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THE SITUATION ROOM
Boston Suspects in Court; Airline Merger Stalls; Al Qaeda's Message; Can Tea Party Favorite Run for President?; 16 Winners Share Winning Powerball Ticket; First Lady Featured in 'Healthy' Rap
Aired August 13, 2013 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, new information about a key behind the scenes player in the drama surrounding the NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Two friends of the Boston bombing suspect entered their pleas to charges of conspiracy and obstruction.
Plus, the story behind the first lady Michelle Obama's appearance in a new hip-hop video.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But we begin this hour with breaking news, important new details about the intercepted al Qaeda communications that sparked an unprecedented terror alert, closing U.S. embassies and consulates across the Middle East and North Africa.
CNN has learned it contained specific words that U.S. intelligence interpreted as a coded message for what they believe signaled a potentially imminent attack.
Let's go straight to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's getting the latest information.
Barbara, what are you picking up?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Well, a source with access and understanding of the latest U.S. intelligence tells us that what sparked this unprecedented closure was as we know intercepted al Qaeda messages. But what was in those messages was specific code words that the U.S. immediately understood to be a signal for a potential imminent attack against U.S. interests.
That was the big concern, those code words sparking the closing of some 22 embassies and diplomatic installations across the Middle East and North Africa, very much pinging on the notion an attack would be imminent, but not saying where it might come and what installation, what the target might be.
So they had the imminence. They had the code words. But what they didn't have was the specific location. That's why we saw so many embassies close. As we know, the U.S. intelligence community monitors al Qaeda communications all the time. There were three communications that caused them great concern, two from Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of al Qaeda in Pakistan, one from Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the new leader, the number two of al Qaeda located in Yemen. That's where they began to center the threat.
And that, Wolf, is why you are seeing so many drone attacks in recent days over Yemen. They are going after these al Qaeda members -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So do they believe the threat is now gone, that all this publicity may have ended the threat?
STARR: Officials are telling us that they at least believe they have deterred the timing of it, that by putting so much light on all of this, so much public light around the world, this will essentially spook these al Qaeda elements in Yemen and scare them off.
Now with the possibility that so many al Qaeda members in Yemen have been killed by these drone strikes, now what they're doing is listening to all the chatter one more time to see what people are saying, how people are moving around and how they can even target more of these al Qaeda leaders -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's see what happens. All right, Barbara, thank you.
Other news. It would be the world's largest airline, but it will never get off the ground if -- if the U.S. Justice Department gets its way. It's suing to stop the $11 billion merger of American Airlines and U.S. Airways, saying it would mean higher prices and less service for all of us.
But this deal follows two other mergers that were allowed to proceed without objection. Here's the question. What is going on?
CNN's Richard Quest is our business and airline expert. He knows all about this.
What is going on, Richard? What's this lawsuit all about?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Department of Justice in six states or the attorney generals of six states claim that if this deal now goes ahead, it would in their words lessen competition. There would be a real risk of increased ticket prices, and fees for baggage check, ticket changes, all those ancillary incomes that the airlines love these days, they would also go up.
The problem with this, of course, is it's very late in the day. So far, the creditors of bankrupt American, the shareholders of both airlines, the E.U. regulators in Europe have all approved this. And now right at the last minute, the U.S. Department of Justice, these six attorneys generals, have stepped in. This was a deal, Wolf, that was supposed to close at the end of August. And now it's on hold.
And if you talk to some experts, Wolf, they actually believe it may never get through, because the DOJ has a very good history of getting its own way. American and U.S. Airways tonight saying they will mount a vigorous, strong defense to get the deal through. But I have to say, bearing in mind what we have heard over the last few hours, certainly, it's looking rather uncertain.
BLITZER: A lot at stake obviously in this potential merger. Richard, thanks very much.
Two friends of the Boston bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, they were in court today pleading not guilty to charges of conspiracy and obstructing justice.
Our national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, is joining us now. She's been covering the story from the very beginning.
