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THE SITUATION ROOM
FBI Investigates Possible White House Leaks; Interview with Dianne Feinstein; U.S. Helicopter Believed Shot Down; Al Qaeda Leader Killed; Violence in Syria; Abraham Lincoln's Final Moments; Polarization in America
Aired June 6, 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, an FBI investigation and bipartisan demands for answers over allegations the White House leaked classified information for political points. Just ahead, I'll ask the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Diane Feinstein, why she says American lives are now at risk.
Also, exclusive CNN video from the front lines of combat in Syria's sniper alley, where a handful of rebels are taking on an army of government fighters.
And Abraham Lincoln -- cold from the knees down in the moments after he was shot. Just ahead, the shocking never before seen account from the doctor who tried to save his life.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"Grossly irresponsible" -- that's what the White House is calling growing accusations the White House intentionally leaked classified information to score political points. The alleged leaks have ignited a firestorm here in Washington, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle calling for hearings and the FBI now launching a formal investigation.
Let's get straight to our White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar.
She's here in THE SITUATION ROOM with the latest.
The story is escalating.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. And there is -- have been recently a spate of stories that have appeared in the media over the last several weeks that include classified information. And these are stories that really make President Obama look, I guess you could say proactive when it comes to national security. The White House -- I -- I talked to one administration official who said that these kind of leaks drive them crazy. But there is now bipartisan concern over the disclosures.
KEILAR: (voice-over): Early May, reports of the U.S. thwarting a plot in Yemen to build an undetectable airplane bomb. Last week, a "New York Times" story detailing President Obama's close oversight of a terrorist kill lists. Then another describing how he ordered an aggressive cyber attack that slowed development of Iran's nuclear program.
Senator John McCain is now accusing the White House of purposely leaking classified information for political gain.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: They cite leaked classified or highly sensitive information in what appears to be a broader administration effort to paint a portrait of the president of the United States as a strong leader on national security issues.
The release of this information in these articles harms our national security and puts in danger the lives of the men and women who are sworn to protect it.
KEILAR: White House officials vehemently deny the charge.
Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday, "Any suggestion that this administration has authorized intentional leaks of classified information for political gain is grossly irresponsible."
President Obama's national security successes, like killing Osama bin Laden and taking out a number of other al Qaeda leaders, are a political asset in an election year.
Republicans are no doubt trying to tarnish those accomplishments.
But concerns about the leaks are bipartisan.
Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she was, quote, "deeply disturbed" by the continuing leaks of classified information to the media. She and Carl Levin, the Democrat who heads up the Senate Armed Services Committee, are discussing a joint hearing into the leaks.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KEILAR: And the FBI is investigating this, as well. Two Republican senators, Senator McCain, as well as Saxby Chambliss, are calling for a special counsel to investigate into this, Wolf.
And, you know, the White House has made a big deal about clamping down in the past on some leaks.
But at least on this, so far, they're very silent in terms of talking about how they might cooperate with an investigation, with these hearings and on those calls for a special counsel to investigate.
BLITZER: Yes, some of these -- some of these details are almost breathtaking, when I've been reading them in -- in some of these new books that are coming out.
Very impressive reporting on the one hand...
BLITZER: -- but also really detailed classified information on the other.
Brianna, thanks very much for that report.
Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the Democratic senator from California, Dianne Feinstein.
Senator, thanks very much for coming in.
Are you with Senator McCain when it comes to urging the president to name a special counsel to investigate these leaks?
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, we're -- we're take -- going to take our own action. The Intelligence Committee is meeting tomorrow morning with General Clapper. This is certainly a consideration, the appointment of a special counsel. I am waiting for some information that I've asked for before I make a decision.
BLITZER: So you're not ready to go as far as Senator McCain and Senator Saxby Chambliss, because a special counsel, obviously, that would be a huge deal. Once that door opens, you never know where it's going to -- where it's going to close.
Is that your concern?
