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The Situation Room
Secret Romney Tapes; Royal Scandal in Court
Aired September 17, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: a new strategy for Mitt Romney and a new headache as secret audiotapes of the candidate emerge.
Also, reports of another clandestine attack on a nuclear facility in Iran.
And CNN talks to Prince William, as the royal scandal over topless photos goes to court.
Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Joe Johns. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
New recordings are emerging of potentially damaging remarks by Mitt Romney, including one in which he calls Obama voters -- quote -- "dependent on government." The remarks are being revealed as the Republican presidential nominee tries to reboot his campaign.
CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta is on the trail with Romney in Los Angeles.
Jim, where did these tapes come from?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joe, these tapes were originally reported by the liberal magazine "Mother Jones" and in one of the videos as you mentioned he is heard describing President Obama's supporters as being dependent on the government.
In another video, he talks about what his political prospects would be like if he were Hispanic. But, as you said, these new videos come as a distraction for his campaign just as it's trying to rework its economic message.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Mitt Romney is rebooting his message, returning to the issue that has driven his campaign from the beginning, the economy.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time for a president who's committed to cutting spending and balancing the budget. And I know how to do that. I have done it before. We balanced our budget in my business and at the Olympics and every year I was in my state.
ACOSTA: In a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Romney offered remedies to the deficit he rarely talks about, such as combining departments and agencies of the federal government. The retooled approach is backed up with plain language in new ads.
ROMNEY: Got to balance the budget. You have got to cut the deficit.
ACOSTA: Romney also returned to his line of attack on China, slamming President Obama's announcement of a trade complaint against the communist country.
ROMNEY: If I had known that all it took to get him to take action was to run an ad citing his inaction on China's cheating, I would have run one a long time ago.
ACOSTA: The Obama campaign is firing back by pointing to this hidden camera video showing Romney at a fund-raiser talking about a trip he took to China to buy a factory during his days at Bain Capital.
ROMNEY: And around this factory was a fence, a huge fence with barbed wire and guard towers. And we said, gosh, I can't believe that you keep these girls in. They say, no, no, no, this is to keep other people from coming in, because people want so badly to come work in this factory.
ACOSTA: A source familiar with Bain's investment history says the firm did not buy the factory referred to in the video.
That video and other clips lead to the liberal magazine "Mother Jones" appear to show Romney shooting from the hip on a whole host of topics, like his father's birth in Mexico.
ROMNEY: Had he born of Mexican parents, I would have a better shot at winning this.
ROMNEY: But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. They lived there for a number of years. I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.
ACOSTA: In another YouTube video, Romney can be heard going off on Obama supporters.
ROMNEY: There are 47 percent who are with him who are dependent upon government who believe that they're victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them.
ACOSTA: President Obama had his own off-script moment in 2008, when he was caught on tape at a fund-raiser saying people in rural America cling to their guns and religion. It's a favorite Paul Ryan attack line repeated just today.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I remember that one time where he was talking to a bunch of donors in San Francisco and he said, people like us, people from the Midwest, they like to cling to their guns and their religion.
I got to tell you, this Catholic deer hunter is guilty as charged and proud to say so.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ACOSTA: Now, CNN has not been able to independently authenticate these recordings, but a Romney campaign adviser does tell CNN that the campaign does plan on releasing a statement on the recordings some time this evening. We have not received that statement. We have been asking for it for several hours now.
But we can also report that the Romney campaign has also announced it's now going to allow video cameras into some of its fund- raisers, something it had not been doing before, Joe.
JOHNS: Jim Acosta in Los Angeles, thanks for that report.
It's back to Ohio for President Obama. The campaign in that battleground state is increasingly focusing on car talk.
CNN White House correspondent Dan Lothian is traveling with Mr. Obama.
