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THE SITUATION ROOM
Controversial Hearings on Capitol Hill; Gadhafi Forces Gain Ground; High Emotion at Controversial Hearing; Drone Size of a Bird Being Developed; Lady Gaga Splits with Target
Aired March 10, 2011 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, backed by air strikes, Libyan government forces push the rebels back. Amid growing predictions of a Gadhafi victory, the U.S. and other nations are reaching out to the opposition.
Journalists reach safety after surviving a harrowing ordeal at the hands of the Libyan military. You'll hear them tell about their own beatings, the mock executions, and the torture of other prisoners.
And emotions run very high at a hearing on the radicalization of Muslim-Americans. Some critics call it a witch hunt -- the embattled committee chairman accusing them of hysteria. We will have a fact- check.
Breaking news, political headlines and Jeanne Moos all straight ahead. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Libyan rebels are on the defensive right now, giving up ground, but they gained some momentum on the international front. France today formally recognized the opposition movement as Libya's sole representative. Britain's foreign secretary spoke by phone with an opposition representative.
And the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, announced plans to meet with opposition figures during a trip to the region next week.
But Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of Libyan leader, is defiant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAIF AL-ISLAM GADHAFI, SON OF MOAMMAR GADHAFI (through translator): We're not afraid of the American fleet, NATO, France, European -- this is our country. We will live here. We die here. We will never, ever surrender to those terrorists. Libyan nation is so united now. We are so strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: As if to back up that bravado, government forces claim to have retaken the key oil port of Ras Lanuf.
CNN's Ben Wedeman witnessed their punishing assault.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From almost the moment we arrived on the outskirts of Ras Lanuf, the shelling and bombing began.
(on camera): Aircraft overhead just bombed over there in an area where we saw there was -- there's a military camp.
(voice-over): The bombardment sent opposition fighters rushing out of town, including medical staff from the local hospital. The hospital narrowly escaped being hit. They parked by the side of the road, hoping to return.
DR. RAMZI AL-AWAMEH, LIBYA: The hospital, behind the hospital, exactly -- bomb many cars in the hospital, in the hospital inside.
WEDEMAN (on camera): One bomb or two?
AL-AWAMEH: Two bombs.
WEDEMAN: Two bombs.
AL-AWAMEH: Two bombs, so another (INAUDIBLE).
(voice-over): "If we must die, we will die here. We're doctors," he says. At the main checkpoint east of Ras Lanuf, the fighters regroup, preparing their weapons and ammunition for the onslaught everyone expects.
MASSOUD, ANTI-GADHAFI FIGHTER: Today is the first hard day for us. Today, he sends a lot of bombs from everywhere.
WEDEMAN: In this open terrain, there's nowhere to hide. "They're hitting us in Ras Lanuf, that dog," this fighter...
WEDEMAN: "He's destroying the Libyan people."
They don't want to call it a retreat, but it's hard to describe it any other way.
(on camera): Although they're hesitant to admit it for reasons of pride, it's clear that the anti-Gadhafi fighters are being pushed back by the Libyan army. At this point, their control of Ras Lanuf is, at best, tenuous.
(voice-over): Not everyone is moving back. This multiple rocket launcher, perhaps the most lethal weapon in the opposition arsenal, is headed to the front.
An hour's drive to the rear, in Al Brega, fighters are on alert for an airstrikes. They're bracing for a counteroffensive. At the local clinic, another name is added to the list of injured. Libyan-American neurosurgeon Rida Mazagri has been treating the wounded for a week.
(on camera): If you could speak to Obama face to face...
DR. RIDA MAZAGRI, Libyan-American Neurosurgeon: I think you do something. You have to stand for your principle. If the killing, you think it's wrong, you should do something, not just appearing ever second day and you say Gadhafi is ill legitimate, this and that. You do something, if you could it. If you can't, you can't. But you could do it, you should do it now, not tomorrow.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Otherwise, this list may grow even longer.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, Al Brega, Eastern Libya.
BLITZER: The Libyan leader's son is making some threatening new statements as Gadhafi forces gain an apparent victory on another battlefield.
BLITZER: And joining us now from Tripoli once again, our correspondent Nic Robertson.
Nic, the battle for Zawiyah, that key town not far from where you are, what are you hearing? What's the latest?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems that the army now has control. They have been seen in the center of the city there, Wolf, removing some of the tanks that have been destroyed in the fighting, cleaning up the area around what they call the rebels (INAUDIBLE) rebels (INAUDIBLE) called Martyrs Square.
