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Fighting in Libya Rages; Energy Anger

Aired April 26, 2011 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Let's go back to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The question this hour is: Do the Republicans have the right idea when it comes to the budget?

Chris in New Jersey writes, "Well, yes and no. I applaud their initiative. They realize we're in a hole and that we need an answer, otherwise we're going to have significant problems."

"However, I disagree with what they're seeking to cut. That being said, the Democrats are taking no initiative to dig us out of this hole. With the GOP plan, we will make progress. The question is, what kind of progress?"

Sylvia in San Diego writes, "Yes, absolutely. Representative Paul Ryan's path to prosperity is a step in the right direction."

Paul writes, "Jack, not even close. The GOP" -- which he says stands for Greedy Old Parasites -- "have been the tools of corporate Wall Street since the Grant administration. The first thing to do is elect Democrats to the majority in both houses, then get out of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Iraq Wars."

"Then tax the richest three percent of Americans at Eisenhower- era levels. Close corporate loopholes, open Medicare as a choice for all citizens, and bring back the draft with no deferments in order to reduce unemployment."

Gary in Missouri, "There are no right or wrong answers, only the need to survive. And if the government keeps spending more than it takes in, the USA will not survive."

Thomas writes, "At least the GOP has the political courage to address previously sacred cows, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. Obama and the Democrats are still kicking that can down the road. All they do is demonize. No real leadership or thought."

Bob in Ontario, "Jack, I'm writing from Kaladar, Ontario. In answer to your question, it doesn't matter where you are. Conservatives are never right because the little guy is never on their radar. You need to get a Canadian on your show sometime to explain how a little bit of socialism can improve a country."

And Brian in Colorado, "No. They want to keep cutting taxes, the Democrats keep going along with it. We need jobs in America to solve our problems. Without private sector jobs, nothing else can be paid for. We are currently living proof of that."

If you want to read more on the subject, go to the blog, That's where you'll find more of that. Wolf.

BLITZER: A lot of viewers will, Jack. Thanks very much.

And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: Fighting is raging in a key Libyan port town, and now a deadly new twist in a brutal weeks-long siege as a refugee camp is shelled.

Also, fresh outrage over soaring gas prices here in the United States. Why are oil companies getting billions and billions of dollars in tax breaks, even as they rake in record profits?

And CNN investigates the so-called birther controversy. We found definitive proof of President Obama's birthplace.

Breaking news, political headlines, Jeanne Moos all straight ahead.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

There's no safe haven in Libya's third largest city, Misrata under a brutal siege by government forces for seven weeks now, today, a disturbing new development, shelling at a refugee camp killing at least three people and injuring more than a dozen.

CNN's Reza Sayah is near Misrata right now. He's joining us on the phone with more.

Reza, based on what you are hearing and seeing, what's the situation right now?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, some intense bombing in the western port city of Misrata, Wolf.

The bombing being carried out by both regime forces who are going after rebel fighters and NATO warplanes who are going after regime forces. The most intense bombing took place around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. local time. That's roughly six, seven hours ago. And these explosions were huge. Based on what they sounded like and what they felt like, and indeed, we felt the vibration, it would lead you to believe that those particular explosions were the result of NATO warplanes hitting regime targets, because the mortars and the Grad rockets that the regime forces use simply don't sound like that.

These were really large (AUDIO GAP) the city. We also saw smoke rising during the explosions. We're not clear what that exact location is. We understand that the regime forces have placed some tanks and heavy weaponry in that area. It could have been those regime forces that were targeted. Those NATO warplanes strikes follow what opposition forces call some of the most intense shelling of the port area in Misrata by regime forces. Some of those rockets, according to rebels, landing next to refugee camps in the port area. Those refugee camps, of course, for the past couple of months housing thousands of migrant workers who have been desperately looking to get out from the port, according to an opposition official, at least three people killed, several injured, so a very active day in this key city, Wolf.

BLITZER: Reza, what does it say to you that the Gadhafi regime hasn't given up on Misrata?

SAYAH: Well, it tells you that they're unwilling to give up this very key city. Remember, all this is happening several days after a regime official said that they have withdrawn troops and suspended operations. Obviously, that's not the case. It looks like they don't want to give up this city. That would be a huge symbolic victory for the rebels.

This is a city that has become the face of this conflict. And if you step back and look at the big picture, the context within this -- this -- is taking place, if they're not easily willing to give up Misrata, you can imagine how tough the fight would be in other towns, for example, Sirte, Gadhafi's hometown, his birthplace, then of course Tripoli. It's an indication that this war, like many fear, is going to be a tough one, it's going to be long one, it's going to be a long, drawn-out one.

BLITZER: Brutal, brutal indeed. It's already been brutal.