FEINSTEIN: Well, and it can go on for five years. I mean we don't know. I have some other thoughts. I don't want to discuss them here. I'll discuss them with the committee tomorrow morning.
I think what we're seeing, Wolf, is an Anschluss, an avalanche of leaks. And it's very, very disturbing. You know, it -- it's dismayed our allies. It puts American lives in jeopardy. It puts our nation's security in jeopardy.
And if you look at terrorism, intelligence is fundamental to knowing what's going to happen and prevent it from happening in the first place.
So I think the FBI should continue its investigation. We're going to do ours. I think Armed Services has announced an investigation.
I think this should take place.
BLITZER: So will there be joint... FEINSTEIN: Let me...
BLITZER: -- joint hearings between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee?
Are you in favor of that?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I -- I am in favor of it. I suggested this to Senator Levin, the chairman, last evening. And it's -- it's up to him. So we will see what comes of that.
BLITZER: When you said in your statement -- and I read it very carefully, a joint statement with your Republican colleagues in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, on the Intelligence Committees, one thing you said -- and you just repeated it -- "each disclosure puts American lives at risk."
Explain how, in these particular instances, American lives are now at risk as a result of what was published.
FEINSTEIN: Well, I'll tell you, because people don't know the whole story. And they inadvertently release something that appears to be harmless, that, in their judgment, is harmless, but I don't know, puts them in the know or something like that. And you can piece it together and you can figure out where the individual is or who that individual is or where that individual works.
And it creates a problem. Therefore, people say, we don't want to give information to the United States. They're not going to protect us. They're not going to help us.
And this is beginning to happen now.
So people are placed in danger and American lives are lost because of it. And people just talk too much. And this didn't used to be the case, but suddenly, it's -- it's like it's a spreadable disease. It's just happening.
BLITZER: Well, with a...
FEINSTEIN: Another thing are books that are written. People that live their life serving in an intelligence capacity that then get and write a book and release all kinds of things.
BLITZER: I guess the question is -- and you don't have to go into specific details, I would assume they would be classified, but do you know of a specific incident -- incent -- incident where someone's life has been threatened or endangered, an actual incident, as a result of these leaks?
FEINSTEIN: Yes. I can tell you where lives have been endangered.
BLITZER: Has anyone been killed as a result?
FEINSTEIN: Not to my knowledge. BLITZER: Do you want to go into specifics?
FEINSTEIN: No, I do not.
BLITZER: All right. Well, you don't have to. I -- I suspect that this is sensitive...
FEINSTEIN: And I'm not going to.
BLITZER: -- information. But it looks like the Republicans, at least, are accusing the White House, the Obama administration, of deliberately leaking some of this information to score political points in the reelection campaign.
I assume you're not willing to go that far?
FEINSTEIN: Well, that's correct. I don't believe any of this came directly out of the top ranks of the White House. I think one of the problems is information is not closely held sufficiently.
Point two, we -- we had a hearing yesterday. What came out of that hearing, to me, is that a lot of the policies with respect to leaks are archaic. They need to be revamped. We will talk about that tomorrow.
We are preparing an intelligence authorization bill. I met last evening with Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Committee. We have agreed to work together to put into law some new procedures with respect to leaks and preventing these leaks.
BLITZER: Should -- if there is a special counsel, if there's prosecution, should the individuals who leaked the information, in other words, government employees, government officials, should they be prosecuted?
And I assume you -- you would say the answer would be yes.
FEINSTEIN: Of course.
BLITZER: But what about the journalists and the news organizations who published this information?
FEINSTEIN: Well, this is a big problem, because what you have are very sophisticated journalists. David Sanger is one of the best. I spoke -- he came into my office. He saw me. You know, we've worked together at the Aspen Strategy Institute. He assured me that what he was publishing, he had worked out with various agencies and he didn't believe that anything was revealed that wasn't known already.
Well, I read "The New York Times" article and my heart dropped, because he wove a tapestry which has an impact that's beyond any single one thing. And he's very good at what he does. And he spent a year figuring it all out. And he's just one. And this is a problem.
