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THE SITUATION ROOM
U.S. Tries to Stop Russian Support to Syria. Roger Clemens Found Not Guilty on All Charges. Obama's Pick For Iraq Amb. Withdraws Name; Google Yanks Hundreds Of Terror Videos; Interview with Senator John McCain; U.S. Intervention in Syria; Ann Romney's Expensive Hobby; Notorious Deserter; Unmanned Space Plane's Mysterious Mission; Bird Caller Pranks U.S. Open
Aired June 18, 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 HOST: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, there's breaking news we're following. A U.S. service member attacked by men in Afghan police uniforms.
Also, a new move to stop Russia from shipping weapons to Syria. But Moscow may still have warships on the way. This hour Senator John McCain, he joins us. He has some very tough words for President Obama and for the Russian President Putin about the situation in Syria.
Also, Google has a tool for terrorists. What the online search engine is doing to get Al Qaeda propaganda off the Internet.
And an Air Force deserter apparently surfacing, stunning his family and the U.S. military after 28 years as a fugitive.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: All that coming up, but this hour we're getting new word, a very disturbing word of an attack in Afghanistan, targeting U.S. and coalition troops. Let's go straight to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. What are you learning, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN REPORTER: Wolf, this information just in. Very few details, but a U.S. official says indeed a U.S. service member was killed in southern Afghanistan when three individuals wearing Afghan police uniforms shot this service member. Eight or nine additional coalition forces were also wounded. We do not know their nationalities. We do not know their condition at this hour.
Another incident that the military calls green on blue, but very serious, this trend doesn't seem to stop, of Afghan forces or people in Afghan uniforms turning their weapons on coalition forces. Wolf?
BLITZER: Very worrisome indeed. Stand by for a moment. In Syria right now, opposition forces say entire families are trapped under rubble from the relentless shelling by government forces. The United Nations observer mission has called off any attempts to rescue civilians because of the rising violence. There are new reports that two Russian warships are preparing to set sail for Syria, adding to concerns about Moscow's possible role in helping the Bashar al-Assad regime. Right now the President of the United States is walking into the G-20 summit in Mexico over at Los Cabos. You see the president going in. Making walking through the wrong door. Now he's been escorted into the right location.
We'll have live coverage of what's going on in Mexico right now at the G-20 summit. Huge issues, including especially what's happening in Syria, the Eurozone, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Much more of that coming up.
I'll be speaking about what's going on in Syria, especially the Russian connection, with Senator John McCain in just a few moments. But first that new move that may have stopped one Russian cargo ship from carrying additional military assistance to Syria. Let's bring back Barbara; she's working this part of the story.
What are you learning here, Barbara?
STARR: Well, Wolf, a new effort to stop that flow of Russian weapons and materiel into Syria, and this time using an economic weapon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STARR (voice-over): This cargo ship just had its insurance canceled. Furious U.S. officials say it's carrying three Russian MI- 20 helicopters to Syria that could be used to attack civilians.
Russia says it's just fulfilling a contract. The insurer said it canceled the policy in view of the nature of the voyage. The ship left the Russian port of Kaliningrad several days ago and is currently off the coast of Scotland. Without insurance, it can't dock in any reputable port and is now likely to return home, rather than continuing to Tartus, the crisis Russian naval facility in Syria.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZ.: I don't pretend to be able to get into now President Putin's mind. But there is a certain nostalgia in Russian for the old Russian empire. This is their last outpost of -- and port on the Mediterranean.
STARR (voice-over): Stopping the shipment is a small victory for the moment. The MI-25 can fire thousands of rounds a minute, wiping out whole civilian areas. But the regime has plenty more helicopters. U.S. military intelligence is watching other Russian ships as well. In the Black Sea port of Sebastopol, satellites are keeping their eyes on this ship, the Nikolay Filchenov, which is loaded with --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're going to get back to Barbara Starr, but Roger Clemens, the famed baseball pitcher, not guilty on all six counts, perjury, obstruction of justice, let's listen to this. ROGER CLEMENS, FORMER MLB PITCHER: -- come in on my behalf. It's kind of uncomfortable for me to sit there and hear people talk about you, good or bad, but I just want to say I appreciate everyone who came in, Rusty and Michael and the entire team asked to come in to speak own my behalf or tell a story or give their input.
I'm really thankful the ones that the ones that, again, took time to get on a plane, whatever it might have been, to come in and do that for us.
