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THE SITUATION ROOM
Inspiring Terror From The Grave; Chinese Activist Calls Congress; Holding Holder in Contempt?; Barack Obama's Love Letters; Long-Term Joyride; DEA Forgets Detainee; Protecting Children at the Zoo
Aired May 3, 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, inspiring terror long after their death. New plots to poison and burn America from a U.S.-born Jihadist who was killed by a U.S. drone.
And Osama Bin Laden's letters show why he was a worried man even as he plotted more attacks on America.
Love letters from Barack Obama. His ex-girlfriends share stories about their relationships with the future president of the United States.
And look at this, a college student left locked up in a cell by U.S. federal agents, abandoned for five days without any food or water. What did he do to survive? How could this happen in the United States of America?
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: But we begin with a chilling new call to set fire to America and new justification for using chemical and biological weapons and killing women and children. The latest plots from a terror mastermind who's been dead for months. Brian Todd has been digging into the story and getting new information. Brian, what are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, on a day when Osama Bin Laden is providing compelling insights from the grave so is another well-known terrorist, and this one is an American. Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a drone strike about eight months ago. But in an online magazine that could compete with America's best in terms of style and layout, he's giving terrorists some chilling ideas for attacks.
TODD (voice-over): From his grave, he's still a jihadist rock star, still a major player in a sophisticated glossy, online magazine for terrorists. American-born cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of al Qaeda's strongest branches in Yemen is featured in two newly released editions "Inspire" magazine, despite the fact that he was killed in a drone strike last September.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Awlaki, really, is able to still get out his message beyond the grave that the United States needs to be attacked, that radical followers of al Qaeda in the west need to take jihad into their own hands to launch strikes.
TODD: CNN terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank, who's combed through the new editions, say there are pictures of al Awlaki we haven't seen before like this one of him with the top leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Abu Basir al-Wuhayshi. The two of them key players in the Christmas Day underwear bomb plot and the cargo printer bomb plot against the U.S.
In these editions, one of which was finished before his death, al-Awlaki writes that women and children shouldn't be deliberately targeted, but if they're among combatants, it's allowed for Muslims to attack them. He advocates using poisons, chemical, and biological weapons. And in these editions, another suggestion.
(on-camera) One section of the magazine deals with something you may not think of as a terrorist weapon. It suggests that followers set wildfires in the United States to do damage, and it even instructs people on how to make so-called ember bombs.
(voice-over) The threat to people and property from wildfires is something eco-terrorists and arsonists have known about for years. They're an economic weapon, too, stretching emergency response budgets, leaving insurance companies with multi-million dollar claims.
GREGORY CADE, NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION AGENCY: You can see where, you know, stuff is eating into it. It's a huge, you know, fire problem.
TODD: Greg Cade, once the U.S. government's top official in charge of dealing with wildfires, says terrorists can easily target areas where urban sprawl meets the wilderness.
CADE: They would have to make sure to look at kind of the weather conditions and see what's going on, but when the weather conditions are right, when it's dry, the winds are starting to pick up, it's going to be sunny, no rain, they certainly could use something like that in a major metropolitan area to start a wildfire, and it wouldn't take more than maybe one, two people at the most to kind of get it going.
TODD (voice-over): And Cade says other than local citizens keeping watch on their wilderness areas, it's very tough to foil a wildfire attack before it happens, but he says authorities do now have better trained personnel, better equipment than ever to prevent them from doing major damage, so that may steer potential terrorists away.
And to date, we have to say there's no evidence al Qaeda or other terror groups have yet set wildfires in the United States, but it's a dangerous idea that Anwar al-Awlaki was planting in their minds, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, certainly is. We're also getting new information about how Bin Laden actually felt about this U.S.-born cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki.
TODD: Very interesting information that west Point Combating Terrorism Center which released Bin Laden documents today says it makes a comment on the Bin Laden document saying that Bin Laden didn't really think much of Anwar al-Awlaki, did not think much of "Inspire" magazine, felt that it might bring about unintended and dangerous consequences.
Paul Cruickshank says that Bin Laden may not have felt that al- Awlaki was experienced enough to be a jihadist leader, but he also may have been envious of the attention given to an-Awlaki, especially in these later years, 2009 and 2010.
BLITZER: He was killed by U.S. drones.
TODD: That's right.