When we were there a week-and-a-half ago, it was full of trees. I have been told now most of those trees have been destroyed. That was the (AUDIO GAP) of the fighting. But now it really does seem to be a mop-up operation for the military. They do seem to have it much more firmly in their control, Wolf.
BLITZER: The son of Gadhafi, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, he is speaking out boldly once again. What is he saying now?
ROBERTSON: Well, today, we saw him speaking to the -- quote, unquote -- "youth of Libya." These were young workers, Gadhafi fanatics, waving their flags (AUDIO GAP) in support of Gadhafi, something we see almost every day here.
But his message to them was really to fire them up for this country that's slipping towards a very deep and long civil war. He gave them the sort of fireside scare stories about what the militias on the other side, rebels on the other side are doing. He said they're cutting off heads, cutting out hearts, boiling hearts, stamping on the hearts, scare stories to rev them up.
And then he had a message for the people in the east, the rebels in the east. He said this is a message for you and this should be very clear. We are coming. He got a huge cheer from his audience, as you would expect. The messages weren't sophisticated, and the foot- stomping and hand-clapping, the responses, weren't either, Wolf.
BLITZER: What's the reaction there in Tripoli to France's decision to recognize the opposition based in Benghazi as the legitimate government of Libya?
ROBERTSON: You know, this (AUDIO GAP) have caught the government here a little by surprise. The deputy foreign minister spoke just a little while ago. He said we really want to wait and see the text of exactly what the French have said.
But he went onto say, this is an (INAUDIBLE) action. It's an illegitimate action. It breaks some of the Vienna Conventions. France can't do this. We're still the recognized government in the United Nations.
So the government here is really reeling from this. They're really beginning to see this international pressure, not just the threat of a no-fly zone, not just the fact that Sarkozy said today that there's still a possibility of airstrikes on Libya. They're really beginning to feel this international pressure and sanctions begin to bite. And they're not quite sure what to do, Wolf.
BLITZER: Nic Robertson. We will stay in close touch. Thanks very much.
BLITZER: Many Libyans have bet their lives on this revolt. But with Libyan's government vowing to crush the opposition and now rolling back some of the rebels' gains, what happens, what happens if Gadhafi wins the civil war?
We asked Brian Todd to take a closer look into this part of the story.
Brian, what are you finding out?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's a potentially ugly scene in Libya, if Gadhafi is able to keep this momentum going. He may not win enough of his territory back to hold the entire country again, but the parts he does capture may face some vicious consequences.
TODD (voice-over): Libya's rebels are now battling the odds, confronting Moammar Gadhafi's better-equipped fighters and air forces, confronting their own lack of training and leadership and faced with more skepticism from outside on their chances for victory.
LT. GEN. JAMES CLAPPER (RET.), NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: Over time, this is kind of a stalemate back and forth, but I think, over the longer term, that the regime will prevail.
TODD: With the fight now tipping toward Gadhafi, analysts warn of a bleak scenario if he prevails.
(on camera): Do you foresee Moammar Gadhafi going on some kind of revenge binge when this fighting recedes?
ELLIOTT ABRAMS, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Oh, yes.
If he wins this war, just think about this. His forces roll back into Benghazi, they're just going to slaughter everybody in the opposition. He's been covered with blood, including American blood, for decades now. So, the way he plays the game: You were against me. You tried to kill me. So, if I have the upper hand, you're dead.
TODD (voice-over): Elliott Abrams is a former deputy security adviser and assistant secretary of state. He and other experts say this is a tribal war and once it's done, Gadhafi is likely to systematically target those who he thinks turncoated on him. They also warn of a refugee crisis as thousands flee from their dictator's wrath.
(on camera): Gadhafi's own actions inside Libya after this war are one major concern. But analysts also warn of a ripple effect throughout the Middle East in countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, and Iran, places where strong-arm governments have repressed population dissent in the past.
(voice-over): Aaron David Miller advised six secretaries of state on the Middle East. On Gadhafi's use of brute force and the lack of intervention so far by the major powers:
(on camera): What signal would a Gadhafi victory send to those regimes?
