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THE SITUATION ROOM
New Storms Threaten Heartland; Judge: Loughner Unfit for Trial
Aired May 25, 2011 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in the SITUATION ROOM. Happening now -- with fresh storm warnings up throughout the Midwest, there's a desperate effort under way to find 1,500 people still unaccounted for in the devastated city of Joplin, Missouri. Our correspondents are with families trying to track down their loved ones. Stand by for this report.
Their frantic effort to survive the tornado was all caught on camera. You're about to see how employees and customers of a yogurt shop managed to save themselves at the very last minute.
And the stunning courtroom outburst from the man accused of killing six people and wounding a congresswoman. That's followed by a stunning, truly stunning legal ruling.
Breaking news, political headlines, and Jeanne Moos all straight ahead. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
Let's begin with the breaking news. As America's heartland braces for new storms with the region still reeling from devastating killer tornadoes, there are now storm warnings and watches up this hour, stretching from the southwest to the upper Midwest. And just about all of those storms have the potential to spawn new twisters. Let's go straight to our severe weather expert, Chad Myers joining us from CNN's Weather Center. Chad, what's the latest? What do we expect in the next few hours?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Wolf, I have 18, right now, 18 separate tornado warnings. Three tornado warnings actually have tornadoes on the ground. The rest are just rotating storms that haven't yet made it to the ground. We've had damage in Sedalia, Missouri. We've also had some damage across parts of St. Louis, where softball-sized hail has fallen on cars and people and homes in St. Louis proper, I-44.
I can't imagine what you would be doing if you were driving down the road and softball-sized hailstones were falling on your car. We also know that more weather will be moving through St. Louis again into Memphis, into very big towns, also into Indianapolis and to Columbus, Ohio, Finley, even Toledo, and then later on tonight, we're looking at Little Rock and all the way even down into Texarkana. It is going to be a busy night. We'll keep you advised.
BLITZER: Chad, stand by. We'll get back with you, as well.
The desperate search for survivors continues in Joplin, Missouri, where America's deadliest tornado on record killed at least 125 people, but remember, 1,500 others are still officially unaccounted for. We've been following some families as they go through the ordeal of trying to find their loved ones, including a teenager who was sucked out of a car by the twister while heading home from his high school graduation.
Let's go straight to CNN's Anderson Cooper in Joplin, Missouri. Anderson, what are you learning about this heartbreaking story?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Will Norton is teenager you're talking about who's driving home with his dad, Mark, just graduated high school, a day of joy and celebration. They weren't able to make it home. Their vehicle got hit by the tornado. And as the dad tried to hold onto his son, according to the father's account, the son, Will, was literally sucked through the sunroof of the vehicle. He has not been found. The father is in the hospital now, severely injured, but he's going to be OK, the family says.
But, you know, we're going on three days now, and the search continues to try to find Will Norton and to find others, as well. They've sent out multiple teams of dogs, dogs that are trained to search for living and also dogs that are trained to find the dead, as well. The family's holding onto hope that, even though it's three days, maybe he's in a field somewhere, not even in the Joplin area. They're saying, you know, he could be miles away, given the power of this storm.
They're hoping people will try to help them search. They've been having a lot of volunteers out here. A lot of teams are searching for Will Norton and searching for the others, but it is a grim task. They are basically going through the water right now, going through ponds with dive teams, with sonar devices. It is -- it's a difficult thing to see, and this family is -- you know, Will Norton's family is incredibly strong. They're incredibly organized.
They've searched every local hospital. And Wolf, what's so sad is that early on, they had been told by somebody that their son, Will, had been taken to a triage center, to a hospital here in Joplin, and then forwarded somewhere else. So, they thought he was in some hospital. They didn't know where. They've now learned that he actually never was sent to that triage center that they had initially been told he was sent to. So, they really have no idea. No indication of where he may be.
BLITZER: Anderson, that 1,500 number of unaccounted for, it seems to be holding steady. I thought it would go down rather rapidly. What's going on?