BLITZER: And Bin Laden was killed by navy SEALs.
TODD: That's right.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
More on these documents from Bin Laden that were just released by the U.S. government today. There's fresh evidence that he was plotting destruction until the very end. Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, has been going through the documents together with a team of experts. Barbara, what are you guys learning?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you're right. A whole group of CNN experts have been looking at these documents all day. What we have found is that Bin Laden, obsessed with security, obsessed with U.S. drones watching him, and obsessed with attacking the United States.
STARR (voice-over): In his own hand, Osama Bin Laden, in 2010, laid out his plan to kill the president of the United States saying Obama is the head of infidelity. It was classic Bin Laden, still, plotting from his isolated hideout, but as newly declassified documents show, a terrorist operating at the margins.
Bin Laden has another assassination target, General David Petraeus then commander in Afghanistan. Bin Laden writes, "killing him would alter the war's path." Bin Laden's plan, shoot down aircraft carrying Obama or Petraeus, something al Qaeda presumably would find difficult to carry out, perhaps, an indication of Bin Laden's growing isolation from day to day al Qaeda operations as he spent his last months hiding at the Abbottabad compound.
It is that isolation and Bin Laden's frustration that runs through many of the 17 declassified documents, just a portion of what the navy SEALs captured during the raid on the compound.
BRIAN FISHMAN, NEW AMERICAN FOUNDATION: Saw himself as an elder statesman of the jihadi community and of al Qaeda, but the world was starting to pass him by.
STARR: From his hideout, Bin Laden was envious of the freedoms of al Qaeda groups in Iraq and Yemen, groups he could no longer control. By 2010, he ceased mistakes and says, "I plan to release a statement that we are starting a new phase."
Bin Laden wants to see, quote, "The resume in detail of Anwar al- Awlaki," a rising al Qaeda star in Yemen who did attempt U.S. attacks before the U.S. killed him, one more indication of Bin Laden's attempts to remain in control.
FISHMAN: The affiliates were making decisions on their own. They were making operational choices that he disagreed with.
STARR: Bin Laden remained obsessed with security for himself and his family. Five days before he is killed, he warns, "one of the most important security issues in the cities is controlling children," warning about letting them outdoors without an adult who will control the volume of their voices.
STARR (on-camera): You know, there's been a lot of talk about Osama Bin Laden one year after he was killed, but one group of men, the navy SEALs who conducted that mission and killed Bin Laden, the word is they're never going to talk -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks very much. Thanks to your colleagues, as well.
While you can now see some of these Bin Laden documents online, some terrorism professionals in the government and one outside the government, they have been studying them for some time now and finding stunning revelations.
And our national security analyst, Peter Bergen, is joining us. He's the author of a new best-seller already out entitled "Man Hunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden From 9/11 to Abbottabad." Peter, excellent book once again.
What surprised you the most in going through these documents, because like any other journalists, unlike other journalists, you had access to these documents long ago and part of them became the basis for your book? What jumped out at you the most?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think the biggest thing that jumped out at me was the realization internally in al Qaeda how damaging the American drone strike have been on the organization.
I mean, you know, Bin Laden was advising his team basically to leave the Pakistani tribal regions where all the drone strikes are happening and depart for the eastern province of Kunar in Afghanistan, which is a heavily forested, mountainous area which Bin Laden, himself, had escaped through after the battle of Tora Bora in December of 2001.
Why Kunar? Because it's heavily forested, mountainous (INAUDIBLE) sort of would be difficult for U.S. drones and satellites to find his guys. So, I mean, they were very much aware, Wolf, about the problems that they were suffering as a result of these strikes.
BLITZER: Yes. He even wanted his own son to get out of there and to get to some secure area in Qatar, right? Is that what you write?
BERGEN: Yes. I mean, you know, it doesn't get any safer than Qatar which is like the Switzerland of the Middle East, and he's advocating his own son to move there. So, you know, Bin Laden knew that this was a big problem for them.
BLITZER: He wrote and you have a copy of this, he wrote a letter, Bin Laden. He said this, "I plan to release a statement announcing that we are starting a new phase to correct the mistakes we made. In doing so, we shall reclaim, God willing, the trust of a large segment of those who lost their trust in the jihadis." Give us some perspective on this.
