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THE SITUATION ROOM
Source: Wis. Shooter Wasn't On FBI Radar; Ad Pins Woman's Death On Romney, Jared Loughner Pleads Guilty; Copycat Theater Shooting Thwarted?; Man Has Mysterious Stash of Fake IDs
Aired August 7, 2012 - 16:59 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, violent racially charged lyrics, the music of the Wisconsin massacre gunman under scrutiny possibly drawing some young people into a life of hate.
Also, the attack ad many see as over the top blaming Mitt Romney for a woman's death from cancer.
Plus, hundreds of fake law enforcement IDs, an eye-popping bust that has investigators trying to figure out what one man was planning to do with them.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
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BLITZER: A law enforcement source is downplaying reports that the FBI was watching the Wisconsin massacre suspect, Wade Page, before the weekend's deadly shooting. The source tells CNN Page, quote, "was never a target of an investigation or interviewed or on the radar of the FBI," but the source says Page's name was mentioned in a small number of federal law enforcement reference files in cases going back about seven years.
Investigators are looking at Page's alleged ties to White supremacist groups and his music with far right punk bands, including End Apathy. They're being scrutinized for the racially-charged lyrics. Listen.
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BLITZER: Let's get some more from Mark Potok right now. He's the director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project. Mark, thanks very much for coming in. First of all, can you lay out for us the real influence -- the impact, if you will, of this kind of music like that, those lyrics we just heard from the shooter, Wade Michael Page?
What's the impact potentially on young Americans? Because you've studied the impact of the music on these White supremacist groups.
MARK POTOK, DIRECTOR, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER'S INTELLIGENCE PROJECT: Well, what we found basically, Wolf, is that this is probably the number one recruiting mechanism for bringing young people, generally teenagers, into the movement. Typically, what we see is kids getting interested, perhaps, because it's such a forbidden topic and taking a look at this music or really taking a listen through their computers. So, the kind of into the world that way in a very private way almost like looking through a peek booth.
But then, the day comes when at least some percentage of those kids actually goes to a skinhead concert, and it's at that point typically that they are recruited. So, the music is very important for bringing younger people into the movement. It's also very important, because it really provides the bulk of the financing such as it is that neo-Nazi and related kinds of groups are able to earn in this country.
BLITZER: It's pretty scary stuff. Page's stepmother gave an interview and she said growing up -- and I'm quoting her now, she said he had Hispanic friends, he had Black friends. You know, there was none of that. The question -- I don't know if we know an answer to this, but in this particular case, do you think the music shaped his views or he had these views and the music separately came along?
POTOK: It's very hard to say. There are reports that he, in fact, in late 1990s while he was still at Fort Bragg ran into a number of neo-Nazi soldiers. There was a big scandal there in 1996 when, in fact, Page was at Fort Bragg. A Black couple was murdered. There are a number of neo-Nazis were found in the barracks and so on.
So, it looks like he may have really had his first connection with this movement there. But from there, you know, it looks like basically he more and more came to believe what he's being told. I think it's worth saying that a lot of studies and other work have shown that the bulk of young people who come in to the White supremacist movement surprisingly enough really don't come in because they hate Jewish people or hate Black people or gay people or whatever it may be.
Typically or more typically, they come in because they have terrible family situations at home, because they feel unsafe, unwelcome. So, in effect, they are creating a kind of alternative family, which at first seems warm and welcoming, but the reality is that, you know, living in that subculture eventually you do adopt the whole ideology, the whole belief systems. And in some small percentage of the cases, it ends in murder. It ends like this.
BLITZER: He was on your radar for, what, ten years you've been monitoring this individual. Is that right?
POTOK: Yes. It's been about ten years really because he originally went into the White power music scene in the year 2000 by his own account. It was right around that time that we became aware of him and really the reason was he was acting as a lead guitarist and a vocalist in some very well-known White supremacist groups, groups including Intimidation One, another group called Blue-Eyed Devils.
You know, in the strange world of White power music, those are very well-known names. So, it was a fairly easy matter for us to notice this new character. And then, of course, he started his own kind of infamous group, End Apathy, in the year 2005. And at that point, we were, you know, really very well aware of him.