Susan, what exactly are these young men accused of doing?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, remember, these are two young men, two young teenagers, 18, 19 years old now, who were friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
A few days after the bombing, the government says that -- this was after the FBI received photographs of the two suspects -- that they received a text message from Tsarnaev who told them to go to his dorm room and take what is out of there or words to that effect.
They are then accused of removing a laptop computer and a backpack that had fireworks inside and putting those items in a dumpster. This prompted a raid by the FBI. And they are now charged with obstruction of justice, throwing away evidence. However, the defense maintains that there are two sides to this story, that in fact these students fully cooperated with the FBI after their apartment was raided and you shouldn't prejudge them. I spoke with both of the lawyers, both of the lawyers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There has to be an intent, a knowledge that what you're doing is to aid someone else's offense, someone else's crime. Here the evidence will show at the end of the day that Dias Kadyrbayev did not know that Dzhokhar was involved, had no reason to suspect him at that point in time, and had no intention to assist him in any way.
CANDIOTTI: Do you think Dzhokhar is one of the killers?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's incarcerated. So we cannot really see the evidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: What's interesting to note here is that when you ask them whether their clients think that Dzhokhar is not guilty, they say we don't know because -- they don't know because they haven't seen all the evidence.
Also in court today were the families of these two young men, who saw them plead not guilty. And I spoke with them as well through a translator. They're from Kazakstan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MURAT KADYRBAYEV, FATHER OF SUSPECT (through translator): America is a great democratic country. I hope and pray that the justice system will reach a correct verdict that our children are innocent.
AMIR ISMAGULOV, FATHER OF SUSPECT (through translator): I want to tell the American people that my son and all the charges that the prosecution has brought, that he did not do any of these things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: If found guilty, Wolf, they face up to 20 years in prison and deportation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Susan Candiotti in Boston for us.
Meanwhile, new details are also emerging today about a key player in the international drama surrounding Edward Snowden, the former contractor who revealed details of U.S. surveillance programs. Before he took his information public, he took it to a documentary filmmaker who worked behind the scenes to get his story out.
CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into this for us.
Brian, what do we know about this documentary filmmaker?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, her name is Laura Poitras.
She is a young filmmaker reportedly from the Boston area who has originally traveled to some of the world's most dangerous places. Laura Poitras has exposed some of the government's most sensitive information on war and counterterrorism and with the retaliation we're told she's received, she now works deeply in the shadows.
TODD (voice-over): We recognize this as the video that revealed Edward Snowden to the world.
EDWARD SNOWDEN, LEAKED DETAILS OF U.S. SURVEILLANCE: The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong.
TODD: Glenn Greenwald of "The Guardian" newspaper interviewed the NSA leaker. But the person who videotaped it, who got Greenwald together with Snowden, who is being called the mastermind of this story, is an independent filmmaker not widely known.
Her name is Laura Poitras and she's the subject of an extensive profile in "The New York Times" magazine. She spoke at a forum last year at Duke University.
LAURA POITRAS, FILMMAKER: I'm working on things that are really sensitive. So I have to oftentimes not send e-mails about what I'm working on.
TODD: After Snowden contacted Poitras, the "Times" magazine article says, they exchanged encrypted communications. Then Poitras, Greenwald and Snowden met in that Hong Kong hotel room.
"Operational security, she dictated all of that," Greenwald is quoted about Poitras. "There's a reason she's good at that." Poitras has made explosive documentaries about the war in Iraq and Osama bin Laden's associates. And according to the "Times" magazine report, she's been on a travel watch list for several years, repeatedly stopped at U.S. airports, interrogated.
She spoke about it in a "New York Times" documentary.
POITRAS: So it is a bit Kafkaesque to be stopped every time I travel to the United States and never be told why that is happening.
TODD: We tried to contact Laura Poitras. She says she doesn't want to do any interviews before her next film on NSA surveillance comes out. Glenn Greenwald could not speak to us.
(on camera): We couldn't get the NSA to comment on Poitras or on the "Times" magazine article. And if you're wondering why there's no insight here from people who know Laura Poitras, we tried to interview several academics, filmmakers, analysts who know her. None of them would speak to us. One of them said she wouldn't do it without permission from Poitras, which apparently never came.