Dan, what is the president saying?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, both here in Columbus and also Cincinnati the president talking about manufacturing jobs, obviously the auto industry which is critical in a state like Ohio, but also talking about trade and China, the president telling supporters that he's been tougher on China than the previous administration and that when it comes time to vote, the choice is clear.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): Ohio may well be the mother of all battleground states. President Obama has visited here a dozen times so far this year. This is where his auto bailout message goes into overdrive. Car companies rescued. Thousands of jobs saved. Ohio's economy recovering.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When some of these other folks said we should let Detroit go bankrupt, when they said we should walk away from an industry that supports one in eight jobs in Ohio, I said, we are not going to go that way. I bet on American workers and three years later the American auto industry has come roaring back.
LOTHIAN: At this stop in Cincinnati, the president used a conveniently timed billion-dollar auto trade complaint against China to hit his GOP opponent, suggesting he's not standing up for the American worker.
OBAMA: He's been running around Ohio claiming he's going to roll up the sleeves and he's going to take the fight to China. No, you can't stand up to China when all you have done is sent them our jobs.
LOTHIAN: Governor Romney, who trails by seven points in Ohio, dismissed the swipe by taking his own shot at the president, saying in a statement -- quote -- "Campaign season trade cases may sound good on the stump, but it's too little, too late for American businesses and middle-class families."
The GOP nominee also flexed his muscles in a new ad, vowing to confront China for unfair trade practices.
ROMNEY: Trade has to work for America. That means crack down on cheaters like China.
LOTHIAN: This debate plays well in a state where one out of every eight jobs is tied to the auto industry. And while the president plays up the bailout on the stump, Ohio's Republican governor downplayed its impact at his party's convention in Tampa.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: We balanced our budget. That $8 billion deficit eliminated without a tax increase in the state of Ohio. We sat down and set priorities. We eliminated those programs that we no longer needed.
LOTHIAN: Now, the White House and the campaign today was also hit with some tough questions about the timing of the China announcement happening while the president was campaigning here in the state of Ohio, that it could appear to be political, but aides pushing back saying this is something that was in the works for months and it's more a function of Mr. Obama running his reelection campaign and also being president -- Joe.
JOHNS: Dan Lothian, thanks for that.
Iran is blaming Israel and the U.S. for what it says was an attempt to sabotage an underground nuclear facility. It says explosives were used to cut power lines, a move that could damage centrifuges used to enrich uranium.
Washington and Tel Aviv deny involvement.
Let's get more from CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend, a former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush and serves on the external advisory boards of the CIA and the Homeland Security Department.
Fran, what do you make of this? It's a fascinating story.
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: This is a fascinating story, Joe. I think we ought other take our viewers a step back. Over the last several years you have seen a whole series of inexplicable events. There have been three cyber attacks. It starts with Duqu, which is mapping of the nuclear infrastructure. There's then Stuxnet, which is very well known, and a follow-on, Flame.
And public reporting and researchers say those were so sophisticated they must have been state sponsored. At the same time, you have had a military installation related to the nuclear program. There was an explosion at it. We don't understand why. There have been a number of nuclear scientists from Iran's program targeted and murdered inside of Iran.
If you step back and look at the things and now you add to this the explosion of power lines, one has to really question whether or not there's not some state-sponsored organized effort. Nobody here in Washington is obviously talking. Both Washington and Tel Aviv deny it, but it would be perfectly consistent if one wanted to avoid an overt confrontation and was looking to still undermine the program so you could avoid it. It would certainly make sense if some or all of this wasn't related to a covert action.
JOHNS: So, you're suspecting this is actually something that really happened and not say subterfuge by Iran?
TOWNSEND: That's right, Joe. But that's always a possibility, right?
We have seen them sort of create these fantastic but untrue stories. We understand that they're looking to avoid IAEA inspections and so to blame something like this, to stage it as propaganda and to stage it to avoid additional inspections would also be a credible explanation.
JOHNS: To your very point, the Iranian state media said the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, is in danger of being infiltrated by, their quote, terrorists and saboteurs.
TOWNSEND: Doesn't make sense. Let's be clear. The IAEA is an inspection body. It is not an operational, it's not an intelligence organization.
What they do, they wouldn't permit themselves to be used for such sort of covert or clandestine activity because it would undermine their credibility to conduct inspections, so I think that's a fantastic fabrication. I don't buy that at all.
