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President Obama's Afghanistan Plan; Jon Huntsman Enters Presidential Race

Aired June 21, 2011 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: President Obama is poised to announce his plan for bringing home U.S. troops from Afghanistan. CNN is learning details about what the president will say in his major speech to the nation tomorrow night.

Also, some call it an ethics controversy, others, a smear campaign, with the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas at the center right now of a growing storm -- new information coming in. And a new addiction -- addition, I should say, to the Republican presidential pack, with moment major differences from the other White House hopefuls. We will have a lot more on what sets Jon Huntsman apart.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world, breaking news, political headlines and Jeanne Moos all straight ahead.

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

One day before President Obama addresses the nation about drawing down the U.S. force in Afghanistan, we are learning new details of his plan. We're also learning about deep divisions among the president, lawmakers, the Pentagon over how many U.S. troops to bring home and how quickly.

Let's go straight to our White House correspondent Brianna Keilar. She's been looking in this story for us.

What is the latest, Brianna? What are you hearing?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, of course, as you know, the president is being pulled in two directions here. On one hand, you have members of his own party who are citing war weariness among the public, the cost of this war, and the recent successes against al Qaeda, saying it justifies a significant drawdown in troops.

On the other hand, you have the president's military commanders who are suggesting that bringing home too many troops could cause a setback in the war.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KEILAR (voice-over): Tomorrow night, President Obama will tell the nation how many troops he is withdrawing from Afghanistan, making good on this promise he made in December of 2009.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.

KEILAR: But no matter what Obama announces, he will face criticism. The Pentagon has been pushing for a slow withdrawal, just 3,000 to 5,000 support troops out this year, a proposal supported by John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Modest withdrawal, maintaining our ability to go through another fighting season, and then withdraw, is what I would like to see the president say.

KEILAR: But some in the president's own party, like Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, want a speedier drawdown. Levin wants at least 15,000 troops gone by the end of 2011. Some Democrats want all U.S. troops gone within a year. And their calls have become louder since the killing Osama bin Laden, something the White House has been touting ahead of the president's announcement.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The successful mission against Osama bin Laden highlights the broader success that we have had in going after members of al Qaeda in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.

KEILAR: Publicly, the White House is mum on numbers, though, privately, a congressional source tells CNN the president has chosen the middle ground. Members of Congress have been told he will bring 10,000 troops home by the end of this year, with the remaining 20,000 of the so-called surge troops leaving by the end of 2012.

Asked about the differing opinions on the drawdown, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was definitive.

CARNEY: He is in charge of this process and he makes the decisions. And this decision will be the commander in chief's.


KEILAR: Now, the president will address the nation tomorrow from the White House. It's still unclear if it will be from the Oval Office or another location.

And, Wolf, take a look at this. Less than a day before the president's announcement, he is receiving this letter from liberal Democrats and also some Republicans urging a sizable drawdown.

And, certainly, what we can tell even before he make this announcement, 10,000 troops by the end of the year, 30,000 by the end of 2012, Wolf, that won't be enough for these people.

BLITZER: Yes, we heard Senator Rand Paul tell me a little while ago, the Republican senator from Kentucky, he thinks 90,000 of the 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan right now, 90,000, should be out as quickly as possible. Just keep 10,000 there to deal with counterterrorism.

Brianna, thanks very much.

Much more on the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, divisions over the military options. In a few minutes, we will be joined by a former high-ranking State Department senior adviser for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Vali Nasr. He is standing by live.

Police in Britain, meanwhile, say they have arrested a 19-year- old man near London suspected in a devastating online attack against Sony's PlayStation Network. They are also looking for possible links to a notorious group of hackers.

CNN's Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATION ROOM working the story for us.

Brian, what are you finding out?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, London police tell us they are investigating whether this man was part of a group called LulzSec. That's a hacking group we have been reporting on that has claimed responsibility for recent attacks on the CIA and U.S. Senate Web sites.

Police say this young man's arrest has led them to significant amounts of color that they are going through right now.


TODD (voice-over): Plucked from this modest house in Wickford, England, a 19-year-old man who police say could be connected to the very costly hacking of Sony's networks.

London police have him in custody. They won't name him because he hasn't yet been charged. Is he a hacking mastermind? Police officials tell CNN they are trying to determine if the teenager is connected to any potential hacking group, including the notorious LulzSec, which recently claimed to have hacked the Web sites of the CIA, the U.S. Senate, and PBS.

