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THE SITUATION ROOM
Remembering 9/11; Attack on U.S. Embassy in Cairo; Obama Giving Cold Shoulder to Israeli Prime Minister?; Bipartisan Pause on 9/11 Anniversary; Clinton Stumps for Obama; Spoiler in the Race; Osama bin Laden Raid; Syrian Refugees
Aired September 11, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, warning shots are fired at protesters -- at protesters as they storm the United States embassy in Cairo, tear down and burn the American flag.
And as Americans pause to remember the 9/11 attacks, a long time note from a victim of the World Trade Center inferno finally reaches his loved ones.
And Bill Clinton energized the crowd over at the Democratic Convention.
Can he do the same out there on the campaign trail?
The former president speaks in Florida in the next hour. We'll bring it to you live.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin this hour with violence and chaos at the United States Embassy in Cairo. Warning shots were fired as protesters scaled the walls. They tore down the embassy's American flags, raising a black banner with Islamic emblems. Egyptian riot police are now on the scene.
Let's go straight to Cairo.
CNN's Ian Lee is standing by -- Ian, these pictures are dramatic. Tell us what -- what happened and how this is unfolding.
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, earlier today, what happened were protesters angry over a film that insults Islam took to the -- went to the U.S. Embassy to voice their outrage. The film is said to have American back -- people who are American who are in the film. So the protesters went to the U.S. Embassy. They went and breached the embassy's perimeter. They went and grabbed the American flag, tore it down, burnt it, put up a jihadi flag on the wall. But those were a few -- a few protesters who were able to make it in.
Eventually, Egyptian security forces were able to come in. They were able to put up a perimeter to secure the embassy from the protesters -- Wolf.
BLITZER: This is a huge U.S. Embassy, in Cairo. Security obviously is intense. I've been there.
Where were the Egyptian police, the military?
Why weren't they protecting the embassy?
LEE: Well, that's a good question, especially since the warning went out earlier today, warning Americans about this protest. And there's also reports that the Egyptian intelligence said that there was going to be something like this just two days ago.
So the question is, why weren't security forces there in the first place to stop that?
They did show up later, but the security forces were a bit timid to go out there and confront the protesters. In the past, we've seen protests like this escalate. Even the U.S. Embassy officials there said they were showing restraint when the protesters breached the perimeter. They didn't want things to escalate any larger than they already were. And as of now, right now, things have calmed down a bit and the protesters are still chanting outside the embassy, but they're unable to actually get into the embassy -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Has the government of President Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, have they issued a statement?
Have they apologized?
Have they said anything about this?
LEE: Well, the government has definitely condemned the breaching of the protesters into the embassy. This is something that we've actually seen -- this is the third time we've seen protesters breach an embassy since the revolution.
Earlier in the year, we had the -- or we had the Israeli embassy, as you may recall, which protesters breached, as well. And we also had the Syrian embassy breached.
This is the first time an embassy has been been breached under Mohamed Morsi's watch. And this is definitely a black eye that shows there isn't the security that these embassies need. It also shows that there's a lack of security, really, in Egypt.
BLITZER: I remember those other incidences well.
All right, Ian Lee on the scene for us in Cairo.
We'll stay in close touch with you. We're also getting word, by the way, from a U.S. Embassy official in Libya that there is an ongoing attack right now at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. That's the eastern Libyan city once controlled by rebels during last year's revolution.
Let's talk about what's going on.
Our national security contributor, Fran Townsend, is joining us. She's the -- she was the homeland security adviser to President Bush. She serves on both the CIA and the homeland security external advisory boards -- first of all, on the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Fran, what do you make of this?
It's pretty extraordinary, if you ask me.
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, it is extraordinary. And not only that, let's not forget the day on which, as Americans mourn the loss 11 years ago of the victims of 9/11, we shouldn't regard the -- the picking of the day as an accident. After all, this -- this -- there were warnings, as we've just reported, days -- in the days leading up to this protest. And the Egyptians were on notice.
And so I expect that there will be some pretty tough conversations between the U.S. State Department, the American government and officials in Egypt. There really is no excuse, having been fairly warned about the protest, not to have had additional Egyptian security forces out there to protect our embassy.