BERGEN: I think Bin Laden and a lot of these documents reveal Bin Laden or other leaders of al Qaeda are essentially saying to their various affiliates, you got to stop killing Muslim civilians because it is killing our brand.
So, for instance, he wrote to the Somalia for the other (ph) al Qaeda said, "Stop having big battles in the central marketplace in Mogadishu. Go and kill the African union troops. Stop doing things that are counterproductive." He said to his Yemeni affiliate, "Don't make the same mistakes that you made in Iraq, the al Qaeda made in Iraq. Don't kill local tribes members."
Some al Qaeda leaders wrote to the Pakistani Taliban saying, "You've got to suspend your operations killing Pakistani civilians in mosques and markets." So, they were keenly aware that this was their Achilles heel.
BLITZER: He was also planning and you go into specifics in the book of media propaganda extravaganza in coordination with the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and it demonstrated that some of his aides -- they were pretty sophisticated in the American television networks.
BERGEN: Bin Laden wrote that in his view, CBS was the least bias of all the networks. Adam Gadahn is sort of media adviser, an American member of al Qaeda wrote him sort of doing an analysis. Luckily, he didn't mention either you, Wolf, or me, by name. He did mention Brian Ross of ABC News as somebody that he might try and reach out to.
He mentioned some journalists in Britain, some journalists in Pakistan, and did a sort of media analysis, Fox, of course, was not somebody (ph) network they liked. They had some mildly disparaging statements about CNN being too close to the U.S. government. I think they liked CNN in Arabic a little bit more in these documents.
So, you know, a fairly, sophisticated kind of look at the American media scene as they were planning there. Well, the whole point of this is how are we going to celebrate the tenth anniversary of 9/11. What sort of media outreach are we going to do?
BLITZER: Lots of fascinating information in this new book. Peter, thanks so much for writing it. "Man hunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden From 9/11 To Abbottabad." Appreciate it very much.
BERGEN: Thank you very much.
BLITZER: Congressional Republicans are furious over the scandal of which federal agents let Mexican drug cartels get illegal guns. Now, they're preparing to move against the attorney general of United States, Eric Holder.
And love letters from Barack Obama. His ex-girlfriends share details of their relationships with the man who would eventually become president of the United States.
And ever worry about your car when you leave it in the long-term parking lot? Get ready. Wait until you see what happened. A long- term joyride.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Buckle up. It's the end of the world as we know it, at least, for one in seven people worldwide. A new poll conducted for Reuters shows that more than 14 percent of the world population believes the world will end during their lifetime. Ten percent think the end could come as soon as this year.
That's based on the end of the 5,100-year-old Mayan calendar which arrives on December 21st, 2012. Pollsters questioned 16,000 people in more than 20 countries. It turns out predictions of doom and gloom vary widely depending on where you live. Only six percent of the French and eight percent of the British fear Armageddon in their lifetime, compared to 22 percent in Turkey and right here in the United States.
The Russians and the Polish were the most likely to fear the end of the world is coming this year. Experts say people under 35, those with lower education and income, are more likely to believe in an apocalypse, perhaps, because those over 35 have lived long enough not to worry about it.
Meanwhile, there have been many end of days predictions over the years coming from the Chinese, the Egyptians, native Americans, the Irish, et cetera, but for some reason, this Mayan dooms day prediction has attracted millions, maybe even billions of believers. Hundreds of thousands of websites have popped up devoted to end of the world fears.
However, the experts, including NASA, say there is absolutely nothing to it. They compare it all to the Y2K scare. Remember that? It turned out to be much to do about nothing.
So, here's a question, what does it mean when one in seven people think the end of the world is coming? Here's the question. I just said that. Go to CNN.com/ -- want to hear it again? -- /CaffertyFile and post a comment on the blog or go to the post on the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page. Wolf, end of the world.
BLITZER: I don't believe it, but you know what? People have the right to believe whatever they want.
CAFFERTY: You got it.
BLITZER: Thanks, Jack.
The Chinese activist who briefly took refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing today phoned in to a Congressional hearing underway, a human rights in Washington, D.C. He repeated that he wants to leave China. He hopes for U.S. assistance, and then, he said this to the American lawmakers.
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VOICE OF CHEN GUANGCHENG, ACTIVIST: I want to meet with Secretary Clinton. I hope I can get more help from her. I also want to thank her face-to-face.