JOHNS: United States and Israel, of course, know nothing?
TOWNSEND: Exactly. Nobody's talking about this one and understandably.
JOHNS: Totally a spy movie.
TOWNSEND: It is. It's a spy movie in the making.
JOHNS: The other thing that fascinates me is this facility would have been very well fortified by now.
TOWNSEND: That's exactly right. It makes sense. If you wanted to target it and disrupt activity there, cutting power lines which is an essential requirement in order to spin the centrifuges makes perfectly good sense if you were a spy.
JOHNS: How do you do that?
JOHNS: We will see.
TOWNSEND: To be continued.
JOHNS: You bet.
TOWNSEND: Joe, shanah tovah to our Jewish watchers.
JOHNS: Thanks so much, Fran Townsend.
A U.S. consulate attacked, four Americans killed, including an ambassador. We're going to go live to Libya for the latest on the investigation.
A health update on the world's richest man. Warren Buffett talks about his fight against cancer.
JOHNS: The new week brought another wave of anti-U.S. protests in Muslim countries.
While sparked by the crude movie mocking the Prophet Mohammed, the protests are taking on a broader agenda. In Lebanon, thousands marched through the streets chanting death to America and down with Zionism. In a rare public appearance, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called the film a dangerous turn in the war against Muslim. In Pakistan, at least one person was killed when anti-American protesters clashed with the police.
Indonesian police fired tear gas and used water cannons to disperse a crowd of rock-throwing protesters outside a U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. The most shocking protest was last week in Benghazi, Libya, where the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed.
CNN senior international correspondent Arwa Damon is there for us.
Arwa, what is the latest you are hearing in the investigation into the attack on the U.S. Consulate?
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Joe, we still have these contradictory narratives as to what took place emerging from the Libyan government itself.
The head of the General National Congress, effectively the country's president, saying they detained 50 individuals, amongst them foreigners, members of or sympathizers with al Qaeda and say that this was some sort of pre-planned attack.
But other senior officials within the government itself are saying, no, these 50 were just brought in for questioning and that they have no evidence that this was pre-planned whatsoever.
We spoke with one young man who said he arrived at the scene of the attack shortly after the gunfire subsided and that he saw groups of members of a known extremist militia here describing men with big long beards carrying rocket-propelled grenades, Russian-made automatic machine guns and as well a variety of other weapons.
He ended up briefly detained by the group and he says he overheard them talking about the attacks, celebrating it, but also talking about the need to carry out and to be ready to carry out a second attack against a second location.
If you will remember, there was a second attack against the safe house that happened a few hours after the initial assault on the consulate that very same night. The government vowing it's going to bring those that carried this out to justice, but at the same time admitting it doesn't have the capabilities to rein in these various militias.
But, still, it's very distressing and disturbing that the Lebanon government in and of itself is unable to actually stick to one story or another almost a week after this attack took place.
JOHNS: Arwa, it turns out you actually spoke to a witness that saw some of the extremists there. What were they telling you?
DAMON: Well, they were talking about how these were known members of a militia group and how they were celebrating the attack and also he was saying that this is not the first time that this particular group or groups have carried out such attacks.
And if you will remember, in the past, this very same location was attacked. The convoy of the British ambassador, the convoy of the head of the U.N. Mission, the headquarters of the ICRC all attacked in Benghazi. Some military officials are telling us that they warned the U.S. about the growing threat of extremism as it does exist, especially in the eastern part of the country as recently as three days before the attack took place.
Many on the ground right now questioning whether or not the U.S. grossly underestimated the threat level against it, all the while many also saying that it was the Libyan government's responsibility to a certain degree to have created more security around the compound itself.
And so, many are saying that the blame lies with both sides. But at the end of the day, this most certainly is not the path that those who initially launched the revolution to bring down Colonel Gadhafi's regime wanted to see the country move down.
JOHNS: What are you seeing now? Any protests? Seeing any demonstrations?
DAMON: There was we are hearing a candlelit vigil in front of the consulate itself carried out by children, by women.
