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THE SITUATION ROOM
Temple Shooting Investigation Continues; Romney's Running Mate?; Mars Vehicle Lands Successfully
Aired August 6, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Survivors of the Sikh temple shooting and victims' relatives describe the terror and the bravery when the bullets started flying.
New information about the dead gunman and whether this attack may have been misguided revenge for 9/11.
And clues about Mitt Romney's running mate in a new list of Republican Convention speakers.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Once again, a gunman's bullets have pierced Americans' sense of security, this time striking inside a house of worship. We now know the names of the six people who were killed in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin yesterday morning and we also know more about the gunman who died at the scene, a U.S. Army veteran who may have had ties to white supremacist organizations.
Our own Brian Todd is joining us now from Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Brian, you have been talking to a witness as well as to officials. What are you hearing?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have got a lot of important new information this hour. We have got names of some of the people who played pivotal roles in this event and new details about the shooter's path at the temple.
TODD (voice-over): Narinder Boparai can't escape it, an indelible moment of horror. She says she was among the first to see the shooter as he started his rampage at the Sikh temple of Wisconsin.
Boparai says she was parking her car when she saw the suspect, now identified as Wade Michael Page, approach the lead priest near the entrance.
(on camera): Did he say anything to the priest?
NARINDER BOPARAI, WITNESS: No, no. Priest, he is quiet. I didn't see, you know, like no (INAUDIBLE) nothing. And he just took two steps in front of the children. He is going this way. And I thought maybe are were talking. But they did not talk. He just started shooting.
TODD (voice-over): The priest fell and was dead. Page went inside, officials say, and kept shooting. The police chief says they got the initial call at 10:25 a.m. local time. The first officer to arrive, now identified as Lieutenant Brian Murphy, was right in the shooter's path.
(on camera): How many times was he shot, and was it close range? What he was doing at the time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was very close range. He was tending to someone down in a crouched position, what it appears. And the individual walked up on him around a vehicle and engaged him very closely, inches to feet, and fired at him. He was shot between eight and nine times.
TODD (voice-over): Other officers then responded, gave commands to the shooter. He ignored them, Chief John Edwards says, and was taken down with a police rifle. When officers then tried to tend to their wounded colleague...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He waved them off. He had been shot nine times, one of them very serious in the neck area, and he waved them off and told them to go into the temple to assist those in there.
TODD: The wounded officer was carried off. A rescue operation began for the other victims. But officials now say they're looking for this man who showed up after the shooting. They call him a person of interest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's an individual who showed up at the scene after the shooting and was just on scene and someone mentioned him to another officer who was out there saying this guy looks suspicious. And so we're looking to question him.
TODD: Officials stress they believe the gunman acted alone and just want to talk to this other man. Narinder Boparai needs help from her husband to reflect.
(on camera): What are your feelings just looking back on this and what you saw?
BOPARAI: Oh, I couldn't sleep.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She couldn't sleep. We had a rough time.
BOPARAI: It's really bad. I take two tablets, but I couldn't sleep. It won't work.
TODD: Now, as witnesses and victims deal with all this, police and our sources are giving us kind of a mosaic of the suspect. They say that Wade Michael Page, who was discharged from the Army 14 years ago after a pattern of misconduct, may have been a white supremacist, but at the moment they're still trying to piece together a firm motive in this immediate days and weeks before the shooting, a firm motive for why he inflicted such carnage -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Were there some warning signs in this man's past that something was potential along these lines?
TODD: There seemed to be, Wolf.
In a lot of the gathering of information about this man that CNN has done through the day, today and yesterday, there is kind of a fabric of this man's life that you can put together where there may have been warning signs when you see them all together. But of course taken one by one individually, they don't really add up.
I mean, they -- we're told that he did front kind of a white supremacist-type rock band at one time, that he gravitated at least toward the white supremacist movement, that he kind of drifted after his days in the Army and had some problems and that he had some problems within the Army with drinking and things like that.