COOPER: Well, I think it's -- I don't really know the answer to that. I mean, I think it seems like it just at this point kind of a lack of organization. This is a town that has been decimated by this storm, and officials are trying to kind of get their hands around all the multiple things that are going on. You've got a lot of law enforcement, a lot of different agencies flooding in the state, and they're trying to get it more organized, and it has been more organized, but there's a lot of conflicting information, for instance, Will Norton's story.
The Red Cross earlier in an area set up for missing families. There was a sign that indicated he had been found and was at a hospital in Springfield. That is not true. That's a story that has floated out there. His family actually went to the hospital in Springfield and determined that there is a person there who's unidentified, but it's not their son. It's not Will Norton. So, I think we're going to see that number starting to come down in the next day or so, but you're right, Wolf.
We anticipated today seeing kind of a more stabilization of the numbers or at least more clarification, because as you said, 1,500, that may very well just mean, you know, a family member who drove away from the tornado and didn't tell other family members. So, it's not clear how many people have actually died yet in this disaster.
BLITZER: Anderson, thank you. Anderson is going to have much more. He's reporting live from the scene, "AC 360" 10:00 p.m. eastern later tonight.
The Joplin tornado damaged or destroyed thousands of buildings and emerging from these ruins. There are stories of terror, of heartbreak, and of survival. Take the yogurt shop, where employees and customers saved themselves at the very last minute. Here's CNN's Jeanne Meserve.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just nine days after opening Joplin's new Cherry Berry Yogurt Shop was reduced to this. Surveillance tape shows a normal Sunday. When warning sirens went off, they were ignored.
JOLYNN DOTSON, OWNER CHERRY BERRY: No one really took it serious. We didn't think it was an actual tornado. We just thought heavy winds.
MESERVE: But when employees and customers looked outside and saw the tornado bearing down, they were hustled to the back of the store.
DOTSON: That's when it was just like, you, you, you, in the office, you, you in the bathrooms.
MESERVE: The surveillance tape shows the window shattering, the furniture flying, then camera after camera goes black. When the group emerged after the tornado, they found the store and the city all around it chewed up and spit out. They were all safe. They thought. But when the owners viewed the surveillance tape for the first time Monday, they saw a hand reaching to pull a table into place and realized a family had tried to protect itself in the shop.
The police were called to do a second search of the rubble. They found nothing. Eyewitnesses then recalled they had seen the family after the tornado. Safe.
DOTSON: I don't know who they are. I would love to hug their necks. Just praise God that they made it, too.
MESERVE: Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Joplin, Missouri.
BLITZER: Later, we're going to have much more on the killer storm that tore through Oklahoma. We have shocking new images just coming into the SITUATION ROOM that show how powerful that tornado was.
But there's other important news we're following, including a dramatic outburst and an equally dramatic ruling at a hearing today for Jared Lee Loughner. He's the man accused of killing six people in his failed assassination attempt of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. CNNs Ted Rowland was inside the courtroom. Describe, Ted, what happened.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you alluded to, it was a very dramatic day in court. Before the judge made his final ruling that Jared Lee Loughner is incompetent and unable to stand trial, Loughner had an outburst. He basically interrupted the judge in midsentence and was yelling at the judge.
It was hard to hear exactly what he was yelling. It was incomprehensible, but two marshals who are on either side of Loughner pinned him immediately down to the ground and then literally dragged him out of this federal courtroom in Tucson as Loughner continued to yell at the judge.
They took about a 10-minute recess, and then, the judge brought Loughner back in, and he asked him would you rather watch this proceeding on a television monitor or continue to watch it here in the courtroom? Loughner, in a very sheepish voice, said I would like to watch it on TV. So, they pulled him out, and they continued on with this hearing. And in the end, the judge said that he agreed with two independent court-ordered medical professionals' opinions, who went and examined Loughner, that he is incompetent at this time to stand trial.
What does that mean? It means, at this point, Loughner is going to be transported to a medical facility for treatment, possibly also medication, and he'll be brought back in a few months, September 21st is the next hearing, to see if he is then competent to stand trial, but until then, all of the proceedings against Jared Loughner have been put on hold.
Gabrielle Giffords' office did not comment. They say they haven't commented on Loughner from the beginning, they won't do it now. One family member's attorney left court and said he actually agreed with this judge's ruling.