Reza, be careful out there. Thank you very much.

Libya is asking Russia to call a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss what it's calling attempts to target Moammar Gadhafi. Do the allies have him in their sights?


BLITZER: And joining us now, Liam Fox.

He's the defense secretary of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Secretary, welcome to Washington.


BLITZER: Are you targeting -- when I say you, I mean the NATO allies -- Moammar Gadhafi for assassination?

FOX: Well, first of all, we don't discuss specific targets. But in the general point, we've made it very clear that our responsibility is the protection of the civilian population. Therefore, the command and control elements of the regime are legitimate targets. That is what we've been targeting, not individuals, but the capabilities --

BLITZER: Would it be a --

FOX: -- of the regime.

BLITZER: -- would it be a problem if Gadhafi were sitting in one of those command and control quarters?

FOX: Well, not -- not a legal problem, as far as we're concerned. But it's important to -- to, again, make the point that our job is to protect civilians, where the regime is using command and control to target those civilians, NATO has a responsibility and a legal right to target those facilities.

BLITZER: So you believe U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls on the international community to protect civilians in Libya right now, would give you that opportunity to go ahead and target command and control facilities where Gadhafi is located?

FOX: Well, we have been targeting command and control facilities for the last few weeks. And we've had quite a great deal of success in diminishing the regime's ability to wage war against its own population.

BLITZER: As long as he's in power, that's not going to be security for civilians in Libya, is that your opinion?

FOX: Well, that's certainly the view of the opposition forces that we've been speaking to. Our job is to make sure that the civilians are safe and that President Obama, alongside Prime Minister Cameron and President Sarkozy of France, have made it very clear that our aim is to ensure that the violence against the civilian population stops, that we want to make sure that the military assets don't pose a threat. That means not just stopping firing at the end of the street, but being far enough away from civilians to ensure they're not a threat.

And we -- people say to us, you know, are we -- are we taking a side in this particular dispute?

Yes, we are. We're taking the side of the civilians against the government.

BLITZER: You don't want regime change?

FOX: No, what we want is the population to be safe. We've made it very clear --

BLITZER: You want Gadhafi to go away?

FOX: Well, it would be a big help for the people of Libya if Gadhafi went away (INAUDIBLE) --

BLITZER: Is there any possibility that if he stayed in power, there could be security for the people of Libya?

FOX: I think it's very hard to imagine that. And certainly, if you talk to the opposition forces, they have made it very clear, they don't believe there could be safety. For example, when Gadhafi talks about cease-fires, he's already had two cease-fires, he's already had two cease-fires and the shelling of civilians went on right through those times.

We want the population, the men, women and children of Libya, to be able to sleep easily and safely in their beds knowing that they're safe from attack by their own government.

BLITZER: So he's alive right now.

If he's watching this interview, what would you say to Gadhafi?

FOX: I would say to him that he is a liability to his people and to his country. He has no friends in the international community. The United Nations has lined up against him. Sanctions would slowly strangle his regime. The quicker he goes, the better.

BLITZER: Would he -- would you allow him to leave the country and set up shop someplace else?

FOX: I think he might find it difficult to have somewhere that would take him but --

BLITZER: Let's say Zimbabwe would take him. FOX: Well, it --

BLITZER: Would that be OK with you?

FOX: It would -- it would depend, of course, if that could be arranged. We wouldn't stand in the way of that. But our number one concern is the safety of the people of Libya. That is what U.N. Resolution 1973 asks us to do. We understand what our duties are under that. And our resolve will not falter.

BLITZER: You just came from several hours of talks with the Defense secretary, Robert Gates, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen.

Are -- are you on the same page with the Obama administration?

FOX: Yes, very much. In fact, we had, as you say, about three hours of very detailed talks about where we've got to, the situation in Libya, of course, where we are in Afghanistan and the other issues that are arising in the Middle East and the Gulf. And we were very, very close.

But as you -- as you might expect, having spoken on a very regular basis throughout all these varying crises, it's not surprising that we're on the same page.

BLITZER: What did you ask them to do that they're not doing right now?

FOX: Well, my first act, of course, was to thank the United States for being with us as part of the NATO response, for helping us not only with the front line attack capabilities, but all the logistics we require to support the mission and in particular to thank the U.S. for the Predators that have been in Libya in recent times, giving us an especially good ability to determine and attack targets on the ground.

BLITZER: Did you ask for A-10s and -- and AC-130s for the U.S. to start hitting targets in Libya at low levels?

FOX: No, we weren't there to ask for specific assets. What we wanted to make sure was that the U.S. was contributing truly in the ways that will enable NATO to have the full range of options in terms of how we prosecute a regime --

BLITZER: Is it a --

FOX: -- that's killing its people.