Taken together, now you come to kind of see some of these patterns, but, again, individually, probably very hard to put together.
BLITZER: Brian Todd on the scene for us in Wisconsin, thank you.
The six people killed in the shooting range in age from 39 to 84. A member of the Sikh community read the names of the victims earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sita Singh, 41 years old, male.
Ranjeet Singh, 49 years old, male.
Satwant Singh Kaleka, 62 years old, male.
Prakash Singh, male, 39 years old.
Paramjeet Kaur, 41 years old, female.
Shobaik Singh Khattra, 84 years old, male.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Four other people were wounded in the shooting. Three of them remain hospitalized in critical condition, including the injured police officer, Brian Murphy.
One survivor tells of being trapped for hours, not knowing if she or other family members would make it out alive.
Her father-in-law didn't.
CNN's Poppy Harlow is in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. She's joining us now.
What a sad story all around, Poppy, but tell us what you have seen.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just a harrowing story coming out from all of the victims here and their families in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Wolf.
Imagine being in your place of worship, what the Sikhs here tell me they feel is the safest place on earth, and then hearing shooting, incessant shooting, being trapped in a pantry for hours. That is the reality of many of the women that were at that Sikh temple.
Also, the eldest victim, Shobaik Singh, 84 years old, his faith, we're told, was unwavering. He spent every single day at this temple. And he lost his life there. His family spent the day with us.
HARLOW (voice-over): Hours of horror in the most sacred of places.
KULWANT KAUR KHATTRA, SURVIVOR: The shooting, a lot of shooting, shooting, shooting, no stop.
HARLOW: Baljander Khattra's wife, Kulwant, and his father, Shobaik Singh, were inside their house of worship, the gurdwara, when the shooting began.
(on camera): What was going through your mind?
BALJANDER SINGH KHATTRA, SON OF VICTIM: Scared, really scared, trying to get there, but not able to get there.
HARLOW: You felt helpless?
B. KHATTRA: Yes.
HARLOW (voice-over): His wife trapped inside the pantry for more than two hours, hiding from the suspected shooter.
K. KHATTRA: I have 16 people inside pantry. It was a small pantry.
HARLOW: Were there children in there?
K. KHATTRA: Yes, two children.
HARLOW: How terrifying of a moment was that for you?
K. KHATTRA: I was -- I was so scaring, and sweating, oh, my God. Too much, my body so shaking.
HARLOW: Your mother is held hostage, basically. Your grandfather, you don't know where he is in the gurdwara. What was it like for you? SANDEEP KHATTRA, VICTIM'S GRANDDAUGHTER: Terrifying, shocking, because, you know, you have moved to the suburbs for a safer life. You would never think this would ever happen to your family.
HARLOW: Throughout the ordeal, Sandeep had one message for her mother.
S. KHATTRA: I was like, just text me. Don't call. Turn it on silent.
K. KHATTRA: I say, honey, I'm OK. I'm safe. Don't think -- don't worry, come in here. She called -- text-messaging me. Mom, are you OK? Mom, I love you. Mom, you OK?
S. KHATTRA: I kept on texting her and I -- about my grandpa. But we didn't know his whereabouts at all.
HARLOW: Her grandfather, Shobaik Singh, spent every single day at the gurdwara, including his last.
S. KHATTRA: He's always there and he's with the community. And anybody that is willing to listen, he educates them about our religion.
B. KHATTRA: He's a very nice person, friendly, and very strong person.
HARLOW: Two-and-a-half-hours after the shooting began, Kulwant was able to escape. But as she walked out, she saw her father-in-law lying on the gurdwara floor, shot in the head.
K. KHATTRA: Over here, all bleeding. He's gone.
S. KHATTRA: My grandfather was brave. I wouldn't see him running away anyways.
HARLOW: Tragedy beyond belief for this family, but above all, their belief.