BLITZER: But you never informed or told law enforcement about him, did you?
POTOK: That is true. And there was in effect nothing to tell. I mean, the truth was Page was like thousands and thousands of other people who hold these beliefs, who may sing these songs, who have incredibly ugly things to say about all kinds of minorities. But, in fact, who are not engaged or at least certainly that we saw in any way in criminality.
So, what I'm trying to say is, you know, everything that Page did certainly that we were aware of was totally protected by the First Amendment. There really wouldn't have been much to say had we gone to law enforcement. So, you know, I think there's something more to be said about that, which is I really I don't see any fault in law enforcement in this.
I don't see how they might have prevented it. You know, there are just a number of people out there and some tiny percentage of them will ultimately act on those beliefs. But when there are, you know lone wolf terrorists like this fellow, Page, it's just about impossible to predict or interdict.
BLITZER: Because there was a quote in the "Los Angeles Times" that jumped out at me today from the former FBI domestic counterterrorism chief, Bob Blitzer, no relation to me, but he was quoted as saying "some private groups collect a lot of information, but they can. Law enforcement can't." Does that make sense to you?
POTOK: It does. I know Bob Blitzer, and that's true. What he's really saying is that law enforcement is essentially prohibited in this country, especially federal law enforcement from starting files on people or organizations simply because they have unpleasant views. So, the FBI can open a file on you or I if they have some evidence to suggest that we are planning some kind of criminal act or have in fact already carried one out.
You know, we, as a private organization, with obviously no police powers and no prosecutorial powers can collect any kind of information we want that we're able to get. So, you know, we are able to do a much more kind of political collecting. So, we collect information on the groups these individuals are associated with, the statements they've made, perhaps, in some cases the bands they've played in.
And, you know, when a criminal case develops, very typically that is the moment when, perhaps, we get a call from law enforcement, from a federal agency, asking us do we know about a certain person who's just been arrested. Can we fill them in on their organizational/political background? So, in a sense, it's a kind of partnership that works quite well.
We can't prosecute people. So, you know, this information we collect can't be used in nefarious ways to, you know, destroy people simply because they have heterodox views. And in the same way, the police, the law enforcement agencies are restricted to criminal matters, and they're not making political judgments, you know, the left is worse than the right, that kind of thing.
BLITZER: Mark Potok, thanks very much for joining us. Thanks for the important work you're doing as well. We really appreciate it.
POTOK: Thanks so much, Wolf. I appreciate you, too.
BLITZER: Thank you.
It's hard to imagine the scene as police arrived at that temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, but we now know the response was nothing less than heroic. Here's CNN's Randi Kaye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Squad, I'm taking report of an altercation Sikh Temple 7512 South Howell. There's a lot of noise. I'm not able to get much info, but there is a fight and now it's --
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Minutes after the suspect opened fire, Oak Creek police, Lieutenant Brian Murphy, was on the scene, the first officer to arrive. He immediately began tending to one of the victims on the ground in the parking lot, but before he knew it, the suspected shooter ambushed him.
CHIEF JOHN EDWARDS, OAK CREEK, WIS. POLICE: The individual walked around either in the front of his squad or in that area and just was right on top of him. So, he was kind of down in a fashion down and he took rounds from a person standing up.
KAYE: Oak Creek police chief, John Edwards, says Lieutenant Murphy was shot eight or nine times. He was wearing a bullet proof vest, but a bullet hit him near the neck and throat. Luckily, most of the bullets passed through him hitting only flesh, no critical arteries.
(on-camera) While Officer Murphy lay bleeding, the other officers tried to secure the scene unaware one of their own had been shot. At one point, the officers tried to reach Lieutenant Murphy on the radio, telling him they heard gunshots, asking him to confirm. They heard nothing back.
(voice-over) In his 21 years on the force, Lieutenant Murphy had never been shot before. The 51-year-old officer was recently married and has two step-children. He also has a daughter who lives in Korea. So, it took some time to notify her about what happened. With the suspect still firing but in sight, other officers pulled out their rifles and took the fight to him just as the chief says they're trained to do.