Kevin Mitnick, once the world's most wanted hacker, said he corresponded with LulzSec hackers when they first started.

(on camera): Is it plausible for a 19-year-old from England to be involved in a group that has done so much damage or maybe even be one of its leaders?

KEVIN MITNICK, FORMER HACKER: Yes, absolutely. Anyone at a young age could do these types of attacks and hack into the systems and networks. Actually, the age is getting younger. TODD (voice-over): We called numbers posted for LulzSec. Didn't reach them. We tweeted them, asking if the arrested teenager is part of LulzSec.

(on camera): LulzSec didn't respond directly to us on Twitter, but they did send out two tweets.

First, they said the young man is not part of LulzSec. "We house one of our many legitimate chat rooms on his IRC server, but that's it."

A few minutes later, another tweet. "Clearly, the U.K. police are so desperate to catch us that they have gone and arrested someone who is at best mildly associated with us. Lame."

(voice-over): What are LulzSec's motivations for its previous hackings?

Eddie Schwartz is chief security officer for data security firm RSA. He's well-versed in the underworld of computer hackers.

(on camera): What are groups like LulzSec exposing right now?

EDDIE SCHWARTZ, RSA: That basically organizations need to focus their security on a new adversary, an adversary that is not predictable and that may use techniques that will change from day to day, and the reasons why they do things may not be clear all the time.

MITNICK: They pretty much want to send a message that everybody's security sucks and that they can get in. And they want to do it for their kicks, for the laughs.


TODD: Kevin Mitnick says if this young man is part of LulzSec or any hacking group, it is likely that he will inform on the others. He says in many hacking cases, the first one caught often turns state's evidence, Wolf, and they're questioning him tonight.

BLITZER: But there is another, Brian, security hacking case that this young man is suspected of being involved with?

TODD: That's right. London police tell us that his arrest is also linked to the hacking of the Web site belonging to Britain's Serious Organized Crime Agency.

Now, that hacking led to that group's Web site being taken down at least temporarily. LulzSec has mentioned that hacking on its Twitter feed, again LulzSec denying that he is really a significant part of their group. But, again, he may turn on some other people, so this may unravel. Who knows.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news. BLITZER: All right, there has been a major vote in Athens, Greece, on the future of Greece's efforts to avoid some sort of financial break down.

Let's go to CNN's Diana Magnay. She is joining us in Athens with the latest.

What has just happened, Diana? Because the ramifications for people all over Europe, indeed all over the world, are enormous right now.


What has just happened is that in the Parliament building behind me, George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister, won a vote of confidence in his new government. And that is one step along a long road to getting Greece the money that it needs to prevent it from defaulting as early as mid-July, essentially going bankrupt as early as the middle of next month.

The E.U. and the IMF have said, we will provide you extra funds, $17 billion worth, if you can agree on a second round of austerity cuts and a huge privatization program. And when I mean austerity, I mean wage cuts, tax hikes, pension cuts. And this is on a people who have already suffered from a first round of austerity cuts for a year already.

And that's why, Wolf, so many of them are down on the street there. You can see them angry. They have been protesting outside of Parliament all day. And the riot police are assembled in front of them as the members of Parliament leave the building, having just cast their vote.

Particularly what happens now, Wolf, is that, this time next week, those same members of Parliament will have to decide whether to put their names to this austerity package. If they don't put their names to it, the E.U., the IMF have said we are not going to give you any money. And that would essentially mean that Greece could go bankrupt -- Wolf.

BLITZER: George Papandreou, the prime minister, gets that vote passed narrowly 155-143, a confidence vote in his austerity vote. Thanks very much, Diana.

Meanwhile, here in the United States, the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is in the spotlight right now for what critics portray as an ethically questionable relationship with a very wealthy supporter.

But other Thomas backers portray the controversy as nothing more than a liberal smear campaign against one of the high court's most conservative justices.

CNN's Lisa Sylvester has been digging deeper for us.

Lisa, what is the story here? LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a fascinating story, Wolf.

Justice Clarence Thomas, he has been under scrutiny by liberal groups for his ties to conservative groups, Now, allegations of gifts received and trips taken, and the latest focus is on a museum near his childhood home.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): This used to be a oyster factory in Pin Point, Georgia, near Savannah, but it's being restored into a new heritage museum, a pet project of Justice Clarence Thomas, who grew up here. His mother worked in the factory.

