microscope and a group representing their leaders is carefully watching its words as it figures out how to respond to a Vatican reprimand, while others are privately wondering what it will mean for the future.
SNOW (voice-over): To get a sense of the work Catholic nuns do, consider Sister Mary Scullion.
SISTER MARY SCULLION, PROJECT H.O.M.E.: This whole block was filled with abandoned houses and you know there was a lot of violence on this block, gun violence.
SNOW: Sister Mary took her fight to end homelessness to this Philadelphia neighborhood more than a decade ago and moved in. The nationally recognized group she co-founded, Project H.O.M.E. has turned empty buildings into homes and built a school that's created jobs.
EDWINA GRANT, COMMUNITY MEMBER: I know a lot of people in the community are grateful to her for just being here and you know opening up so many doors to a lot of people who thought that their lives were just ending.
SNOW: Sister Mary Scullion is eager to talk about her work, but like many nuns she is not willing to publicly speak about a harsh Vatican report that unnerved many communities of nuns in the U.S. The Vatican is taking disciplinary action against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a group that says it represents about 80 percent of Catholic nuns in the U.S. After an investigation, the Vatican cites the group for having themes of radical feminism. It also says while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death. There are also clashes on views of homosexuality. LCWR says it was stunned and is largely silent as it prepares a response. A second group cited is expressing shock and anger.
SISTER SIMONE CAMPBELL, EXEC. DIR., NETWORK: The way the church then gets portrayed again is as dismissing women. Women who are -- there is more of us serving in the church than there are the guys and there are certainly more women that are faithful in their daily service to the church. That makes me mad. It makes me sad.
SNOW: Sister Simone Campbell heads a Catholic Social Justice Lobby. She says there are suspicions nuns were targeted because they supported President Obama's health care reform law while U.S. bishops did not. The U.S. Conference of Bishops says it's not about politics but Catholic doctrine and it cites comments made years before the health care reform fight. Father Thomas Reese of Georgetown University thinks the issue is the Vatican wanting to control the message and says nuns have been under suspicion for years.
REV. THOMAS REESE, SENIOR FELLOW, WOODSTOCK THEOLOGICAL CENTER: These are women with PhDs, women with degrees in theology and you know they want to discuss things. They want to be heard. And I think the Vatican has a hard time dealing with discussion and a hard time listening to these Sisters.
SNOW: Now the bishop of Seattle was named to lead reforms of the nuns' groups in question, a process that could take up to five years. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Bishops says both sides met in Rome this week and that both sides are not inclined to work out their differences in the media -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Do we know when we will get a statement from this group of nuns, Mary?
SNOW: They are planning on meeting next month. At the end of next month they're planning to meet for several days. And they say that they are going to start coming up with a way to respond to this. But it's so serious for them that that's why they are being so deliberate in how they work, you know come out with what they say.
BLITZER: Mary Snow in New York for us. Thank you, Mary.
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.