B. KHATTRA: Under one God, we are all the same. We came from one God. We are all the same.
S. KHATTRA: She said God, "I believe in you solely, so protect us."
HARLOW: Their belief is getting them through this, and their belief will bring them back to their gurdwara.
S. KHATTRA: If their sole purpose was us -- to drive away, it wouldn't work.
HARLOW: And Wolf, I can tell you that Sandeep, the granddaughter of the man who was killed, told me that what her grandfather would have wanted is for people to become educated about Sikhism, to understand the religion.
I also want to share with you what she told me. And that is that when they found her grandfather's body lying there on the floor of the gurdwara -- that is their place of worship -- he was facing towards where they bow their head and where they pray, Wolf. He wasn't facing towards the door. She thinks that means he wasn't trying to leave.
She believes that he was trying to stop the shooter, that he was trying to be a hero and not run away -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What a story. All right, Poppy, thanks very much.
The dead gunman's family released a statement just a little while ago to "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel."
Let me read it. It says: "As the family of Wade Page, we are devastated by the horrific events that occurred Sunday in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. While there can be no words of comfort that will make sense of what happened that day, please be aware that our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and their families."
The statement goes on: "We have been cooperating and will continue to cooperate with the investigation in any way we can" -- that statement from the suspect's family.
We're going to talk about the Sikh community, misconceptions about it, the rise of hate crimes since 9/11. Stand by for our panel. That's coming up at the bottom of the hour.
BLITZER: We're going to have more on the Sikh temple shooting throughout the hour, including a live report from Wisconsin. Stand by for that.
We may now have a better sense of who Mitt Romney isn't choosing as his running mate. Stand by for that as well.
And, also, remarkable new pictures coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM from Mars after a NASA rover makes a jaw-dropping landing.
BLITZER: Exactly three weeks to go before the Republican National Convention in Tampa, anticipation building for Mitt Romney's vice presidential announcement.
Now political pundits have more than just tea leaves to read as they speculate about Romney's choice.
Let's bring in Lisa Sylvester.
Lisa, a whole new list of convention speakers now out and it's getting a lot of scrutiny.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. This convention speakers list is very useful, because it tells us who is not likely to be Romney's running mate, that if they're already being penciled into time slots during the convention, chances are they're not going to be on the V.P. short list.
Who is at the top of the list? That remains a guarded secret and Romney is not giving any clues.
SYLVESTER (voice-over): In Las Vegas, Mitt Romney refused to play the guessing game.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will absolutely decide and announce my running mate before the third day of the Republican Convention in August. But, other than that, I have nothing for you.
SYLVESTER: But that's not far off. To some of us, that means any day now, Mr. Romney. It's the last missing puzzle piece of this political season, the name of his running mate.
The RNC's just-announced list of convention headline speakers is a good clue as to who will likely not be the V.P. pick, among them, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Florida Governor Rick Scott, and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
But that is only fueling speculation for the folks who remain.
BRYAN MONROE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The Romney campaign is going to first look at who can be the best president in case something happens to the candidate. And that's the number one role of the vice president. After that, it's geographical concerns, who can be bring some oomph from a swing state, if that's important, also who is going to be a good balance, a good visor, good confidante and someone who can go out there and represent, as well as bring a piece of the Republican base along with them
SYLVESTER: Four names swirling at the top of the pool are Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Marco Rubio of Florida, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.
As we inch closer to the Republican Convention, does Romney go for the safe bet, someone like Pawlenty or Portman, or go for Ryan or Rubio, whose selection could make a bigger splash among conservative voters, but may have less appeal to independents?
CHERI JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: While there may be people around him saying, you know, we need this person because they're more electable, this one appeals to this demographic, first and foremost, what Mitt Romney is doing is looking at who could be president.
SYLVESTER: Mitt Romney is kicking off his bus tour this Saturday in Virginia. And he will travel to North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio. And sources confirm to CNN that Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, and Ohio Senator Rob Portman, they will all be joining Mr. Romney in their respective states -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I'm getting next week, we will probably get the answer. But we will see.