But the museum and its anonymous donor have become a headache for Thomas. "The New York Times" reports the donor is Texas real estate tycoon Harlan Crow, who has given millions to conservative causes.

What's the issue here? Liberal groups such as Common Cause and the Center for American Progress claim a it's pattern of Thomas receiving lucrative gifts and favors from conservative friends, a $15,000 bust of Abraham Lincoln from the American Enterprise Institute, private plane rides last reported in 2002 on his disclosure form and a generous donation to a library in Savannah with a wing named in his honor.

IAN MILLHISER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: You don't want to appear in front of a judge if you know that that judge has just received a $15,000 gift from someone who wants the opposite outcome in the case.

SYLVESTER: Neither Crow nor his companies have had cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. But the concerns from some advocacy groups go beyond that. Could Thomas' alleged political ties affect the outcome of a case?

Thomas has attended political Federalist Society conferences organized by conservatives David and Charles Koch. Thomas' wife is still on the payroll of Liberty Central, a nonprofit she founded that shares the same goals of the Tea Party.

Thomas did not initially disclose his wife's income and had to file corrected forms going back 13 years. But conservative blogger Ed Whelan, who used a clerk for Justice Scalia and knows Justice Thomas well, sums this all up itself as a smear campaign.

ED WHELAN, PRESIDENT, ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: Part of this may grow out of Bush vs. Gore 10 years ago. Some of this grow out of dissatisfaction with more recent decisions. But what you're seeing is a reckless attack that -- that deals dishonestly with the facts.

SYLVESTER: Whelan says it goes both ways. Newest Justice Elena Kagan used to be President Obama's solicitor general. Conservatives say she may have a conflict of interest on pending appeals over the health care reform law, which could likely end up before the high court.

And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spoken at the National Organization of Women Legal Defense and Education Fund, a group that regularly argues before the court.

Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, says justices should be held to the same ethics code of conduct as federal judges. The progressive group has written a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts, asking him to work with other justices to set standards for the Supreme Court.

BOB EDGAR, PRESIDENT & CEO, COMMON CAUSE: It taints their neutrality when issues come before the courts. And both the Democrats, Republicans and Tea Party are going to have plenty of issues, campaign finance rules that come before the courts. And it's hard to trust the outcome of those decisions if in fact justices are politicizing themselves.


SYLVESTER: Now, the U.S. Supreme Court said Thomas' office had no comment on the story and calls to the public relations firm representing the Pin Point museum and Harlan Crow's office were not returned, Wolf.

BLITZER: I guess they just want these justices to be held to a much higher standard.

SYLVESTER: Yes. And that's part of the story is, in fact, if you have federal judges, they have a code of ethics. It's written. It's very clear what they can and cannot do. With the justices, though, it's a little murkier. And that's why they want the clarification. What can justices do in terms of fund-raising, in terms of appearances, in terms of receiving gifts and the like?

BLITZER: Sounds like a good idea. Thanks very much, Lisa.

The bank robber who only demanded a single U.S. dollar, it turns out money is not really what he was after. We will explain.

Plus, an unmanned aircraft goes down in Libya, but there are different versions of exactly what happened.

Stay with us. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: When former Utah Governor and U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman announced that he is running for president earlier today, he promised to run a campaign of civility. Huntsman told the crowd -- quote -- "I don't think you need to run down anyone's reputation to run for president" -- unquote.

We'll see how long that lasts. According to a new survey -- a new survey, he said, on civility and behavior in America released exclusively to Politico, 85 percent of Americans think politics in this country has become increasingly uncivil. And nearly three-quarters think things will get nastier as we get deeper into the 2012 presidential race. That's probably a safe bet.

But it's just not politics where America's gotten nastier. Eighty-six percent of Americans say they have been treated uncivilly recently, most commonly either while driving or shopping. Sixty percent of Americans say they themselves have been rude to someone else.

Also in the survey, Americans were asked to rank 25 U.S. institutions from the least civil to the most civil. Political campaigns were the least civil, followed by pop culture, then the media, government and at number five, the music industry. But the number-six least civil institution? The American public. Seventy percent of those surveyed said the public wasn't civil.

That says quite a bit about our society. If we can't treat each other nicely, how can we ever expect to get the country back on its feet?