BLITZER: I know the U.S. has a tough ambassador, Anne Patterson, in Cairo right now. She's very experienced. I don't know if you know her, Fran.
But this is a country, Egypt, that receives $1.5 billion a year in military and economic assistance, various forms of economic assistance. And as you know, there was concern in recent months, since the election in Egypt, a Muslim Brotherhood government, if you will, over there, that maybe the U.S. should scale back. Certainly, this is going to cause some reconsideration, I assume, in Washington.
TOWNSEND: Absolutely, Wolf. Look, Ambassador Anne Patterson, who you just said was very experienced, her last posting was in Pakistan, in Islamabad. So she's -- Anne Patterson knows how to deliver a tough message and understands very well the implications of today's incident.
What was astounding to me was we saw this, what I can only regard as a sort of bizarre statement out of the American Embassy in Cairo, after the protest, that -- that said it was condemning sort of people using the universal right to free speech in order to make harm or do harm to another's religion.
Look, in this country, Wolf, as, you know, there's a Broadway play called "The Book of Mormon" that absolutely pokes fun at the Mormon religion. We abs -- we believe in the freedom of speech and we don't believe that the First Amendment, if somebody is offended by what you say, that that's enough to condemn them for having said it, right. And it certainly is an official government statement.
And so it was an odd statement by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. It's inexplicable, to me, the lack of Egyptian security forces. And we ought to expect that there will be real consequences to this incident.
BLITZER: Yes. Let's hope everyone calms down over there. The stakes, clearly, are enormous right now.
Fran, thanks very much.
Let's go to our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian -- Dan, you're getting reaction to this latest flap over a meeting, or shall we say a lack thereof. It was supposed to be a meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and President Obama. They were both going to be in New York the same week. The Israelis sought a meeting with the president of the United States. The president, the White House now saying, what, scheduling conflicts, is that what they're saying?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
You know, as you know, there's been some friction in -- in this relationship. But the White House saying in this case, it really is a scheduling conflict.
National Security Council spokesman, Tommy Vietor, saying the president will be arriving for the U.N. in New York on September 24th, leaving the next day, and that Benjamin Netanyahu will not be arriving until later in the week. So he points out that they will both not be in the city at the same time.
However, in a statement, he went onto say that the two leaders do stay in frequent contact, that Benjamin Netanyahu will be meeting with other U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
But, Wolf, this statement may not be enough to silence this entire controversy.
BLITZER: I am told, though, by Israeli sources, Dan, that the prime minister's office made it clear that if there could be a meeting in Washington with the president, he would have gone from New York to Washington. He's going to be in the United States, I think, for four or five days, maybe longer, if, obviously, necessary.
But that was schedule -- that was a scheduling impossibility as well, is that what you're hearing?
LOTHIAN: You know, anything can come up now. Obviously, this is something that is gaining steam and it's not going away, or doesn't appear to be going away, based on this statement solely. The word, though, that we're getting from the White House is that the initial meeting that could have taken place in New York will not be happening, just because the two leaders will not be in the city at the same time.
BLITZER: Right. The president will be there Monday and Tuesday of the week of the U.N. General Assembly. The prime minister will be there Thursday and Friday. We'll see if this meeting takes place. I suspect eventually they'll work out their respective schedules and we'll see them together. That's just my suspicion.
The president also spent today, Dan, remembering the events of 11 years ago, when terrorists struck U.S. soil. On this 9/11 anniversary, Americans across the country stopped to remember -- Dan, show us what was going on here in Washington, because there was some rare bipartisan spirit.
LOTHIAN: Well, there really was. I mean the president pointed out...
LOTHIAN (voice-over): The heated presidential campaign was put on pause for a moment of silence.
LOTHIAN: The day began with a somber ceremony on the White House South Lawn.
LOTHIAN: Then President Obama laid a wreath at the Pentagon Memorial and stopped at Arlington National Cemetery Section 60, where the men and women who died in Iraq and Afghanistan were laid to rest.