The Libyans really want the world to know that this act of violence against the U.S. is by no way, shape or form representative of the Libyan mind-set as a whole. The vast majority of Libyans we're talking to are shocked and appalled at what took place.
And there's video that emerged on YouTube, and we spoke to the young man who shot it. It's video showing the ambassador's body being evacuated through one out the windows at the compound. Now, the group of people who were moving the body did not realize that it was the ambassador. They did realize, however, it was a foreigner and thought it was an American and initially they thought he was still alive.
And then you hear this euphoric cheer of "God is great" once they realized that they have managed to save what they believe to be a survivor. But, of course, by the time they were able to get the ambassador to the hospital, the doctor there says it was too late.
JOHNS: Arwa Damon in Benghazi, thanks so much for that report.
We're learning new details about the mystery man's whose inflammatory video sparked all those protests. You will hear from people who worked with him next.
JOHNS: Reports of infighting within team Romney -- the chairman of the Republican Party reacts next.
JOHNS: Happening now, a change of strategy amid reports of tension inside the Romney campaign. New information about the mystery man whose anti-Muslim film is sparking deadly riots. And Prince William outraged at topless photos of his wife. He talks to CNN.
Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Joe Johns. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
A disparaging assessment of President Obama's supporters by his rival for the White House. Listen to this recording of the Republican presidential nominee, obtained by "Mother Jones" Magazine. Romney was speaking at a closed-door fundraiser. CNN has not been able to independently verify the authenticity or the source of these recordings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president, no matter what. All right? There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: Let's talk about that with the Republican Party chairman, Reince Priebus. Do you agree with that statement? There's a lot in here, 47 percent who are dependent upon government?
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN: Well, I don't have the numbers in front of me, John -- Joe. But by the way, thanks for having me on.
I think that it's very clear that one of the -- one of the key issues for Americans to decide is what kind of America you want to have. I mean, and this is not a new theme. This is nothing new that we've -- that I or anyone have said.
Do you want the Obama cradle-to-grave life of Julia -- they're touting it themselves -- type government. Or do you want to have an opportunity society where you can take a shot at the American dream, where people get government, where we can get to a place where government gets out of the way so that we can unleash the power of business?
This is a choice election, so when we talk about, hey, there's a choice of two futures that every American has to assess and make a decision on, I mean, a lot of it has to do with that huge monstrosity of government that's been created.
And so yes, I think we are entering into a dependency society in this country that, if we don't break that up, I think that it's going to be very hard for us to compete in the world.
JOHNS: Is this a message the Republican Party has sort of been putting out privately, or do you think it's a more a case of the candidate being a bit off message?
PRIEBUS: No. I don't -- I don't think the candidate's off message at all. I think that it's very true that, in America today and many colonies that are watching this right now the biggest employer 20 years ago in many of these places where big private business or manufacturing plant.
And now the biggest employer in many places around America is just the government. It's either the school board or the municipality. We have people that are -- we have an explosion in benefits and in subsidies from the government around the country.
The problem we have, Joe, and this is a deeper conversation which is good, is that we can't collect enough money in this government, in this world, to pay for the size of government that we have created in Washington, D.C.
What I mean by that is, you know, there isn't enough money out there to pay for the monstrosity that we've created. And so we have a world -- or excuse me, a country that, when my son is my age, just like a lot of little kids, when they become our age, we're going to spend about 45 cents on every dollar made in America just to run the federal government.
The point of all of this is -- is that the size of government is too big, and if we don't do something about it we're going to really lose the very idea of America.
JOHNS: But I just want to go back to this line. "There are 47 percent who are with Obama who are dependent on government, who believe they're victims." That's saying that the 47 percent of people who certainly are going to vote for the president are dependent on the government to take care of them? Are you sure that you don't think this is a misstatement by Mr. Romney?
PRIEBUS: Listen, Joe, I don't have the numbers in front of me, but clearly what we do have, very clearly, is a government and a society here in this country that is becoming dependent. This is something advertised by Barack Obama himself on his own Web site when they came out with this "Life of Julia" push over the summer.
JOHNS: So what percentage -- excuse me, don't mean to...