The suspect shot out a patrol car windshield, but after that, was shot and killed by one of the officers.
(on-camera) The officer who took the suspect down is also a family man with a daughter. He's a trained marksman, similar to a sniper in the military. He's a 31-year veteran of the force who teaches his sniper skills at both the U.S. state department and the FBI.
(voice-over) The suspect was dead, but where was Lieutenant Murphy? His fellow officers weren't sure. So, they did what they call a par check calling out individual badge numbers over the radio to make sure each officer is OK.
EDWARDS: In this case, they went through everybody and they got responses. And when they didn't get a response from Lieutenant Murphy, who's badge number 62, they called for him, said 62 par check, and they called numerous times. An officer said, we don't have one from 62, we need to find him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ambulance up, subject down. Officer's down! I need ambulance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have one officer shot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Franklin Dispatch all squad 7512 South Howell Avenue. Subject with a gun, balding, white T-shirt, officer down.
KAYE: When they did find Lieutenant Murphy, he waved them off. The chief says Murphy was able to speak and told the others, quote, "leave me alone." He wanted the other officers to hurry up inside and save the other victims.
MAYOR STEPHEN SCAFFIDI, OAK CREEK, WISCONSIN: There's no doubt in my mind that the heroic actions of our police officers prevented an even greater tragedy.
KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
BLITZER: Last hour, I interviewed the police chief in Oak Creek, John Edwards. And he updated us on the condition of Officer Murphy.
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EDWARDS: I did see him last night. I haven't got any update today. He was alert. He was awake, obviously sedated. Met with him. A lot of officers had met with him very short periods of time. He looked at me, smiled, blank kind of mouthed the words to me that he was sorry. Couldn't speak.
That's just the kind of individual he is. He's feeling sorry that he, in his mind, created a commotion here. In my mind, what he did was he saved many lives. He did exactly what our officers are trained to do. When we run into an active shooter situation, he drew the attention to himself and away from the defenseless.
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BLITZER: Chief Edwards says Officer Murphy faces a long recovery, but the chief says he will pull through. We are certainly praying for his recovery. We'll have more on this story later.
Also other news we're following. In a season of over the top campaign commercials, this one stands out linking Mitt Romney to the death of a woman from cancer. We're checking the facts for you.
Also, why the man who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six other people now will not face the death penalty.
And could it have been another theater massacre? A heavily armed man inside a late-night showing of the new Batman movie. We have details of how he was busted.
BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack Cafferty for the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: All right. It's possible, it's possible Mitt Romney could do worse than Sarah Palin. It's a stretch, but he could. In a piece on the "Daily Beast," Michelle Cottle (ph) writes that, quote, "picking a dull White guy for vice president could damage Romney big time." she has a point.
After the debacle with Sarah Palin was for John McCain in 2008, Camp Romney has vowed to pick the anti-Palin. Cottle describes this as someone who is, quote, "safe, steady, hyper qualified and without a roguish bone in his -- yes, definitely his, body," unquote. That's why people like Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and Nikki Haley seem to have lost favor to veepstakes recently.
While others like Rob Portman and Tim Pawlenty seem more likely to get the nod. But as time ticks down to the convention and on Romney's choice, some Republicans are getting nervous about what will happen if Romney goes with a safe pick, a button down, cautious, boring White guy, sort of like him.
Some conservatives are now calling on Romney to go bold, urging him to pick Congressman Paul Ryan, Rubio, or Bobby Jindal. By selecting a vanilla vice president, Romney risks confirming the worries of many in the Republican Party that he lacks enthusiasm and a vision. Cottle writes that "after all this time worrying about another Palin, a greater danger to the GOP might be a vice president who is so dull that no one even cares what he says to Katie Couric," that's quote.
But Mitt Romney just might be headed in that direction. Two of these less than thrilling VP contenders, Portman and Pawlenty, are set to hit the campaign trail for him in key battleground states this week. Yawn.
Here's the question, who's the worst person Mitt Romney could pick to be his running mate? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page. Wolf, we're getting some funny e-mails.