(voice-over): In call after e-mail after call, we were put off or told no.
(on camera): If you could return my call, I would really appreciate. Thank you.
(voice-over): Seemingly a reflection of how private and wary Laura Poitras is. But there was one person. Ben Wizner of the ACLU has given Poitras legal advice.
BEN WIZNER, ACLU: It's reached the point where this person who does such profoundly important work in America is afraid to live and work here and has moved her operations to another country, which is a sad state of affairs.
TODD: Wizner says Poitras' upcoming film on U.S. government surveillance will feature more interviews with Edward Snowden. It's based on years of her reporting on the NSA's programs, he says, and will be very provocative.
Contacted by CNN, Edward Snowden's U.S.-based attorney would not comment on our story or "The New York Times" magazine report.
BLITZER: Brian, there's some other interesting details on her first face-to-face meeting with Snowden, aren't there?
TODD: Fascinating details, Wolf.
According to this "Times" magazine report, Snowden instructed her and Glenn Greenwald to go to a restaurant in Hong Kong back in June. They were supposed to wait until they saw a man carrying a Rubik's Cube and asked him when the restaurant would open. The man would answer their question, but then warn them the food was bad. This is right out of a spy novel.
The report say when the man with the Rubik's Cube arrived, that was Edward Snowden. They were blown away by how young he was.
BLITZER: Fascinating material. Looking forward to reading that article in "The New York Times" magazine. Thanks very much, Brian Todd reporting.
Up next, dramatic calls for help a sinkhole swallows a resort near Disney World. We have new information, including the 911 tapes that have been released.
And lots of Tea Party members want to see Senator Ted Cruz of Texas run for president in 2016. But can he? We are taking a closer look about his eligibility since he was born in Canada.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Want to go right to the West Bank right now.
Our own Vlad Duthiers is on the scene at the Bitunia crossing in the West Bank, where there's stuff going on, serious stuff.
Vlad, what is happening right now?
VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Twenty-six prisoners that were meant to be released today as part of a goodwill gesture by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have just been released, those that were meant to be released in the West Bank.
As soon as they left where we (AUDIO GAP) crossing, just a little outside of Ramallah, as the prisoners were driven (AUDIO GAP) at the compound. And then we saw Israeli police, Israeli security officials starting to move towards the fence and then they fired a series of flash bang grenades in addition to we think some tear gas that may have been launched in that direction.
BLITZER: These prisoners, so have they been...
BLITZER: Have the 26 prisoners been released? Are they free right now?
DUTHIERS: They are. They left not more than five minutes ago. They were driven out in two white vans. There were hundreds of people here that had surrounded the vans that had been here waiting in anticipation, eager anticipation going back to about 10:00 p.m. local time. It's about 1:15 in the morning now.
As soon as they were driven out, crowds swarmed around those vehicles cheering, chanting, singing. There was music playing. As soon as the vans moved out, young men started throwing rocks at this prison where they were being released from, Ofer prison, or where they'd been transferred to before they were going to be released to their families.
And you could hear -- I don't know if you can still hear the natural sound of rocks still being thrown at this prison. We can -- it's quieted down a little bit, but we can still see Israeli security officials behind the fence.
BLITZER: All right. Vlad Duthiers, our correspondent who's based in Jerusalem, he's in the West Bank at Bitunia crossing right now.
This was supposed to be an Israeli goodwill gesture. Tomorrow, the Israelis and the Palestinians scheduled to resume peace negotiations with the U.S. involved as the mediator. Those negotiations scheduled to begin tomorrow when the release the first batch of these Palestinian prisoners designed by Israel as a goodwill gesture. We will what happens and we will stay in close contact with Vlad Duthiers, our man on the scene for us.