BLITZER: Yes. A lot of people are going to be shocked when they hear about this. Ted, thank you very much. Let's dig deeper with our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. Were you surprised, Jeff?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, not really, because this is an issue that the legal system has struggled with not for decades but for centuries. I mean, this goes back to England in the 17th and 18th century. How do you deal with someone who is crazy who is going to be on trial? The first question is, do they understand what's going on? That is the hurdle that apparently Jared Loughner didn't pass.
And that's why the judge suspended the proceedings. Later, the issue of the insanity defense comes up, another thing that has troubled the legal system for many, many years. So, given what we knew about him, given how many mental problems we had seen in the records and just observed in his behavior, it's not surprising that this ruling took place.
BLITZER: Because, you know, we know, based on all the information that is out there, Jeffrey, that he did do some research on solitary confinement, political assassination, lethal injection, in other words, if he was executed by lethal injection. So, this is someone who clearly understood the consequences of this kind of behavior.
TOOBIN: Right. And that would be certainly relevant on the issue of an insanity defense down the line in terms of did he understand what he was doing. But on the issue today of does he understand the legal proceedings that are going on now, that is apparently, according to these experts and now according to the judge, just not -- he doesn't get it. And that's the initial immediate ruling. But, you know, this case is far from over.
BLITZER: Jeffrey, thanks very much. Jeffrey Toobin with some analysis for us, important development out in Tucson.
We're just getting this in to CNN right now. Word of the sentencing in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case. We've now confirmed that Brian David Mitchell has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the abduction and rape of the young Utah woman. She was kidnapped from her bedroom in June 2002 when she was 14 years old. She was held by Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, for nine months before she was found just five miles from her home.
Barzee cooperated in the case against her husband and was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison. You're looking at live picture, by the way. She's speaking. Let's listen in for a second.
ELIZABETH SMART, KIDNAPPED WHEN SHE WAS 14 YEARS OLD: I would like to thank the U.S. attorney's office for all their work and everything that they have done. I am deeply, deeply grateful, truly from the bottom of my heart. I am so grateful to everyone and for the wonderful outcome that has happened today. Like my dad said, I am so thrilled with the results that came out today, the life sentence. I couldn't be happier.
Not only am I happy that I had this result, but today is, as my dad said, National Missing Children's Day. And so, I would encourage and I would ask parents and everyone everywhere to continue to pray for those children who are still missing, to keep an eye out, keep looking for them, because miracles can happen, and they still do happen today. It's been a huge miracle in my life that I can be standing in front of you here today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did it feel being able to look at him and directly talk to him today?
SMART: Just one moment, please. We'd just like to highlight a few children first.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry.
SMART: Just a moment. First, we would like to highlight Bianca Piper.
BLITZER (voice-over): All right. So, you heard from Elizabeth Smart on this day where her kidnapper was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
BLITZER (on-camera): A wrenching, wrenching weight for hundreds of families whose loved ones are missing in the wake of the tornado disaster in Missouri. We'll meet one woman searching for the estranged father she hasn't seen in eight years.
Also, part two of my interview with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. He's speaking out about the controversial land swaps President Obama's calling for with the Palestinians.
And Mr. Obama addresses the British parliament. And like any good speaker, he opened with a joke. We'll hear that joke. We'll dive into the serious stuff, as well.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty's got Americans' retirement on his mind. He's here with the "Cafferty file" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: If you think talk on Capitol Hill over reducing the deficit or raising the debt ceiling has been ugly, just wait till they sharpen their focus and get into the serious discussions about making cuts to Medicare or raising the Social Security retirement age. Long-term deficit reduction in this country cannot be achieved without changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and the politicians know that. But millions of Americans depend on these programs, and as the baby boomer population ages, tens of millions more will.
A new survey out of the AARP finds many Americans in retirement or close to retirement age will not ever recover financially from the so-called great recession. Record job losses, declining home prices, skyrocketing health care costs, and investment portfolios rocked by stock market volatility have all played a role. This is a stunning statistic. One in four American over the age of 50 say they have burned through all their savings.