PRIEBUS: At the age of 3 -- Joe, you get -- Joe I don't have -- listen. I don't have the percentages in front of me. And if you want to play the cat-and-mouse game, I'm not going to play it with you.
JOHNS: No. I mean, what percentage would be victims?
PRIEBUS: Our government is completely out of control, my friend. And I don't think that's a secret. I don't think it's anything that anyone has been hiding. And I think it's something that is going to be on the ballot in November.
It is a choice election between what type of country you want to have. And I can guarantee you that the American dream was not built upon the "Life of Julia" society advertised by Barack Obama.
JOHNS: Can we play the other audio clip? There's one more audio clip I wanted you to listen to. Just real quick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: So, the strategy then is to focus on the 10 percent who are thoughtful. Agree with that?
PRIEBUS: I don't think it's any secret that both sides are focusing in very heavily on independents and people that are in the middle and haven't made their mind up but are paying attention to the issues, paying attention to the advertising, the messaging, paying attention to conversations like this. And I think that's -- I think that's pretty -- pretty par for the course. JOHNS: All right. So, moving on now, you know there's been a lot of news today and a lot of talk about the Romney campaign switching or at least tweaking their strategy.
PRIEBUS: Boy, Joe, you've got all kinds of fun topics here today, don't you, buddy?
JOHNS: It's just the news, you know.
JOHNS: My question -- my question for you is, what kinds of tweaks or changes do you think the Romney campaign ought to make?
PRIEBUS: Well, I think that you saw two ads come out today that I think are very -- very, I think, fresh, and I think that they're very specific and I think they're things that people will -- it will resonate with people across America. I mean, what we're going to be doing, what Mitt Romney's presidency is going to look like. Mitt talking to the camera.
I think all of that and the above are the things that you're going to be seeing a lot more of, coming out of Mitt Romney. And I think it's a good thing. I think that it's part of the strategy. And I think that they're just moving forward with the next step in the campaign moving into the last 50 days.
JOHNS: I did want to just go back to last week, and we all followed very closely the situation at the embassies in Egypt and Libya.
You put out a tweet, and we never got a chance to ask you about it so I thought I would, and I just want to show it on the screen here. It says, "Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic."
And then this, of course, before we knew that Ambassador Stevens had been killed over in Libya. And the White House later explained it had nothing to do with the statement you were referencing there. Anything you want to say about that? Do you regret that tweet? Do you feel like it was OK and in bounds?
PRIEBUS: Why would I regret it? I don't regret it at all. I think that the fact of the matter is the White House themselves walked away from the statement made by the embassy in Egypt. The White House repudiated the statement that we were repudiating. That's No. 1.
The next question isn't whether I regret the tweet. The question is why is the White House having to walk away from a statement made by its own embassy? I mean, I think it's a very reasonable thing for Americans to believe that, if an embassy puts out a statement that, at the very least, the State Department and, de facto, the Obama White House would have agreed with the statements that were made from the embassy.
JOHNS: Would have.
PRIEBUS: We can't -- if we can't make -- Joe, if we can't make those assumptions today in this country, I think that the real question should go to the White House, not to the chairman of the RNC.
JOHNS: I don't think the White House ever put out anything saying they were sympathizing with the situation, though, correct?
PRIEBUS: If you're making -- OK. So if you're making excuses, if you are trying to put yourself in the shoes of these people who eventually breached the security perimeter of the Egyptian embassy, if you're trying to -- if you're trying to make -- come up with reasons for their actions, coming out of the embassy's own, you know, fax machine I think that the real questions need to be directed to the White House, not to me.
JOHNS: Reince Priebus, thanks so much for that. A really good conversation. Covered a lot of ground here. Appreciate it.
PRIEBUS: All right. Thank you, pal.
JOHNS: We're unraveling the mystery behind the movie that's blamed for sparking the Middle East violence. Up next, first pictures of the man behind the video.
JOHNS: We're getting our first look at the mystery filmmaker whose low-budget anti-Muslim video is fueling deadly anti-American protests around the world.