Let's get some other news right now, including some new details about this week's big scare at a resort near Florida's Disney World. Listen to one of the 911 calls that came in right after a sinkhole opened up Sunday, started swallowing up a three-story building.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
911 OPERATOR: Where's the patient located at?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a patient. We have a building that is potentially collapsing. I don't know If it's a sinkhole or what. But we have got people in the building. We're trying to get them evacuated and they're saying it's collapsing so fast that they don't know if they're going to be able to get to all these rooms.
911 OPERATOR: OK. And I am going to get the fire department on the way. Is there a specific building number?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Building 104.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: CNN's Martin Savidge is joining us now on more on what happened and potentially if it could happen again. There's new information.
What are you learning, Martin?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is the big concern, Wolf.
There is a press conference that was held just a few minutes ago. We learned a number of things. Number one, a more accurate measure of this sinkhole finds it is larger than first reported. The engineers now say it's anywhere from 110 to 120 feet wide and 15 feet deep. The engineering company -- this is a private firm -- also says there's no indications of any other sinkholes on the properly and they don't believe any other buildings here are being threatened.
The company that owns this facility says that they plan now to reopen two buildings that had been evacuated as a precaution, and that's, of course, not including 104 that was severely damaged as a result of the sinkhole. But here's the thing many people have been talking about. You have hurricane and you have tornado warnings and you even have tsunami warnings, so why not a sinkhole warning system?
Well, actually, there is no such system in the state of Florida. And it's been a particularly bad year this year in this state for sinkholes. Just recently the government of Florida received a $1 million grant from the federal government to begin a pilot program. They're going to look at three counties and basically look at how many sinkholes they have and hope to use that as kind of a map or an idea of how bad the problem is in the state. Here's how one scientist explained they could use the information.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINT KROMHOUT, FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: That's going to be used by the local emergency managers at the county level and possibly the city level. They will look at this and they can create their own mitigation strategies at the county and city level. Now, how that extends to the public user, they also could look at this map and see the relative vulnerability of sinkhole information within the area they're interested in.
SAVIDGE: Sinkholes are not uncommon in Florida. They have been happening almost since the beginning of time.
But as more and more development has occurred here, they're more often coming into connection with the public. And that's the problem. This one took on the very serious tourism industry in this state. And now people are realizing it's a threat that has to be dealt with.
BLITZER: Certainly does. All right. Thanks very much, Martin Savidge, working this story for us as he always does.
Coming up, a red hot political question. Does the U.S. Constitution prevent one of the Republican Party's rising stars from ever running for president? We will tell you when we come back.
BLITZER: Only moments ago, you saw Vlad Duthiers, our correspondent in Jerusalem. He's now at the West Bank at Bitunia crossing. There's an Israeli prison there. They have just released 26 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture because the peace negotiations are supposed to resume in Jerusalem tomorrow between Israelis and the Palestinians. But after these Palestinian prisoners released, all of a sudden Palestinian protesters out there started throwing rocks at Ofer prison, the Israeli prison there where the Palestinians were.
Watch Vlad report on what happened next.
DUTHIERS: Young men are starting to throw stones at the prison. Now flash grenades are going off behind us. These are stun grenades and tear gases that are being fired now at these people that are throwing stones behind us, Patricia.
These are just -- I can see prison officials or what looks to be either police or military starting to move closer to the gate. These are just young men that were here. They just started throwing rocks at the prison gates. And you saw what happened. I can hear more rocks being thrown at...
BLITZER: Let's go live to the scene now. Vlad is joining us once again.
Vlad, what's the scene right now like?
DUTHIERS: Hey, Wolf.
What's happening right now is although everybody seems to have cleared out except for these young men. They're about a half a dozen young men. You won't be able to see them, but they are moving right behind us along this ridge which is bordering the Ofer prison here in Bitunia crossing in the West Bank.
They are continuing to throw rocks at the prison. Just not more than five minutes ago, the Israeli either prison officials, security officials, we're not really sure, but from the other side came a volley of tear gas canisters, at least four or five tear gas canisters that came across over the gate and into this area. We thought that that would be enough to clear out these young men, but they are still there. I can actually see them right here.