BLITZER: I can only imagine, Jack. I'm looking forward to some of the responses. Thank you.
Meanwhile, a new attack ad by a Super PAC backing President Obama basically blames Mitt Romney for a woman's death from cancer after his company, Bain Capital, shut down the steel mill where the woman's husband worked. Let's go to our White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar. She's watching the story for us.
Brianna, on the surface, it seems pretty outrageous to blame Mitt Romney for the death of this woman. That's a pretty outrageous claim, but what's going on here?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It does when you dig deeper here, Wolf, because this ad makes it sound like this woman passed away shortly after Bain Capital closed down the steel plant where her husband worked. But in reality, she passed away five years after it closed.
And the former steel worker in this ad, I spoke to him on the phone today, and he said that during some of that time, his wife had insurance through her employer. So, Wolf, this is a heart-wrenching story, but it's not accurate.
KEILAR (voice-over): Joe Soptic (ph) worked at GST steel in Missouri for almost 30 years. He was laid of after Bain Capital acquired the plant, eventually closing it down. Now, Soptic is featured in a new ad by Priorities USA Action, the Super PAC supporting President Obama's re-election.
JOE SOPTIC, FORMER STEELWORKER & OBAMA SUPPORTER: When Mitt Romney and Bain closed the plant, I lost my healthcare. And my family lost their healthcare. And a short time after that, my wife became ill. And then, I took her up to the Jackson County Hospital and admitted her for pneumonia. That's when they found the cancer. And by then, it was stage 4. There was nothing they could do for her.
KEILAR: It's a heartbreaking story, but the ad does not tell all of it. In 1999, Mitt Romney leaves Bain for the Salt Lake Olympics, stopping day-to-day oversight of the company but remaining CEO. In 2001, Joe Soptic (ph) loses his job when Bain closes the plant. His wife still has insurance, though, from her employer, Savers Thrift Store (ph).
A year later, Romney formerly leaves Bain, and it's that year, 2002 or perhaps 2003, Soptic tells CNN that his wife leaves her job because of an injury. That's when he became uninsured without fallback insurance from her husband. A few years later, in 2006, she goes to the hospital, is diagnosed with cancer, and dies just days later.
Soptic, an Obama supporter, who has appeared in another ad back in May for the Obama campaign blames Romney for the loss of his job and his insurance.
SOPTIC: That's the way that I feel. I mean, Mitt Romney, he's a very rich man. I mean, it's obvious if you watch him on television that he's completely out of touch with the average family, or you know, middle income people. I don't think he has any concept as to how when you close a big company like that how it affects families, the community. You know, it affects everyone.
KEILAR: The Romney campaign is blasting the ad. A spokeswoman saying President Obama's allies continue to use discredited and dishonest attacks in a contemptible effort to conceal the administration's deplorable economic record. The Obama campaign and the White House are keeping their distance from the debate. White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said he has yet to see the ad.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm simply saying that I have not seen this. So, how could I possibly assess it without --
KEILAR: Will you assess it later?
CARNEY: If you ask me tomorrow, sure.
KEILAR (on-camera): Now, Wolf, I followed up with Carney after the briefing, and he told me that he may look at the ad, but if I ask about it, quote, "my assessment will be, I have no assessment." This is kind of a case of a Super PAC being able to do the dirty work and the campaign and the candidate, and in this case, the White House trying to keep its hands clean, Wolf.
BLITZER: So, the White House at least now not touching this commercial. The Obama campaign, I take it, isn't saying anything about it either, is that right? What about the Super PAC, itself? What are they saying?
KEILAR: That's right. Everything is being referred to the Super PAC. I spoke with Bill Burton, a founder of Priorities USA Action. And I pressed him on this, are you drawing this link between Mitt Romney and this woman's death? And he said, no, we're not doing that. But Wolf, I think a lot of people who looked at that ad, certainly you, certainly I, did not walk away from it with that impression.
BLITZER: We're going to talk about this ad in our next hour as well. We have a representative from the Obama campaign, a representative from the Romney campaign. They'll be on together and we'll go through this point by point by point. Excellent report, Brianna. I really appreciate the good work. Thanks so much.