AARON DAVID MILLER, AUTHOR, "THE MUCH TOO PROMISED LAND": I think to the dictators, to the Ahmadinejads, the Khamenei, the Assads, and even to the authoritarians in the Gulf, the Saudis in particular, clearly the fact that an authoritarian regime survived and defied the will of the international community will send a powerful signal that in effect they can survive as well.
TODD: And if Gadhafi survives, Miller says it could also be a signal, a warning to freedom activists in those countries that they should not let, should not actually count on military aid from the West to topple those dictators. They might lose those fights, Wolf.
BLITZER: U.S. officials are though scrambling right now to show they are doing something short of direct military intervention.
TODD: That's right. We were on a conference call with the national security adviser, Tom Donilon, today.
He said the U.S. is sending a disaster relief team into Eastern Libya with no military component it to monitor the humanitarian aid situation. The White House press secretary, Jay Carney, has tried to highlight today what he calls the dramatic response that they have undertaken in the last three weeks, the freezing of $32 billion in assets for Libya, the arms embargo and other measures like that.
They are trying to at least send a signal to the world hat they are doing something, clearly constrained, clearly a debate within the administration as to whether or go in there militarily or not.
BLITZER: I can't tell you how many members of Congress, their staffers and some officials in the Obama administration themselves have said to me today that even if General Clapper believes what he said, that Gadhafi is going to win, that he will crush the opposition, he didn't necessarily have to say that publicly, because that simply emboldens Gadhafi and his troops, demoralizes the opposition.
BLITZER: They're really trying to figure out why he had to say that publicly today. He could have told members of Congress during the testimony there are certain things we should discuss behind closed doors, under classified rules, certain things we should say publicly. They think he's sort of tone-deaf right now to what's going on.
TODD: And Senator Lindsey Graham called for him to resign because of that very statement, saying you're sending a wrong signal to the rebels here, and Dianne Feinstein not very happy...
BLITZER: Yes, not very happy.
Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, they don't understand why he said that. He was trying to be blunt. That was his opinion, that Gadhafi is going to win. But officials are saying, you know, he's also a spokesman, a high spokesman, director of national intelligence for the U.S. government. And he should know when to say something publicly and when not to say something publicly.
TODD: Right. Absolutely.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, thanks very much.
By the way, I will be traveling with the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, next week when she meets with NATO foreign ministers and others in Paris on Monday, then goes onto meet with local leaders in Egypt and Tunisia. I will be reporting from the region. The secretary will also be meeting with some opposition figures from Libya in Cairo next week. I will anchor special editions of THE SITUATION ROOM from Paris and Cairo.
Jack Cafferty has been thinking about banking fees, and he's here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack. JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: One of the largest banks in the country is thinking about putting its customers on a budget,sort of. According to a new report on CNNMoney.com, J.P. Morgan Chase considering capping purchases that you make with a Chase debit card at $50 or $100.
That's because new laws are going to go into effect this summer as part of that much-touted Wall Street reform legislation that will limit how much a financial institution can make off your debit card purchases.
The way it works is this. Right now, the banks charge merchants something called an interchange fee every time you use a debit card. Those fees bring in about $16 billion a year for the banks. That amounts to about 44 cents for every purchase you make with a debit card. But if the new limits take effect in July, as scheduled, the banks would be held to just 12 cents per transaction, instead of 44.
So being the crafty creatures that they are, they have decided if they limit the purchase amount, that will force you to do more transactions, and, presto, they don't wind up losing a dime -- not exactly reform from the consumer's point of view.
Banks say the higher fees are necessary to cover the costs associated with debit cards. So they are playing with several options.
Bank of America and Chase both say that they are testing out adding monthly fees to checking accounts, up to $15 a month in some states if you're a Chase customer. Chase is also floating the idea of $3 monthly fees just for owning a debit card. And they may also consider putting that cap that we mentioned on individual debit card purchases.
Representatives from HSBC and Wells Fargo declined to comment on their plans to add fees to their debit accounts. A Citi spokesman says the bank does not have any plans for additional consumer fees at this time.
Of course, the bank and credit card lobbyists are fighting tooth and nail. And a new bill being introduced this week in the Senate by Democrat Jon Tester of Montana will try to delay the implementing of those new fees on banks.
However it sorts itself out, be assured of this: The banks will get theirs.
Here's the question: Should banks be able to set spending limits on debit cards?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. Post a comment on my blog.
BLITZER: Get ready, Jack. You will get a lot of thoughts on this one.