It's also a problem that we have people consulting. They live their life with classified information. They then get a consultancy with your show or cer -- your station or some other station and they're talking, inadvertently, I think, about information that should not be talked about.
We have to take a look at all of this. We have to take a look at the oath of non-disclosure that people take. We have to strengthen that.
We have to strengthen the investigation within the departments.
I think the processes are sloppy. I think they're haphazard. I think they need tightening and we've received testimony to that effect.
And we're going to be discussing it, and, I hope, taking some very vigorous with the House Committee in our authorization bill.
BLITZER: We're -- we're out of time, Senator, but I have to follow-up.
Are you saying you're not ruling out the possibility that journalists like David Sanger, of "The New York Times," who was here in THE SITUATION ROOM yesterday, that they should be prosecuted as a result of...
FEINSTEIN: Well, we'll...
BLITZER: -- of this classified information...
FEINSTEIN: -- don't...
BLITZER: -- being released?
FEINSTEIN: Don't -- don't put words in my mouth.
BLITZER: No, I'm just -- I want to just clarify that.
FEINSTEIN: Well, I didn't say that. What I said is that this is an issue that we need to deal with, and that is the fact that we have an enormously smart constituency of journalists who follow this, who piece things together, who get one little piece somewhere and a second little piece another place and a third and a fourth and put it all together.
And this is what we've got to now begin to pay some attention to, because it's going to result in the inability of the United States to be able to have an intelligence profile, an intelligence apparatus that's able to protect this country.
BLITZER: I've got to tell you, we're going to leave it on this note, Senator. I've been hearing these allegations for 30 plus years that I've been in Washington, going back to the Frank Church committee, one of your predecessors on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and, yes, occasionally these leaks do cause some serious problems for the U.S. National security apparatus. But the business continues and the U.S. Manages to go along the way. I'm not denying that some of these leaks cause major, major problems for the US. But this is not a new phenomenon. I've been hearing about these problems for many, many years.
FEINSTEIN: Well, I've been on the Intelligence Committee for 11 years and I have never seen it worse, I can tell you that.
BLITZER: All right. That's fair enough.
All right, Senator, good for you to come in.
We'll stay in close touch on this issue.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you.
BLITZER: I fully appreciate how sensitive it is.
FEINSTEIN: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you.
BLITZER: The alleged White House leaks just one of a number of critical questions I'll discuss tomorrow the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
By the way, you can also send me your suggested questions on Twitter, @wolfblitzercnn or to THE SITUATION ROOM'S Facebook page.
Mitt Romney's personal e-mail account allegedly hacked. Now, the Secret Service is on the case. We have details on how the suspect may have gotten so close to the man battling to become the next president of the United States.
And one of the top al Qaeda experts in the world now says the terror network, in his words, is essentially out of business. Our own Peter Bergen is standing by to join us.
And a stunning discovery reveals a chilling firsthand account of the moments just after Abraham Lincoln was shot.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, the polarization of America is like a cancer that is slowly killing us. And like many forms of cancer, there appears to be no cure. We are more severely divided now than any time in the last 25 years according to a new study by the Pew folks. It's not the usual suspect either of race, education level, income, gender, political. It's political differences that are ripping this country apart. The political divide has peaked during the last decade during the presidencies of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The Pew survey finds Democrats and Republicans are most divided on the social safety net for the poor with a stunning 41-point gap between the two parties.
Other issues with big divisions include the environment, labor unions, equal opportunity, and something called government scope and performance. This deepening polarization is something we see among voters, and of course, among our so-called leaders in Washington.
The government is paralyzed, unable to get over their political differences in order to work together and address the people's business that desperately needs doing. Perhaps, the most serious consequence of partisanship is our skyrocketing national debt now closing in on $16 trillion. We'll never pay it off.