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BLITZER: The activist left the refuge of the U.S. embassy after he escaped house arrest at Eastern China. He now wants to take his family out of China. Chen Guangcheng, that's the blind Chinese activist.
Mitt Romney, meanwhile, is grabbing the opportunity to weigh on this diplomatic firestorm. Listen to what he said today.
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MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: It's also apparent according to these reports if they're accurate that our embassy failed to put in place the kind of verifiable measures that would assure the safety of Mr. Chen and his family. If these reports are true, this is a dark day for freedom. And it's a day of shame for the Obama administration.
BLITZER: "Time" magazine goes in-depth this week on the new issue on the Chinese human rights controversy. Joining us now is the managing editor of "Time," our sister publication, Rick Stengel. Rick, what do you make of this crisis?
And I think it's fair to say it's a very serious crisis, especially with the fact that the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, secretary of the treasury, Timothy Geithner, they are in China right now working on economic issues in the midst of all of this.
RICK STENGEL, TIME MANAGING EDITOR: Yes, Wolf. It's a moving target. It's hard to say what actually is going on, but how to meet our Beijing bureau chief talk to Mr. Chen today.
The fact that the U.S. had him in custody and the protection of the U.S. embassy where he was a free man and then let him go into the hospital where he was under the authority of the Chinese and there seemed to be a lot of uncertainty and miscommunication about whether he wanted to stay in China or wanted to leave. I don't think it's been the finest hour for U.S. diplomacy.
BLITZER: Because as Mitt Romney says, if these reports are true, key words, if these reports are true, this is a dark day for freedom and it is a day of shame for the Obama administration. This is now six months before the U.S. presidential elections in November.
How is this whole issue of China and human rights in China and you write about this extensively in the new issue of "Time" magazine are going to play out?
STENGEL: You know, Wolf, people around America or actually when you're out there, they actually talk about China a lot. They're concerned about China. They feel like that we're exporting jobs there, that China, you know, owns so much of our debt. So, it will become an issue, I think.
And then, of course, there's the issue that in effect what candidate Romney is talking about is that there's a continuum between U.S. interests and our support for human rights, And I think the Obama administration has to figure out where we stand along that continuum.
BLITZER: You know, it's pretty amazing for someone myself who's watched China over all of these decades that Mr. Chen is even allowed to be making these phone calls, calling in from Beijing to a Congressional subcommittee on human rights, speaking with all the journalists openly in Beijing. How do you explain this?
STENGEL: It's hard to explain, Wolf. You know, the Chinese are concerned about their PR, but as you know, they often do things for public consumption at the time that the world is focused on it, and then, when the focus goes away, then the hammered fist comes down on people. And I think that's what Mr. Chen is worried about.
That once the cameras are gone, once Secretary Clinton comes back to America and he stays in China, he's worried about his own safety and the safety of his family.
BLITZER: Yes. We'll stay on top of this story. I'm sure your reporters will stay on top of it, as well. Rick Stengel, thanks very much. STENGEL: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: A child with autism bullied by his teachers and catches it all on tape. Now, lawmakers are beginning to take some action.
And check this out. Fifty feet and growing. We're going to tell you what authorities are doing to stop this massive sink hole from swallowing an entire backyard.
BLITZER: Deadly violence in Egypt today and citing new calls for demonstrations. Mary Snow is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. Mary, what's going on?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a sit-in outside Egypt's defense ministry has been extended after brutal clashes that killed at least 11 people. The growing unrest comes amid frustration with the piece of reform after last year's historic Mubarak regime overthrow and concern that the country's military leadership is delaying the transition to civilian rule.
Ten of 23 presidential contenders have been disqualified ash head of this month's election.
Here in the U.S., updating a story we brought you last week. A New Jersey lawmaker says she plans to introduce legislation that would make it tougher for teachers to bully students. This comes after learning about a child with autism recently harassed by his own teachers.
His father sent him to school wearing a recording device and caught it all on tape. It was only then that the school district took action.
A world record for a work of art sold at auction. A pastel version of Edvard Munch's famous "Scream" masterpiece sold at Sotheby's for, get this, almost $120 million. It's one of four versions created between 1893 and 1910. The "Scream" depicts of distorted human figure and has been dubbed the portrait of the soul and the face that launched a thousand therapists.