My family, again, just like I told them just a few minutes ago, it's been a hard five years, and they've been great, behind dad and supporting dad. And my wife has been a rock behind us, and all of our family at home in Houston have been great. All the support, we had a bunch come up today and over the last -- what was it -- six weeks. So thank you to all them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nine weeks.
CLEMENS: Nine weeks.
CLEMENS: Time flies when you're having fun.
So my sisters are here. It's been trying on them. And I thank them for their strength and showing their strength and support and really all you media guys that know me and followed my career.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible).
CLEMENS: I put a lot of hard work into that career. And so, again, I appreciate my teammates that came in and all the e-mails and phone calls from my teammates. So thank y'all very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank y'all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret asking Congress to have you have a hearing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not going to answer those kind of questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible), do you have a comment on that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, absolutely not.
BLITZER (voice-over): All right. So there you have a tearful Roger Clemens. Tears out of joy. A great day for him today. Vindicated jury at the federal courthouse here in Washington, D.C., has found him not guilty on six counts. The federal government had charged him with obstruction of Congress, making false statements during a deposition and perjury during a congressional hearing.
He says it's been hell for him for the past five years, ever since he testified before Congress, denied using steroids. The government didn't believe him. The federal government, they went after him on these six counts. Today a federal jury in Washington, D.C., has found him not guilty. Not guilty on all six counts.
He can now go ahead, totally vindicated by this federal jury in Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We'll continue to watch that story, dramatic story indeed. He's a great, great pitcher. He won the Cy Young Awards seven times, was the MVP for the American League in 1986 and he won two World Series titles in 1999 and 2000. Not guilty on all six counts.
Want to get back to the other breaking news we're following. What's going on in Syria and especially the Russian involvement's creating a lot of tension, Barbara Starr, between the U.S. and Moscow. The Obama administration, the new government of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.
If you looked at that body language between Presidents Putin and Obama in Mexico today at the G-20 summit, it was not pretty indeed. But go ahead and wrap up this part of the story.
STARR: Well, Wolf, the U.S. did achieve a small victory, as we said, by getting the maritime insurance canceled on a ship that was headed with Russian weapons on board for Syria, U.S. intelligence is continuing to monitor all the Russian shipping that they feel may be relevant to this. They are watching several other ships that they believe could eventually be headed for Syria.
What is the bottom line here? Nobody says at this point that Russia is sending combat troops or that Russia is going to get in the middle of this tragedy on the ground in Syria. But nobody exactly believes that Russia is going to sit it out, either that right now the Russian support for Bashar al-Assad continues.
They want access to that port on the Mediterranean. It gives Russia critical access into the entire Middle East. So there's a lot more at stake here, but of course, it is the Syrian people, the civilians, the men, women and children that really are suffering so much in this unfolding tragedy that seems right now to have no end. Wolf?
BLITZER: No end in sight, indeed. Barbara, thank you.
Senator John McCain is the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. My interview with him. He is furious at President Obama and the Obama administration for the situation in Syria. He is here. He will explain his strong, strong views.
Also, President Obama's choice to be the next United States ambassador to Iraq. He's taking his name out of consideration because of his wife. Stand by. New information coming in.
And potentially at least some of his critics believe a horse could cause some embarrassing problems for Mitt Romney. We're taking a closer look. Is that true or not? Stand by.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File." Jack?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. A little behind. But we're going to catch up. "Newsweek" magazine's reporting that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie thinks that Mitt Romney ought to call him on the phone. They talk about that number two spot on the ticket, possible VP situation.
So the question we posed last hour -- we usually get to the e- mails before now; because of breaking news they got a little delayed. But the question is what would Chris Christie bring to the GOP presidential ticket? Gigi in Oregon writes, "He'd be the Joe Biden of the Republican Party, only he'd carry a lot more weight.
David writes, "If Christie is on the ballot in November, no chance Obama wins."
Larry in Kansas, "Chris Christie could change the entire election. He'll bring excitement to the ticket. Mitt Romney is a well-oiled weather vane that needs a north wind. People would tune in to watch and listen to the answers the outspoken Christie would not be afraid to give. It'd be the best choice Romney has made in the entire campaign."
Ray in Tennessee writes, "Christie would bring the same thing Sarah Palin brought in 2008. He would excite the far right and drive away the independence. As refreshing as he might seem, he still represents 30 years of Republican economic policies that are proven failures."