The Congressional Budget Office says, unless, Congress does something about government spending and/or taxes, the federal debt will double by the middle of the next decade and will reach twice the size of the entire U.S. economy by 2037. We are committing economic suicide, but don't expect Washington to do anything about it because, you see, there's an election in November.
Here's the question. What can be done about the deepening polarization in America? Go to cnn.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page. Dire straits would be our address these days, Wolf
BLITZER: Yes, certainly would be. All right. Jack, thank you.
Violence in Afghanistan running rampant, leaving dozens dead after a serious of attacks across the country. Twenty-two people were killed and other 50 injured after a suicide bomb blast targeting a busy market.
At least 18 were killed in a NATO air strike overnight, and now, the United States it believes militants shot down one of its helicopters killing both crew members onboard.
CNNs Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr is over at the Pentagon. She's watching all of this. What's the latest, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, sad news for two U.S. military families, indeed. The U.S. says that it believes that helicopter shot down in Ghazni Province. This is in Southeastern Afghanistan where there has been some level of combat in recent months as they've tried to clear out insurgent strong holds.
This was a U.S. army 0H-58 Kiowa warrior. What does that helicopter do? It's very dangerous. Small and light, it flies very fast. Only two crew onboard, and what it does is it scouts ahead for enemy targets. It's basically like an old-fashioned army scout. It goes ahead, looks for targets, marks those targets, and helps pass out information along to U.S. troops. They do believe now it was brought down by small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. This is now the sixth helicopter that the NATO alliance has lost since the beginning of the year in the war either to shoot downs or accidents or forced landings in bad weather. The war, there maybe a troop withdrawal coming but still very dangerous business and very difficult news for so many military families, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, U.S. troops are going to be in Afghanistan for at least another two and a half years until the very end of 2014. 90,000-plus there right now. Thanks, Barbara.
So, would you support an extra dollar tax on the pack of cigarettes? What if we told you it would bring in millions of dollars for cancer research? That's a scenario facing California voters, but where the vote stands right now may surprise you.
And the wing of the space shuttle, "Enterprise," it's a structure on the way to its new home in Manhattan. We're going to tell you how damaged it is.
BLITZER: A vote on a controversial cigarette tax is too close to call. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. What do you have, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, we have an update to a story from CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Californians took to the polls to vote on prop 129 and appear to be split on a law that would add a $1 tax on each pack of cigarette.
The tax would raise about $735 million a year with 3.9 million votes cast. The no votes are ahead by about 63,000 counties at 28 days to count the ballots.
And letters from Jerry Sandusky to one of his alleged victims are expected to be used as evidence at his trial. A source familiar with the case describes them as love letters, but says the defense is expected to argue the letters are innocent and show his love for the children he's helped through his charity.
The former Penn State assistant football coach is charged with child rape. A jury of seven women and five men were seated today.
And dramatic images of the space shuttle "Enterprise" as it's being lifted to its new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in Manhattan. It made a three-day sea trek that included a layover in New Jersey. It arrived, actually, but you can see there some of the pictures. They are pretty cool pictures by a barge and also by a crane.
It was hoisted up by that crane. It did hit a snag, though on a way -- you see live pictures there. We should tell you, though, it did hit a snag on its way home. A sudden gust of wind caused the shuttle to shift and scrape against a wind barrier in New York's Jamaica Bay.
Fortunately, the damage was only cosmetic. You can see it's just kind of hovering there right now by the crane, but it is at its new home.
And in other news, Miss Pennsylvania USA is giving up her title, claiming the Miss USA pageant is rigged. Sheena Monnin posted on her Facebook page that another contestant allegedly saw a list of the top five contestants before the show even started. The Miss Universe organization was quick to response saying Monnin is making false accusations.
In a statement, the organization said that Monnin resigned but for a different reason. Organizers cited an e-mail sent by Monnin in which she says that she decided to step down because of the decision by Miss Universe to include transgendered contestants. Donald Trump who runs the Miss Universe group has threatened legal action -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lisa. We'll get back to you.