Here's the question: Why is America becoming nastier?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

It really seems to be, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. It certainly does. And I have been covering politics, like you, Jack, for a long time. Nastier is a good word to describe what's going on right now. I'm anxious to hear what our viewers think. All right, Jack, thank you.

CNN has learned that President Obama will announce plans tomorrow night to bring home 30,000 U.S. troops -- that was the surge -- from Afghanistan, but it won't be immediate. It will be over two years or so.

Let's talk about what is going on with Vali Nasr. He's a former State Department senior adviser for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He teaches now at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Boston.

Vali, thanks very much for coming in.

Does it really make any difference? When you have Hamid Karzai basically suggesting that U.S. -- and the U.S. has 100,000 troops in Afghanistan -- that U.S. forces are now occupiers of that country, does it really make a difference if the U.S. leaves now, a year from now, four years from now? The end result is pretty murky in any case, right?

VALI NASR, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SENIOR ADVISER: Well, the result is likely to be murky, but we are not in Afghanistan because of President Karzai.

We were there to make sure that the Taliban are contained, that they don't surge, they don't take over Kabul, we don't end up in a situation that we had before 2001.

BLITZER: But if the elected leader of Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai -- and he is the elected leader, even if those elections were flawed and there were some irregularities, shall we say -- he is the elected leader, and if he is bad-mouthing the United States and those 100,000 U.S. troops, 40,000 NATO forces, saying, you know what, Afghanistan may not even need them, might be better off without those troops, there is a lot of war weariness here in the United States and Americans, a lot of them, would like to bring those troops home.

NASR: That's true, but actually the more like we sound like we're leaving, the more Karzai is going to talk like that, because he needs to make himself popular with the population and he doesn't want to be seen as a lackey of the United States.

But the problem is that if there is a security threat in Afghanistan or on the borders of Pakistan for the United States, Karzai is not going to be able to take care of that. So we ought to leave Afghanistan, but we ought to leave in a way where we are sure that we won't have to go back anytime soon.

BLITZER: Is Leon Panetta, now the outgoing CIA director, right when he says there may be only a few hundred al Qaeda operatives left in Afghanistan?

NASR: That's possibly true. But the fact is that we want to make sure that, after we leave, they don't come back. They are right across the border in Pakistan. We still have the war with the Taliban. They are not our friends. They have a relationship with al Qaeda.

And we don't want to retreat from a space just to let them come back in.

BLITZER: But does the United States need 100,000 troops, plus 40,000 NATO, 140,000 troops on the ground to deal with that?

NASR: Probably not. And we don't need to be doing all of the civilian buildup that is so expensive and it's coming to nothing in Afghanistan, all the projects that we are doing.

But what is important for the president to think through is not whether we leave or not -- we ought to leave -- but how do we do it and on what schedule that makes sense.

BLITZER: You worked with Richard Holbrooke when he was the special envoy.

NASR: That's right.

BLITZER: Unfortunately, he passed away tragically not that long ago. There have been a lot of stories out there that he believed -- and he spent a lot of time in Afghanistan, a lot of time in Pakistan -- that this was all going to have a very unhappy ending, no matter what the United States did.

You spoke to him a lot. Did he believe that?

NASR: Well, Richard building that, at the end of every war, there has to be proper diplomacy. So it's not about putting troops in and withdrawing troops. You have to a plan about bringing a war to closure.

And that -- at this point in time, we have to be thinking about how are we going to get an agreement that everybody in the region is going to be willing to live in accordance and will bring peace to that country.

BLITZER: Because it sounds very lofty, very impressive, but almost undoable, given what is going on in Pakistan right now -- they don't like the United States, by all accounts -- given what's going on in Afghanistan -- they don't trust the United States right now.

And given the enormous cost, $10 billion a month for U.S. taxpayers, a lot of Americans say, it's not worth it.

NASR: Absolutely.

This war, at the pace it's going, at the cost it's going, is not sustainable. And we cannot do it long run. And the relationship with Pakistan is a big part of the problem. A lot of our planning in Afghanistan was based on a close, collaborative relationship with Pakistan.

If Pakistan is not going to be working with us, we don't know what direction the Taliban may take and how this war may turn out.

BLITZER: Because a lot more is at stake is -- the future of Pakistan, as opposed to Afghanistan.

NASR: That's right.