Other news we're following including tropical storm Ernesto, now, Hurricane Ernesto. Up next, we'll have the latest on the monster storm's path, where it's expected to make landfall just hours from now.
Plus, Hollywood loses a legendary composer. You may not necessarily know his face, but you surely know the music. Behind it, you're going to hear what's going on. Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Ernesto now officially a hurricane. Lisa Sylvester's monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. What's the latest, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, the storm is barreling toward Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula where it is expected to make landfall tonight. The Mexican government has issued a hurricane warning as has neighboring Belize.
Government officials in Nicaragua are evacuating about 1,500 people in coastal areas have been -- have banned boats from setting sail, and parts of the region are now bracing for what could be up to a foot of rain.
And some of the most prominent sports leagues in the country are pushing to keep sports gambling out of New Jersey. The NCAA, NFL, NBA and others have filed a complaint arguing it would demean the integrity of both professional and amateur sports. The state's proposed gambling regulations were posted last month at New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, who is named in the complaint hasn't commented.
And legendary composer, Marvin Hamlisch has died. Chances are even if you don't know his face, you probably know the music behind it.
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SYLVESTER: Yes, that's Carly Simon performing her legendary hit "Nobody Does It Better" from the James Bond film "The Spy Who Loved Me." The musical icon's four-decade career, also produced scores for classic films like "The Way We Were" starring Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford.
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That song I'm sure prompting some memories for some people. Hamlisch earned almost every award imaginable for his music. He was 68 years old. Some other scores the staying, the chorus line, this guy had a huge presence, Wolf. No doubt about it. BLITZER: Amazing. He was a real genius. I met him on several occasions, heard him performed at the Kennedy Center here in Washington. He was often very much involved in the Kennedy Center. My heart goes out to his family. Obviously, a great, great composer, a real talent. And we will enjoy his music forever. There's no doubt about that.
SYLVESTER: Yes. So, you actually met him, Wolf?
BLITZER: I did.
SYLVESTER: That's pretty impressive.
BLITZER: He was a lovely, lovely guy, I got to tell you. When I heard the news, I was just really, really saddened that we lost one of the great American geniuses in the music world. He was fabulous. We will miss Marvin Hamlisch.
SYLVESTER: We will.
BLITZER: All right. Let's move on. A plea bargain for the man who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in that Tucson rampage. Why did prosecutors strike a deal with Jared Lee Loughner?
Also, a possible copycat plot. Details of how police arrested a heavily armed man inside a late-night showing of the new movie, Batman movie.
BLITZER: Just a little while ago the man who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people in a rampage in Tucson last year pleaded guilty to 19 charges. In exchange, Jared lee Loughner will not face the death penalty. CNN's Kyung Lah is joining us now from Tucson. Kyung, tell our viewers what has happened in court today, a federal courtroom in Tucson.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well it was a competency hearing first where the judge determined that he was competent in fact to face a trial. But then the second part of it is really what we're focusing on. It's the change of plea. He pled guilty as you mentioned to 19 counts as part of the plea deal that is a lowering of 49 counts. Now when he entered the courtroom today, it was a very different Jared Lee Loughner than reporters had seen before. He was calm in demeanor. When he walked in he did look mentally unwell.
He looked out at the public galley and he had an unusual look on his face, almost like a sneer. But he seemed to understand everything that was happening. He seemed to be able to respond to questions. His parents were seated right behind me as he said again and again as a judge was announcing those 19 charges saying I plead guilty. And his mother did cry as all of this was happening. So a very somber mood inside this courtroom. There are many victims present. One of those victims, Susie Heilemann (ph), she is the woman who brought 9- year-old Christina Taylor Green (ph) to the Congress on your corner event (ph) to meet former Representative Giffords and here's what she told reporters.
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SUZI HILEMAN, SHOOTING VICTIM: This is the system doing its best. It's not a perfect solution. The perfect solution is one that we can't have. What we want is not available to us.