More than half, about 53 percent say they are not confident they're going to have enough money to live comfortably in retirement. And about half of those surveyed who are having problems taking care of their finances say they have delayed getting medical or dental care or even stopped taking prescription medication because they can't afford it. Of those surveyed who started to collect Social Security retirement benefits, more than two-thirds said they filed for them earlier than they had previously planned to.
Here's the question, what does it mean that 25 percent of retirees in the United States say their savings are all gone? Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog.
BLITZER: Thanks, Jack.
President Obama addressed Britain's parliament today with a speech his aides call the center piece to the six-day European tour. The president made a sweeping case for values and for freedom and free markets and called British and American leadership essential. The president began his speech with some humor before diving into some more serious subjects.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am told that the last three speakers here have been the pope, her majesty, the queen, and Nelson Mandela, which is either a very high bar or the beginning of a very funny joke.
OBAMA: It was the United States and the United Kingdom and our democratic allies that shaped a world in which new nations could emerge and individuals could thrive. And even as more nations take on the responsibilities of global leadership, our alliance will remain indispensable to the goal of the century that is more peaceful, more prosperous, and more just.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's dig deeper with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. What was the president trying to accomplish today?
GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, he was trying to make the case that the joint leadership of the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring and is as relevant today as it was when we stormed the beaches of Normandy. And he basically connected the dots between doing that to the NATO mission in Libya.
And he said, you know, lots of people are talking about the rise of these other countries like China, like Brazil, for example, and India, and he said, but this doesn't mean that we are less relevant. It means we are more important because we can shape the world with our shared values.
BLITZER: And now, we heads off to the G-8 summit in France.
BORGER: He does.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens tomorrow, Gloria. Thank you.
Hundreds of people missing in Missouri, and for their families, an unbearable wait. We'll get the latest on the search for tornado victims.
And we'll also hear from some people fighting bureaucracy instead of loved ones. CNN's John King and Brian Todd, they're both live in the disaster (ph) for us.
BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story, the devastation from the tornadoes in the Midwest. I want to go to Joplin, Missouri right now where at least 125 people are dead, as many as 1,500 remain unaccounted for. With homes and businesses reduced to a vast stretch of rubble and communications links damaged, locating the missing becomes an extraordinarily difficult and painful task.
CNN's Brian Todd is out there looking into this part of the story for us. Our heart goes out to these folks, Brian. What are you finding out?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we hope to get some new numbers very soon, the numbers of casualties, possibly even new numbers on the missing, although, officials are really trying to hedge that figure at the moment. For those who are looking for their loved ones, this is an excruciating wait.
TODD (voice-over): Jennifer Perez is looking for the estranged father she hasn't seen in eight years.
JENNIFER PEREZ, LOOKING FOR FATHER: I mean, I don't think -- may not have any closure of finding anything out. It just makes it even worse knowing that he changed his life, and then, he comes down here to do that, and now, he might be dead, and I won't even know for who knows when.
TODD: She says her father, James Williamson, had past addiction battles and moved to Joplin to start fresh. The only information she has is that he was working in a McDonald's that got destroyed. Perez is one of thousands in the Joplin area searching for missing loved ones after the tornado. Local and state officials are scrambling to organize the effort to find them.
GOV. JAY NIXON, MISSOURI: When you have folks who are lost, when you have folks who are missing, we are very cognizant of needing to talk to those families first in trying to get to the families.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's fine.
TODD: A local call-in center has been overwhelmed since it plugged in the first phone jack.
TODD (on-camera): After the calls come in here, the information immediately goes into a database shared with the sheriff's office, the state highway patrol, and the first responders who are combing through all the neighborhoods.
TODD (voice-over): But the kinks in the process are maddening to people like Jennifer Perez. They understand the challenges of coordinating information, but they say they're just not getting it fast enough. Michelle Hare's 16-year-old son, Lance, was in a car tossed hundreds of yards from a grocery store. She describes other frustrations in the search.
You're frustrated by false leads?