Meanwhile, the number two man, as all of our viewers know, the number two man in al Qaeda is killed. Our own analyst, though, Peter Bergen says al Qaeda now is, quote, "more or less out of business." I'm going to press him on what he means by that. He's standing by.
And CNN has exclusive video of a deadly battle in Syria. It's a very rare look from the front lines. Our own Arwa Damon is standing by to report.
BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE) violence in Afghanistan comes just after the U.S. killing of al Qaeda's number two leader Abu Yayha al Libi (ph) in a drone strike along the border with Pakistan. It's a blow that CNN's national security analyst Peter Bergen, one of the world's top al Qaeda experts now says essentially puts the terror network, and I'm quoting him now, "out of business".
Peter is the author of "Man Hunt", the best-seller, "The Ten Year Search for bin Laden". Peter is here. He's joining us right now. I read your piece. An excellent article on CNN.com and you say that as a result of al Libi's (ph) killing, death, the al Qaeda operation, the terrorist group that launched 9/11 is now more or less out of business. Explain.
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I think it kind of underlined the fact. This has been going on for a long time. You know the drone strike program started under George W. Bush in a serious way in the last six months of his presidency. President Obama amped (ph) it up considerably. You know both of al Qaeda leaders have been killed. This guy was one of the of the sort of old guard (ph) who really you know was involved in al Qaeda. They haven't been able to attack the United States since 9/11 over a decade. The last successful attack in the West was the 7-7 attacks in London in 2005. It's really a record of failure, Wolf, and also a lot of losses on their side. BLITZER: But, so the al Qaeda operation as we knew it in Afghanistan and Pakistan, you think for all practical purposes is dead, but what about al Qaeda in Yemen or Somalia, these so-called lone wolves, these guys who are inspiring individuals around the world?
BERGEN: Well taking the second question last, lone wolves have a natural sealing (ph) to what they can do. I mean we saw a classic lone wolf attack in Fort Hood, Texas. Major Nadal Hassan (ph) killed 13 people. You know --
BLITZER: That was an al Qaeda inspired operation --
BERGEN: Al Qaeda-inspired here in this country. You know 13 people, every individual death is a tragedy, but it's obviously not 9/11, something that completely (INAUDIBLE) on national security. And then in terms of the affiliates, certainly al Qaeda in Yemen is a problem, but every time they try to attack the United States, the attack is fizzled whether it was a Northwest (ph) flight 2530 over Detroit, the attempt to send bombs on cargo planes to the United States in 2010. We talked here last month about a new underwear bomb they developed. Well the reason we know about it is because a spy was inserted in the group and retrieved the bomb and basically handed it over to the CIA and FBI. So even though they're trying, you know it's been a record of failure.
BLITZER: I just interviewed Senator Dianne Feinstein and she's very worried, as are other members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, Democrats and Republicans about all these leaks of classified situation including in this new David Sanger book. He was here in THE SITUATION ROOM yesterday. Listen to what she told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR: We have an enormously smart constituency of journalists who follow this, who piece things together, who get one little piece somewhere and a second little piece another place and a third and a fourth and put it all together and this is what we've got to now begin to pay some attention to because it's going to result in the inability of the United States to be able to have an intelligence profile, an intelligence apparatus that is able to protect this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And she goes on and she says American lives are at risk as a result of all of these leaks. Now you have a new book that's out with a lot of sensitive information in there. What do you say when you hear these complaints?
BERGEN: Well I think Senator Dianne Feinstein for whom I have a great deal of admiration, I think just described very accurately what journalists do, which is to piece together a mosaic of information from many different sources and end up with a hopefully accurate picture and you know the fact that journalists are doing their jobs and finding out things is something that -- I mean I'm not going to sit here and be critical of that and that's why we have a First Amendment.
We have -- you know that's part of the fabric of our country. Now obviously, there are things you've got to balance against it, but it seems to me that David Sanger, for instance, just you know had a huge group and I think you know has solved the very interesting question which is who has been launching these viruses at the Iranian nuclear program and he's done it in a very convincing way and (INAUDIBLE) to him.