Pam writes, "It would bring the White House kitchen staff a lot more hours of work."
Virginia in Atlanta writes, "Christie's a man convinced he knows the answers and loudly proclaims that fact. He would bring steadfastness to balance Romney's flip-flopping."
Carol in Massachusetts, "Bombast, excitement, authenticity. Agree with him or not, he would be so much fun. We need fun."
D writes, "Cholesterol."
And boomer in Missouri says, "400 pounds."
If you want to read more about Chris Christie, go to the blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through our post on the SITUATION ROOM's" Facebook page. Wolf, it's all I got.
BLITZER: All right. Good enough. Thanks so much, Jack. President Obama's pick for one of the country's most sensitive government positions, the United States ambassador to Iraq, now withdrawing his name from consideration amid escalating questions about his conduct with a once prominent reporter who is now his wife. Our Congressional correspondent, Kate Bolduan, is joining us right now. She's got the latest on what's going on. What is the latest, Kate?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Wolf. Well, Brett McGurk is withdrawing that nomination just one day before a key vote on his nomination in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Most recently, McGurk came under intense scrutiny for flirtatious e-mails that surfaced between McGurk who was working for the National Security Council at the time in Iraq and a former "Wall Street Journal" reporter who was also working in Iraq around at the time in 2008.
They are now married, but that affair and those e-mails have Republicans up here in Capitol Hill questioning his conduct, questioning his judgment, and questioning McGurk's credibility. Now, six Republicans just last week wrote a letter to President Obama, urging the president to withdraw McGurk's nomination because they also have concerned about his involvement in post Iraq war -- post war Iraq negotiations.
As we can see now, McGurk, himself, is withdrawing his nomination, in a letter obtained by colleague, Jessica Yellin, that McGurk wrote to the president and secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. He said it's with a heavy heart that he is withdrawing his nomination.
But referring to those e-mails, Wolf, McGurk says, quote, "The depiction of our relationship has been both surreal and devastating. We have also witnessed real sacrifice and suffering in Iraq and know that nothing should be allowed to distract from the pressing work that must be done to build a better future there."
It was not just Republicans criticizing McGurk and his nomination, perhaps, more significantly, most significantly, it was also Democrats, key Democrats on the senate Foreign Relations Committee and other Democrats, Wolf, who were raising concerns about his nomination in light of these revelations.
So, as we can see now, he's withdrawn this nomination, a key post for the administration. A very sensitive position remains unfilled. And in a statement, a spokesman for the National Security Council, Wolf, said that they regret, the administration regrets, to see McGurk withdrawing his nomination but also say there is no doubt in their view that he'll be called on once again to serve his country -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Have to go find a new U.S. ambassador in Baghdad.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Kate Bolduan. Google has a tool for terrorists. Just ahead, what the online search engine is doing to get al Qaeda propaganda off the internet.
And a U.S. service member, apparently, surfacing after going AWOL almost 30 years ago. Just ahead, why he's now telling CNN he can't believe he didn't get caught.
BLITZER: Google has agreed to take down hundreds of videos posted on YouTube after a request from law enforcement, but is taking those videos down an effective tool for targeting terrorism? CNN intelligence correspondent, Suzanne Kelly, is taking a closer look for us.
SUZANNE KELLY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the new head of al Qaeda core, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to terror propaganda's Ayman al-Awlaki, using the internet to spread the jihadist message is a tool of trade for terrorists. Google agreed to remove some 640 terrorist videos from YouTube at the request of law enforcement officials in the UK.
Here in Washington, Aaron Zelin who started monitoring jihadist websites in 2002, has seen a myriad of propaganda and do-it-yourself terror tricks posted in the form of videos. The problem says Zelin is trying to take some of the more egregious material off the internet is it has a way of popping right back up again.
AARON ZELIN, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: In a sense, a Whac-A-Mole type of thing where especially activists in the west, they essentially create like 20 or 30 YouTube accounts, and they primarily just use one. And then, if somebody flags it or it's taken down, then they just go to the next one, so it's sort of this cat and mouse game that you're playing.
KELLY: Google, which is a parent company to YouTube, does have a policy for dealing with terrorist content online. Their community guidelines prohibit dangerous or illegal activity such as bomb making, hate speech, and insight to commit violent such acts.
(on-camera) With literally hundreds of videos being posted online, one of the biggest challenges of getting a grasp on all this material. Here's one of the best offenses. A built-in flag that monitors materials being inappropriate and warns the Google moderator to take a closer look.