SYLVESTER: Yes, fingers crossed, we will find out soon enough, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. Let's wait until the Olympics are over. That's what I say.
Let's go back to Kate.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm trying to nail you down on a date so we can hold you to it.
BLITZER: I think it could be as early as next Monday.
BOLDUAN: As early as next Monday. Very good.
BLITZER: Yes, a week from today.
BOLDUAN: I'm going to say Tuesday just to be different.
BLITZER: Tuesday is good.
BOLDUAN: Just to be contrarian.
All right, you can hold us to it.
A Mississippi church that refused to marry a black couple has something new to say about its decision.
And spoiler alert. We have the results of the Olympic women's soccer match between the U.S. and Canada.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: We're expecting an important development in another mass shooting case tomorrow.
Kate is back. She's got more on this.
What's going on?
BOLDUAN: Yes, this goes back to the shooting attempt of Gabrielle Giffords back in January 2011, Wolf.
Jared Lee Loughner -- you remember that name -- is expected to plead guilty tomorrow to at least one federal charge related to the Tucson mass shootings of January 2011. Six people died, you will remember, and 13 were wounded, including then Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Loughner's attorneys filed court papers today indicating a change in plea. First, though, a judge will have to determine if Loughner is mentally competent.
And also an update on the story we first brought you last week. A Mississippi church has apologized now for refusing to allow an African-American couple to marry at its facility. The church has released a statement saying the decision to make the couple move the wedding was wrong. The couple isn't buying the apology, though, calling it an insult and misleading to the public.
And visitors at one of the most popular tourist attractions here in Washington apparently have been getting ripped off in the parking lot. Parking booth attendants at the National Air and Space Museum's Virginia annex allegedly have pocketed more than $400,000 over the past three years. Amazing.
A federal prosecutor says a closed-circuit camera showed the attendants unplugging electronic vehicle counters, allowing them to steal several thousand dollars a day. Sounds impossible.
Chalk it up though -- chalk up one for the women. Pardon me. Shannon Eastin will make sports history Thursday night when he she becomes the first ever female referee for the National Football League. OK, it's just a preseason game, but still it's a first.
You may or may not know that the league's regular season referees have been locked out in a labor dispute. The NFL is using replacement referees for now.
I remember, season after season, I always say, where are the female referees?
BLITZER: And all of a sudden, they are there.
BOLDUAN: One female referee, one game, it's one small step.
BLITZER: Good for them.
BLITZER: Thank you.
BLITZER: At the bottom of the hour, in a few minutes: The Sikh community is certainly grieving after the shooting rampage at that temple in Wisconsin.
We're taking a closer look why the Sikhs may have been targeted right now and in the past.
BLITZER: Happening now: the Sikh community targeted for attack numerous times before the temple massacre.
An SUV-sized NASA rover lands on Mars in dramatic fashion after seven minutes of terror.
And a young boy describes how he scored a surprise hug with a tennis star after his gold medal win.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: This just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. We've just received a new picture of the gunman in the Sikh temple massacre that supports claims he may have been a white supremacist. The information that we're getting, this is the picture that we're getting. This is from Wade's page, his Facebook page showing him standing in front of a Nazi flag. The photo was taken in February but has since been taken down from Facebook. This photo is from the gunman's MySpace page. It also shows a Nazi swastika in the background.
These pictures just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.
Police in Wisconsin are trying to police together why Page opened fire Sunday, killing six people, wounding four others. Kate is joining us now with an update on what else is going on.
BOLDUAN: Just to bring viewers back up to date, authorities believe Wade Michael Page acted alone. He was shot to death by police responding to the Sunday morning attack in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek.
We're told his semiautomatic handgun and ammunition were bought legally. Page had training as a psychological warfare specialist, and police suspect he had ties to white supremacists. A former comrade says Page used to talk about a racial holy war.