CAFFERTY: Well, this is all in the supposition stage. Nothing has happened yet. And this could all change before summer, but these are some of the ideas that are on the table.
BLITZER: Yes. And most of our viewers immediately start thinking worst-case scenario.
CAFFERTY: Well, we will see.
BLITZER: Yes. All right, Jack, thank you.
Recounting a nightmare in Libya. Freed journalists tell a chilling story of beatings, mock executions and much more. We will hear from them.
Also, one lawmaker moved to tears at a controversial hearing today on American-Muslims and radicalization. The hearings begin on Capitol Hill.
And a drone the size, get this, of a hummingbird, we will show you what the U.S. military is working on right now.
BLITZER: This just in, new information about the Fort Hood massacre.
The secretary of the Army disciplining nine officers for failing to warn of problems with the alleged shooter, Major Nidal Hasan, before he was assigned to Fort Hood. The officers are not being identified. An Army sergeant says discipline will vary depending on the actions of each officer.
A team of BBC journalists has been flown to safety after surviving a harrowing ordeal at the hands of the Libyan little . They say they were detained, beaten, and even subjected to mock executions. They were held with apparent rebel prisoners whose plight was far, far worse.
CNN's Atika Shubert has the story.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Monday, a BBC Arabic crew say they attempted to approach the war-torn city of Zawiyah, but were stopped at an army checkpoint. They showed their I.D. cards and were immediately detained and taken to the Libyan military barracks in Tripoli. There, they say they were accused of being spies.
FERAS KILLANI, BBC JOURNALIST: When we arrived this place, this detention center, scary place. (INAUDIBLE) say, get out of the car. One of the guards, soldiers, he (INAUDIBLE) by his gun (INAUDIBLE) in my bag. I dropped on the ground. And then they asked me to put my hands behind my head. And then I start hear this machine -- this gun machine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they're cocking the weapon?
KILLANI: Yes, exactly. And I feel it's just behind me. At this moment, I thought that it's just minutes and they would shoot me.
GOKTAY KORALTAN, BBC JOURNALIST: Feras was also probably beaten up, because I can -- I could hear he was in agony and suffering. And then suddenly the cage door opened and then (INAUDIBLE) enter the cage and put hoods on our heads and handcuffed us and then pushed me outside of the car. I hear those gun noises. They were getting ready. And I thought this is the execution moment probably.
KILLANI: I thought at this moment that, if they decide to do this, they will do it. I can't do anything. I just close my eyes and ask my God to help me.
SHUBERT: The Gadhafi regime insists that Zawiyah is now under its control, airing these pictures on pro-Gadhafi celebrations on Libyan state TV. While they were in detention, the BBC crew says they saw and heard others from Zawiyah who were being tortured. They believe they were rebels fighting against Gadhafi forces.
KORALTAN: Most of them, they hooded and handcuffed really tightly, all swollen hands, broken ribs. They were in agony.
KILLANI: Some of them told that he has at least two ribs broken. I try to spend at least six hours helping them to drink and feed, to sleep, to move from side to another. They were in a very, very bad situation.
KORALTAN: That was a big operation going on there. And from second floor, I heard a lot of screaming. And I can't describe. It was horrible, the worst thing I have ever seen in my life. And I have seen a lot of bad stuff.
SHUBERT: But the BBC Arabic crew were the lucky ones. They were released 21 hours later and have now flown out of Libya. The prisoners inside the military barracks of Tripoli remain there.
Atika Shubert, CNN, London.
BLITZER: I salute all my fellow journalists out there who are risking their lives to bring us these stories. Thank you very much.
Defiant and determined. The House Homeland Security Committee chairman opens a hearing that critics are blasting as a witch hunt, passions flaring as lawmakers probe radicalization and American Muslims.
BLITZER: Emotions running high today at a congressional hearing into the radicalization and American Muslims. The first Muslim elected to Congress is moved to tears. He calls the hearing the very heart of scapegoating.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans. His life should not be identified as just a member of an ethic group or just a member of a religion, but as an American who gave everything for his fellow Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Passion, defiance, and raw emotion on Capitol Hill today, scene of a controversial hearing on American-Muslims and radicalization.
CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash has details.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A defiant committee chairman opened his much-anticipated hearing by lashing out at what he called mindlessness hysteria surrounding it.
REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: To back down would be a craven surrender to political correctness and an abdication of what I believe to be the main responsibility of this committee to protect America from a terrorist attack.