(voice-over) Google says the flags are taken seriously and that they are constantly monitored. Again in a statement, Google said a review's team respond to flag videos around the clock, routinely removing material under those guidelines when content is flagged by users or other external groups. But some experts say they can be hidden benefit to keeping some of this material online.
BRIAN FISHMAN, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: One of the values of this video that's being out there is that we can sort of understand what our enemies are thinking about or what this kind of folks were thinking about.
KELLY (on-camera): Now, here in the U.S., the government, according to Google, has made requests some 1,759 requests for information to be taken down. That was between July and December of last year. But Wolf, out of all of this request, only one of them was made in the name of national security.
BLITZER: Suzanne, thanks very much. Suzanne Kelly, our intelligence correspondent.
Senator John McCain says President Obama has failed to lead on Syria, and he has some very harsh words for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. I'm going to talk to Sen. McCain about the exploding violence in Syria and what he believes the United States must do now.
And it looks like a space shuttle, but really, it's a secret air force space plane that's just landed after, shall we say, a rather mysterious mission.
BLITZER: President Obama and Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, in talks today at the G-20 summit in Mexico, saying they agree on the need to stop the violence in Syria, but those public statements seem to downplay their strong disagreements about the conflict.
BLITZER: And Senator McCain is joining us now from Capitol Hill. He's the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Senator, you gave a powerful speech today at the American Enterprise Institute on Syria, and among other things, you said this about the president and his strategy. Listen to what you said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: When it comes to the administration's policy towards Syria to say they are leading from behind is too generous. That suggests they are leading. They're just behind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Specifically, Senator McCain, what do you want the Obama administration to do?
MCCAIN: First of all, lead. It might be nice to start with that the president would talk about the plight and the term (ph) on the Syrian people and the terrible atrocities that are being committed against them. Second of all, I know from countries in the region if we led in a coalition that we would be able to take significant action to stop the massacre and the status quo that's going on right now. Murder, rape, torture is an instrument of national policy by Bashar Al-Assad. Part of that would be a safe area that we could protect along with our allies and help these people organize and to more effectively resist. They are resisting. The longer it drags out, the more likely it is that extremist elements could hijack this revolution.
BLITZER: You say you don't want U.S. boots on the ground in Syria, but you do call for some use of air power. Specifically, what do you have in mind?
MCCAIN: Well, to ensure that a safe area would be respected by Bashar Assad, along with other countries who would be willing to supply their air power now? As you know, some countries now in the region are supplying weapons which we steadfastly refuse to do while they are being slaughtered.
BLITZER: Do you support supplying weapons to the opposition?
MCCAIN: Of course, of course. The Russians, recent news carried on CNN that (INAUDIBLE) is headed towards the Russian port in Syria. But the secretary of state said that helicopters, which we understand are refurbished, but that is basically the same thing, arms and equipment, Iranian assistance on the ground, is all -- it's not a fair fight, Wolf. It's an unfair fight that's going on right now and slaughter.
BLITZER: The Obama administration insists it can't do anything really militarily launching cruise missiles or airpower or anything along those lines without the authority of the United Nations Security Council. And as you anyway, Russia has a veto on the Security Council and they're more than happy to use it.
MCCAIN: So we are now having any national security action taken by the United States of America dependent upon the good graces of Russia. We went to Kosovo, as you may recall and I'm sure you do, without a U.N. Security Council resolution for the same reason because Russia would have vetoed it. The United States of America cannot gauge or condition its actions on whether Russia and China veto resolution in the U.N. Security Council. That's consigning our policy to Mr. Putin.
BLITZER: As you know, the president just issued a joint statement with Mr. Putin at the G-20 summit. They met for a while today and they go into where they agree. Among other things they say "we are united in the belief that the Syrian people should have the opportunity to independently and democratically choose their own future." But they don't go into a whole lot of specifics, certainly there's no reference there to the significant disagreements between the U.S. and Russia on this sensitive issue of Syria. What is your reaction to that?
MCCAIN: Well, I think it was the kind of statement that you usually hear when there's no concrete agreement. Also, it's a little weird or welein (ph) to consider their statement about Kofi Annan, supporting Kofi Annan's initiative. I mean almost every observer up to Kofi Annan recognizes that it's been a total failure. The observers have just been pulled back, so to somehow say that they're dependent upon what has been a failed course of action is a little bit unrealistic to say the least.