BLITZER: Is it a stalemate in Libya right now?

FOX: I think the last 72 hours have seen us with some momentum. I think we've seen the opposition forces gaining ground in Misrata. Quite clearly, there are whole areas of the city now clear, even if the whole city is not yet under opposition control. We've seen the Kuwaitis now coming in and giving money to opposition forces and we've seen continued air strikes taking out a lot of command and control ammunition and fuel supplies for the regime.

So I think that there is some momentum there and I don't believe it is a stalemate.

BLITZER: How much time do you think Gadhafi realistically has before he's either killed or removed?

FOX: Well, this is the key question. And my message would be that the game is up. The game may be up tomorrow. It may be up in a matter of weeks. It may take some months. But sooner or later, this regime will fall, because there is no support in the international community for it. The people of Libya clearly do not want to have it. It's remaining only by killing the civilian population. And as I said, Gadhafi is now a liability to his country and his people. He should go.

BLITZER: And his sons, Saif al-Islam, Saadi, they should go, as well?

FOX: Well, the whole core of the regime needs to understand that if they have been involved in crimes against humanity, then --

BLITZER: And they have --

FOX: -- then we --

BLITZER: -- you believe they have?

FOX: That's a matter for the International Criminal Court to determine, of course. But the International Criminal Court has a very long reach and a very long memory. BLITZER: Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, I -- I sat down with him not that long ago and I pointed out that this is costing U.S. taxpayers, so far, several hundred million dollars -- Tomahawk cruise missiles, close to a billion dollars so far. And he agreed that it would be a good idea to keep a running tab, how much it's costing the U. S. , and deduct from the frozen Libyan assets, $33 billion in the United States, whatever it costs to liberate Libya right now.

And then he went one step further.

Listen to what he said.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Not only the United States should do this, NATO should do it, France should do it, countries that are involved there on the ground and in the air, yes. The answer is yes.


BLITZER: Do you agree with him that -- that the money, whatever Britain, NATO is paying to launch these airstrikes to protect the people of Libya, should be deducted from those frozen Libyan assets?

FOX: Well, I can't say it doesn't have a germ of attractiveness about it. But as my understanding --

BLITZER: British taxpayers would be grateful, wouldn't they?

FOX: -- my understanding is that those, of course, are the assets of the Libyan state and not for anyone else to tamper with.

BLITZER: But you're liberating Libya.

FOX: Well, of course, once the Libyan people have got control over their own country in a way that allows them to determine their own destiny, whether they feel that they should be contributing to the cost of that liberation is entirely a matter for them. It is not a matter for us to be trying to use assets that have been frozen in international law.

BLITZER: But as you say, it would be an attractive option for --

FOX: As I said --

BLITZER: -- for Britain?

FOX: -- I -- I would be lying if I said there was not a germ of attractiveness about it.

BLITZER: Let's take a turn to Syria right now.

How many more civilians -- Syrian people -- have to be killed by the Assad regime before NATO, Britain, the United States, do to the Assad regime what it has done to Gadhafi's regime in Libya? FOX: Well, we discussed this issue, naturally, at our meeting today. And we utterly condemn what is happening in -- in Syria in the killing of civilians.

Even at this late stage, we hope that the government of Syria will recognize that it is at a crossroads, that it can still take a path for reconciliation and peace and reform and that they will do that, because we've seen right across the Arab world people wanting self-determination, to take control of their own countries, free association, free speech and the ability to live in safety.

If that doesn't happen, we will go down the same diplomatic process, if necessary, ever tighter sanctions, to make the point to the Syrian government.

BLITZER: And eventually, military force, if necessary, similar to what's going on in Libya?

FOX: Well, I just hope that with the experience of what is happening in Libya that the Syrian president will recognize that the international community wants to see countries determine their own future and people to be free.

BLITZER: How much time does Assad have?

FOX: I hope that he will act quickly. I hope that --

BLITZER: How quickly?

FOX: I hope that the message has got across that -- that we absolutely deplore what is happening there and if the message is getting through to those in Syria, in the regime, their behavior is utterly unacceptable. They still have a chance to take a reform process that can save the lives of countless civilians.

BLITZER: What are we talking, weeks?

Are we talking months?

How much time do you think he has?

FOX: Well, we want it to happen as soon as possible and to put a time line on it may only give comfort to the regime change. We want to see that reform happen and happen as quickly as possible.

BLITZER: But you're not yet ready to say to him what you said to Mubarak, what you said to Gadhafi, you must go, step down?

You're not ready to say that yet?