They're actually right up against the gate. During that moment, we saw security officials from the Israeli side moving closer to the gate. We saw armored personnel carriers moving closer to the gate. That's when we saw the volley of tear gas that came into this sort of parking lot.
BLITZER: But the 26 Palestinian prisoners who were released, Vlad, they are gone from the scene, right? They have moved either to the West Bank or elsewhere.
DUTHIERS: That's right, Wolf. The prisoners that were meant to be released in the West Bank now have been released from this prison. They are on their way to the presidential compound of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, where they will be given a hero's welcome.
Other prisoners that are being released in Gaza will also be given similar welcomes. Palestinians we spoke to today have said to us these prisoners are political prisoners and that they are freedom fighters. But the Israelis we spoke to, many of them family members who have lost loved ones due to some of the acts committed by these prisoners, say this should not have been done, that this was a mistake, that these are not political prisoners, that they are terrorists and in some cases murderers and killers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was doing this and it was a difficult decision, but that he was doing this as a goodwill gesture on the eve of peace negotiations which are set to resume tomorrow.
BLITZER: We will be covering those as well. Let's hope those peace negotiations begin tomorrow and they produce something productive.
Vlad Duthiers is on in the scene for us in the West Bank. We will stay in close touch with you, Vlad. Be careful over there. Obviously it's a tense, very tense situation.
Let's move on to some other news here in the United States. He's taken the Senate by storm stirring up controversy and ruffling feathers on both sides of the aisle in his first months on the job. For that Ted Cruz is a Tea Party favorite already generating lots of buzz about the 2016 race for the White House. However, the question isn't only will he run, but can he run under the U.S. Constitution?
CNN's Athena Jones is joining us now. She's been looking into this.
Athena, so what's going on with Senator Ted Cruz and his eligibility potential to become one day president of the United States?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. The big question here is whether Ted Cruz is a natural-born citizen.
I spoke with several constitutional law experts about this today. And all of them believe that Cruz is. But it's important to know the Constitution doesn't define who is a natural-born citizen. And those are the only people eligible to run for president. Also I should add the Supreme Court has never ruled on this issue.
JONES: Senator Ted Cruz, a Tea Party darling who's made a name for himself stirring the political pot. The Texas Republican challenged Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel at his confirmation hearing.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: You explicitly agreed with the characterization of the United States as the world's bully.
JONES: And says the IRS should be abolished, defying his own party leadership, threatening to shut down the government over Obamacare. Here he is making the case in Iowa, a crucial 2016 battleground state.
CRUZ: This thing ain't working, but yet I can't count the number of Republicans in Washington who say, well, we can't defund it.
JONES: He's a potential presidential contender, but he wasn't born in the U.S., so is he even eligible to run? He says he is. Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father and an American mother.
CRUZ: My mother was born in Wilmington, Delaware. She's a U.S. citizen. So I'm a U.S. citizen by birth.
JONES: The Constitution says only a "natural born citizen" can be president. But what does "natural born" mean?
RANDY BARNETT, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER: As long as he qualifies as a citizen of the United States at birth, which he does by law, then that makes him a natural-born citizen.
JONES: This citizenship question isn't new. Former GOP candidate John McCain was born to American parents in the Panama Canal zone, raising questions.
To try to put the matter to rest, the Senate passed a non-binding resolution in 2008 recognizing McCain as a natural-born citizen. But even that resolution noted that the Constitution doesn't define the term.
BARNETT: This is an example of an interpretation of the Constitution that was really fleshed out by Congress itself.
JONES: Law professor Randy Barnett is talking about statute. But a 50-page report by the Congressional Research Service provides another clue about how Congress views the issue. That report says "natural born" applies to those born abroad to U.S. citizen parents.
It doesn't address those born abroad to one U.S. parent, but the argument goes, if Cruz can claim citizenship through his mother at birth -- and the scholars we spoke with say he can -- then he can claim to be natural born.