BLITZER: You also in your speech today, you expressed concerns about Iran and its apparently growing influence in the region. Not only moving from Iran, but through its allies now, some of them in Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon. We now see the Muslim Brotherhood winning the presidential election in Egypt. What's going on here from your perspective and how specifically does Syria fit into this?
MCCAIN: Well, I think Syria followed Bashar Al-Assad. According to General Matis (ph), our head of Central Command, it would be the greatest blow to Iran in 25 years. Apparently media reports today that the talks with Iran on the -- their nuclear program had broken down. If you had Syria in the hands of free and democratic country, that would be the last real Bastian (ph) of the Russian empire in Syria.
You would have a direct blow to Hezbollah. A chance for Lebanon to become truly independent and, so, it would be a huge setback to Iran if Bashar Al-Assad failed. And so you've got a humanitarian situation here where torture, murder, rape is being systematically employed against people who are having -- do not have the weapons to defend themselves, and the strategic implications of a massive blow to Iran if Bashar failed.
BLITZER: Senator McCain as usual, thanks very much for coming in.
MCCAIN: Thanks for having me on.
BLITZER: Taking a look at more news, including Ann Romney, the wife of the Republican presidential candidate. Guess what? She has a horse. A horse that is now eligible to participate in the Olympic Games in England. Stand by. I'll share with you what's going on.
BLITZER: Ann Romney, the wife of the Republican presidential candidate has loved horses her whole life, but she accelerated that passion after she was diagnosed with MS, and she uses horseback riding as part of her treatment and rehabilitation. But now her horse -- get this -- her horse is now qualified for the Olympic Games in London. Lisa Sylvester is taking a look at the story. It's generating a little bit of commotion though for some political reasons as well.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes that's absolutely right, Wolf. You know the question is Ann Romney's (INAUDIBLE). That is the headline that was in an article in "The New Republic" and that is at the heart of this. This is a sport called dressage (ph) and does it send the wrong message though. A candidate and his wife who want to relate to ordinary voters, investing in a sport that can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
SYLVESTER (voice-over): It's called dressage (ph), skipping, trotting and prancing. You're looking at one of the best horses in the country, Ralfato (ph), who made the U.S. Olympic Team this weekend. The horse is co-owned by Ann Romney who tweeted about her horse's win and gushed about her horse on the Frank Beckman (ph) radio show.
ANN ROMNEY, MITT ROMNEY'S WIFE: I'm so excited honestly to have -- to be able to represent the United States. I have a horse that is going to be fighting for gold in London.
SYLVESTER: But Ann Romney's expensive hobby could cause problems for her husband, GOP candidate Mitt Romney. Democrats have been hammering at Romney as a rich candidate, out of touch with voters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More inside leg (ph).
SYLVESTER: We're talking a sport that can easily cost participants in the six figures. The saddle alone can cost more than $1,000.
ANNELIESE VOGT-HARBER, DRESSAGE TRAINER: The horses vary. I mean you can buy a $60,000 horse and train it, which I had a student do years ago and she went to the National Championships and you can buy the $250,000 horse or 250,000 euro horse.
SYLVESTER: Comedian Stephen Colbert had some fun with it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoo! Whoo!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoo! (INAUDIBLE) number one. (INAUDIBLE) number one.
SYLVESTER: Mitt Romney in an interview on "Face the Nation" said dressage has been therapeutic for Ann Romney, who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And frankly her getting back on a horse after she was diagnosed with MS was able she's convinced to help her regenerate her strength and renew that vigor and so she cares very deeply about this sport and about horses. She's a real -- I joke that I'm going to have to send her to Betty Ford for addiction to horses.
SYLVESTER: It's not the first time a candidate has had an optics problem. Republicans used images of John Kerry wind surfing in political ads. Could Ralfaco (ph) end up not only at the Olympics, but also in a campaign ad? Yes, says CNN.com political editor Bryan Monroe.
BRYAN MONROE, EDITOR, CNNPOLITICS.COM: It's very much a very well-to-do sport. You have got to have money to own the horses, to train them, to get them over to Europe. But at the end of the day, the American people should be focused on the issues that matter here, the economy, jobs, taxes and that's what ultimately they're going to vote on.