FOX: Well, of course, that -- that process took a period of time. And let us say very clearly to the Syrian president right now, tonight, what you're doing is completely unacceptable. Killing your own people is a crime. You need to understand that the international community is appalled by this. You still have time for a rapport -- a reform process. Let's get that underway. BLITZER: Mr. Secretary, thanks very much for coming in.

FOX: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Good luck.

FOX: Thank you very much.


BLITZER: Huge subsidies for big oil companies. They're making record profits while Americans are paying near record prices for gas. Why?

Also, we traveled to Hawaii to try to put an end to the so-called birther controversy once and for all. You will see what our CNN investigation uncovered.

Plus, royal wedding security. Our own Piers Morgan, he is in London with details of potential threats and what's being done about them right now.


BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack. He has got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Violence rages on in the Middle East. Fighting continues in Libya. In Syria, a human rights group reports more than 400 people have been killed in just the last couple of weeks. We're still engaged in Iraq, still fighting in Afghanistan.

Now everybody is wondering what to do about Syria. At last word, President Obama was considering sanctions, whatever that means. His strategy and leadership skills are increasingly being called into question, and the chorus of critics is getting louder.

While the problems continue to multiply in the Middle East, many Americans are just trying to figure out how to pay for their daily trip to work and back. Gasoline prices are off the charts, with predictions now that they could hit six bucks a gallon this summer. We're already about 25 cents away from the record high reached in July of 2008.

Rising oil prices and the falling value of the U.S. dollar don't offer much hope for relief any time soon. The president's been talking a lot about gas prices lately, working it into speeches in Virginia, Nevada and California last week. He also announced a task force led by Attorney General Eric Holder to seek out fraud and manipulation of gas prices.

That's what the politicians do. Every time gas prices spike, they start looking under the bed for an imaginary bogeyman. Today, the president wrote a letter to congressional leaders urging them to reveal preferential tax laws for the oil companies. Yes, that will happen. House Republicans have announced they are planning to hold hearings and will introduce legislation in response to high gas prices. In an interview with ABC News yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner said high gas prices could -- could cost President Obama reelection.

He might be right. The president's approval ratings are hovering near an all-time low.

Here's the question. If the election was held today, which would be the bigger issue for you, gasoline prices or the Middle East? Go to and post a comment on my blog.

They do the same series of things every time gas prices go up. They hold hearings. They tell the Justice Department to go look around and see if there's any fraud or manipulation. It's the same deal over and over again.

BLITZER: Yes, but get ready for those hearings. I know you're going to appreciate some more hearings...


CAFFERTY: I'm going to come down there. I want to go sit in the chamber and witness it firsthand.


BLITZER: Listen for a few hours of expert testimony on what's going on. We do that here in Washington, Jack, all the time. You don't know what you're missing.

CAFFERTY: Yes, I do. That's why I never come down there.


BLITZER: All right. Thanks. Stand by.

Lisa Sylvester is taking a closer look at this same story, Lisa.

Lisa, the story that we're looking at right now, these tax subsidies for the major oil companies, they are making already billions and billions and billions of dollars in profit and they need American taxpayers to subsidize what they're doing?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Wolf, we're talking about $4 billion in subsidies for the gas and oil industry. That's how much they receive. That's just a little something to think about while you're at the gas pump.

And everybody knows that gas prices are ridiculously high. But we will find out this week how much the oil companies have made in profits off those high prices so far this year, and this is an industry that has typically done very well.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SYLVESTER (voice-over): The oil and gas industry rakes in billions of dollars in profits a year. Last year, ExxonMobil made more than $30 billion, Chevron $19 billion, ConocoPhillips more than $11 billion, and Royal Dutch/Shell $20 billion. Meanwhile, it's costing consumers a load of money just to fill up the tank.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no reason for the price to continue to go up, because there's lots of gas, I mean, lots of oil, I hear.

SYLVESTER: Average price for regular gasoline is $3.87 a gallon, but in cities like Washington, D.C., gas at some stations is already at the $5 mark or higher. Those prices are expected to contribute to huge first-quarter profits for oil companies.

On top of the mega-profits, the oil industry enjoys $4 billion in federal tax breaks. There's now a growing chorus to end those subsidies.

Financial analyst Fadel Gheit:

FADEL GHEIT, FINANCIAL ANALYST: The oil companies do not need subsidies, especially when you have $100 oil. It's outrageous for an oil company or oil lobbyist to ask for a subsidy when you have this high level of profitability.

SYLVESTER: The American Petroleum Institute represents the largest oil companies. API's senior economic adviser, Rayola Dougher, says when profits are up, it's the shareholders who benefit. She says they're for the most part regular joes.

RAYOLA DOUGHER, AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE: And at the end of the day, the final earnings, the profits to these companies broadly go to tens of millions of Americans, anybody with a 401(k), a pension plan, retired firefighters, teachers. These are the folks that at the end of the day benefit from these earnings. About 98.5 percent of the stock of these companies is broadly owned by the American people.