But that doesn't mean it's the end of the story. In the case of President Obama, even providing a copy of his Hawaiian birth certificate hasn't quieted so-called birthers like Donald Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, REAL-ESTATE MOGUL: Well, I don't know. Was it a birth certificate? You tell me. Some people say that was not his birth certificate. I'm saying I don't know. Nobody knows.
JONES: So would a Cruz candidacy ignite a birther movement of its own? It's anybody's guess.
JONES: Now, Trump didn't seem quite as eager to dive in on Cruz's eligibility in that interview. For his part, Cruz told ABC recently that he's not going to get involved in any legal debate. He said simply, "I'm not going to engage" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Athena, thanks very much. Let's dig a little bit deeper. Joining us now, the George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley.
You've studied this, and I'll just put on the screen what the United States Constitution says. Jonathan, you know this well. Article two, section one: "No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of president."
Cruz was born in Canada. A Cuban dad, an American mother. What say you? Is it automatic that he is eligible to become president of the United States?
JONATHAN TURLEY, LAW PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: I think Senator Cruz is eligible to be president of the United States. The key here is whether he is, in fact, a U.S. citizen by the fact that his mother was a U.S. citizen from Delaware. I think the answer to that is yes.
Under Section 301-G of the federal law, the Immigration and Nationality Act, that is recognized as giving you citizenship at birth. That then triggers the natural born language of the Constitution if you run for president.
It is certainly true that this was not defined in the Constitution. It was not particularly clear in the Constitutional Convention. What was clear is that the framers didn't want particularly aristocrats coming over to the United States and taking over the country. There were some that might have thought they were barring Alexander Hamilton, although I'm not so sure that was -- it was many people.
But the fact is that if you look at how we define this term, we look at whether you were a citizen at birth. And the United States State Department says on its Web site -- anyone can see it -- that if you're abroad and you have a child and you're a U.S. citizen, even though that child is with a foreign person, that child is a U.S. citizen.
BLITZER: Now Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. We all know for a matter of fact he was born in Hawaii. His mother an American. Obviously, his father from Kenya. The birthers all claim he was born in Kenya, which isn't true. But with an American mother, even if he had been born in Kenya, which obviously is not true, he still would be eligible to run for president, right?
TURLEY: That's right. Very few people actually bought the idea that President Obama was not eligible. There's certainly the case that many of the folks on Capitol Hill that were making these arguments are silent today. But as you know, this is a city that literally floats on a deep and rolling sea of hypocrisy. That's nothing new. So once again, we find people that have gone strangely silent.
But with regard to Senator Cruz, he has to make his case to be president of the United States. But I don't think he has to work very hard to say that he's eligible.
BLITZER: And he's not a naturalized citizen as far as the United States is concerned. He never had to go through a naturalization process because he may have been born in Canada, but he automatically was a citizen of the United States because his mother was an American citizen.
TURLEY: That's right. And Wolf, I mean, the problem with taking the opposing view is that it would lead to a lot of mischief. I mean, the fact is most people in this country are citizens by birth. He did not have that intervening act. He was not naturalized. If you say that that doesn't matter, that throws a lot of people into question as to whether they would meet this eligibility requirement.
Also Wolf, I think that what's useful about this is that people have to seriously look at this provision. I'm a big fan of our constitutional system and the framers. This was a mistake. It certainly -- if it wasn't a mistake then, it's a mistake now. We're a nation of immigrants. And this is an insult to people that have come to this country and contributed so much. We can debate how long you should be in this country to be qualified for president, but it's time that we put this provision to bed and time that we change it.
BLITZER: There were some movements over the years to try to change -- would require an amendment to the Constitution, which you know better than anyone is not easy to do. It requires a lot of work.
All right. Jonathan Turley, thanks very much for joining us. Good explanation. I'm sure Ted Cruz and his fans out there are going to be happy you say he is, in fact, eligible to become president of the United States.
TURLEY: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, a major embarrassment for a U.S. Air Force unit in charge of hundreds of nuclear missiles.
And we'll meet America's newest millionaires: 16 county workers, including victims of Superstorm Sandy. They claim their share of the giant Powerball jackpot.