And check this out. This is a giant sink hole that opened up in the backyard of a Florida home, and it's still growing. The latest estimate shows that it's about 100 feet wide and 50 feet deep. Officials say it's already swallowed up four trees, and it's within a few feet of the home as you can see right there. Authorities are working to get the sink hole under control -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Wow. I wonder what causes a sink hole. Do you have any idea, Mary? What causes something like that happened?
SNOW: No. And it's pretty scary. Look at how close it is to that house?
BLITZER: Yes. All right. Thank you. We'll check it out. So, did the Obama administration actually lie to Congress? One House member's furious response to a scandal involving illegal guns in Mexico. New information coming in.
And if you dated someone you think could come become president of the United States, here's some advice. Save the love letters. We have fascinating new details about an ex-boyfriend named Barack Obama.
And be careful who you give your car keys to. It may get taken for a joyride.
BLITZER: We've got lots of news coming up, including a story I think you're going to always remember. You know, you sometimes park your cars in lots and you leave them overnight for a day or two or three. Get ready, you're going to see what potentially could happen, but right now, there's another story we're following.
Remember the "fast and furious" scandal in which federal agents let Mexican drug cartels actually get illegal guns. Congressional Republicans are now preparing to make a major move against the attorney general of the United States Eric Holder. The House Oversight Committee Chairman Darryl Issa of California is circulating a draft, get this, contempt of Congress resolution.
He is directly accusing the attorney general of not cooperating with the Congress in the investigation. Our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash has been watching all of this unfold. It's been brewing for weeks and weeks -- and months I should say --
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
BLITZER: -- but now it seems to be coming to a real potential boiling point.
BASH: It does and there seems to be some differences within the Republican leadership about whether this is the right thing to do, but you know what we are seeing here is, you know we saw it so many times during the Bush administration, during the Clinton administration. These constitutional showdowns, but this is really the first one that we are seeing within the Obama administration, Congress making clear at least on the Republican side that they really want these documents from the Obama Justice Department.
BASH (voice-over): December 2010, border patrol agent Brian Terry (ph) was shot dead on the Mexican border. Weapons found at the scene were traced back to an ATF sting operation known as "fast and furious". It allowed illegal guns to be purchased in order to track them to senior drug cartel members.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't get cooperation.
BASH: GOP House Oversight Chairman Darryl Issa has been tousling with the Justice Department for months demanding information about the program he says Obama officials are withholding. Now Issa drafted a resolution holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failure to comply with the congressional subpoena, not cooperating with the House GOP investigation.
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: This should never have happened.
BASH: Issa primarily wants documents explaining the administration's about-face on the "fast and furious" operation. After Agent Terry's (ph) death the Justice Department denied it was illegally allowing the flow of weapons to members of the Mexican drug rings, but 10 months later an acknowledgement that the program was fundamentally flawed. House Republicans want to know why the reversal. They want information about what senior Justice Department officials knew about the gun tracking operation. They say Justice is stonewalling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have sent thousands of pages of documents up to the Hill (INAUDIBLE) subpoenas, and I'm sure we will undoubtedly comply with them.
BASH: A senior Justice official responded that they've sent 7,600 documents to Congress and points out Holder has testified more than half a dozen times, a heated exchange earlier this year.
REP. ANN MARIE BUERKLE (R), NEW YORK: -- this way how many more border patrol agents would have had to die as a part of "operation fast and furious" for you to take responsibility.
HOLDER: I'm not claiming to be a perfect person or a perfect attorney general. I get up every day and try to do the best job that I can.
BASH: In his lengthy memo supporting the contempt resolution Issa says the ill-conceived "fast and furious" program allowed 2,000 guns to illegally walk out of Phoenix gun stores into the hands of drug smugglers. He also gives historical examples of administration officials held in contempt of Congress, most recently in 2008 when the House voted to hold top Bush aides in contempt for refusing to testify. In an effort to paint Issa's efforts as politically motivated a Democratic government source flagged this video showing back in 2008 Issa and other GOP lawmakers protested when the House voted to hold Republican administration officials in contempt of Congress.
BASH: An Issa aide responded that these are completely different issues. In 2008, White House officials claimed executive privilege. Now Issa is trying to get information from the Justice Department which of course is a government agency in which Congress has oversight authority over. And Wolf it is unclear when or really if Issa is going to hold a committee vote on this. They're really hoping that this new threat is going to pressure the Justice Department to give them the documents they want. BLITZER: So what the Democrats are basically implying if not boldly asserting is this is payback time for the Democrats from the Republican leadership in the House just as the Democratic leadership in the House during the Bush administration held some administration officials in contempt.