SYLVESTER: Both Mitt Romney and President Obama are in the millionaires club. Mr. Obama made millions with his best selling books, even before he entered the White House. And Romney is so wealthy that he wanted to have elevators in a garage for his car. So we are talking in terms of presidential politics, you can look back in recent history and the reality Wolf is that they have all been wealthy men and it's dressage. So I know a lot of people are even having problems saying the name of it, of the sport. It is a relatively new sport, but certainly it's going to shine the spotlight. I think the fact that Ann Romney has a horse in the Olympics is going to shine a spotlight on the sport.
BLITZER: I hope that horse does well, brings home the gold for the United States of America. Let's hope for the best. Thanks very much for that, Lisa.
He's been AWOL for almost 30 years. Now a notorious deserter has apparently surfaced alive and well. Just ahead he's revealing to CNN why he finally has decided to come out publicly.
And a bird caller crashes the United States Open. We're calling it the U.S. Open. You won't want to miss the video that's going viral. Jeanne Moos will have that.
BLITZER: It's been almost 30 years since a military deserter from the United States armed forces went AWOL, but now in a shocking turn of fate for his family it appears he's surfaced alive and well. Mary Snow had a chance to speak with him just a little while ago. Mary is joining us now with details. How did that go, Mary?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, to hear David Hemler (ph) tell it, he's been hiding in plain sight. He has a family in Sweden, and he also is now working for a government agency in Sweden. And until a few weeks ago his U.S. family thought he was dead.
SNOW (voice-over): This is what David Hemler (ph) looked like when he disappeared in 1984 from an Air Force base in Germany. He's been wanted by the Air Force ever since, considered one of its top fugitives. It even released this enhanced photograph of what he may look like now. But now a man claiming to be Hemler (ph) has come forward in Sweden, where he says he's been for the last 28 years and fathered three children. He spoke to us from his home outside Stockholm.
(on camera): Why are you going public now after 28 years? DAVID HEMLER, U.S. AIR FORCE DESERTER: Now I feel that I can stay in Sweden if something happens. I am married to Swedish national. So I'm quite confident I can stay in Sweden and will not be extradited. And my youngest daughter is now old enough to go to day care so that their mother can take care of the children by herself in case anything would happen.
SNOW (voice-over): And Hemler says he wanted to reach out to his parents before they die. In 1984 Hemler says he hitchhiked from Germany to Sweden. He cites both political and personal reasons for going AWOL. A romance had failed and he says he became disillusioned with President Reagan's foreign policies.
HEMLER: It was just unthinkable I wouldn't get caught. I was waiting for the military police to come and get me. And I didn't turn myself in because I was expecting them to come. I just wanted to stay as long as it would last.
SNOW: In recent weeks a spokeswoman for the Air Force Office of Special Investigation says Hemler sent a rambling e-mail to the Air Force explaining why he deserted. She says he will be captured if he leaves Sweden, a consequence Hemler understands.
HEMLER: Because I knew that anything could happen. So for me, anything that happens is worth it just to be able to have contact with my parents again. Basically I'm just waiting to see what happens with the Air Force if there's a military trial and see what the results are and then go from there.
SNOW: Hemler's brother Thomas says he thought his brother may have killed himself and was shocked to hear from him. He says he understands why Americans can offer no sympathy with some calling David a coward.
THOMAS HEMLER, BROTHER (via phone): He found the courage and came public with this and now he faces risk from every aspect of his life from his job to his residency status in Sweden to his own family who he's been lying to over there to the chance of rejection from his family here to you know global scorn because he's a military deserter.
SNOW: Now, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations says as long as Hemler is in Sweden, they can't touch him because Sweden won't extradite military or political criminals -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What does he face if he's eventually tried?
SNOW: There's a range of options one being that the case would be thrown out to spending time in prison but the spokeswoman at the Air Force says it's very unlikely that the case is going to be thrown out because it has been so long that he's been hiding.
BLITZER: He was an adult when he deserted. Did he explain why he sort of is speaking with a Swedish accent now? SNOW: He didn't. He just said that he has been in Sweden for so long that he developed this accent. And you know his brother when he called said that at first he didn't recognize his own brother's voice that it took him almost an hour before he could finally hear hints of his brother's voice.
BLITZER: And did he -- his brother is convinced this is in fact the same person?
SNOW: His brother is convinced it's the same person. The Air Force believes that it is him, as well.
BLITZER: And does he explain why he deserted?