BLITZER: And when you release that information codenamed Olympic Games, a joint operation involving the U.S. and Israeli cyber warfare intelligence communities do you believe that really does do damage to U.S. intelligence operations?
BERGEN: Well, you know I mean the Iranians certainly knew that something was happening in the Nantes (ph) uranium enrichment plot that was strange and they're not stupid and they obviously -- they concluded obviously that it was a computer virus. They've said so publicly themselves. So I'm skeptical of the notion that somehow this is putting Americans' lives at risk. Certainly it's putting certain techniques at risk, but the Iranians understood that they were under cyber attack already. It's not news to them.
BLITZER: I've been hearing these complaints for decades myself as a working journalist here in Washington, so it's not new. But obviously certain times there are serious problems that do emerge. Peter thanks very much for joining us.
We're also getting new information on Syria right now just coming into CNN about another massacre. We're going to have the details coming up next. Also we have exclusive dramatic video from the front lines of a rebel fire fight.
And a medical report hidden in a box for many, many years. We have details of the final moments of Abraham Lincoln's life written by the doctor who tried to help.
BLITZER: This just coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM, reports of a new massacre in Syria, opposition activists just reporting at least 78 people have been killed, at least half of them women and children. Syrian government forces are said to have raided a small farming village executing people with knives and AK-47s. Meanwhile CNN's Arwa Damon has an exclusive look at the front lines of the bloody battle in Homs where a handful of rebels now taking on an army.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, what this exclusive footage portrays is a microcosm of what is happening along many front lines in Syria and an example of why the cease-fire isn't working.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
DAMON (voice-over): Abu al-Baraa peers out from his makeshift battle position and spots his target.
ABU AL-BARAA, REBEL FIGHTER: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: Give me the radio. Give me the radio he calls out (INAUDIBLE) hail of bullets (INAUDIBLE) government forces drowns out his order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: (INAUDIBLE) movement is spotted to the left.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: There it is. There it is, someone shouts!
DAMON: As the armored personnel carrier moves back into sight, a voice cries out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: Look, Kofi Annan (ph) he shouts, mocking the idea of a cease-fire.
DAMON: These rebels say they are protecting residents of a Homs neighborhood called Hidea (ph) from an assault by regime forces. Cairo's street is now the front line, separating the rebel stronghold from the neighborhood of Albayaba (ph) held by the government. Once a bustling middle class shopping area, the street is now in ruins. The local rebel commander Abu Haded (ph) crawls through holes fighters smashed between buildings to take up position.
DAMON: There are government forces on a balcony across the road. The 32-year-old peers down the scope.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: Is it where the (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
(SHOTS FIRED) DAMON: Hidea (ph) seems deserted, but the fighters of the free Syrian army say it's not just about defending residents still here, but the property of those that have fled. They say (INAUDIBLE) would steal or destroy anything they can get their hands on. At another position along the street Hazem (ph) is on high alert.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: There's movement, be ready at my signal, he says calmly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: Syrian government forces are fanning out across the road. There's movement in more direction, a call on the radio warns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: I am ready, Hazem (ph) responds.
DAMON: The 30-year-old machine gunner fires off two rounds, takes aim again and his weapon jams. Cursing under his breath, he clears it and aims again.
HAZEM, REBEL FIGHTER: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: You can't just have a one-sided cease-fire, he says indignantly. They can't expect us to come under fire and not respond. Some of these men are army defectors, but awe growing number of civilians are joining the armed struggle like 26-year-old Abu Wasfi. He used to attend protests but that all changed.
ABU WASFI, REBEL FIGHTER: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: A brother defected from the army because he refused orders to kill innocent civilians and demonstrators, he says. His brother was killed defending this very neighborhood last year.
WASFI: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: This is his gun, Abu Wasfi says, gesturing to his AK-47, but it's hardly a match for the heavy weapons that government forces have. Abu Wasfi and many like him say they will fight until the bitter end --
DAMON: -- even if it means the uprising becomes a civil war.