SYLVESTER: But a lot of that money also goes to the CEOs and the executives of the big oil companies. ExxonMobil's chief, Rex Tillerson, for example, his compensation was more than $25 million last year.


SYLVESTER: The American Petroleum Institute says taking away those subsidies would be like a tax on the companies and could cost American jobs, but it is a hard case to make when so many Americans out there are getting squeezed at the gas pump when we are seeing $5 a gallon for gasoline and when the companies are making billions of dollars in profits -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So they're going to make -- what did you say last year? They made $15 billion in profits, ExxonMobil?

SYLVESTER: ExxonMobil was $30.5 billion.

BLITZER: Thirty-and-a-half billion dollars.

So they need these tax breaks? The American taxpayers, they need this money right now if we're going to start cutting the debt, cutting the deficit. That money could go back into the Treasury.


SYLVESTER: That's the case that you will be hearing a lot in these coming weeks being made, especially when we have the announcements, when we hear their earnings reports, will come out later in this week. I'm sure you will hear a lot of people on Capitol Hill making that very point, that if you will cut somewhere, this is an area that is prime for cutting.

BLITZER: They're very powerful. That oil industry here in Washington, American Petroleum Industry, very powerful lobby. They spend a lot of money getting political support here in the nation's capital and obviously it pays off for them.

SYLVESTER: Yes. So far it has, but even Republicans are talking a different tune. So we're going to have to see what...

BLITZER: Some Republicans.


SYLVESTER: Some. Yes, we should emphasize, some.

BLITZER: Because what they're saying, they have made this pledge, no new taxes. So if they remove these subsidies, some purists are saying that would be a tax increase for the oil industry. So that's one of the issues right now. Stay on top of this story for us, because a lot of people are outraged when they hear $4 billion to the oil industry, even though they are making $30 billion in profits.

All right, thanks very much.

CNN gets to the bottom of the controversy that at least for some won't go away. President Obama was, in fact, born in Hawaii, so why do so many people think this is a lie? Our correspondent goes to Hawaii. He settles it once and for all.

And wild new disruptions at town hall meetings. Are Republicans taking heat for voting to change Medicare or is it all manufactured, the outrage?


BLITZER: As the 2012 presidential race gets going, so are some old questions from those who doubt whether President Obama was born in the United States, a constitutional requirement of the office.

Possible Republican candidate Donald Trump is making the so- called birther controversy a centerpiece of his campaign style comments.

So, CNN decided to get to the bottom of the issue.

Our national correspondent, Gary Tuchman, was assigned the task. He traveled to Hawaii to investigate.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "The Honolulu Star Bulletin" newspaper in August 1961 declares Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama have given birth to a son. A simple birth announcement that has become part of a complex web of conspiracy theories. With one question looming above all others.


TUCHMAN: Was President Obama really born in the United States? The answer? Yes.

(on camera): Have you seen Barack Obama's original birth certificate?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Dr. Chiyome Fukino is the former director of the Hawaii Department of Health and a devoted Republican. Until now she had not talked on camera about this topic.

(on camera): As a Republican member of the last Republican governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle's Cabinet, do you have any doubt that Barack Obama was born in the United States?

FUKINO: Absolutely not. I have no doubt.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Dr. Fukino says she was asked last year by the governor's press secretary to make a statement about the birth certificate controversy. Under state law, a public official can look at someone else's certificate if there is a -- quote -- "direct and tangible interest." She indeed felt she had that interest because of the statement she had to make. So she found the original Obama birth certificate stored in a vault in the Department of Health building.

(on camera) And what did it tell you? Was it authentic? Was he born here in the state of Hawaii?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was absolutely authentic. He was absolutely born here in the state of Hawaii.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Dr. Pequino (ph) says even if she hadn't seen the original certificate, this document, the president's computer-generated certificate, which was made public three years ago, had already proven he was born in Hawaii.

(on camera) There's quite a bit of irony over this original birth certificate debate, and that is the original documents are no longer even certified by the state. The Health Department says President Obama or any other Hawaiian could still go through the process of getting one, but either way, they're no longer supposed to be used for official uses. Only the computer-generated ones will do.

(voice-over) We wanted to see what you get when you ask for your Hawaii birth certificate.

(on camera) This door, birth, death, marriage. Worked for us.

(voice-over) We met 49-year-old Stig Vitella (ph) and told him we'd pay $7 for a new birth certificate for him.

(on camera) I'm Gary Tuchman with CNN. We're here to get a birth certificate for Stig.