CNN's Miguel Marquez has been on the story from day one. Miguel, what's the latest you're finding out?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're finding out a lot about Sam Bassil, or as his real name is, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. We're also finding out who these actors are, how this film was made, and just what's on the line for Mr. Nakoula.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man at the heart of a crude piece of anti-Islamic propaganda, CNN obtained the first picture in the U.S. of Nakoula, a man who till now has tried to keep his identify hidden from the world.
(on camera) Was it your sense he was the writer and producer?
LILY DIONNE, ACTOR: Yes. Yes. I really believe he was the writer. He definitely was the producer. He was the one writing the checks, handing out the money. He was running the show.
MARQUEZ: Under the name Sam Bassil?
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Nakoula, posing as Sam Bassil, in charge of the production, writing the scripts, even paying the actors.
(on camera) And how much were you paid for this film?
CINDY GARCIA, ACTOR: Probably $500. Altogether.
MARQUEZ: Three or four days of work, 500 bucks?
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Cindy Garcia says on those checks was the name and signature Sam Bassil, the same name on the call sheet that actors and crew got every day. And in one of the ads seeking actors, that name again, with a slightly different spelling. Significant because the probation order for Nakoula Basseley Nakoula clearly states he can not use for any manner or purpose any name other than his true legal name or names without prior written approval by the probation officer.
The federal authorities aren't saying whether Sam Bassil is a legal name. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a.k.a. Sam Bassil, was convicted of bank fraud and identity theft in 2010 and is on five years' probation.
It appears his efforts to lie his way out of trouble knew no bounds. When news broke of his involvement in the video, he called the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Los Angeles, seeking assurance.
BISHOP SERAPION, COPTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH: He said, "I -- I called to assure you that is -- I am not behind this." He said that is now they try to avoid any confrontation with Israel. That's why they picked his name. That's what he said. But of course, it proved it was false.
MARQUEZ: An apparent attempt to implicate the Israeli backing for his propaganda video. Another lie by a man under pressure to finally tell the truth.
MARQUEZ: Now, L.A. County sheriff's deputies picked up Mr. Bassil this weekend or Mr. Nakoula this weekend and took him to see his probation officer. They did not return him to his house in Ceridos (ph).
And then early this morning deputies also picked up his family, reunited him at a sheriff's department location, and then they all drove off to an undisclosed location. At this point, he is not under arrest; he's not in custody. He's not on house arrest, but it's very clear that authorities are looking into everything here, Joe.
JOHNS: Miguel Marquez, thanks so much for that.
The world's most watched royal couple is in the South Pacific. CNN's Max Foster is there live. He spoke with Prince William and his wife about the latest scandal. Find out what they said next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JOHNS: New developments in the royal scandal over topless photos of Prince William's wife. While the duke and duchess of Cambridge are on an official visit to the Solomon Islands a half world away, their lawyers have gone to court to try to block the pictures from public view.
CNN royal correspondent, Max Foster, is traveling with the royal couple. Max, you met Will and Kate just yesterday. What can you tell us about their mood?
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, their mood is that they are carrying on with it all. They're putting a brave face on it, trying to put all this at the back of their minds when they're out in public.
So all these extraordinary scenes we've seen, this Asian Pacific welcome they've had here in the Solomon islands, is -- it's been -- they've been very encouraged by it. But behind the scenes, they are working flat out on this legal case, because over the last few days, they've been heavily involved in briefing lawyers and telling them what they expect, and essentially, they're throwing whatever legal means are at their disposal at these court cases in France.
So there are civil proceedings to stop the pictures being released to any further magazines. And there are criminal proceedings that the editor of the French magazine will end up in jail, potentially, and the photographer, also. They're going after that photographer, even though they don't know who it is. So they're trying to identify who it is, but they've made criminal complaints at least to the French authorities, hoping the prosecutors will follow that up.
Other magazines in other countries are publishing these pictures. An Irish newspaper published them over the weekend. But interestingly, Joe, the editor has been suspended, because there was such a public backlash to publishing these pictures. So the palace are working on a P.R. campaign as much as a legal campaign on this one.