The shooting comes after a number of acts of violence targeting Sikhs since 9/11. Sikhs wear turbans and are often mistaken for Muslims, incorrectly mistaken for Muslims.
President Obama says Americans are, quote, "heartbroken" by the temple rampage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't yet know fully what motivated this individual to carry out this terrible act. If it turns out, as some early reports indicate, that it may have been motivated in some way by the ethnicity of those who were attending the temple, I think the American people immediately recoil against those kinds of attitudes.
And I think it will be very important for us to reaffirm once again that in this country, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, who we worship, we are all one people. And we look after one another. And we respect one another.
But as I said, the FBI is working with local officials, and they're still investigating what motivated this individual. And as we find out more, I suspect that not only the White House but others in Congress and at the local level will have more to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's get deeper into the shooting, the possible motive, what it means for the Sikh community, what it means for the United States. We're joined by Manjit Singh, the co-founder and chairman of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Also joining us is Jonah Blank, a political scientist with the Rand Corporation, a former policy director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee joining me. Thanks to both of you for coming in.
Manjit, of course, this is an awful situation. Sikhs have been targeted now repeatedly, including the first murder after 9/11 was an American Sikh out in Mesa, Arizona. We got a list of all these attacks since 9/11. I'll put them up on the screen, Manjit. But tell us. You've studied this closely. What is going on? What's behind all of this? Why are Sikhs targeted so often in the United States?
MANJIT SINGH, CO-FOUNDER/CHAIRMAN, SIKH AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATION FUND: Thank you, Wolf.
I think the primary reason is that common Americans who don't know about Sikhs look at an image of somebody, you know, when he you see photographs of Muqtada al-Sadr or somebody else from Afghanistan, and you see the turban and you see the beard. And the immediate association is somebody who might be living down the street or maybe a doctor in this neighborhood, and they think it's the same person. And it's primarily rooted in ignorance. Just associating the physical appearance with the Sikh Americans.
BLITZER: Is it that simple, Jonah? You've studied this closely, as well.
JONAH BLANK, RAND CORPORATION: I have, both as an apologist and as a policy analyst. And it unfortunately is. This is heartbreaking, as the president rightly says, because this is so often terrorism by mistaken identity.
BLITZER: So have Sikh temples across the country -- and there are 700,000 American Sikhs -- have they increased security as a result of what happened in Wisconsin?
SINGH: They are. I have talked with several local congregations. And after 9/11, several of them had installed surveillance in the gurdwara and in the pakam (ph) box. And now they're thinking is there something else that we need to do?
The Sikh faith is very welcoming. We do not discriminate or prevent anybody from any particular background or racial, ethnic background to come into a gurdwara. So it is very hard for the community to struggle (ph) when somebody just walks in and starts shooting indiscriminately.
BOLDUAN: Let's play you another bit of sound from President Obama, something else that he said today in talking about how to prevent future attacks like this. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think there are a lot of elements involved in it, and what I want to do is to bring together law enforcement, community leaders, faith leaders, elected officials at every level to see how we can make continued progress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Jonah, do you think there is enough coordination, cooperation, communication kind of top down, federal, state, local, even religious down to the, like, religious leaders' level, to prevent hate crimes like this post-9/11, specifically speaking about hate crimes? It's amazing it still happens.
BLANK: It is amazing. But as long as there is hate, there will be hate crimes. The authorities at the federal level, the local level have gotten a lot better. There's much better coordination, but there will never be enough coordination to prevent terrible tragedies like this from happening.
BLITZER: One of the people who was killed in this incident in Wisconsin was the president of the temple. And CNN spoke to the nephew. I want to play this little clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KANEARDEEP SINGH KALEKA, NEPHEW OF VICTIM: I usually don't wear this turban, but I wanted after yesterday I really felt the need to wear it today to educate people that we're not terrorists. We're people who are loving, and we care about others. And we're humans just like everyone else. And these acts of ignorance need to be stopped in some way, shape or form.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I was really moved when I heard that on CNN earlier in the day. This individual doesn't normally wear a turban. I assume you usually wear it.