BLITZER: Let's take a quick look at some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
A huge new embarrassment for the U.S. Air Force. CNN can confirm a second nuclear missile defense unit failed a security and safety inspection this year. Precise details are not being made public. The Montana unit's failure, coupled with an earlier bad grade for a unit in North Dakota, means two of the Air Force's three nuclear wings flunked three key inspections this year.
Reports from South Africa say the Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius will be indicted next week for the murder of his girlfriend. Pistorius, a double amputee known worldwide as The Blade Runner, admits shooting Reeva Steenkamp last Valentine's Day. He says he thought she was a burglar who had broken into his apartment. Right now, Pistorius is free on bail. Doctors report a second case of a rare brain-eating parasite. The family of a 12-year-old Florida boy says he played in a water-filled ditch one day and then slept the next day. So they took him to a hospital. Now he's in intensive care. This case comes less than a month after a 12-year-old girl in Arkansas became affected with the same rare parasite. She's now in fair condition and out of intensive care.
Finally, take a look at the top of this high-rise apartment building in China. Residents say a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine spent the past six years building a mountain retreat on the roof. They've complained before, but nothing happened until recently, when pictures went viral on the Internet. Now there's a notice on the man's door, saying he has 15 days to take it all down.
Coming up in SITUATION ROOM, you'll meet the county workers who won part of that huge Powerball jackpot. You'll find out why they're being called Oceans 16.
Plus, the story behind the first lady, Michelle Obama's, brand-new hip-hop video.
BLITZER: Look at the joy. These Palestinian prisoners were released by the Israelis just a little while ago. Now they're being reunited with their fellow Palestinians in Ramallah. You can see these pictures coming in from the West Bank.
Twenty-six Palestinian prisoners have been in jail for a long time. The Israelis released them as a good will gesture as the result of some prodding, shall we say, by the U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry wants the peace negotiations to resume. They will resume, in fact, tomorrow in Jerusalem. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators with U.S. mediators attending. They'll resume the talks.
This was done by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was a good will gesture, releasing these Palestinian prisoners. The first batch. More scheduled to be released in the coming weeks as the peace process gets going.
Other news right now we're following in THE SITUATION ROOM, including this. The incredible shrinking Powerball jackpot. Last Wednesday's drawing was worth $448 million. There were three winning tickets, each worth $149 million.
Last week we learned the Minnesota winner decided to take the immediate lump sum cash option. That made his ticket worth $86 million, but that's before taxes. A little more than $58 million given to this individual after taxes.
Now we've learned one of the other winning tickets has to be split 16 ways. That works out to just under $4 million each after taxes. Still, no one, obviously, is complaining.
CNN business and personal finance correspondent Zain Asher watched them claim their winnings today.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS AND PERSONAL FINANCE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Edward (ph), here is the $86 million markup check that these guys actually posed with a bit earlier on. Divided by 16, these guys are walking away with roughly $3.8 million each.
Now, we did meet all 16 of them today. Lots of different personalities. Lots of different stories to share, including one woman who unfortunately lost her home during Superstorm Sandy last year. She told her story. Here's what she had to say.
DARLENE RICCO, LOTTERY WINNER: We lost our home in the storm. I was just renting it, but we lived there for five years. Me and my daughter. So now, I've stayed with my brother for a few months and got a little apartment above a store front. So the first thing I'm going to do is buy me and my daughter a home and bring my dog back home.
When I found out that we won, I was speechless. I thought they were joking with me. And I thought it was, like, the worse joke ever. I just woke up in the morning just assuming, you know, we just didn't win. Yes. It's -- I'm still in shock.
ASHER: And we did also meet another woman who said that her father died of cancer only recently. And she said that she believed these winnings were his way of smiling down on her.
We also met another gentleman, an interesting character who explained how he would spend his retirement days. Take a listen.
WILLIE SEELEY, LOTTERY WINNER: I'm just going to continue watching NASCAR racing on Sunday. Maybe I'll be at my log cabin on multiple acres of land. And I don't want to be -- I could stay up and talk to y'all. I didn't do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You paid for it.