MICHELLE HARE, LOOKING FOR SON: Yes. Yes. We're getting so many of them, obviously, lots of them are multiple leads, and they're just turning out as cold as ice, basically. And so, it exhausts you.
TODD: Still, she says she's grateful for them and follows every one. Hare and Jennifer Perez just can't sit and wait. They're moving through town on their own, showing pictures, making calls, tapping into social media. Even a tiny shred of information could mean anything. Perez says her father's never met her two young children.
PEREZ: Anybody would notice him in a crowd because his smile, his jokes, just the kind of person he is. I know my kids would love him as their grandpa.
HARE: We need to have some closure one way or the other to be able to move on. And if it is my son, let him peace, let him rest in peace and not be, you know, out there where his family's not able to do what we need to do for him now, if it is him.
TODD (on-camera): Hare says she is ready for the worst possible news. She says that a body was discovered in the area right where her son was tossed from his car, a body that fits his description pretty closely. She says a person who guarded the body until authorities came to get it told her that. She's been hoping to get in to a local morgue to maybe identify the body, but she's not been allowed to yet, Wolf.
BLITZER: You know, it's so shocking. The winds are F-5 category, 200 miles an hour. Some of the x-rays at that hospital in Joplin where you are were discovered 60 miles away. So, you see these trees uprooted. You can just imagine if someone gets caught up in one of these tornadoes, they could be miles away from where they originally were.
TODD: That's right, Wolf, and that's going to be part of the painstaking process of trying to locate these people. That's why they don't want to really necessary go towards figures of the missing right now. There was a figure floated out that's been out there all day with about 1,500. I talked to a local official not too long ago, and she told me you got to dial back on that. We just don't know right now.
It could have carried people a long way away. Some people could have migrated out of town when this thing happened and maybe floated back in. They just don't want to go there right at the moment. So, they're really trying to hedge that right now.
BLITZER: Yes, let's hope for the best. By the way, the authorities have just said that there were no live recoveries today. A hundred and twenty-five, that remains the death toll in Joplin, Missouri.
Brian, thanks very, very much. Hope they find some of those 1,500 people still listed as missing. Heartbreaking.
We also have amazing new images of the killer storm that swept through Oklahoma. A state of emergency is in effect for most of the state, where the death toll now stands at ten. Take a look at the -- this extraordinary footage of the ferocious tornado that plowed through Chickasha yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's behind it? You're good. Oh, my God. Back up. Oh, no. Stop. Oh, no. What it destroyed. It's the terminal house. Slow down. No. Slow down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Amazing video. Some Missouri tornado victims are getting increasingly frustrated as they wait -- await word of their loved ones. Let's go back to the disaster zone. Our chief national correspondent, John King, is out there. He's hosting "JOHN KING USA" from the scene.
What are you seeing on this day, John?
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you're seeing more anger, more frustration, more a gnawing sense from the families of those who are still looking for their loved ones of why can't they get answered. They're frustrated with the bureaucracy. They keep saying they're getting mixed messages. And frankly, they're just losing patience, because they either want the hope of knowing their loved one is still alive or begin the process of closure-- begin the process of closure.
We're at nearly the 72-hour mark now. One of the places we were today was a law-enforcement center set up on a university campus nearby, a makeshift. And we saw a couple there, Tammy Niederhelman and her husband. They have been coming there for three days. They've brought paperwork. They've filled out the paperwork. They brought photographs. Their 12-year-old son, Zach, is missing. They keep coming back every day, because they were told, Wolf, by their neighbor that he saw the young boy dead, taken away in an ambulance.
So this couple desperately wants to find the body, if that is true. They want to bury their son. They want to get closure. They came back today. They were told the people couldn't find their paperwork. Listen to Tammy outside. She is so frustrated. She's trying to find her son, and she's hitting what she believes to be incompetence and bureaucracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAMMY NIEDERHELMAN, LOOKING FOR SON: How long is it going to be before anybody tells us anything about any of the bodies? I mean...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am...
NIEDERHELMAN: ... is it going to be days before anybody knows? I mean, there's people sitting down there, you know, that are -- to wherever you guys are hiding them, their bodies are just, you know...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can assure you...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like CNN to say something, man?