BASH: They're saying that it's a Democratic -- it's a political witch hunt and that's what the Republicans are doing and that they say that they really have no basis of going this far in threatening to hold the attorney general --
BLITZER: It still is shocking that federal law enforcement authorities allowed illegal guns to get in the hands of the Mexican drug cartels.
BASH: Two thousand of them.
BLITZER: Yes, that is shocking.
BASH: It is remarkable.
BLITZER: OK. Thanks very much. Before Michelle Obama entered the picture, Barack Obama had some other serious relationships, now two of his ex-girlfriends, they are opening up, revealing a fascinating side of him we're getting to see for the very first time. Let's go to Mary Snow in New York. She's got the details. Tell our viewers what we know, Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf these are two women whose names hadn't come up until now. One shares letters that a young Barack Obama sent her highlighting his thoughts on literature and philosophy, another opened up her diary sharing it in a new book and "Vanity Fair" has an excerpt.
SNOW (voice-over): A new glimpse of the young Barack Obama. Two ex-girlfriends during the 1980s are sharing their stories for the first time in a new book "Barack Obama, The Story". Australian-born Genevieve Cook (ph) was his more serious relationship. She's shown here in this yearbook photo put out by Bugsby (ph).
They met at a Christmas party in the months after Obama graduated from Columbia and was living in New York. The couple eventually lived together for a short time in this Brooklyn Brownstone (ph) and throughout their nearly 18-month romance Cook (ph) kept a journal. "How is he so old already at the age of 22" she wrote early on in their relationship. There is one theme though that continues to come up in her writings about Obama, distance.
She writes "but I feel that you carefully filter everything in your mind and heart, legitimate, admirable, really a strength, a necessity in terms of some kind of integrity, but there's something also there of smoothed veneer, of guardedness, but I'm still left with this feeling of a bit of a wall, the veil". "New York Times" reporter Jodi Kantor who wrote a book about the Obamas says that period of Obama's life was a search for identity.
JODI KANTOR, AUTHOR, "THE OBAMAS": During the New York years not a lot actually happened. There's not a lot of drama. There aren't a lot of big scenes. A lot of what's happening with Barack Obama in this period is taking place inside his own head.
SNOW: Obama and Cook (ph) eventually grew apart with Cook (ph) writing in the journal at one point "I can't help thinking that what he would really want, be powerfully drawn to was a woman, very strong, very upright, a fighter, a laugher, well-experienced, a black woman I keep seeing her as." With a slice of Obama's past coming to light it has also brought until now an unknown history to this Brooklyn neighborhood where Obama used to live, surprising the owners of Obama's former home.
MICHAEL ROBINSON, OWNER OF OBAMA'S FORMER RESIDENCE: I was amazed and just kind of amused. It's just one of those things where, you know, you never know, and I just thought it was funny.
SNOW: Now Barack Obama left New York in 1985 and he met Michelle Obama four years later. I guess nothing is off limits -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Nice letter, though I've got to admit. You know I read them and very nice to see.
SNOW: They are.
BLITZER: When you become president of the United States everybody goes through your history including old girlfriends. Thanks very much for that, Mary.
BLITZER: Here's something I want you to see. Stand by for this -- zero to 60 in three seconds. That's what could be happening to your car when you think it's safe with a parking attendant. Just ahead, what one reporter found out in a stunning investigation.
BLITZER: Ever wonders what happens to your car when you hand it over to a valet? Well one parking lot owner in Florida got caught red-handed joyriding in his customers' cars. Just look what Jeff Deal of CNN affiliate WFTV found out.
JEFF DEAL (voice-over): Zero to 60 in 3.6 seconds in one hot car, fire red, a 430 horsepower V-8 engine. The $60,000 2012 corvette, the kind of car anyone would love to take for a spin and the kind of car you hate to leave in someone else's hands, but sometimes that's what people do.