(voice-over) We asked Stig because we also saw his birth announcement in the Honolulu newspaper. In the same article four lines down another newborn born 13 hours earlier, Barack Obama.

(on camera) Is this the original certificate or the electronic copy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a computerized birth certificate.

TUCHMAN: So this is Stig's certificate of live birth. It's the same form Barack Obama has, the very same form every Hawaiian now gets when they request a birth certificate. Has his name on it, his birth date, August 5, 1961, the date after the president. It says it was filed August 8, 1961. This is a raised seal to show its authenticity.

Now at the bottom, perhaps the most important line: "This copy serves as prima fascia evidence of the fact of birth in any court proceeding."

(voice-over) Nobody we talked to doubts Stig's citizenship. But a CNN poll shows 25 percent of Americans doubt President Obama's.

Another part of the conspiracy theory is that the birth announcement in the paper is a fake, planted by his family or someone else, who wanted to trick the world into believing the future president was born in the U.S.

Dan Nakaso is a long time newspaper reporter in Honolulu.

(on camera) A lot of people think that Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States, that his mother or grandmother called the newspaper and gave false nervous that he was born in the United States. Is that possible that could have gotten in the newspaper like that?

DAN NAKASO, "HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER": No, that's not possible. Under the -- under the system that existed back then, there was no avenue for people to submit information that way.

TUCHMAN: So how did the information get in the paper?

NAKASO: The information came directly from the state Department of Health. TUCHMAN (voice-over): We confirmed that fact with the Health Department, too. All birth announcements printed in the paper came directly from the birth records of the hospital.

(on camera) So why won't President Obama just release a copy of his original birth certificate? Well, there are some who say he won't do it because the word "Muslim" is on it.

But we've taken a look at the original vault birth certificate of another man. And while there are extra spaces on it for hospital and for ages of the parents and for the occupation of the father, there is no space whatsoever for religion. And the former director of the Health Department, who has seen Barack Obama's original birth certificate, confirms there was no mention whatsoever of religion.

The White House says in part no matter Barack Obama says or does, there are many doubters who will still doubt him.


TUCHMAN: We're hearing a lot about Donald Trump, but it's important to keep in mind that fewer than 50 percent of all Americans, according to a CNN poll, definitely believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States. So there's lots of degrees of doubt among most Americans.

And even people who definitely believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States, it's not clear what the evidence is. So that's why, Wolf, we did this assignment and we wanted just to concentrate on facts and not on innuendo. And that's what we hope we did.

BLITZER: And you have part two of your investigation coming up later tonight on "AC 360." Give us a very brief preview.

TUCHMAN: One of the highlights, Wolf. We interviewed Governor Neil Abercrombie, who is a Democrat who is friends with Barack Obama's parents, was with them on the weekends and including the weekend before his mother gave birth to Barack Obama. He's been very quietly lately after entering office and claiming he would put an end to this controversy by showing birth certificates. The reason he didn't we'll explain tonight.

And we'll also talk and he will be very emotional about Barack Obama, about his parents. And he will say that people who doubt where Barack Obama was born disrespect the memory of his parents.

BLITZER: Ten p.m. Eastern later tonight on "AC 360." Gary, good work. Thanks very much.

Anger boiling over at town-hall meetings.



(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Outrage over proposed changes to Medicare. Here's a question, though. Are some Republican lawmakers being set up? Stand by.


BLITZER: Last summer, with Democrats facing constituents as they railed against health-care reform, now some Republicans are seeing anger boiling over at their town-hall meetings over proposed changes to Medicare.

Our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is here with some details of what's going on. One meeting -- we got the videotape -- really sort of got ugly.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It did. You know, House Republicans have been holding town-hall meetings all over the country. As they have been home this congressional recess talking to constituents, and trying to really sell and explain the Republican budget that they voted on right before they left, especially a dramatic overhaul of the Medicare program.

And thanks in part to an intense effort by Democrats, Republicans have been getting some tough questions at those town halls back home about the Medicare proposal. What happened today at Orlando at a freshman Republican, Daniel Webster's town hall was beyond tough. It devolved into a chaotic scene.



REP. DANIEL WEBSTER (R), FLORIDA: This plan restores the money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what you want to do, is slash Medicare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People, let's conduct ourselves likewise.

WEBSTER: I promise you not only will Medicare not go broke, which it will under the current system. It's going to go broke. We are offering...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who cares if I don't have it?

WEBSTER: We will have it if this plan's adopted. You will.


BASH: You saw there a police officer had to get in there to try to calm people down. Now, a photo journalist who attended that town hall for us today said some of those were absolutely just regular, everyday constituents, but the "Orlando Sentinel" reports some were also with liberal leaning groups.