BLITZER: Pakistan, after all, has a nuclear arsenal as well, something Afghanistan -- it may have a lot of opium and poppies, but they don't have a nuclear arsenal. They have a few hundred al Qaeda operatives.

Vali, thanks for coming in.

NASR: Thank you.

BLITZER: Throwing his hat into the ring -- Jon Huntsman's is the newest White House contender. His name may not be familiar to many of you out there, but find out why he could stand out in an already crowded Republican field.

And holding up a bank for just $1, that's what this man allegedly did, so why did he then deliberately wait for the police to show up?


BLITZER: The former Utah Governor, the former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman is now officially seeking the Republican presidential nomination. He chose the Statue of Liberty as the backdrop for his announcement, following in the footsteps of Republican icon Ronald Reagan, who delivered a major speech there himself back in 1980.


JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we now need is leadership that trusts in our strength, leadership that doesn't surprise Washington has all of the solutions to our problems, but rather looks to local solutions from our cities, towns, and states, leadership that knows we need more than hope, leadership that knows we need answers.

Everything is at stake. This is the hour when we choose our future.

I'm Jon Huntsman, and I'm running for president of the United States.



BLITZER: All right, let's get some more on Jon Huntsman.

Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is here.

It's interesting. He picked the same location where Ronald Reagan kicked off his campaign for the White House in 1980.


BLITZER: And at that time, Reagan said this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reagan chose a reclaimed landfill park in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty as a symbolic backdrop to attack Carter's new economic policy.

RONALD REAGAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is his fifth new economic program in three-and-a-half years.

And, you know, listening to him, he talks as if someone else has been in charge for these last three-and-a-half years.


REAGAN: Now, with two months to go until the election, he rides to the rescue with a crazy quilt of obvious election-year promises which will he ask Congress for next year.

It's cynical. It's political, and it's too late.


BLITZER: All right. So I assume Jon Huntsman was trying to recreate some of that Ronald Reagan magic.


It's interesting to hear that bite, because Reagan was kicking off his general election campaign, so he was obviously attacking Jimmy Carter. And while Huntsman was trying to channel his inner Reagan today, Wolf, he was really not as partisan. He was really focusing on trying to be less partisan, more optimistic, getting people to focus on their hopes, rather than their resentments.

But, you know, when you give a speech at the same place Ronald Reagan gives a speech, you have to understand that the bar is set pretty high. And I think, as far as the Great Communicator is concerned, I think Jon Huntsman has a way to go to match Ronald Reagan

BLITZER: That's not easy, to match Ronald Reagan.

BORGER: He was a little slack (ph), yes.

BLITZER: He was pretty unique in that area.

He was very nice, though, to the president, I though, in his remarks today. He took a very lofty tone; there was no biting criticism, as so many of the other Republican candidates. There certainly was no attack, and he didn't question his patriotism or Americanism.

BORGER: Right. And that -- and that was very Reaganesque, and what he's trying to do is appeal to moderate Republicans and appeal to independent voters who think, you know what? This has gotten too partisan, as Jack Cafferty was saying before, and maybe we ought to -- we ought to tone it down and separate himself from the field.

BLITZER: So what's his strategy right now to win?

BORGER: His strategy is that. His strategy is that, when you look at the early state of New Hampshire, he's not competing in Iowa. There are lots of independent voters. And Wolf, that primary is an open primary. So independent voters can vote in the Republican primary, and for the first time since 1996, there's not a Democratic candidate for them to vote for. So it's -- he wants to make it a two- man race in New Hampshire: Mitt Romney versus Jon Huntsman.

And take a listen to what he put up on his Web site today before he went to New Hampshire.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's it mean to have principles? Hard and fast conservative principles? No flips, no flops. That's Jon Huntsman.


BORGER: Do you think he's taking a little bit of a hit at Mitt Romney there? And he's calling himself an authentic conservative. You know, the rap on Mitt Romney last time around was that he was not an authentic politician.

These men both need to win New Hampshire for their campaigns to survive. So it's going to be a very tough fight there.

BLITZER: Unlike the other -- a lot of the other Republican candidates, the social issues really didn't even come up in his remarks today...


BLITZER: ... like abortion or guns or gay marriage or any of those things.

BORGER: Well, he's -- he's -- you know, he's pro-life, but he is for civil unions. And that's going to be a very difficult case to make with lots of conservatives. So, you know, that's going to be one place where he's going to differentiate himself from the field.