Terrorists may have struck at America's heart, but the country is still on its feet.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So as painful as this day is and always will be, it leaves us with a lesson, that no single event can ever destroy who we are. No act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for.
LOTHIAN: Mr. Obama praised U.S. troops for dealing a crippling blow to terrorist organizations and insisted fear and hate would not be the legacy of 9/11.
OBAMA: The scripture tells us do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. There's no better way to honor the best in those who died than by discovering the best in ourselves.
LOTHIAN: But at the site of another attack, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Vice President Biden acknowledged time had not erased many deep emotional wounds.
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You feel like you're being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest. My hope -- my hope for you all is that as every year passes, the depth of your pain recedes.
LOTHIAN: On this one day, everyone seemed to come together. Congress sang with one voice. GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who greeted Chicago firefighters at a remembrance ceremony, later in Nevada, avoided partisan attacks during remarks to members of the National Guard.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would normally speak to a gathering like this about the differences between my and my opponent's plans for military and for our national security. There is a time and place for that, but this day is not that.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
LOTHIAN: Now, President Obama ended this day of remembrance by visiting 36 wounded warriors out at Walter Reed. He spent two-and-a- half hours with them and awarded two Purple Hearts -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Dan Lothian at the White House.
A long lost note from inside the World Trade Center inferno lets a victim's loved ones learn how he died.
And at a 9/11 event, the vice president, Joe Biden uses -- uses some salty language to invite firefighters to the White House for a beer.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty's here with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, 9/11 changed our world forever, but a lot more has changed in the 11 years since those scary moments immediately following the terror attacks. Think back to the days of duct tape, homeland security's color coded terror alerts, and anthrax scares. Going through airport security can still be a hassle. It is a lot of the times.
It's even invasive. But for most of us, that's where the inconvenience stops. With Osama Bin Laden and many of his lieutenants dead, terrorism is no longer a major source of worry for most Americans. It's been replaced by fears of an economy gone south and high unemployment. But the threat of terrorism is far from over.
In a piece called "A Stubborn Terror," Newsweek magazine reports on how al Qaeda keeps fighting back with Bin Laden's successor, Ayman al- Zawihiri, calling the shots for the global terror network. Al Qaeda continues to grow in places like Pakistan. The group on the Arabian Peninsula staged three attacks on the United States, including that infamous Christmas underwear bomber.
In Iraq, al Qaeda carries out bombings there every month. In North Africa, they've joined forces with other Islamist extremists and are training terrorists from Algeria, Morocco, and Nigeria. In Egypt, Sinai Peninsula, a new al Qaeda group trying to start a war between Egypt and Israel. Great. And the fastest growing al Qaeda operation of all is in Syria, thriving on the civil war and chaos there.
They carried out more than 60 attacks in June alone. But their top priority remains attacking the United States and Europe. And as Newsweek writes, quote, "In fighting terror, our team has to stay lucky 100 percent of the time. Al Qaeda only has to be lucky once."
Here's the question, how much safer do you feel 11 years after 9/11? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile, weigh in, post a comment, or go to our post on the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
Many of the families of those who died September 11th are still haunted by what they imagine their loved one suffered on that horrifying day. Now, for one family, that whole image has dramatically changed all because of one chilling note that only just surfaced recently. Brian Todd is here in the SITUATION ROOM. He's got the details. Brian, it's a chilling story.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chilling is a very good description, Wolf. This note has changed this family's entire perception of how and when their loved one died on September 11th.
TODD (voice-over): Randy Scott was so close to this, the point of impact of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center, that his family was certain.
DENISE SCOTT, RANDY SCOTT'S WIDOW: I was just believing that because the plane had impacted on his floor that -- that he had died instantly.
TODD: Scott worked at a firm called Euro Broker's on the 84th floor of the south tower. His wife, Denise, and their three daughters spent years trying to come to terms with his death, but they're now coming to terms with something else.
SCOTT: We all just wrote the same ending. And it wasn't correct.
TODD: In recent months, Denise Scott has broken the news to her daughters that she learned only last year, near the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Randy Scott didn't die instantly. This is a note he wrote and somehow tossed out an opening in the tower. Five words, two numbers. 84th floor, west office, 12 people trapped.