And, in fact, we know about the town hall, because Democrats sent it to us on a list of Republicans and events that they plan to target. So it's hard to say how much of this is genuine anger about this proposal, about the Republican budget, and how much of it is ginned up by Democrats who have been making no bones about their efforts to really stick it to the Republicans on this issue.

BLITZER: I know a lot of those moderate freshmen Republicans who were elected in districts that Obama carried in 2008, especially, as well as some moderate Senate Republicans, they're really worried. "Don't touch my Medicare." That's what a lot of folks are saying.

BASH: That's right. And there's no question that there are Republicans like Daniel Webster of Florida who are vulnerable, who are from swing districts, who are worried about the political peril of this.

But it's actually interesting. The House Republican leadership today held a conference call with all House Republicans just a little bit after this town hall and, in part, they were trying to get some feedback on what people were hearing about this Medicare proposal.

We are told that on this conference call nobody complained, nobody said that they were concerned about the political problems, but it's pretty clear maybe they didn't voice it for them. It's out there.

BLITZER: I saw a poll the other day that even a lot of Tea Party supporters say don't touch Medicare. So this is going to be a big issue. No doubt about that, Dana. Thanks very much.

Royal wedding planners pick up the pace ahead of Friday's -- Friday's nuptials, I should say. Behind the scene, though, police are toiling away to make sure the wedding is safe as well as spectacular.


BLITZER: The carriages are being polished, the flowers are being cut, but behind the scenes some extraordinary security measures are in place for the royal wedding.


BLITZER: And joining us now, our man in London, Piers Morgan, getting ready for his own show later tonight.

Piers, security in London, what's it like right now?

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": Well, there's definitely a heightened security now, and I think it's all related to events in northern Ireland where, rather unsettlingly, there's been an escalation in violence from a sprinter group to what used to be the IRA, the Irish Republican Army. They call themselves the Real IRA, and they murdered a policeman about ten days ago.

And the intelligence services in London and in the U.K. are getting information that they view as credible that there may be some kind of plotting going on by this group to distract attention from the world to the wedding, either in London or possibly Ireland or somewhere else.

And they're definitely taking it seriously. You can feel security is increasing by the hour here. So I think that's definitely a situation to watch.

BLITZER: That's very worrisome. What have you seen specifically to see this heightened security?

MORGAN: We're just seeing more policemen around. You're seeing barriers going up. I've been in London a long time. I remember the height of the IRA bombing through the '70s and '80s, and it reminds me of that. Bear in mind, we've not had an attack on British mainland involving the IRA for a very long time. But when I was growing up, it was, you know, almost a monthly occurrence.

And it just -- you can see that people are concerned. You can see that they are taking these threats pretty seriously. The IRA didn't have to do much to distract world attention when they were at the peak of their murderous powers, and you've got people who do not agree with the peace process in Northern Ireland who have made their intentions very clear with this brutal murder of this police officer, and they are threatening to do -- to do more.

And the royal family, to the IRA, have always represented, you know, the antithesis of the enemy. The kind of antithesis of -- of royal imperialism.

So I don't want to overstate the situation. I'm not aware of any specific threat against the royals, but we are certainly aware of this increased threat from the Real IRA from Northern Ireland just generally.

BLITZER: One final question, Piers. If something were to happen to Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles is next in line. But I know the British public, they would like to see a generation skip and go right to Prince William. What are the chances, you think, of that happening?

MORGAN: Absolutely less than zero. There is no chance at all, if Prince Charles is alive and in good health, that if his mother dies, he will not accede to the throne. It's unthinkable.

The royal family believe in the continuity of the monarchy. And the way that you provide continuity is by doing it through natural succession. And that is why Prince Charles will be the next king. It's not a matter for debate. It's never discussed in world circles. It is understood that automatically Prince Charles will be the next king.

Of course, what may happen is the queen may live as long as her mother, which was to 101. And if she did that and Charles was to die naturally of old age in his, you know, late 70s or 80s, God forbid, then it may well be a situation where he dies before his mother. The royals do tend to live a long time. And if that was to happen, then Prince William would automatically, if he was alive, become king. The only debate that's interesting at the moment is there is a campaign going on at the moment to try and ensure that in the future the heirs to the throne can be a woman and not necessarily just the oldest son. At the moment it's always the oldest boy who accedes to the throne. But they -- I think there's a sense of that being a bit sexist. And I would agree with that. I think that it should just be the oldest child of whichever the next heir is to the throne.

So in William's case if he had a girl first, rather than a boy, she could become queen if he died. And I think that would be a progressive step forward for the monarchy.

BLITZER: Piers Morgan, watch his show later tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern on CNN. Jack Cafferty is coming up next with your email. Then Jeanne Moos with the new voice of the Aflac duck. Guess what? The quack is back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would love for you to represent us as the next voice.