Again, the feeling is that, if they can get through New Hampshire, maybe they'll be able to get some momentum and go on. But if you look at the mid-term elections, conservatives, A, didn't have a lot of nice things to say about Barack Obama, and B, are where the energy in the party seems to be right now. So it is kind of a leap of faith for them.

BLITZER: Like Tea Party activists. And you know, this statement that he made today in his remarks near the end of the speech...

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: ... jumped out at me. I wrote about it on our SITUATION ROOM blog. Let me play them.



JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want you to know that I respect my fellow Republican candidates. And I respect the president of the United States. He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help a country we both love, but the question each of us wants the voters to answer, who will be the better president? Not who's the better American.


BLITZER: I didn't hear that from a lot of the other Republicans.

BORGER: No. No, you didn't. And this is the way. He's a diplomat and he's being very diplomatic here.

And don't forget, Wolf, he's also got another problem, which is he worked for Barack Obama. And so he has to explain to Republican voters how he was for him before he was against him. And that tends to get politicians in trouble.

BLITZER: He'll have a tougher time getting the nomination. If he gets the nomination, he might have an easier time winning the election than he would have getting the nomination.

BORGER: And the White House, you know, you talked to people and they kind of understand him.

BLITZER: They're afraid of him.

BORGER: They are afraid of him, but they don't think he's going to get there.

BLITZER: They're afraid of Romney, too.

All right, Gloria. Thank you.


BLITZER: A lot of Americans still don't know who Jon Huntsman is, but Jeanne Moos is getting to know him, to a certain degree. Stand by for her report.

And a crash reveals the U.S. is using drone helicopters in Libya.

And an act of desperation leads an ailing man to rob a bank for just $1.


BLITZER: We're learning new details right now about the crash of an American helicopter in Libya. NATO says it was an unmanned drone on a surveillance mission, but Libya is telling a very different story. Let's go to CNN's David McKenzie. He's joining us now live from Tripoli with more.

What are you picking up there, David?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I can tell you that first we heard this was on Libyan state television. Let's look at those pics. It shows people clamoring on top of what was clearly the hardware in Zlitan, east of Tripoli near the frontlines towards the side.

Now, state TV, Wolf, was initially saying that this was Gadhafi forces shooting down an Apache helicopter. It's not the first time they've said this. In fact, it's the fifth time they've said this.

And NATO came out quickly, quickly after that saying no, it's not an Apache. This was, in fact, a Fire Scout. It's an unmanned helicopter drone from the U.S. Navy that had taken off from a U.S. Navy warship and was in the area during surveillance of what is nearest the frontline -- Wolf.

BLITZER: These are tiny helicopters by normal standards, but they do very, very important work, these unmanned drone helicopters. But put all of this, David, into some perspective. How big is this in the overall battle in Libya right now?

MCKENZIE: Well, it's big from the U.S. perspective, because over 70 percent of all intelligence gathering surveillance is done by the U.S. military. We know that because of what the White House had to say to Congress.

So the U.S. is paying a crucial support in an intelligence role here. So in that sense, it's important. But in a bigger sense, more than 11,000 sorties from NATO planes from the beginning of this campaign over Libya. I just heard the planes flying overhead just moments ago, Wolf, so the campaign continues.

But in the mix is the three days or four days of criticism of NATO, Wolf, about civilian casualties in their strikes. Put that in and the drone down in Zlitan, and it certainly hasn't been a great few days for NATO and their campaign in Libya -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. It's more than 90 days since that campaign began. David, thank you.

Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What else is going on, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, well space shuttle -- or rather, twin suicide car bombs went off within minutes of each other outside the home of an Iraqi provincial governor. At least 22 people were killed, and 23 others were injured. The governor was not hurt.

Attacks also rocked Baghdad. Bombings killed an Iraqi soldier and a civilian.

Space Shuttle Endeavor's final flight was also the last for the commander, Captain Mark Kelly. On his Facebook page, he reveals that he is retiring from NASA and the Navy as of October 1. But he is staying busy. He and his wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, they are planning to write a memoir. Giffords is recovering after being shot in the head by a gunman in Germany [SIC].

And Hillary Clinton is defending what she calls her quiet diplomacy regarding Saudi women drivers. Some Saudi women wrote letters to the secretary of state, saying they were disappointed she did not express more vocal support of their campaign to drive in their homeland. Here's how Clinton responded.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: This is about Saudi women themselves. They have joined together. They are acting on behalf of their own rights. This is not about the United States. It is about the women of Saudi Arabia. And what these women are doing is brave. And what they are seeking is right.