SINGH: I always wear it.
BLITZER: But he decided in solidarity to do so. Are you seeing that more and more as a result of what has happened?
SINGH: I'm definitely seeing more of that. And I think a lot of people realize that you know, you have to stand up for what you believe in. And rather than trying to escape from the spotlight, so to speak, it's better to stand up, let people know and create awareness of who you are and what your beliefs are. That's the best form of education. And that, in the long run, is the best way to ensure safety of the Sikh community in this country. BOLDUAN: And when you talk about education, I mean, it's amazing that that seems to be kind of the one solution out there is better education about what, who people are, what their beliefs are. What more should be done? Is it simply down to the level of just educating people more? What do you think, Jonah, from a policy standpoint?
BLANK: I think education is always a great thing. I personally have been educated about Sikhism by going to gurdwaras in Amritsar, in Japan, and right here in United States. I have never been in a gurdwara in a Sikh temple where I have not been welcomed from the depth of people's heart. I think anyone who sets foot in the Sikh temple would feel the same way.
BLITZER: It's just -- it's really shocking when you think about the security precautions that presumably are going to have to be implemented not only in Sikh temples but other houses of worship around the country.
Obviously, Muslim houses of worship, but if these white supremacists, they not only hate you, but they hate Jews, they hate a lot of -- they hate African-Americans. They hate a lot of people out there.
SINGH: That's true. And that's the unfortunate part. I think -- when I think about this incident, I think it has two really very troubling elements.
One is the fact that the gentleman was an Army veteran and indiscriminately attacked innocents who were Sikh men wearing turbans.
And the second is that attack was at a place of worship. A place of worship is the last thing that anybody in America, you know, kind of thinks is unsafe. And needs some special security or protection. So an attack on a sacred gurdwara is an attack on all places of worship in this country.
And we are seeing overwhelming support from our fellow neighbors and other Americans who are standing up in solidarity with the community and calling this an atrocious, tragic attack on -- on people of faith across the country.
BOLDUAN: I wanted to get your thoughts even, we should have probably off the top, when we first see -- these are some of the first images that we're seeing of the alleged shooter, Mr. Page, and standing in front of a Nazi flag. What is your reaction? I'm sure it's appalling to anyone who sees it, but then when you think of the tragedy that he allegedly brought upon the Sikh community, what is your reaction? What's your -- what do you think when you see those pictures?
SINGH: I have been familiar and have been looking at hate groups and supremacist groups. I know they specifically target minorities, people from several diverse ethnic backgrounds. So I'm not surprised.
But at the same time, I can tell you -- this is something that most viewers may not know -- Sikhs fought with the Allies in World War II and World War I and fought against the Nazis. And several Sikhs from India died in several theaters of war in World War II. You can find graves of Sikhs in France and Germany and Italy. And even because there were so many Sikh soldiers, they couldn't be sent back to their home. So they were buried.
And the British Victoria Cross, which is their highest medal of valor, the largest recipients were Sikhs as part of the Allied Army.
So for us, it's more troubling that we're being targeted. But we believe in freedom and in justice. And I think as a community, we are standing in solidarity with all those Americans who believe in the same concept.
BLITZER: Manjit, thanks for sharing with us. Good luck to you and all the Sikhs, 700,000 around the country. Good luck to all of our country.
Jonah, thanks to you, as well. We're going to continue to stay on top of this story.
Also other news we're following, weeks after Bill Clinton visited Nelson Mandela, it's Hillary Clinton's turn now to meet the former South African president. We'll have details.
And we'll also have the first pictures from Mars after that dramatic landing of NASA's rover. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Kate has a check of what's going on at the White House and beyond.