BASH: In fact, much of the debate was about whether to have this debate at all. The hearing was dubbed "Radicalization of the American-Muslim Community."
The first Muslim elected to Congress delivered the memorable moment by weaving the Muslim-American experience into a shared American experience, 9/11, breaking down as he talked about Mohammad Hamdani, a 23-year-old paramedic who died trying to save lives.
ELLISON: Some people spread false rumors and speculated that he was in league with the attackers because he was a Muslim. But it was only when his remains were identified that these lies were exposed.
Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans. His life should not be identified as just a member of an ethnic group or just a member of a religion. But as an American who gave everything for his fellow Americans.
PACKAGE: Outside this highly-publicized hearing, a long line to get in. The security around it, stepped up. Inside, Melvin Bledsoe told the story of his son, a Muslim convert, radicalized, who shot and killed a military recruiter in Arkansas.
MELVIN BLEDSOE, PRIVATE CITIZEN: Americans are sitting around doing nothing about extremists, radical extremists, as Carlos' story and other stories at these hearings aren't true. This is a big elephant in the room. The House decides to continue not to see it.
PACKAGE: Abdirizak Bihi's American-born nephew became radical and died with an Islamic militia in Somalia, he said when he tried to find out what happened, leaders in his Minnesota mosque threatened him. ABDIRIZAK BIHI, SOMALI EDUCATION, SOCIAL ADVOCACY CENTER: "If you do that, you're responsible for the eradication of all mosques and all Islamic society in North America. And you will have eternal fire in hell."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Bihi, would you call that intimidation?
BIHI: That is the worst form of intimidation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you were a Target of intimidation?
BIHI: Yes, intimidation in its purest form.
PACKAGE: But with no leaders for the Muslim community there, committee members took up considerable time squabbling over the value of the hearing.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: While I appreciate the anecdotes of those who have spoken, I don't think that they are necessarily very enlightening.
REP. CHIP CHAVAAK (R), MINNESOTA: I do consider your testimony expert testimony. You live it.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Chairman, I am overwhelmed by the hearing and the lack of factual basis for it. And I don't believe...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Texas (ph) is recognized.
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: ... Nazis and Klansmen and...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time has expired.
KING: It is an outrage.
BASH: Now Peter King, the chairman who you just heard there, stirred up so much controversy even holding this hearing, but he said afterwards, Wolf, that he believes he achieved a key goal, which he called a politically incorrect topic: the dialogue about Muslims in America and whether they're being radicalized. But the question about what to do about it was left unanswered, Wolf.
BLITZER: I suspect President Obama is going to get some questions on this tomorrow morning. We just learned he's going to be holding a White House news conference, 11:15 a.m. Eastern tomorrow. CNN, of course, will have live coverage.
This, Libya, gas prices, lots of stuff to ask the president about. Live coverage tomorrow morning at the president's news conference.
But let's dig deeper on these controversial hearings on Capitol Hill with CNN's national security analyst, Peter Bergen, the author of the best-selling book "The Longest War." In that book, and it's an amazing book, let me read to you a couple sentences. You write, timely to what this hearing today was all about, "The American-Muslim community, generally a higher skilled group of immigrants than their European counterparts, has overwhelmingly rejected the ideological virus of militant Islam. The American dream has generally worked well for Muslims in the United States."
That's what you believe. So were these hearings today inappropriate?
PETER BERGEN, AUTHOR, "THE LONGEST WAR": I don't think they were inappropriate in the sense that Representative King has every right to investigate any threat to American national security.
I think where the criticism was justified is, one, there are other threats now than the radical Muslim-Americans. There are -- you know, more people get killed in hate crimes since 9/11 than have been killed by Islamist-motivated terrorists.
And the other point which really didn't come up in the hearing, because there was a lot of anecdotes, there wasn't a lot of information. You know, Peter King's central assertion is that the law enforcement is not getting cooperation from the Muslim-American community. And yet, we looked at -- New America Foundation in Syracuse University, we looked at 175 terrorism cases, motivated by sort of jihadist ideology since 9/11, and one in five of those cases was precipitated by a tip from the Muslim community or cooperation with -- from a family member. So just on a factual basis, I think one of the central theses of the hearing is simply not true.