NIEDERHELMAN: I would like CNN to cover the fact that something needs to be done; the government needs to fix the problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can assure you that your loved one is being properly taken care of with the utmost respect and dignity. OK? I can assure you of that.
KING: Wolf, we were not allowed inside. Tammy had to get back in line, fill out paperwork again. In the end they said they found some of what she brought yesterday, but she left frustrated again. They said there will be no word today, probably no word tomorrow, and that she could be waiting as long as two weeks.
They won't let her go down in the morgue and look. They say she has to wait and let the process unfold. She's incredibly frustrated.
Another place we went today, another family member we met was in one of the most devastated neighborhoods here, one of the hardest hit neighborhoods. Linda Lippman (ph) Baldwin was there at the house where her brother Michael -- he works with disabled, developmentally disabled individuals. He was at a home providing care for three when the tornado hit. His car is across the street. It is crumpled into a wreck. The three young patients who lived at that home, they have all been found, Wolf, and declared dead.
Linda was frustrated. Today was her birthday. She wanted to spend it with her brother. She was complaining that they hadn't brought the specially-trained dogs by to sift through the rubble. She was very frustrated tonight, Wolf.
But just moments ago a CNN crew at the hospital nearby has confirmed, and they've met with Linda at the hospital, that her brother was a John Doe. But the family now has identified the body of Michael Baldwin. She said today that would be very hard for her. Mike -- she said that would be very hard for her -- Michael Lindquist, excuse me. Her married name was Baldwin. She said it would be very hard for her, but that's what she expected, Wolf, three days out now. But she wanted definitive word. She said now the hard part would be telling her 89-year-old mother -- Wolf.
BLITZER: How sad that is. All right, John.
John's going to have much more his whole hour, coming up the top of the hour, from the scene of this disaster.
Before and after the tornado, extraordinary new images put the destruction in Joplin in a whole new light.
BLITZER: We'll get back to the tornadoes and the devastation in a few moments, but is there's other news. President Obama urged Israel to negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinians based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps. That led to some tense moments when the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, seemed to lecture the president. The prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, tells me their relationship is good.
Here's part two of the interview.
BLITZER: I'm going to play a little sound bite, a clip. Here's what the president said on Sunday, elaborating on those -- on those words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By definition, it means that the parties themselves, Israelis and Palestinians, will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. That's what mutually-agreed-upon swaps means. It is a well- known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do you accept that formula as a basis for negotiation as described by the president?
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I think the president's emphasis that we're not going back to the June 4, 1967, lines, is very important. The borders that Israel had before 1967, the lines, were not the borders of peace. They were the borders of war. We were attacked from that time and time again, because there were -- Israel was so narrow, was so indefensible, that it just invited repeated Arab attacks. So I think this emphasis, I think, is very important for peace.
BLITZER: So do you accept that formula as a basis for any negotiations with the Palestinians as explained by the president?
NETANYAHU: I said that the most important thing is that we maintain defensible borders in a final peace agreement, and I think the president's explained that it can't be the June 4, 1967 borders. He was very clear on that.
BLITZER: But that phrase, "mutually agreed swaps," would you be willing to exchange pre-'67 land in Israel for some land that you take on the West Bank?
NETANYAHU: Well, let's get to negotiation, you know?
BLITZER: Are you leaving that open?
NETANYAHU: Well, I think that we have some of our own ideas. Other people have other ideas, but the only way we're going to resolve this is to do something else that the president said here. He said it's got to be negotiated by the parties. And I think that's absolutely right. It can't be imposed at the U.N. It can't be...
BLITZER: Because I was surprised by your reaction after the president said that on Thursday, because that's not the fist time a U.S. official has offered that. Hillary Clinton, in a joint statement that you released with her back in November, said something almost exactly along those lines.
NETANYAHU: I think the important thing is the very clear statement that we don't go back to indefensible boundaries, both for security reasons and also because of real demographic facts on the ground. You know that things change. Washington has changed in 44 years.
The suburbs of Jerusalem and greater Tel Aviv have been built. You're not going to leave 650,000 Israelis who are beyond the '67 borders, just leave them astray. So I think this clarification is important.