BLITZER: Get right back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour is: "If the election was held today, which would be the bigger issue for you, gasoline prices, or the Middle East?"

Don writes, "The Middle East. If that area can be settled down with countries under governments that are at least tolerant of each other and open to compromise, the gas prices will take care of themselves."

Vince writes, "In Georgia the two go hand in hand. You can't be concerned about gas prices without being concerned about what's going on in the Middle East. Once this movement sweeping the Middle East hits Saudi Arabia, $4 a gallon will seem like a bargain. Time to get focused on renewable energy."

David in Virginia: "Gas prices by far, not because of the financial pain, but because of the lack of presidential leadership for the last two and a half years and coming up with a strategy which will lead to a solution. If you can't muster the leadership skills to recognize energy as a pivotal problem for us and come up with something better than hope and change blather of the last two years, then the president just doesn't get it. And he shouldn't get four more years of on-the-job training to learn at our expense."

Anthony in New York writes, "For me the bigger issue would be the Middle East. Gas prices were this high a few years ago. We survived. The people of Syria, Bahrain and other Arab countries are being killed by their own governments and they have little means of defending themselves. It will be pathetic if the United States stands by like we did in Rwanda and then declares never again after it's too late."

W. in Pennsylvania says, "We love free markets until the supply/demand ratio causes our oil addiction to cost us money. We don't get pay what the rest of the world already pays for gasoline and diesel fuel. Why are we involved in three wars against countries that have not harmed us and have no capacity to harm us? They just have the resources that our corporations want."

And Marlene writes, "Given just those two choices, I would pick gasoline prices, but the real issue for the 2012 election should be only one: jobs."

If you want to read more on the subject, go to my blog: -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Will do. Jack, thanks very much. See you tomorrow.

His voice helped make Aflac a household name, but when Gilbert Gottfried went off script, he found himself in hot water. Now the insurance company has bounced back from the embarrassment in a big way. Stand by.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daniel, this is Paul Amos.

We would love for you to represent us as the next voice of the Aflac duck.



BLITZER: Here's a look at today's "Hot Shots."

Nepal, indigenous groups light torches in the country's capital.

In South Korea, Buddhist monks hold lanterns as part of a celebration of Buddha's birthday.

In Paris, a worker spreads the final layer of clay on a tennis court ahead of next month's French Open.

And in London, Samantha Cameron, the wife of the British prime minister, bakes cakes with children ahead of the big royal wedding.

"Hot Shots," pictures from around the world.

Aflac found itself in big trouble over insensitive jokes told by the man voicing the famous duck mascot. As CNN's Jeanne Moos tells us, the insurance giant turned its gaffe into a gift.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Aflac duck, that silenced corporate icon, has once again found its voice. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aflac.


MOOS: Found it after some 12,500 auditions.





MOOS: Auditions requiring portrayals of a duck.


How about sky diving?


MOOS: The original voice fell from grace...


MOOS: ... after comedian Gilbert Gottfried tweeted jokes about the Japanese tsunami that made him a hot topic.

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": You've got to read it.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": "I just broke up with my girlfriend. But as the Japanese say, there will be another one floating by any minute now."

MOOS: Aflac fired Gottfried, and now almost a month and a half later, the comedian was back on "The View."

GOTTFRIED: When the earth blows up, there will be someone, the last person standing will do a joke about the earth blowing up.

MOOS: Within an hour, the last person standing after all those auditions was announced...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would love for you to represent us as the next voice of the Aflac duck.

DAN MCKEAGUE, NEW AFLAC DUCK VOICE: Well, I would be -- I would be absolutely honored.

MOOS: Thirty-six-year-old Dan McKeague is a radio station sales manager and married father of three living near Minneapolis.

MCKEAGUE: Aflac! Aflac!

MOOS: Dan says when he did his final audition via video conference...

MCKEAGUE: To do the Aflac voice, you obviously have to be very loud, and somewhat obnoxious.

MOOS: ... he startled folks in the office building who weren't expecting a duck.

(on camera) Test your duck aptitude. Can you tell the difference between the old and the new voice of the duck?

(voice-over) Is this the original Gilbert Gottfried?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad we've got Aflac, huh?


MOOS: Or is this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad we've got Aflac, huh?

MCKEAGUE: Aflac. Aflac. Aflac. Aflac. Aflac.

MOOS: The first one you heard was Gottfried.

(on camera) And if you're wondering how many bucks you get for playing a duck? Aflac says six figures, at least $100,000.

(voice-over) And that ain't chicken feed for a duck.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'll do a Luther Vandross version. Aflac.

MOOS: New York.



BLITZER: That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.