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LAH: Attorney General Eric Holder did release a statement saying that the outcome of all of this is in the best interest of all meaning that we're simply avoiding a long trial for these victims almost victimized again through the legal procedure, Wolf. And one thing I do want to add. The doctor who testified in the competency hearing, she is a doctor who treats the worst of the worst and she says that in her opinion Jared Lee Loughner's mental state is among one of the worst she's ever seen.
BLITZER: Kyung Lah reporting for us. Thanks for that background. Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with CNN legal contributor, the former New York City prosecutor, Paul Callan. Paul thanks very much for joining us.
He's going to plead guilty to 19 charges in exchange for the death penalty off the table. Here's the question. Why would the prosecutors accept this plea deal? There were so many eyewitnesses. It seemed to the average person out there like a slam dunk.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think clearly it is a slam dunk. They could have proven beyond all doubt much less beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed these murders and shootings. However, his history of mental illness is really quite disturbing. I mean remember this goes back now over a year and he's been in and out of courtrooms arguing about whether he could be forced to take psychotropic medications.
Every psychiatrist, every psychologist who has seen him has said that he's a severely disturbed person, probably suffering from schizophrenia, harms himself, a danger to other people. All of these things would be heard by a jury ultimately. And there is a possibility he could be found insane at the time of trial, in which case he goes off to a mental institution rather than a jail.
BLITZER: The statement released by Mark Kelly, the husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords says among other things, "Gabby and I have been in contact with the U.S. Attorney's Office throughout this process. We don't speak for all of the victims or their families, but Gabby and I are satisfied with his plea agreement. The pain and loss caused by the events of January 8, 2011, are incalculable. Avoiding a trial will allow us and we hope the whole Southern Arizona community to continue with our recovery and move forward with our lives." So how important is the reaction from the victims' families in accepting a plea agreement like this?
CALLAN: I think it's critical. When I was trying murder cases as a prosecutor, the victim's family always had an important -- their opinion was always important. On the other hand, I don't think the U.S. attorney took an actual poll. If the majority voted for death, he would have gotten death. They strongly consider the opinions of the victims.
And I think in the end prosecutors had in mind maybe a scene -- like a scene that took place earlier in these proceedings where Loughner began screaming in court and had to be dragged out of the courtroom. Now, picture that happening maybe once, twice a week during an extended trial. It would have been torture for the victims. And you might have had a jury that became convinced that he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity. So I think prosecutors took a safe course, incarcerate him for life and of course that the victims seem happy with.
BLITZER: Now will he be incarcerated for life without the possibility of parole? I didn't get that nuance. It's an important nuance, obviously.
CALLAN: Well, given that this is the federal system where, you know, life means life generally and because you have so many victims and the possibility of consecutive sentencing, I think it's highly unlikely he would ever be released from prison. And I would add that even if a decision was made to parole him at some time in the far, far distant future, he could still be incarcerated in a mental institution if he constituted a danger to himself and others.
And of course there's one last thing that still lingers out there. Prosecutors on a state level have the right to bring a case against him if they wanted to. And that's something I don't know that they've resolved that finally. They probably won't, but they could because state charges are separate from federal charges.
BLITZER: I know it's very, very remote, but there is a slight possibility, you tell me how slight it is, that the federal judge in this case could reject this plea agreement and give him -- and say he doesn't go with it. How slight is that possibility?
CALLAN: Well, I would say it's -- that's just not going to happen right now because the very fact that it got this far in court today indicates that the federal judge is on board and is going to, you know, accept the plea and is going to probably impose a very, very harsh sentence. So you know I think this is pretty much a done deal on the federal level.
You're going to see a very, very severe sentence. But it's such a bizarre case, Wolf. He could have a breakdown between now and the time of sentencing and be found incompetent. Remember, he's been found not competent to stand trial for over a year. He's got severe mental illness. So this tale is not over yet. We have to see with each court appearance whether he remains competent.
BLITZER: Paul Callan is the -- is a CNN legal contributor, a former prosecutor himself and just very quickly, Paul, if it had been up to you, you would have been -- you would have done what the prosecutors in this case did, you think it's a good deal.