SNOW: Yes, he gives a couple of different answers. He says you know that he was heart broken that he had become a pacifist that he was disillusioned with President Reagan's foreign policies at the time and all of that led to him running away. Now his brother said that he believed that David was very depressed at the time, that he was always a loner and he thought that his brother perhaps had killed himself when they couldn't find him and the family did look for him. He said they looked for him for several years and they finally stopped looking.
BLITZER: Twenty-eight years later, they have now found him.
BLITZER: Thanks very much Mary for that. At first glance, it looks like the space shuttle but really it's an unmanned Air Force space plane that's just landed after more than a year on a rather mysterious mission. Brian Todd is joining us with details. It's mysterious, secret, what do we know?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So much about it Wolf is mysterious and the Air Force wants it that way. We're going to show you some video here. We just ran a little bit of it a second ago. Infrared video, we're going to show you the regular video in a second. But the only way you would have been able to see this plane approaching is if you were near Vandenberg Air Force Base (ph) in Santa Barbara County, California just as dawn broke on Saturday.
This is called the X-37 b orbital test vehicle (ph). This is an unmanned space plane. It's been orbiting for more than 460 days. It was launched in early March of last year. There's a better shot of it just kind of coming down with regular video there. It looks a lot like the space shuttle, as you can see, but it's a lot smaller and it's controlled from ground stations.
Two of these things can fit just in the space shuttle's payload bay. Now what is the payload of this vehicle? We tried and were told nice try for asking. The Air Force says the payload is classified. The mission exactly where it went, that's classified. The cost, you guessed it, classified. But the Air Force says quote "cost effectiveness is a major consideration." Some observers like the Secure World Foundation had worried that this was part of the, maybe sort of the weaponization of space that this might some day be able to shoot down enemy satellites.
The Air Force has said that is not the case. Two years ago when the first one of these was launched into space, an Air Force official said these are going to be like space shuttle operations, Wolf, and they are going to keep launching these. They plan to launch another one this fall some time. It's a spacecraft that they've already used but they're going to launch it this fall.
BLITZER: Very mysterious, unmanned also.
TODD: Very strange, yes.
BLITZER: Unmanned also, thanks very much, Brian. The U.S. Open winner's big moment in the spotlight suddenly stolen by a bird caller, that's next.
BLITZER: It wasn't exactly what Webb Simpson (ph) may have expected only minutes after winning the U.S. Open. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the bird call --
MOOS: -- that have stole the show from all the birdies Webb Simpson (ph) made to win the U.S. Open, there he was giving the victory interview when all of a sudden --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got off to a slow start but I knew that --
MOOS: Look at anchor Bob Costas' face and that wasn't security that yanked away the bird caller. That's the executive director of the U.S. Golf Association. Next thing you know San Francisco police had the guy in a British flag hat cuffed and the U.S. Open champ cracked wise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, enjoy the jail cell, pal.
MOOS: Well, actually he did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: San Francisco police arrested me and then took me into the station, but when I got there, the guys were really cool. They were all making bird noises.
MOOS: San Francisco police say the bird caller appeared intoxicated. He told us he just had a few beers. The Golf Association didn't press charges and British father of six Andrew Dudley was released. He calls himself jungle bird on his official Web site.
MOOS: From a beer festival in Tijuana, to a band (ph) --
MOOS: -- jungle bird has been making bird calls to call attention to the deforestation of jungles. His biggest coup before the U.S. Open was making bird calls as Queen Elizabeth passed by in her Bentley.
MOOS: Dudley says very little planning went into the U.S. Open stunt. He just snuck under a rope or two.
ANDREW DUDLEY, WRITER/ACTIVIST: I wish to apologize to Mr. Simpson in case I took any of the special moments away, but obviously the message I'm trying to get across.
MOOS: Who needs an apology? The new champ sent out a twit pick (ph) of the prank with a caption "my new friend".
(on camera): Come again?
MOOS: What bird is he calling?
(voice-over): According to the head of New York City's Audubon Society --
GLENN PHILLIPS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NYC AUDUBON: It was obviously a peacock. The moment I heard it -- that's a peacock.
MOOS: Jungle bird didn't actually know he was doing the mating call of a peacock but he's still proud as one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And --
MOOS: Jeanne Moos --
MOOS: -- CNN --
MOOS: New York.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop deforestation. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BLITZER: That's it for me, but remember the conversation continues. Follow me on Twitter @WolfBlitzer. Thanks very much for joining us. The news continues next on CNN.