(SOUNDS) DEAL: Especially cruise passengers looking to set sail on vacation lots like Premier Parking Spot in Cocoa offer to watch your car while you're on vacation and then shuttle you to the port in style. But "Eyewitness News" got a tip the owner of Premier Parking Spot Jay Nieves (ph) was known to take customers' keys and then take their cars for a ride. To investigate we rented the flashy convertible corvette and equipped it with a GPS tracking device, then we sent a husband and wife in the sports car headed for vacation to drop the car off at Premier just to see what would happen.
But sure enough, the temptation was too much. Just six hours later with the couple long gone, the GPS tracking device sent us a text message alerting the car was in motion. That's when we captured this video of Nieves (ph) and another employee joyriding in our car, peeling out on dirt roads. We saw them taking pictures of the corvette in front of Nieves' (ph) home later that night cruising on Merritt Island (ph) and eventually parking it at Applebee's.
Our computer GPS system shows Nieves (ph) even parked it at his home overnight. Two days later we watched him drive it all over town running errands. He went to Ace Hardware. This is Nieves (ph) walking from the store to the car with a friend. Later he loaded it up with lumber at his home and even allowed a dog to run around in the customer's car. Finally, when he left it in a parking lot near his business with the top down and door open for more than 20 minutes we'd seen enough.
(on camera): Whose car are you guys driving today? Do you think it's OK to drive customers' cars?
(voice-over): His female employee didn't say much and when we confronted Nieves (ph), he played dumb.
(on camera): Whose car are you guys driving out there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whose car are we driving?
DEAL: Yes, the red corvette.
DEAL: What's that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not driving anybody's car. Why?
DEAL: You guys are driving that car all over town.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you talking about?
DEAL (voice-over): Even though we had all this video --
(on camera): Let me show you something, Jay. Let me show you this video. You see -- you recognize this road right here? Do you recognize those people right there in that car?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we're not driving anybody's car. DEAL (voice-over): Jay Nieves (ph) flat-out lied and denied he ever took a joyride in a customer's car.
(on camera): You're going to say you weren't driving that car? Tell me the truth. Be honest with us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, you're completely wrong.
BLITZER: Wow. The Brevard County Sheriff's Office says no one from Premier Parking was there to pick up passengers returning from a cruise. After taking a cab to the lot, WFTV reports the passengers found their cars with the keys in the doors, but no employees in sight -- what a good -- excellent piece of investigative reporting.
We'll get to more. We'll stay on top of this story for you. A college student left handcuffed in a holding cell for five days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dehydration, that's what I feared the most, dehydrating to death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Just ahead how he survived and a piece of glass that's keeping this lion from getting his teeth on a child. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: A college student forgotten in a holding cell left desperately fighting to survive after being arrested in a DEA raid. Now he's suing the federal government. Here's CNN's Paul Vercammen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dehydration. That's what I feared the most, dehydrating to death.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Daniel Chong said those fears forced him to drink his urine while spending five days handcuffed in a tiny federal holding cell without food and water. The 28-year-old UC San Diego engineering student told reporters he had been abandoned and he kicked and screamed for attention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is so inconceivable that I actually never really thought about oh, they forgot me because I heard them around me, every door opening except for mine for some reason.
VERCAMMEN: Chong's lawyer says his client got so desperate at times suicidal that he shattered his glasses with his teeth.
EUGENE IREDALE, DANIEL CHONG'S ATTORNEY: He was trying to scratch his arm deeply enough to cause bleeding while at the same time writing a note to his mother on his skin.
VERCAMMEN: The attorney is taking the DEA to court.
IREDALE: We are seeking damages for the worst trauma I think that anybody could ever go through. He was locked in a room, half of the time in total darkness, without food, without water and believing that he was going to probably die.
VERCAMMEN: The DEA special agent in San Diego issued a statement. "I am deeply troubled by the incident that occurred here last week. I extend my deepest apologies to the young man" and added "he ordered an extensive review of our policies and procedures."
Chong was detained along with eight others when federal agents raided a house looking for MDA (ph) or Ecstasy. Agents turned up 18,000 Ecstasy pills, prescription drugs, hallucinogenic mushrooms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and several guns and marijuana. Chong admitted he went to the house to get high on April 20th, a day of national celebration by pot smokers.
IREDALE: This was April the 20th, which some college students consider to be a holy day. And it's true that Daniel was there to smoke pot with some friends of his. He had nothing to do with any drug distribution, any drug distribution ring or anything else.