CALLAN: Yes. I can't quarrel with their decision at all. You know, death penalty cases are always very, very difficult. And the fact that -- by the way, it's unquestioned that he suffers from severe mental illness. It's very difficult to get the death penalty imposed in individuals who have severe mental illness. And he's sort of borderline competent to stand trial. It would have been a tough death penalty case for prosecutors, so I'd be hard pressed to second guess them.
BLITZER: Paul, thanks very much for helping us better appreciate what's going on. Thank you.
CALLAN: Nice being with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Guns, knives, ammunition and more all belonging to a man police fear may have been plotting a copycat theater massacre. We have details in his arrest. Also coming up in our 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour, how Smithsonian parking attendants allegedly stole more than $400,000 from tourists.
BLITZER: Just weeks after that deadly theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, police have made an arrest in another eerily similar incident, this time in Ohio. The suspect was spotted at an evening showing of the new "Batman" movie with knives and a loaded handgun. CNN's Deborah Feyerick is working this story for us. She is joining us now with the latest. What's going on here, Deb?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well you know, Wolf, between where this man was sitting and what he was carrying, police in Westlake, Ohio believe that they may have averted a massacre similar to the one in Aurora, Colorado. Now 37-year-old Scott A. Smith (ph) is in custody and he is facing charges. Police say that Saturday night he went to the Regal Theater to see the 10:30 p.m. showing of the new "Batman" movie.
That's the same one as the Colorado shooter. Smith arrived about 30 minutes early. He was the first one in the theater. Well he took a seat in the back row directly in the middle with his back to a wall. A manager and an off-duty police officer they got suspicious not only because of where he was sitting but also because Smith was carrying a bag that didn't look quite right.
You can see a picture of it right there. So they asked to search and inside they found a loaded nine-millimeter semiautomatic handgun, two loaded magazine clips, three knives. Smith was also carrying a fourth knife on him. Smith allegedly told the off-duty officer that he was carrying the gun and knives for protection to protect himself and other moviegoers. Well the off-duty cop did not buy it, took him into custody, then searched his home and car.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LT. RAY ARCURI, WESTLAKE, OHIO POLICE: We found a lot of weapons in there, a lot of rifles, ammunition, gas masks, survivalist type of gear in there, a lot of it. We talked to his wife. We served her with the inventory for all the items we took. She says he's into that type of stuff.
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FEYERICK: Now, that was Westlake Lieutenant Ray Arcuri and he says that police believe Smith's position in the movie theater was actually tactical, that not only was he protected from the back because of that wall, but he could have opened fire right, left and center, according to the lieutenant. And the entire movie theater really would have been in front of him. And nearly 80 people saw the movie that night. So right now quick some thinking on the part of this manager and this off-duty police officer may have averted what could have been another tragedy -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I understand Smith was briefly in the Army. What do you know about that?
FEYERICK: What we do know that according to the military he spent a month in the Army in 1995 before being discharged. He only lasted a month. He never even completed basic training.
BLITZER: What about the charges? What was going on?
FEYERICK: Well, he's expected to be charged with carrying a concealed weapon inside a movie theater even though in Ohio you can carry a concealed weapon, not in a public place like a movie theater. There will be other charges as well. Police say they found several prescription medications also and that would have made him ineligible to carry any firearm at all -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Deb Feyerick, scary stuff. Thank you.
Also other news we're following including a new line of attack in the race for the White House. Why President Obama's now referring to his rival as Romney-hood. Plus, details of the man busted with fake law enforcement IDs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was a Coast Guard, a Coast Guard pilot. Then he told us he was in the Air Force. Then he told us he was a health care worker and then at the very end he was a federal agent.
BLITZER: Jack is back with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Question this hour is who is the worst person that Mitt Romney could pick to be his running mate?
Keith writes "Michele Bachman on the ticket with Romney is a cocktail miss that could kill rats in a sewer and any hope Romney has of being the next president."
B. in Georgia writes "Chris Christie has to be the best example of an overbearing, overweight, overwrought, over-the-top conservative who thinks he really has something to say to America. If he faces off against Joe Biden the nation's voters will be laughing, not listening to crass (ph) Chris."