According to a family friend and published reports, after the note floated down to the street, it was recovered immediately, then handed to a guard at the nearby Federal Reserve Bank. The Federal Reserve, according to those accounts, kept the note safe for years, then turned it over to the National September 11th Memorial and Museum.
(on-camera) The museum then started working with the New York medical examiner's office. It was this smudge on the paper, Randy Scott's blood, that enabled the medical examiner to use DNA technology to trace this note back to Randy and tell his wife about it a decade after 9/11.
(voice-over) Randy's best friend, Steve Ernst, believes Randy got cut by breaking a window so he could get his note out. Ernst went with Scott's widow to the medical examiner's office to identify his handwriting.
STEVE ERNST, RANDY SCOTT'S FRIEND: When we saw the letter, you can't mistake his handwriting. That's his writing. So, we knew right away that he went down fighting as hard as he could. It was just hard. It was hard to hold back your tears, you know, you just -- it's another part of him that just comes back.
TODD: Hard for the family to realize their husband and father may have suffered at least briefly, but there's also this.
ERNST: That's how he wrote. He wasn't trembling. He wasn't nervous. It just looked like, you know, this is what I got to do. I got to get some help to these 12 people.
TODD (on-camera): Ernst says Randy Scott's note will be kept on display at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum as part of an exhibit documenting the final moments inside the World Trade Center. The chief curator of that museum says they've seen other pieces of paper that came out of the towers that day, Wolf, but she says there's nothing as unusual and as touching as that letter. She says this is extraordinary, this note.
BLITZER: And she found out about it, the widow, more than a year ago but only decided to tell her daughters earlier this year?
TODD: That's right. And Steve Ernst tells us that he and Denise Scott both felt that it would be just too on them to let them know right away, to know that their father had suffered. It might just be too tough on them. They wanted to wait until the youngest daughter was out of college. She is now. So, they broke the news to them earlier this year.
BLITZER: What a story. What a chilling story.
TODD: Really is.
BLITZER: Are they doing all right?
TODD: They seem to be doing fine. I mean, we corresponded with them by e-mail today, and of course, with his best friend, Steve Ernst, and the family is doing very well. They're courageous people.
BLITZER: Yes. All right. Thanks for bringing us that story. Very important.
A mysterious absence fueling speculation about the future of China's ultra secret communist government. So, what caused the country's next presumed leader to suddenly disappear?
BLITZER: In the series absence of China's vice president from the public eye is fueling speculation about his whereabouts. Our Lisa Sylvester's monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. So, what's going on here?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. Well, China's vice president who is widely expected to succeed President Hu Jintao as head of the ruling communist party in weeks and as president next year has apparently been off the radar for ten days.
His absence was first noticed when he abruptly canceled the meeting with secretary of state, Hillary Clinton last week. Chinese officials declined to provide an explanation.
And Florida A&M University says it is not responsible for last year's hazing death of drum major, Robert Champion, contending that he broke the law and school policies by willingly participating in the ritual. The school has filed court papers asking that the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Champion's parents be dropped. Champion's family says the school is denying responsibility.
And Vice President Biden wants a group of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, firefighters to come to the White House for a beer. No BS about it. And he said, pointing to the aide who would arrange it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Where's your car? Listen, no (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please forgive your friend.
BIDEN: OK. I didn't know you guys were here. You come to the White House --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: Yes. You se it there. OK. So, the vice president issued the casual invitation using that very expletive (INAUDIBLE) marking the September 11th attacks. Obviously, as we saw in that videotape, once he realized that reporters were in the vicinity, he altered the terminology slightly, replacing the word with malarkey. So, I'll leave it to Joe Biden, you know, telling it like it is --
BLITZER: Not the first time he's been caught saying a bad word. But I haven't heard the word malarkey in a long time. Who talks about malarkey?
SYLVESTER: Well, you see that moment where he turns around and he's like, oh, wait a minute, you guys are right there behind me. So, yes. The cameras are always rolling.
BLITZER: I just think those firefighters have heard that word once or twice before. (LAUGHTER)
BLITZER: Thanks, Lisa.