BOLDUAN: First go to the White House, if we could. President Obama today signed a Veterans Affairs Bill that -- that's notable for its new restrictions on protests at military funerals. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The graves of our veterans are hallowed ground. And obviously, we all defend our Constitution and the First Amendment and free speech. But we also believe that, when men and women die in the service of their country and are laid to rest, it should be done with the utmost honor. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: The new law says protesters must be at least 300 feet from military funerals from two hours before the services begin until two hours after they end.
And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in South Africa. Today she stops at Nelson Mandela's home village for a private meeting with the 94-year-old former president. She's also meeting with South Africa's current leaders. Her trip wraps up on Friday in Ghana.
She is always traveling.
And finally, actress and activist Marlo Thomas was in Washington today for a Department of Education summit on the prevention of bullying. C-SPAN reports her speech called on schools to enact a zero-tolerance policy, where students who bully others could be expelled.
The issue of bullying has been huge. And I think, really, this past year, it's really become a big issue.
BLITZER: As it should be.
BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely.
BLITZER: Thank you.
CNN's Erin Burnett is in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, tonight. She's going "OUTFRONT" of the temple massacre.
Erin, you're on the scene for us. Tell us what you're hearing from witnesses.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: You know, it's been a pretty shocking day. You can see how traumatized people are here, Wolf. And incredibly tight-knit community. We went by the family -- one of the families of the priest who died. And there were three families all there, the entire street covered in cars. All those people were -- were mourning and spending time together today. And they really just to a tee could not believe that religion could cause this sort of a thing. It was -- it was more shock and grief rather than anger, at least that we saw today.
Also spent some time at the hospital, where the three victims who are fighting for their lives right now are in critical care. And some pretty stunning -- some stunning things to say both from the trauma surgeon about how often this number of people come through the hospital. A pretty shocking thing, Wolf, when we start to think about gun control and murder by gun violence in this country.
We're also going to speak to a witness who was there and was consoling two of the children when their father was killed in front of his and their eyes at the temple yesterday. So that's coming up at the top of the hour with our special coverage here OUTFRONT.
Back to you.
BLITZER: We'll look forward to it. Erin, thanks very much. In 15 minutes or so.
Other news we're following from Mars, the latest on the new rover Curiosity. Plus the latest Olympic results. No need to wait until tonight. This is your spoiler alert.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Touchdown confirmed.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: NASA scientists had plenty to cheer about last night. And they got even more good news today.
Look -- look at this picture sent back by one of NASA's Mars orbiters. It shows the new rover Curiosity descending toward the Martian surface.
CNN's John Zarrella has more.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Curiosity has landed. The most sophisticated rover ever sent to Mars is on the ground, awaiting orders have a jubilant science team.
(voice-over) Seven long agonizing minutes. In Mission Control, the Mars science lab team could do nothing but wait for the signal to reach them from 154 million miles away. Then suddenly euphoria, an eruption of emotions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Touchdown confirmed.
ZARRELLA: The Curiosity rover, the centerpiece of this $2.5 billion mission, was alive on the Martian surface. It had survived the harrowing seven-minute ride through the Martian atmosphere/ An incredible image taken from an orbiting spacecraft shows Curiosity's parachute during the descent.
ROB MANNING, NASA SCIENTIST: All of those things that had kept me and the rest of the team awake for years, we don't have to think about it. We don't have to dream about it anymore. It doesn't have to haunt us everywhere we go. So it's a great thrill and a great relief for all of us.
ZARRELLA: Minutes later, the first picture, one of the rover's six wheels sitting on the surface, a blurry image taken through a dust cover to protect the lens during landing. The second, a tantalizing slice of the landing site, a place called the Gale Crater.
In New York's Times Square, people watched and cheered as the landing drama unfolded.
Here, the landing team, stoked by the success, cheered and marched across the courtyard. Curiosity had threaded the needle right on target, between a mountain inside the crater and the crater wall.