BLITZER: In April, the president of Israel, Shimon Peres, was here in Washington. I interviewed him at the U.S. Institute of Peace. And we had this exchange on this very issue. I'll play the clip for you, and listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: As part of that agreement, would you be willing to give up land of pre-'67 Israel to the Palestinians in exchange for some land in the Palestinian territories that would become part of the state of Israel?
SHIMON PERES, PRESIDENT OF ISRAEL: You mean if we...
BLITZER: As part of a final peace settlement with the Palestinians?
PERES: We are willing and ready to go for a swap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: "We are willing and ready to go for a swap." That's what he told me early in April here in Washington.
NETANYAHU: The wonders of technology.
BLITZER: Are you in agreement with the president of Israel?
NETANYAHU: When I sit down and negotiate, I'll be able to give an answer. But the -- whatever it is, I can tell you that our position is that we have to not go back to the '67 lines. That's the most important thing.
BLITZER: But that's the U.S. position, as well. I guess the definition is swaps, significant swaps or minor swaps.
NETANYAHU: I think the important thing is that clarity that was introduced, and I think that's important. The rest should be left to negotiation. You know what? How come we're not negotiating this? How come we're not sitting down and actually talking about it? You're not going to resolve this, not even on CNN, and not even with Wolf Blitzer, esteemed reporter and commentator as you are.
I think the important thing is how come we're not sitting down? I don't understand why the Palestinian Authority has avoided these negotiations.
BLITZER: The third and final part of the interview tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. The interview conducted at Blair House across the street from the White House.
Extraordinary images of Joplin, Missouri, before and after the monster tornado that killed more than a hundred people, left hundreds still missing.
BLITZER: For mile after mile, a huge swath of devastation cut through Joplin, Missouri. Thousands of buildings have been damaged and destroyed, many of them completely leveled. Now we have extraordinary images which show this devastation in a new way.
Let's walk over to CNN's Tom Foreman. You've got the before, Tom, and the after, and we can see this devastation so dramatically.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Take a look at this, Wolf. It's good to see the before and have a point of reference. This is downtown. This is the big picture of Joplin. I'm going to move in here and mark the path as we move in. So you see how it really cut through a central part of this town in a big way. Let's go and look at some of the details of what this is.
This is South Main Street down here. If you go in close, you can see this is full of businesses like, you know, Walgreen's and pizza places and gas stations, all sorts of things that all of these neighborhoods out here rely on. Points of reference, here's the high school we've heard so much about over here, hospital over here.
But now I want you to look at what happens when we give you the wide shot here. This is the before picture, and now from GOI, here's the satellite picture of the after. Look at that. Unbelievable. Before, again, I want to bring this back so you can see the contrast. Before, all this nice, tidy neighborhood. Afterward, this is the amount of damage. You can see in many places, Wolf, the ground truly is just scraped bare.
Think about the problems, people were mentioning a minute ago, how they can't get information. This is why. Tremendous, tremendous damage here in this satellite image alone, Wolf, which doesn't go out to all the edges. We added -- this is about three miles' worth, about a mile across in some places here. You do the math here. There are about 1,100 homes either completely destroyed or greatly damaged in this one picture. That's why it's so hard to get these services back together and figure out where all these people went, even if they survived the storm, where are they now.
BLITZER: Fifteen hundred still officially missing. Tom, thank you.
The desperate, desperate search for those missing and the staggering task of how to go about starting all over. We have much more on the tornado devastation in Joplin, Missouri.
BLITZER: Get right back to jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour: "What does it mean -- this is a stunning statistic. Twenty-five percent of retirees in the United States say their savings are gone."
Joe writes, "It means the economy's in deep trouble and that really large budget cuts could cause a depression. Social Security more necessary now than ever before. And it ought to be assured by eliminating the cap but keeping the maximum benefit at the present level. This would eliminate 30 percent of the budget problem."
Paul writes, "It says perhaps that we all need to put retirement savings as a bigger priority in our lives, which would mean doing with less today and lowering our expectations in terms of lifestyle in general. It's a pragmatic analysis but often those contain the most truth."