The former president of the united states, Bill Clinton, wowed the crowd at the Democratic convention. Now, he's on the road. We're going to take a closer look at how he can help the Obama campaign.
BLITZER: Bill Clinton's powerful speech at the Democratic Convention was widely praised even by Republicans. Now, can the former president light a fire under regular voters? CNN's John Zarrella is joining us now live from Miami. You're in a room where the president, the former president is getting ready to speak. He has got a receptive crowd I assume.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know Wolf, he's supposed to be here in about an hour and we've got a good 2,000 people here on the campus of Florida International University in Miami-Dade County. And they were determined to get here. It was torrential rain for a couple of hours here this afternoon. Many people stood out there under the umbrellas. The umbrella is not doing them any good. But they are expecting that the president, the former president when he gets here is going to talk about the economy. We talked to some of the students when they were outside standing in the weather. And they said the things that are important to them and this crowd is primarily students, is as you might expect, immigration, the economy and jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jobs for me is something very crucial. I'm studying right now to be a communication major. And to have jobs right now is really important because a lot of majors right now don't have a lot of guaranteed jobs. And that's something really important that if I'm paying for college, I want to know that I'm also paying a guaranteed job when I graduate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like them to find more ways to get my education paid and also a job because I don't want to get a degree and then (INAUDIBLE) have a job and I've still got to work at McDonald's and not actually the job I wanted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZARRELLA: Now, President Obama when he was candidate Obama carried Miami-Dade County, Broward County and Palm Beach County. And you know, Wolf, those were hugely critical counties, big counties. Well over a million votes cast for him that helped him carry the state of Florida four years ago -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I remember that well. The former president very popular obviously in Florida especially where you are. So where is he heading next? ZARRELLA: You know, he's going to head up to Palm Beach County tomorrow. And over the weekend the president made the remarks in Palm Beach County that if he could carry Palm Beach County, he would win the state of Florida. So clearly pivotal is Palm Beach County. And then he will go up, the former president, heading up to Orlando and that area as we know, Wolf, the I-4 corridor, a lot of swing voters there. Another group that they need to win over -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Once the president gets to the microphone, we'll have live coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM. John Zarrella on the scene for us -- thank you.
So how exactly can former President Clinton help the Obama re-election effort? Our chief national correspondent John King is over there at the "Magic Wall". John, tell our viewers what this -- he's uniquely qualified to do certain things.
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He is. He is very popular. It will be interesting -- John Zarrella just mentioned the student audience there. That's critical to President Obama not only in Florida, but in many other important states. Also it will be interesting, Wolf, you mentioned at the top of the last hour the tensions at the moment between prime minister Netanyahu and President Obama. Israel was a big theme and there was a bit of a mix-up at the Democratic Convention about the platform. It will be interesting to see if the former president talks at all about Israel (INAUDIBLE) because if you look at these counties where he is, John just mentioned these three southeastern most counties and you know southeastern most counties and you know them well, this is where you do have those students, but you also have a large Jewish population, transplants from the north, if you will.
This is where the president has to do well as he did four years ago. And I want to go back in time for you, when you look right here, Bill Clinton did not carry Florida in 1992. George H.W. Bush carried it with Ross Perot in the race, but you do notice Bill Clinton did carry those three reliably Democratic counties as he did in 1996 when he did carry the case. And look at the difference in 1996. Look up here. John Zarrella just mentioned the I-4 corridor from Tampa over to Orlando, a lot of independents, a lot of swing voters. Bill Clinton did very well there. In fact if you go back and look at '08 in some places he did better than even Barack Obama did four years ago.
So the state of Florida, a key battleground, students, the Jewish vote, independents among the constituencies. Where else can the former president help? Wolf, I want to pull up the map a little bit. We do know in the future, think about him campaigning in Ohio, places like that, white working class voters and I'm going to show you a different map. This is the Democratic primaries from 2008. The dark states, Barack Obama, the lighter states Hillary Clinton. It is former President Bill Clinton out on the road, but we know especially among white working class voters, look at this, Hillary Clinton carried Ohio. Her husband very popular in places where the president has been traditionally weak. One more I'll give you as we look at it.