DAMON: And the tragedy of it all, Wolf, is that just may be the inevitable outcome as cease-fires, peace plans and diplomacy continue to fail.
BLITZER: Arwa Damon thanks very much. No end unfortunately in sight.
A detailed account of Abraham Lincoln's final moments from a 23- year-old doctor who desperately tried to save his life. Historians say it may have never been seen before, this report, until now.
BLITZER: An incredible discovery made right here in Washington. Historians have now found a medical report detailing the final moments of President Abraham Lincoln's life and they believe it's been stashed away for almost 150 years. CNN's Brian Todd has read the report. He went over to Fords Theater here in Washington and has the fascinating details -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this report was lost for a long time in the boxes of the National Archives until just recently. It's a firsthand account of those crucial minutes after Lincoln was shot. It's handwritten, straightforward and stirring.
TODD (voice-over): He was 23 years old, embarking on a promising career and attending a happening event in Washington. Sitting at Ford's Theater for a production of the play "Our American Cousin" (ph), Dr. Charles Leale (ph) also sat on the brink of history.
HELENA PAPAIDANNOU, PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN: He hadn't been out of medical school for very long at all, and so I think this is very -- this was certainly thrown in at the deep end.
TODD: Helena Papaiddannou, a researcher with the group Papers of Abraham Lincoln, has just made an outstanding discovery, a copy of Dr. Charles Leale's (ph) handwritten report on what he went through as the first doctor to get to President Lincoln in the moments after he was shot. She believes Leale (ph) may have written his report the very next day.
(on camera): Dr. Leale (ph) was in an ideal position to try to help. He writes that at the time of the shooting he was sitting in that balcony area where those tourists are right about there, only about 40 feet away from Lincoln's box.
(voice-over): The fatal shot was fired. Leale (ph) wrote a man of low stature with black hair and eyes was seen leaping to the stage beneath. Dr. Leale (ph) rushed toward the stricken president.
(on camera): One of the most riveting parts of his report is what he encounters as soon as he gets into Lincoln's booth.
(voice-over): When the door was opened and he saw Mary Lincoln, Leale wrote "she exclaimed several time, oh, Doctor, do what you can for him. Do what you can." Leale wrote that he sent one man to get water, another man to get brandy. He first thought Lincoln had been stabbed because he had just seen John Wilkes Booth jump to the stage with a dagger in his hand, then he found where the bullet had entered Lincoln's head.
(on camera): Leale said Lincoln's condition was such he knew he would never make it to the White House. The only alternative, take him across the street to the Peterson House (ph).
(voice-over): At that moment, an account that strikes Papaiddannou's emotional core.
PAPAIDDANNOU: He spoke about how the president's legs looked -- his lower extremities from the knees down were cold and they brought him hot water bottles and hot blankets and I find that a very touching --
TODD (on camera): Then they finally bring Lincoln into this room in the Peterson House (ph) across the street and Helena, what happens then?
PAPAIDDANNOU: They bring him in here and the bed, which it's not this bed, but they bring him in here and the bed is too small for him. He's a very large guy. He was 6'4" and so to make him more comfortable, instead of having him hanging off the bed they laid him diagonally across the bed (INAUDIBLE) writes about that.
TODD (voice-over): Leale wrote clinically of the president's deterioration then "at 7:20 a.m. he breathed his last."
(on camera): It's in the very last line of his report that Dr. Leale seems to be finally absorbed in what just happened to the United States. He writes that immediately after Lincoln's death quote "we all bowed and the Reverend Doctor Gurley (ph) supplicated to God in behalf of the bereaved family and our afflicted country" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd excellent report, thanks very much. Let's go back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Interesting stuff.
BLITZER: It certainly is.
CAFFERTY: The question this hour is what can be done about the deepening polarization in America?