BLITZER: Some critics of Peter King, the chairman of this committee, said a hearing like this will have the exact opposite impact of what he wants it to have. He says it will strengthen American national security, homeland security. They fear it will further radicalize Muslims out there, because they will see it as a, quote, "witch hunt" against American Muslims.
BERGEN: Certainly been the criticism. I didn't feel that today's hearing had the feeling of that. I mean, you know, Representative King didn't call some witnesses or it would have been much more incendiary. So he was quite careful about that. The hearing was balanced by Lee Baca, who was called by the Democrats, the sheriff of Los Angeles County, who's after all one of the largest police chiefs in the country, saying that he had cooperation from law enforcement. So it didn't feel like -- it wasn't a McCarthyite hearing in that sense.
BLITZER: What's a bigger threat right now to American security? A kind of 9/11 attack that we saw almost ten years ago by a group of committed terrorists? Or that individual, that isolated terrorist, if you will, on his own or her own, deciding to go kill a bunch of people?
BERGEN: Well, there's a natural ceiling to what the lone wolf can do. Yes, there are, you know -- I mean, Major Nidal Hasan was a sort of classic lone wolf. He killed 13 people in Ft. Hood, Texas.
But you know, as an individual you're just not going to be able to get a 9/11 or even anything close. So yes, there are -- it is more likely that smaller scale attacks will happen in the future. But will they be a national security problem on the scale of 9/11? And the answer is no.
BLITZER: Peter, thanks very much.
And Peter's best-selling book, let me remind our viewers, "The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and al Qaeda."
Thanks very much.
BERGEN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Two worlds, two truths. Does freedom of religion mean freedom from suspicion? CNN's Soledad O'Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible Belt. "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door" airs Sunday, March 27, 8 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.
Weapons of the future being developed right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Unmanned drones the size of a small bird. It's science fact, not fiction. I'm Chris Lawrence in southern California, and I'll have that story coming up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You know about those remotely-piloted planes that hover over the battlefield or over suspected terror hideouts. Some of them can even fire missiles with devastating effects. But what if the military had a drone aircraft the size of a tiny bird that could even fly through the window of a terrorist safe house? Our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, has been looking into that.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Imagine a drone as small as a hummingbird: same shape, same sound. Wait. Don't imagine. It's here, in this California lab.
MATT KEENNON, AEROVIRONMENT PROJECT MANAGER: It looks more or less like an indigenous small bird and can fly through small clearings and through trees and see inside.
LAWRENCE: Aerovironment's Matt Keennon says this is how the bird sees us, from above.
(on camera) Right now the hummingbird can only fly a little bit longer than ten minutes. But at that size, imagine what it could do in ten hours.
(voice-over) The Defense Department has spent $4 million with that dream in mind. American troops armed with an unmanned vehicle that blends into the other birds or insects in a given country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The operator hovers the aircraft around until it finds an opening.
LAWRENCE: Perhaps even buzz into a room, drop a payload, and leave.
But most unmanned vehicles, the hummingbird included, still depend on man to control their cameras or movements.
LT. GEN. DAVID DEPTULA (RET.), U.S. AIR FORCE: But that's a vulnerability. That can be interrupted. That can be hacked.
LAWRENCE: Retired General David Deptula says future enemies will cut the operators' connection unless drones become more autonomous. He says, sure, drones have worked in Iraq and Afghanistan, because there's very few missiles to shoot them down.
(on camera) But if you fly these same vehicles where there is an air defense...
DEPTULA: Those MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers would be flying -- falling from the sky like rain.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Compared to other drones, the hummingbird has a six-inch wingspan and weighs less than a AA battery. But the designer needs to add intelligence to its small size.
KEENNON: It would be much more useful if the aircraft could keep itself safe.
LAWRENCE: If so, the military has designs beyond battle. It envisions the bird helping to find victims, weaving through crevices created by an earthquake.
BLITZER: Chris is joining us now. Chris, what's the next step in deploying these kinds of -- this kind of bird, if you will?
LAWRENCE: Money, wolf. You know, the Defense Department put five years and about $4 million into this project. Now they've got to decide if they want to keep funding it to sort of push the technology along.
But you can really see how, you know, if this was adapted to, say, law enforcement, at that size and being able to blend in so well, there would be a lot of legal, ethical, privacy issues that would have to be worked out if it was ever to be translated and used here in the United States.
BLITZER: Chris Lawrence in Los Angeles for us. Good report, Chris. Thanks very much. Fascinating new technology.