BLITZER: As I've said many times, it's shocking that women, half the population of Saudi Arabia, are not allowed, in this day and age, to drive a car. Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world that prevents women from getting a driver's license and driving.

SYLVESTER: And as you point out, it is in this day and age. You would think that that would have changed a long time ago, but that is indeed the case.

BLITZER: Shocking.


BLITZER: Thanks very much.

The alleged bank robbery note read, "Please give me $1." That's all the accused thief wanted. We're going to tell you why he then stuck around for the police to arrive.


BLITZER: We have an incredible story to share with you right now, a story about a North Carolina man who walked into a bank and handed the teller a note. A standard robbery, you might think. But it's what happened next that has a lot of people around the United States, indeed around the world stunned.

CNN's Martin Savidge is joining us now with details.

All right, Martin. Tell our viewers precisely what happened.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's amazing, but it's also a very sad story.

Most bank robberies hope to score big. Not James Verone. The unarmed 59-year-old told the teller all he wanted was $1. Then he sat down and waited for the police.



SAVIDGE (voice-over): It wasn't your typical bank heist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're being robbed, please. RBC, 500 South New Hope Road.

SAVIDGE: James Verone, unarmed and unemployed, says he wasn't looking to get rich, merely to get help. So he walked into this RBC Bank and demanded a single dollar.

JAMES VERONE, ARRESTED FOR ROBBERY: I never did anything wrong. SAVIDGE: Verone says he's suffering from a number of health issues, including two ruptured disks and a problem with his left foot. He wanted health care and a roof over his head, neither of which he says he could afford but which he thought prison would provide.

VERONE: I'm sort of a logical person, and that was my logic. That's what I came up with.

SAVIDGE: That's why, instead of fleeing the scene, he simply sat down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's sitting on the sofa. He can hear everything I'm saying. So I'm in a back room. But there's four of us here in the bank. Please hurry.

SAVIDGE: Police arrested Verone, and for nearly two weeks he's been in jail and getting medical treatment. He says the jail house doctor has accused him of manipulation.

VERONE: If you call it manipulation, than out of necessary, because I need medical care, then I guess I am manipulating to get medical care.


SAVIDGE: Verone says that he had hoped to get a prison sentence of at least three years, after which he says that he would be eligible for Social Security, but authorities we spoke with say he will only be charged with larceny, not bank robbery, which if found guilty, would mean he would serve substantially less time behind bars, Wolf.

BLITZER: Couldn't he have just gone into an emergency room and asked for medical help, even though he didn't have any insurance, didn't have any money?

SAVIDGE: Right. He could. They could not deny him that kind of medical treatment, but there seems to be an issue here beyond the medical treatment. And that's that he also wanted housing, and that's why he felt that prison was the only alternative. This story has gone worldwide

BLITZER: Yes. That says a lot about what's going on right now in the country. All right. Thanks very much. Martin Savidge reporting. What a story.

An embarrassing technical glitch for Hillary Clinton over at the State Department. We're going to show you what happened.


CLINTON: If he we had the budget of the Defense Department, this would never happen.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is back. She's monitoring some of the top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What else is going on, Lisa?

SYLVESTER: Hi, there, Wolf. Well, the FDA is unveiling new graphic cigarette warning labels. A pack of smokes will carry one of nine vivid color images, along with a written warning about the dangers of smoking. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says they want kids to get the message that smoking is, quote, "gross and not cool."

And finally, you could call it a lost in translation. Take a look and listen to what happened when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and their Japanese counterparts took the podium a short while ago at State Department headquarters. Technical glitches caused some unexpected moments.


CLINTON: We have a -- just a technical pause and see if we can fix the situation?

Are we making any progress? Do you want us to talk? In the booth, can you hear us? OK. I'm saying something and, Minister, will you say something, please? Just say anything, Minister.

If we had the budget of the Defense Department, this would never happen.


SYLVESTER: Yes, that's not something, certainly, that you see every day, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're on live television, happens to us all the time. And we have a big budget. There's no doubt about that. All right. Thanks very much.

Let's go to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File."

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Pretty snappy one-liner from the secretary of state. Question this hour: "Why is America becoming nastier?"