G. writes "it starts with the people taking an honest look at how they voted and how that stacks up against what they really believe. The politicians participated in thousands of lost lives, lost liberties and lost treasure because of our country's post 9/11 policies. They participated in the unemployment and the mountains of debt left by our economic policies. The worst part is they won't stop because they keep getting elected, because we keep voting for them. If any sort of change is to take place, it has to start with us."
Stan writes "with 24/7 news cycles, modern media fuel this divisiveness. It is not newsworthy if we all get along as we Americans mostly do. There's no political street rioting as we see in many other countries. Except for the very fringes in our society, there is a live and let live attitude in the United States."
Paul in Ontario writes "two-party systems inevitably lead to polarization. The Canadian parliament contains five different parties. So there is a lot of wheeling and dealing and cooperation."
Bill in New Mexico writes "very little. I believe the polarization will only worsen as America's economic health decays. The inability of Congress to work together reflects the attitudes and desires of the voters. Short of government failure, there is no end in sight."
And Evinia writes this "absolutely nothing. With Fox News, the Rush Limbaughs, Sarah Palins, and political pundits like yourself constantly fanning the flames of divisiveness, hatred and bigotry, the divide is only deepening and there is nothing anyone can say or do."
On that depressing note, if you want to read more, go to the blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It is depressing when you think about it, Jack. Thank you.
So if you need a spare tire, don't panic. Chances are one will come rolling by on its own in no time at all. We have the story of tires going rogue.
BLITZER: A tire flies off an 18-wheeler and ends up crashing into a refreshment stand inside a room at a Ramada Inn. That's not the only time a tire has gone rogue, not even close. CNN's Jeanne Moos has the video to prove it.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We never tire of watching runaway tires whether it be a bus tire on the loose or a car tire that almost takes out a guy preoccupied with his phone who belatedly runs for his life after the tire shattered a window and bounced around a computer repair shop. But this truck driver's lost tire --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know they blow, you know --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
MOOS: -- puts the freak in freak accident. William Harvey (ph) lost his tire on Interstate 75 in Ocala, Florida. The tire went off the overpass on to another highway below smashing this car. The driver was badly shaken up but escaped major injuries. Meanwhile the escaped tire kept rolling to a nearby Ramada Inn where it barged in a partially open door to a conference room where Bob Hurst (ph) was just heading for the refreshment table for some cookies.
BOB HURST, HOTEL VISITOR: All of a sudden one of the members said, look out. And right at that point, something large and black came right by my side, scratched against my leg, messed up my pants.
MOOS: The refreshments were pretty much obliterated, in the immortal words of "Tire Review", "runaway truck tire checks into a hotel conference room".
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, thank you for calling Ramada Inn.
MOOS (on camera): Hi. Can I make a reservation for a runaway truck tire?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One moment.
MOOS (voice-over): It was a steamy stay for this truck tire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tire flipped over, it was just smoking like crazy.
MOOS: But if you want to know what a smoking hot tire looks like, check out the one that came bouncing into a car dealership and crashed into a parked car. This women has an appliance store in Las Vegas had a close encounter with a tire gone wild.
(on camera): Now imagine you are trying to change a tire when a runaway tire comes whizzing by.
(voice-over): That's what happened on this bridge in Baytown (ph), Texas. As a motorist changed a flat, a 200-pound wheel almost took out the officer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
MOOS: It scuffed his gun, ripped his holster.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
MOOS: But the sergeant was unharmed. It is as if tires are out to get us.
MOOS: The serial killer tire in the cult comedy "Rubber".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what our killer looks like.
MOOS: It kills people with its psychic powers --
(SOUNDS) MOOS: -- so tread carefully.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Help.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a retread.
MOOS: New York.
BLITZER: Don't forget tomorrow, my special one-on-one interview with the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I will be going to Chicago to the Clinton Global Initiative to interview the president tomorrow here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton. You can also send me your suggested questions on Twitter @WolfBlitzerCNN or go to our CNN SITUATION ROOM Facebook page.
Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.