Lady Gaga, she drops a major marketing deal with a corporate giant. We're going to tell you what's behind the political fallout. Stand by. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: A very public split between a pop music giant and a corporate giant. Lady Gaga parting ways with Target. Kareen Wynter has details.
KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's Lady Gaga's latest gay anthem, "Born This Way."
LADY GAGA, SINGER (singing): I'm on the right track, baby. I was born this way.
WYNTER: A punchy new chart-smashing single where the pop princess once again gets political.
(MUSIC: Lady Gaga's "Born This Way")
LADY GAGA (singing): No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I'm on the right track, baby. I was born to survive.
WYNTER: One thing that didn't survive was the deal Gaga had with corporate giant Target. The company had exclusive rights to sell a special edition of her new album "Born This Way."
LADY GAGA: Don't be a drag, just be a queen.
WYNTER: But queen "G" reportedly said good-bye, nixing the partnership due to what she believes were Target's anti-gay ties. Target donated $150,000 last year to a group that endorsed Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who opposes same-sex marriage.
The company issued an apology to its employees for the donation.
BILLY JOHNSON JR., YAHOO! MUSIC EDITOR: She finds out that they're supporting politicians who don't support gay rights. And that was a major concern for her, and considering her platform, she said, "I don't want any part of it."
WYNTER: The singer may have lost millions on this broken merger, but Yahoo! Music editor Billy Johnson Jr. says Gaga gained a lot more in her public stock.
JOHNSON: This is a winner for Lady Gaga, again, because her whole platform, when she accepts an award, she says, "Hey, this is for the gays." So this is another example of that. And strategically, I think it's perfect, and it definitely falls in line with everything that she's done.
WYNTER: Like her aggressive 2009 equality march in Washington.
LADY GAGA: We need change now.
WYNTER: The singer also recently sounded off to CNN International on her political passion.
LADY GAGA: Equality is the most important thing in terms of the politics of my music.
WYNTER: As for Gaga's severed ties with Target, the company released a statement to CNN saying, "Target remains committed to the LGBT, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community, as demonstrated by our contributions to various LGBT organizations, our recently established policy committee to review our political giving, and our respectful, inclusive workplace environment."
Target told CNN it was, quote, "very surprised and disappointed" by the statements Gaga's reps reportedly made to some members of the press, regarding its political stance.
In a statement to CNN, Gaga's camp would only confirm that both sides, quote, "came to a mutual decision to end their overall exclusive partnership a few weeks ago."
Some music critics say this is just a small stumbling block for the controversial singer who's not afraid to stand her political ground no matter the cost.
LADY GAGA: No matter black, white or beige, chola or orient made, I'm on the right track baby. I was born to be brave.
WYNTER: She is quite an interesting lady. And Wolf, what's also interesting is that this deal is dead, but Target -- and we just checked the company's Web site, it's still advertising Gaga's "Born This Way" exclusive deluxe edition CD on its Web site. Now, we reached out to the company to find out why they haven't taken it down, but we haven't heard back from them -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I was at her concert here in Washington at the Verizon Center a couple weeks ago. Have you ever seen her in concert, Kareen?
WYNTER: I haven't. I'm a little jealous, though, that you have, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. She really did an amazing job. You know what surprised me a little bit, beyond all the dancing and the singing, which was fabulous, but the political nature of all the stuff she was saying going to the monster ball and her passion for gay rights and the whole song, the song she ended the whole concert with, "Born This Way." It sort of, you know, reflects that. She is very, very political, but also very, very talented.
WYNTER: And she makes no apologies. And that's why there was a lot perhaps riding on this deal. You know, you can't be standing up for gay rights and then backing an organization that is against the very cause that you're supporting. So she knew what she was doing here, a very, very political, very savvy artist, as you can see, Wolf.
BLITZER: We're going to invite her to join us right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, see if she accepts our invitation. That would be nice. Thanks very much.
WYNTER: I think she would take up your offer.
BLITZER: Maybe she will, you know. Who knows? Lady Gaga and Wolf. Who knows? All right. Thanks very much.
WYNTER: And Wolf.
BLITZER: That's right.
Should banks be able to set spending limits on debit cards? Jack Cafferty and your e-mail.
And later, Jeanne Moos, all that still to come.
BLITZER: We're right back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour is: "Should banks be able to set spending limits on debit cards?"