Remember, it was very, very close. But Hillary Clinton also carried the state of New Hampshire. The Clinton brand, as you well know, from back in 1992 and 1996. The Clinton brand is pretty good in the state of New Hampshire. At the moment, if you look at our Electoral College projections, we have Ohio. We have Florida. We have New Hampshire, toss up states where the former president might be able to help.
BLITZER: And if the current president does carry Florida and Ohio, John, you studied this, is there a realistic road for Mitt Romney to win 270 electoral votes?
KING: In a word, no and let me show you real quick. If the current president keeps Florida blue, turns Ohio blue that would put him over the top based on our current projections. So not only if he wins those, Governor Romney would have to take something away, take away Pennsylvania, take away Michigan. Hard to say if the president of the United States, if the Democratic incumbent is winning Ohio, it's hard to see him not winning Pennsylvania and Michigan, so those two states alone, Wolf, would put him over the top. If Governor Romney won everything else, it wouldn't be enough.
BLITZER: What does it say to you, John that the Romney campaign, I don't think is even spending money in Pennsylvania or Michigan.
KING: They are not. It's very interesting. We'll see how this plays out in the days ahead. Republican Super PACs, not the Romney campaign, but Republican Super PACs were advertising in both Pennsylvania and Michigan some in the spring and the summer essentially trying to see if they can move the numbers. That money has now come out. The question will be, does it go back in? Do you see -- a lot of times people wait. When you have the conventions, they let the dust settle and then they go back in and poll again and they see if they can move the numbers.
Michigan especially. Mitt Romney was born there. Pennsylvania is a very tough state for Republicans. Michigan, some polls have shown it close. The fact that no Republicans are advertising right there tells you quite a bit that at the moment they don't see it as competitive as they would like, but I would not doubt if you see at least one more attempt, one more try at Michigan.
BLITZER: All right, John, thanks very, very much and don't forget in the next hour we'll hear from the former president, Bill Clinton. He'll be speaking down in Miami. We'll have live coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
So is there a spoiler lurking in this presidential race, at least in a few states? We're taking a closer look at the role that the libertarian presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, just might play.
BLITZER: With President Obama and Governor Romney in such a tight race, could a third party candidate play the spoiler at least in some states? The Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson might pose that kind of a threat. CNN's Joe Johns has been looking into this story. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM. What are you finding out, Joe? JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's the kind of thing we've seen before in national politics. The latest iteration is former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson a candidate who started out as a Republican during the primaries he could still, still shake up the presidential race as the standard bearer for a third party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: He's fiscally conservative and socially cool.
JOHNS (voice-over): In a new web video, Gary Johnson's campaign is marketing the Libertarian presidential candidate to independent voters across the country. And depending on the amount of support he takes away from the major candidates in key states, Johnson is starting to look like a potential spoiler. He could help decide which party wins the White House though he doesn't see himself that way.
GARY JOHNSON, LIBERTARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If it were reported tomorrow that I was at five percent of the national vote, the overwhelming reaction to that would be, well, who the hell is Gary Johnson? And that would be a good thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: He will be on the ballot in all 50 states come November as an alternative to Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.
JOHNS: Or as Johnson bluntly puts it himself.
JOHNSON: It's a vote between tweedle dee (ph) and tweedle dumb (ph) and I think I'm going to end up being that third voice.
JOHNS: One problem, he's not there yet. Johnson is still not eligible in three states where there are legal challenges. One state that's safe for Republicans, Oklahoma and two states that are hotly contested, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
(on camera): And it's those two states that pose the toughest legal challenges, Pennsylvania and Michigan. The Obama campaign is already leading in both of those states. The Mitt Romney campaign is hoping to make some gains. Here in Pennsylvania the Republican Party has already challenged 40,000 plus signatures that were submitted to get the Libertarian Party on the ballot. The Gary Johnson campaign has its suspicions as to why.
RON NIELSON, SENIOR ADVISER, JOHNSON 2012 CAMPAIGN: They just don't want a third party candidate on the ballot. They just don't want to give voters a choice.