JOHN HOLDREN, WHITE HOUSE SCIENCE ADVISOR: And if anybody has been harboring doubts about the status of U.S. leadership in space, well, there's a one-ton automobile-sized piece of American ingenuity... (CHEERS)
HOLDREN: ... and it's sitting on the surface of Mars right now.
ZARRELLA: The science team chose this spot because they believe that, in the planet's ancient history, water might have flowed here. And it might have been a time when perhaps some sort of life existed here, and might still.
Curiosity does not have the ability to detect life, but it will hunt down the signatures, the building blocks of life: water, carbon, methane gas.
JOHN GROTZINGER, MISSION MANAGER: It's a question that you can't help to ask yourself. You know, was there life there? Did it ever evolve? And -- and that's the emotional part of it. Of course you hope it was there. It would be one of the greatest discoveries that we could ever make.
ZARRELLA (on camera): Then it's down to answering that age-old question: was Mars ever hospitable enough for life to have taken hold -- Wolf.
BLITZER: John Zarrella, great reporting for us. Eleven years these scientists worked on this project. The last seven minutes could have ended in disaster.
BOLDUAN: I know. That reaction was priceless. We'll have to see what the Curiosity will bring us now.
So stand by for results from the Olympics before they air on primetime TV. The Americans closer to picking up another piece of gold.
BLITZER: The U.S. Women's Olympic soccer team is going for the gold. You don't have to wait for tonight's replay, because Kate has all the details right now.
BOLDUAN: I'm going to give everyone a healthy dose of the spoiler alert we like to give you, but here are the details.
The U.S. women made the finals by beating Canada 4-3 in a wild game that lasted 123 minutes. Three minutes into injury (ph) time at the end of overtime, forward Alex Morgan scored the winning goal. The U.S. will face Japan, a team that beat them in the 2011 World Cup.
Also, an off day for America's new gymnastics star, double gold medal winner, Gabby Douglas. She finished last in today's uneven bars competition. Ouch. But she was not daunted. She was smiling when she told reporters, quote, "I made a little mistake, but I'm human." She says she's going to be strong in the beam final where she qualified in third place. An American has been thrown out of the Olympic judo competition after a failed drug test. Get this: Nick Delpopolo claims he inadvertently ate food with marijuana baked into it before he left for the Olympic games. He apologized to the Olympic committee. Delpopolo had finished seventh in his judo competition before failing the drug contest.
And the boy who scored a huge hug with an Olympic gold medalist says the experience was very cool. Eleven-year-old Henry Caplan was in the stands when tennis star Andy Murray defeated Roger Federer. Caplan was so overcome by the victory that he rushed down to the royal box area at Wimbledon and threw his arms around Murray.
He talked to CNN's Zain Verjee about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY CAPLAN, OLYMPIC SPECTATOR: He said, "Anything for my fans."
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: That's wonderful. Have you always been an Andy Murray fan?
VERJEE: So why are you an Andy Murray fan this time?
CAPLAN: Because he hugged me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Very, very cool.
BOLDUAN: I saw that happen when they were showing it on TV. And I was wondering, does Andy Murray know him? Does he not? At last, it was a very lucky fan.
BLITZER: You know what they say: you don't ask, you don't get.
BLITZER: Very excited. Love watching all this kind of stuff.
BOLDUAN: Love it, love it, love it.
BLITZER: Are you a big watcher of the Olympics?
BOLDUAN: It's pretty much what I did all weekend. No...
BLITZER: And I learned you were a volleyball star at one point in your life.
BOLDUAN: I played volleyball.
BLITZER: Not too tall, though.
BOLDUAN: Not so tall. We jumped high. Right?
BLITZER: Good work.
BOLDUAN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Remember, you can always follow what's going on in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can tweet me, @WolfBlitzer. You can tweet Kate, @KateBolduan.
Thanks so much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
BURNETT: Good evening.