Dave in Virginia says, "I'm not sure what the answer is. You can save all your life and then blow it all on long-term care or you can blow it during your earlier years and use Medicaid for long-term care. There doesn't seem to be a dignified middle ground for most people."
Tom writes, "Instead of sitting back enjoying our golden years in the swing on the porch, we're doing without. Medical care, prescription costs have gone through the roof. The cost of everything has soared, from food to fuel, and nothing has been neglected in the price rise, except of course, my Social Security payments. They say there's no cost of living increase, so last year's payment will handle our living costs just fine. Well, it does when we use our rainy day funds. The problem is, the rainy day money is finite. We're too old to get another job to refill it. The dollar taken out can never be replaced. It's gone."
Marianne writes, "It means that we old folks who always voted Republican will vote Democratic if the Republicans touch our Medicare in any way. I've been a good Republican for 68 years, but this year that could change. I'm just saying."
And Don says, "Sadly, for the retirees, it means getting back into the workforce, probably at minimum wage. For the rest of us, it means we have to speak louder to the 93-year-old cashier at Burger King to ensure that our lunch order is properly understood."
If that wasn't so sad, it would be funny. If you want to read more on this, go to the blog: CNN.com/CaffertyFile.
BLITZER: You're right, Jack. Thank you.
Jack will be back tomorrow.
"JOHN KING USA" coming up at the top of the hour. He's live from the tornado disaster zone with the latest on the search for the hundreds of people still missing.
Plus, President Obama burned by his toast to the queen. CNN's Jeanne Moos shows us what went wrong.
BLITZER: His attempt to say cheers resulted in jeers for President Obama as he tried to salute the British queen. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama may have been the toast of the town, but when it came to toasting the queen...
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I propose a toast.
MOOS: ... maybe he should have stuck to toast. But instead the president popped up and unwittingly cued the orchestra when he said the magic words.
OBAMA: To her majesty, the queen, to the vitality of the special relationship between our peoples.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: "God Save the Queen." It's a national anthem. You shut up.
MOOS: But the president soldiered on.
OBAMA: And in the words of Shakespeare, "To this blessed plot this earth, this realm, this England, to the queen."
MOOS: But the queen wasn't toasting during the national anthem. Uh-oh, the president ditched his lonely upraised glass. WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": When Barack figured out, he was like, "OK, I'll put the glass."
MOOS: When the anthem ended, the toast was consummated by the queen.
OBAMA: To the queen.
MOOS (on camera): So who messed up? Was it the president or was it the musicians?
(voice-over) On blogs, the president was called a bumpkin, a doofus, while defenders said, "Why blame Obama? I blame the band."
We turned to royal protocol expert William Hanson.
WILLIAM HANSON, ROYAL PROTOCOL EXPERT: The answer to the question as to who messed up would be President Obama, really.
MOOS: Hanson said someone from his staff should have briefed the president. The cue for the anthem is standard.
HANSON: You stand up and you say "the queen."
MOOS: The gaffe...
OBAMA: The vitality of the special relationship between our peoples...
MOOS: ... reminded some of an awards show.
ELLEN DEGENERES, TALK SHOW HOST: Anyway -- oh, I want to thank Portia and my mama and my pets, Wolf, Mabel, George.
MOOS: President Obama and Britain's deputy prime minister joked about the miscue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought you did exactly the right thing.
OBAMA: I thought that it was like out of the movies where it was a soundtrack...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like a crescendo.
OBAMA: ... that kind of comes over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With your voiceover.
MOOS (on camera): The president did do something right by not doing this.
HANSON: Yes, you never clink glasses. This is not done at all anywhere.
MOOS (voice-over): As for the queen's reaction...
HANSON: Her majesty doesn't give anyone dirty looks at all. No, she's far too worldly.
OBAMA: This earth, this realm, this England, to the queen.
MOOS: One critic wrote, somewhere in London, the bust of Winston Churchill is laughing at Obama.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN...
OBAMA: To the queen.
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.
KING: Thanks, Wolf.
And good evening tonight from Joplin, Missouri. A very busy day of breaking news.