JOHNS: So give me some sense. They are on a royal tour. What's the agenda? What's the point of it?
FOSTER: Well, the royal tour is on behalf of the queen and her diamond jubilee year, and there are 16 countries around the world where she's head of state. So she's dispatched her family out over this year to represent her.
And she came decades ago to this island in the Solomons, and this is the latest visit from the royal family, so they're hugely excited here. And they're not talking about the topless shots at all. They just are very excited to have them here. This is their head of state, future head of state.
I know that they are putting a brave face on as a couple, because they want to do their best. But she feels so humiliated by these pictures. And it must be incredibly difficult to know when she's going into one of these engagements, that everyone has seen those pictures.
And for William, it's pure anger. He keeps getting these references to Diana, who died with paparazzi surrounding her. He grew up with them hounding her, and he's so upset about that. It's defining for him, really. And he's starting to see that happen to his wife. And he's determined to make sure that doesn't happen. So he's spearheading all of this, making sure that this magazine knows how he feels and where the line is.
JOHNS: I have to ask you, here in the United States, this would be handled much differently. We'd have something you call invasion of privacy. It would be in the civil courts. There would be no criminal case. Could you sort of explain to our viewers how the publishing of these photographs would become a criminal case in your realm?
FOSTER: Well, it is a crime in France, very tough privacy laws. Invasion of privacy is a crime and that's why they have, potentially, a court case there. In France, often, you do have celebrities coming up with these injunctions in the civil courts and then going for a criminal case, as well. So it's as simple as that.
And the fact that they are going for the French case and not the Italian one, for example, is that they have a better chance of winning that.
JOHNS: Great. Max Foster, thanks so much, in the Solomon Islands, where it's Tuesday morning, isn't it?
FOSTER: It certainly is. Bright and early. Sun beating down, Joe, but it's very nice.
JOHNS: Thanks so much for that. Good seeing you.
Up next, cockroaches with cameras and computer chips that actually save lives.
JOHNS: Cockroaches may have finally found a positive purpose in life. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Next time you see a roach and panic...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do we do? What do we do?
MOOS: ... try imagining its coming to rescue you wearing a computer-chip backpack. You're looking at a prototype for a search- and-rescue roach.
DR. ALBERT BOSCURT (ph): Biobots, as we call them, or biological robots.
MOOS: Dr. Albert Boscurt (ph) and his electrical engineering students at North Carolina State University have been installing circuit boards and micro controllers on Madagascar hissing roaches. Using a joy stick, they can steer the roach along a chosen pathway by applying a tiny electrical current to the antennas and other sensors on the bug.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In order to, say, make it turn left, you stimulate its right antenna.
MOOS: See how zapping the antennas keeps the roach in line? Stimulating the antenna makes the roach think there's an obstacle from which it veers away.
(on camera) Researchers say it's like riding a horse, pulling on the reins to direct it.
(voice-over) Though often, the roaches disregard the electrical nudges. The robo-roach is sort of the biological cousin of the robo- mule designed to carry 400 pounds worth of stuff or the robo-cheetah that goes over 28 miles per hour or the fictional robo-spider in "Minority Report."
Unlike the spiders zapping Tom Cruise, the roaches getting zapped would be the good guys going where neither dog nor man can fit, equipped with cameras and sensors designed to find humans buried in rubble.
The robo-roach project has got an $880,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. When the top of the roach antenna gets chopped off and an electrode inserted, some animal lovers may hiss. Entomologists say it's hard to say what a roach feels. They have nerves, yet such a primitive system that it's likely they don't perceive pain like we do.
But what about the human sufferings seeing a swarm of robo- roaches could induce?
(on camera) Note to survivors. Do not step on the rescue roach.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where is it?
MOOS (voice-over): If it's wearing a backpack, think of it as the St. Bernard of roaches.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't do that. You're going to miss.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All you've got to do is get on the couch! Get on the couch! Get on the couch!
MOOS: ... New York.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get on the couch. (END VIDEOTAPE)
JOHNS: That's disgusting. That does it for us. I'm Joe Johns in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.