JOHNS (voice-over): And here's one reason why Republicans could be concerned. In a new CNN/ORC national poll, President Obama holds a six-point advantage over Mitt Romney when likely voters are just asked about the two candidates. But if you add Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, the Obama lead increases to eight points. Romney drops three points with Johnson in the race. Though on CNN Johnson said he'll poach from both sides. JOHNSON: Put this to the question in four different states and in two states I take more votes away from Obama, two states I take more away from Romney.
JOHNS: President Obama has to watch Johnson in states out west like Colorado and Johnson's home state of New Mexico. A recent poll in New Mexico showed the Obama advantage down to five points with Johnson getting seven percent of the vote.
JOHNS: In the case of the Pennsylvania legal battle, the state Republican Party offers its reasons for fighting the Johnson candidacy. They think Democrats may be behind it. They gave CNN this statement: "Not only are the Libertarian Party's papers riddled wither errors, duplicate signatures and blatant fraud, they raise concerns that President Obama and the Democratic Party are trying to add more candidates to the ballot because they know the vast majority of voters are looking for a new direction", so that's the state GOP's take -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Third party candidates has a history, Ross Perot did well in '92, relatively well, '96 he probably helped Bill Clinton in those contests --
BLITZER: And Ralph Nader, remember in 2000 he got 90,000 plus votes in Florida when George W. Bush beat Al Gore by what, just a little bit more than 500 votes --
JOHNS: Absolutely. That's right.
BLITZER: So these third party candidates can have an impact.
JOHNS: Old-timers remember John Anderson (ph) too. That was a long time ago, before your time.
BLITZER: I remember (INAUDIBLE). Of course I remember. Thanks very much.
She calls it a roller coaster of emotions. Just ahead Hillary Clinton reveals the nail biting moments inside the White House "Situation Room" before Osama bin Laden was killed.
BLITZER: On this eleventh anniversary of 9/11 we wanted to show you something you didn't see in the CNN White House correspondent Jessica Yellin's excellent documentary on President Obama, Secretary of State -- listen to this -- talking about waiting out the Osama bin Laden raid in the White House "Situation Room".
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Would you take us into that room? We've all seen that picture, but what did it feel like?
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: So it was a roller coaster of emotions that we were living through. The worst moment was when one of the helicopters nicked the wall going into the compound and was disabled, which meant that we had to send in the backup helicopter that, again, had been prepared for by the team and yet we knew that we could be discovered. Our guys might be confronted. The backup helicopter had to get from where it was based to where it was needed. It was a -- absolutely nail-biting time in the "Situation Room" as I think we all reflected.
YELLIN: They said at one point Geronimo.
H. CLINTON: There was a moment when we got the word Geronimo and what that meant is we got him, we saw him, it is bin Laden. But then we had to get not only his body out to be able to prove it 100 percent to everyone's satisfaction, but we had to get our guys out. And to the great credit of the Navy SEALs, they made special efforts to protect the women and children who were in the compound. So I'm not sure any of us breathed until we got word that they had crossed back into Afghanistan.
YELLIN: Were you ever scared?
H. CLINTON: I was never scared. I was apprehensive when that helicopter got clipped. Remember, this was taking place very close to a Pakistani military cantonment area, a base. There were -- there was even a military academy. There could have been an alert sounded. People could have been streaming out of nearby houses. There could have been a confrontation. So, we had all the confidence in the world in what our team, the American team, had prepared for. But you can't imagine every potential contingency that could happen.
YELLIN: It's a remarkable series of events, this experience. Did you learn anything new about the president through this series of decisions?
H. CLINTON: Well, it was not a foregone conclusion. I mean it wasn't 100 percent. We didn't have a picture of bin Laden sitting, you know, on the balcony. There had to be a very thoughtful assessment of all of the pieces of evidence that had been compiled and an assessment of the military action that was being proposed. So I saw the president, you know, very carefully go through this methodical, asking a lot of hard questions, and at the end facing split advisers, you know, making the decisions that presidents have to make.
BLITZER: And Jessica is joining us now. Jessica, you also spoke with Secretary Clinton about how the president makes these decisions and she gave you some insight.