Brian in Illinois: "A lot of it has to do with the fact that so many of us once had promising futures ahead of us that were snatched away by the greed of large corporations under the guise of globalization. Add to that the breakup of family, other social units, the accelerated pace of life, expectations gone mad, and you have the perfect cocktail for a spark to become a massive flame. The biggest surprise is it hasn't happened by now."

Barbara in Henderson, Nevada: "Jack, I think it's because we, the people, who are America, are fed up with these career politicians and what they've done to our country. We're sick and tired of it, along with all of them blaming each other rather than actually trying to fix it."

Joseph in California writes, "This is too easy. The entire middle class is being destroyed by the superrich and the corporations. Everyone is starting to feel hopeless, because they know every candidate for office is controlled by this moneyed group. It's called slavery. We need an Arab Spring in this country."

Bill in New Mexico writes, "For me it's telemarketers. I once treated telephone calls with respect, but after a couple of decades of telemarketers, I am rude with most of them now. I've even caught myself being rude with telephone calls that aren't telemarketers. I say America's nastier because of bad times and telemarketers."

Nate in North Carolina says, "Because technology's killing our morals. Cyberbullying, Craigslist killers, online gossip about political scandals. What do you expect? With a vicious, unrestricted cyber world, a lack of compassion towards one another, deception and selfishness seem to be the rule of the day."

And Cy writes, "What, are you stupid? Rent, gas, food, everything goes up. If I still have a job next week, it will be the one where my salary's been frozen for three years. The rich are allowed to lie, cheat and bribe and be repeatedly and amply rewarded. People who tell the truth are ignored and punished. Decent people are screwed over while dishonest people prosper. What a stupid question. You suck. Bite me."

You want to read more of this, about how nasty America is, go to my blog: -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

From would-be rock star to White House contender, Jeanne Moos standing by with a "Most Unusual" take on Jon Huntsman.


BLITZER: Why is Jon Huntsman's name a mystery to so many Americans? Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their two-minute stroll across the grass...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There come the Huntsmans.

MOOS: ... with six of their seven kids felt a little like the Von Trapp family.

JULIE ANDREWS, SINGER/ACTRESS (singing): The hills are alive...

MOOS: With the sound of campaigning.

ANDREWS (singing): A long, long way to run.

MOOS: This relative unknown has so far to run that he has to keep introducing himself.

HUNTSMAN: I'm Jon Huntsman, and I'm humbled.

I'm Jon Huntsman.

I'm Jon Huntsman and I'm running for president of the United States of America.

MOOS: And even when he said those words...

HUNTSMAN: My kids can't believe I just said that.

MOOS: Even his own campaign spelled his name wrong on the press pass handed out: J-O-H-N should have been J-O-N.

(on camera) When they realized their mistake, the Huntsman campaign people tried to gather up and take back all the misspelled press passes, but they missed a few.

(voice-over) We went hunting for someone who knows Jon Huntsman.

(on camera) Who is Jon Huntsman?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Haven't a clue.

MOOS: Jon Huntsman?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I don't know.

MOOS: does this help at all?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For president? He's running for president? See, I...

MOOS: Yes! Ding, ding, ding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he running for the Republican Party?

MOOS: See, you, you're from Australia, and you know more than Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do, actually. And we're proud of it.

MOOS (voice-over): But there was a day when people didn't know this guy either.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never heard of him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His name is like Araka Binbama.

MOOS: At least "Huntsman" is easy to pronounce, but if you Google it on Google Images, look what comes up: the Huntsman spider. At least its bite isn't considered dangerous.

American comedians have a duty to introduce this latest candidate to the public.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, CBS'S "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Former Utah governor, Jon Huntsman, is running.

MOOS: Will "Get to Know Jon Huntsman" become a recurring bit?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's actually no reason to get to know Jon Huntsman. This has been "Get to Know Jon Huntsman."

MOOS: Conan's helping, too.

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, TBS'S "CONAN": There's a picture of him right there.

ANDY RICHTER, TBS'S "CONAN": Looks like he's interrupting a lunch competition.

O'BRIEN: Couldn't help but overhear.

MOOS: Huntsman's already been mistaken for someone else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The shirtless Twitter guy?

MOOS: Actually, it was Craigslist, but there is a certain resemblance. And we advise this relative unknown not to become overexposed.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. For our international viewers "WORLD REPORT" is next. Here in North America, "JOHN KING USA" starts right now.