VERCAMMEN: Chong was never charged with a crime but apparently was forgotten after being placed in the holding cell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There should be a public disclosure of exactly what happened and a public answer as to why it happened. And hopefully, as a result of his terrible suffering, something done in an institutional and systemic way to ensure that it never, ever happens again.
VERCAMMEN: Chong's lawyer has filed a $20 million federal claim. He expects that to be rejected and that, in turn, Wolf, would open the door for him to sue the federal government -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Paul Vercammen thanks very much for that report, shocking, shocking information. Let's go to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: So here we go again. The guy in charge, they are going to review the policies and procedures. Does anybody ever get fired for doing this stuff? I guess not.
CAFFERTY: They are just going to have a review. The question is what does it mean when one in seven people think that the world is coming to an end?
Nancy in Tennessee "the people who are disturbed because the Mayan calendar runs out this year aren't thinking logically. Some poor Mayan calendar maker was a work making his calendars when the ruthless Spaniards invaded his shop and he had to stop. End of story, not the end of the world."
M. in Wyoming says "it's always been this way as far as I can remember. My mother-in-law and her sister used to begin any future plans with the words 'if the world stands'. In other places and for years people have said if the good lord is willing and the creek don't rise. It is all part of our culture and I believe it has to do with the unknown and with the risks involved with living."
B. writes "it may seem unimportant, but maybe the other six ought to be prepared for what that one might do out of fear, religion or even hatred."
Nate in North Carolina "the other six remember Y2K." Everett in Texas "it means that one in seven people see the forest for the trees. The human race cannot sustain itself on this current course of development. The one in seven have done the math. It's quite simple. Statistically speaking without a fundamental change in consciousness, the human race is doomed."
Ernie in Vermont says "I am glad it is happening again. I missed it last time." And Paul says "it means the rest of us will be able to buy their stuff really cheap." If you want to read more about this go to the blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page. If the world doesn't end, I will see you Monday.
BLITZER: I will see you Monday, Jack. Thanks very much.
It is why they keep the animals behind glass. Take a look at what happens when this hungry lion sees a toddler in a zebra-striped sweatshirt.
BLITZER: Here's something you should know. When you go to the zoo, there is a reason why you are on one side of the glass and the animals they are on the other side of the glass. Here is CNN's Jeanne Moos with a closer look.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She is the new jaws --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh.
MOOS: Kaya the lioness at the Oregon zoo --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
MOOS: -- obviously thought Jack was a tempting morsel, a prey item, says zoo director Kim Smith (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just like if you had your house cat looking at birds outside the window.
MOOS (on camera): Does that kid's hoodie outfit remind you of anything.
(voice-over): Jack's mom says --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He looked like a tasty baby zebra.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Say hi kitty, kitty.
MOOS: Kitties and kids make for popular viral videos.
MOOS: There would be fearless Sophia or --
MOOS: -- understandably freaked out boy named Harper.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is OK. He can't get you through the glass. It is OK --
MOOS: Kids are dangled like bait.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) glass.
MOOS: Parents give instructions.
MOOS: They put patty cake with paws to music and it is not just lions. It is black leopards.
MOOS: It is grizzly bears.
MOOS: It is polar bears.
MOOS: Japanese TV show even dressed up a girl as a baby seal --
MOOS: -- to tempt a polar bear.
MOOS: While an orangutan might spit --
MOOS: A gorilla can really give you a scare.
MOOS (on camera): But maybe you would like to see things from a gorilla's point of view.
(voice-over): Those silly humans, mocking, beating their chests and often --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lay on the ground.
MOOS: -- mom and dad argue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is this not funny?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's terrifying. What if he broke the glass.
MOOS: Like in "The Family Guy" as he drew a face on the octopus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) it's so sucky and squeezy.
MOOS: Oregon zoo director says that's not going to happen with a lion. The glass is designed to standards and even if it did, it would crack, not break, sort of like what happened when Taz, the gorilla charged the glass two years ago at the Atlanta Zoo.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The glass held. I mean it is actually three panes of glass fused together and the interior pane is the one that actually got a crack in it.
MOOS: So knock yourself out, a one and a two and a three --
MOOS: Jeanne Moos --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Holy crap.
MOOS: CNN --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wants to eat our baby.
MOOS: New York.
BLITZER: I wouldn't keep the baby that close to that glass. I don't care how thick that glass is. 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.