YELLIN: She did. One of the things that she said was the president reads a lot. She called him a -- I want to quote her -- "a discriminating and focused reader" and points out that he's really one of the first presidents who can truly read online, because President Bush had a lot of Internet access, but prior to President Bush, that didn't really exist and I covered the Bush presidency. He told me he didn't go online that much because he was fearful of what could happen in terms of records, acts. But President Obama does go online a lot and reads an enormous amount, is what she said.
BLITZER: You were told he reads a lot on his iPad as well.
BLITZER: Jessica thanks very much. Let's go to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour, Wolf, is how much safer do you feel 11 years after 9/11. Ron writes from Texas, "I don't feel a single iota safer than I did prior to 9/11. The Homeland Security Agency along with TSA are a bad joke and a horrendous waste of money. The only way we'll ever be safe is when the countries that harbor and support terrorists are more afraid of us than we are of the terrorists."
D.T. in Minnesota says, "I never felt unsafe. Believe it or not, I don't let the media think for me. You can waste a good deal of your life being scared if you listen to the news."
Tom in Switzerland writes, "I fly a lot, not just within the U.S., but abroad as well. Practically no place is as bad as the United States in terms of being hassled and even threatened by security, aka, TSA. I've had several suitcases ruined, the contents mangled, and then the whole thing just taped up. But the worst is the lack of respect given to some elderly people, even well into their 80's, including pat-downs and the whole works. It makes me feel nothing but anger. America has gone totally overboard in its pursuit of security. I feel more threatened by that than by terrorists."
Gary in California, "I feel very safe. Our warrior recently ended his active service and he's now home getting ready for college. We're delighted to be able to hug our body guard every day."
And Lou writes, "I remember all my family and neighbors stockpiling cash and food right after 9/11 just in case. At my son's soccer game, right after they lifted the ban on flying, all three fields of screaming kids and parents went deadly silent all of a sudden when a small plane innocently flew overhead. We all avoided malls and stadiums and large amusement parks. And though these things seem silly now, I confess, I still check out the folks around me on an airplane flight."
If you would like to read more about this, go to my blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack thanks very much. The actress Angelina Jolie pays an emotional visit to the youngest victims of the Syrian refugee crisis.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: The actress and U.N Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie is in Jordan, witnessing the horror firsthand, spilling over from the conflict in Syria. Here's CNN's Sara Sidner.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Hollywood A-lister (ph) Angelina Jolie came to the (INAUDIBLE) camp here in Jordan. This is Jordan's largest camp, 30,000 plus people inside the camp now living in tents who have come over from Syria, Syrian refugees. And we're talking about full families and lots of children. Angelina Jolie particularly talking about one of the experiences she had when she went with the Jordanian military to the border with Syria. She said it was quite an extraordinary experience, seeing people come over the border and becoming refugees for the very first time but what touched her the most were the children and the devastating stories she heard from the children.
ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS/U.N. REFUGEE SPECIAL ENVOY: As a mother, certainly, the amount of innocent children that are reported dead, the amount of innocent children I've met here who are wounded and unaccompanied, with their parents being killed and now they're on their own, it's impossible to imagine any mother standing by and not stepping up and doing something to prevent this.
SIDNER: We were able to talk to several of the families living in the camp. They say that they simply don't have enough cold water to drink. They just left literally with the clothes on their back. There are children there were born just days ago, brought over the border. They all have lived in such a terrible fear. There are certainly psychological issues going on inside the camp as well. People very happy though that they're not having to worry about their lives being lost but certainly dealing with very difficult conditions. It's a very dusty, dry, flat area. The tents that were once white are now covered in dust. They look more red than they do white. There are serious problems, people saying they're having issues with diarrhea. And so these refugees really do need help. They really do need more. Jordan is saying, look, we're at capacity. We need the international community to come forth and help out in this crisis.
Sara Sidner, CNN, Jordan.
BLITZER: Happening now, Mitt Romney tackles one of his weak spots in the polls, foreign policy. On this 9/11 anniversary, new reports the Bush White House received multiple warnings of an imminent attack.
And Bill Clinton campaigning for President Obama. We expect to hear him live this hour. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.