Tom in Texas. "Let's play a little fill in the blank. I'll give you the first name. You do the rest, Sarah."
Jen writes "Rob Portman would be the worst, boring, boring and yes, boring. Romney could really use someone like Chris Christie."
Robert in Florida writes "the worst choice would be anyone who is just another partisan hack, somebody who says one thing and then does another. The best possible choice would be for Romney to reach across the aisle and pick Hillary Clinton. This would bring a divided nation back together and offer a ticket that both sides could get behind."
Jim writes "Sarah Palin. You did say the worst, didn't you?"
Paul in Ontario says "the worst choice would be Michelle Bachman, a woman with the brains of a peppermint. It would be like the reincarnation of Sarah Palin."
And Robert writes "you deserve the same answer that Romney gave Brian Williams when the NBC anchor snarkily (ph) asked Romney if the VP would be a boring white guy. You told me you weren't available."
If you want to read more on this, got some funny stuff, go at the blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Got some clever writers out there --
CAFFERTY: (INAUDIBLE) they're good.
BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE) go there. Thank you.
Meanwhile, new information about the day the gunman purchased the weapon allegedly used in that Sikh temple shooting. What the manager of the gun store is now telling us, that's coming up in our next hour.
Plus, it sounds like a real life catch-me-if-you-can. Police arrest a man with a mysterious stash of fake IDs, uniforms, even a NASA flight suit. Is it fantasy gone wild or is there something much more serious?
BLITZER: It sounds like a real life catch-me-if-you can, a Florida man arrested with a mysterious stash of fake items from IDs to a full NASA flight suit and a helmet. Now police are trying to determine just how serious this case might be. Let's bring in CNN Sandra Endo. She's got details. What are you learning, Sandra? SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf it is one thing to collect uniforms and badges but impersonating law enforcement officers or other officials could lead to federal and state criminal charges and now in Florida police are investigating whether or not a man in New Port Richey stepped over that criminal line.
ENDO (voice-over): It was a fraud big enough to inspire the movie "Catch Me If You Can", a man who impersonated a pilot, a doctor, and other professions. Now Florida police think they may have caught another imposter. They found 200 items, including fake police and law enforcement IDs, military and Boy Scout uniforms, ammunition, service pins and diplomatic license plates. And they want to know why 52- year-old Roy Antigua (ph) has them.
CHIEF JAMES STEFFENS, NEW PORT RICHEY, FLORIDA POLICE: Are we talking about a person that has a fantasy gone wild? Are we talking about somebody that had a criminal intent? There's just too much of this collection for us to pass off as something that's benign.
ENDO: Police discovered the cache of items in his homes after stopping him for a traffic violation last week.
(on camera): Based on all the evidence you've collected, all the badges that you have seen, they're all fake, but could he have gotten access into secure zones?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I myself sat next to him at a memorial event for our fallen soldiers where he was in full United States Coast Guard lieutenant commander uniform at an event that was honoring our fallen soldiers. So if he was in that event, I suspect that he's been comfortable enough to go and portray this impersonation at other venues.
ENDO (voice-over): Police also say he drove this black Escalade, similar to government vehicles, equipped with flashing blue police lights. Authorities are investigating if his impersonations broke any laws. Neighbors say Antigua (ph) told them a variety of stories, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First he was a Coast Guard, a Coast Guard pilot. Then told us he was in the Air Force. Then told us he was a health care worker and then at the very end he was a federal agent.
ENDO: Officials say he was last employed as a health care worker. They say he does hold a legitimate commercial pilot's license and was a Coast Guard volunteer. Police say the fake ID pictures date back more than a decade, all of which Antigua (ph) has admitted were counterfeit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has expressed a lot of remorse this has gotten blown out of control. He said that he is portraying these different law enforcement officials and military professionals because it was something he always aspired to be.
ENDO: Antigua (ph) has pleaded no guilty to the traffic violation, the only charge he is facing right now.
ENDO: We reached out to Antigua's (ph) lawyer who did not want to comment on the case, and the Secret Service and the FBI are also aware of this investigation, but so far have found no wrongdoing -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Sandra Endo thanks very much.