SEELEY: I think I can afford it. Maybe more air conditioning in here. But...
ASHER: And we also heard about how Thursday morning unfolded when these guys realized that they'd won. One woman, Lisa Presutto, she was in charge of buying the tickets. She said that everybody put $6 in.
She woke up Thursday morning. She realized that the winning Powerball number was 32. She realized it was sort of familiar because she had bought lots of tickets with Powerball number 32. She checked those tickets frantically, and she began to shake as she realized she'd bought one of the winning tickets. She said that she went into the next room. She woke up -- and I'm quoting here. She said she woke up her poor husband who, by the way, isn't poor anymore -- Wolf.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: He's a millionaire; so is she. All right. Thanks very much for that, Zain Asher. Good story.
Coming up Michelle Obama, the first lady of the United States, turns to rap to get an important message across to young people.
BLITZER: First lady Michelle Obama's prominently featured in a brand- new rap album. CNN White House correspondent Dan Lothian is covering the Obamas as they vacation on Martha's Vineyard.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good to see you, man.
DON LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As President Obama ordered up fried shrimp, fried oysters, onion rings and French fries at Nancy's Restaurant and Snack Bar in Oak Bluffs, his wife made a much healthier appearance in a hip-hop music video with industry heavyweights promoting healthy living.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: It's hard to believe that...
LOTHIAN: The first lady doesn't sing and dance in the video, even though she's never shied away from grooving to Beyonce. Dancing with Jimmy Fallon.
In this project, her Let's Move campaign doesn't cause her to break a sweat, but it's the inspiration for an entire album of 19 songs, with healthy tunes like "You Are What You Eat" and "Veggie Love," recorded by hit makers including Jordin Sparks, Ashanti and Doug E. Fresh.
DOUG E. FRESH, V.P., HIP-HOP PUBLIC HEALTH: Hip-hop is the No. 1 tool educating and teaching the kids in a positive way.
LOTHIAN: This album is the work of the Partnership for a Healthier America and Hip-Hop Public Health, with White House footage of the first lady celebrating the first anniversary of Let's Move.
DR. OLAJIDA WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT, HIP-HOP PUBLIC HEALTH: It is very unique and in my mind groundbreaking, because it brings together the most unlikely of groups.
LOTHIAN: Now, this independent initiative comes on the heels of a CDC report that shows a small but significant decline in the childhood obesity cases between 2008 and 2011. It's roughly the same time that the first lady had been pushing her campaign. No one is saying that they are connected, but researchers do see this as a bright spot -- Wolf.
BLITZER: They certainly do; glad that they're all doing it. It's really important. Glad to see my friend Doug E. Fresh in that video, as well.
LOTHIAN: That's right.
BLITZER: A great, great guy.
LOTHIAN: I knew you'd like that.
BLITZER: I like that. He taught me how to Dougie, so that's -- good to see him in the video.
All right, Dan, thanks very much.
Coming up, a great reason to look up into the sky tonight.
BLITZER: New trouble on the streets of Cairo today. A state-run Egyptian news site says one person died, 11 were wounded when gunfire broke out during a march in support of the deposed president, Mohammed Morsy. The Muslim Brotherhood says the shooting was started by members of the Egyptian security forces, who were dressed in civilian clothes. A state-run news site blames anti-Morsy shop keepers. An Egyptian security source tells Reuters it isn't clear who started the shooting.
Look up soon, and you could see an extraordinary meteor shower under way right now. The celestial fireworks show is at its peak, and your best view is said to be just after midnight until just before sunrise. Check it out. You'll want to see it.
Here's a quick look at some of the hour's "Hot Shots."
In Germany a wind turbine spins over a field of sunflowers.
In China revelers take part in a water festival.
In Moscow an American pole vaulter competes at the world championships.
And in Serbia umbrellas provide shade at a cafe.
"Hot Shots," pictures coming in from around the world.
That's it. Remember: You can follow me on Twitter, @WolfBlitzer. Follow the show, @CNNSitRoom.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.