Cliff in New York writes, "At some point bank fees become consumer friendly. When cash is used to avoid bank debit or credit-card fees, purchases are made more judiciously, and the savings rate may well go up. Banks left, then, devising alternative ways to gain revenue."
Sheila -- Stella in New York. Sorry, Stella. "Banks will do as they please. If they have their way, they would stamp 'unlimited' on all cards. They won't lose a cent. That's what you and I are here for: to pay their bills."
Dariel in Santa Rosa, California: "Only if they want to lose their customer base. Credit unions and small local banks should be considered as a more honest and transparent place to park your assets."
Steve in Nashville, Indiana: "We could sure use an alternative to banks, but setting limits on debit cards is like setting limits on checks. If there's money to back it up, how dare they say you can't use it? Can you spell credit union?"
Rick in Detroit says, "No. It's another effort by the big money bankers to blackmail the government into allowing them to extort money at random while paying themselves multi-million-dollar-a-year salaries and bonuses like they did with the TARP money a couple of years ago. Maybe the Federal Reserve should accept personal savers and issue government debit cards and tell the Wall Street bankers to take a hike."
Arthur writes, "Used wisely, debit cards are incredibly convenient, and now there are even smart phone apps with them. Between banks that are more concerned about profits and bonuses than services and conservatives that out of thin air have suddenly developed a sense of fiscal responsibility, the only thing I have left to say is it must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays." And Kevin in Albuquerque writes, "Maybe it's time to visit the shoebox bank. No lines, no waiting, no fees and no slips to fill out."
If you want to read more on the subject, go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile.
BLITZER: Will do, Jack. Thanks so much. Jack Cafferty and "The Cafferty File."
Calls for the U.S. director of national intelligence to simply go. James Clapper under fire right now. We'll have the latest at the top of the hour on "JOHN KING USA."
Plus, doggie CPR. This is a story made for Jeanne Moos.
BLITZER: Here's a question. To what lengths would you go in order to save a beloved pet? Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you think doing CPR on a dog sounds funny, you won't after this.
RON PACE, TRAINER: Get your hand off her chest. I want to see her -- I want to watch her breathing, OK? What the heck?
MOOS: Sugar the boxer was at a dog training class in Tacoma, Washington, when he stopped breathing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Try to calm yourself down. Try to calm yourself down.
MOOS (on camera): The class was on canine protection and Sugar was revved up and lunging at pretend assailants when he had a seizure.
(voice-over) Dog trainer Ron Pace came to the rescue.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There she goes. There she goes. There she goes. Calm down, calm down.
MOOS: Tiffany Coup is Sugar's owner.
(on camera) You were really freaking out.
TIFFANY COUP, SUGAR'S OWNER (via phone): I was totally distraught.
PACE: We did a little mouth to snout.
MOOS (voice-over): The trainer figured Sugar stopped breathing for about two minutes.
COUP: He's turning blue. Sugar! Oh, my Sugar.
MOOS (on camera): It turns out Ron Pace didn't have any training in dog CPR. He said he was just feeling his way through it. (voice-over) And soon Sugar was feeling all right.
COUP: Sugar, good boy. Sugar! Sugar!
PACE: She's breathing. She's breathing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Calm down. You've got to calm down. Calm down.
COUP: He saved my dog.
PACE: Give her time. She's coming around.
COUP: You're OK. You're OK.
MOOS: Ron says that after this video went viral, he got an e-mail criticizing his technique.
PACE: Said I was doing it all wrong. It probably was, but, you know, what can you say when it worked?
COUP: Good boy, good boy.
MOOS: After the incident, Ron watched a dog CPR training video.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifteen compressions in 10 seconds. One, two...
Moos: What Ron lacked in compressions, he made up for in compassion.
As for four-year-old Sugar, he's been diagnosed with a heart defect that's caused an enlarged heart, and he's getting medication.
Meanwhile, the trainer's son texted him that Conan was already making jokes.
PACE: "The man tried to resuscitate a dog by giving it CPR."
CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, TBS'S "CONAN": At least, that's what he told his wife he was doing.
MOOS: At least Ron didn't take his dog resuscitation techniques from "There's Something About Mary."
PACE: Roll over. Just hold her steady. Him.
MOOS: Who are you calling a girl? Hasn't Sugar taken enough lumps for one day?
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: Thanks, Jeanne. That does it for me.
Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.