Return to Transcripts main page


Was Pakistan Helping Bin Laden?; Interview With Michelle Obama; Mobster in Court

Aired June 24, 2011 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in the SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, a deadly day of protests for the government shows the world a very different picture. They're trying, at least. CNN's Arwa Damon is inside Damascus, Syria, for us. Stand by for her report.

Also, a cell phone raises new questions about whether Pakistan was helping Osama bin Laden in hiding.

And an accused mobster and former most wanted fugitive, James "Whitey" Bulger, he is back home and in court. We are live in Boston.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Breaking news, political headlines and our own rare CNN sit-down interview this hour with the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.

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

Demonstrations and death are now a Friday staple in Syria. And, today, we saw a fresh wave of anti-government protests in cities across the country. Activists report at least 11 people died. But the Syrian government is trying to paint a very, very different picture.

CNN's Arwa Damon has been allowed inside Syria after weeks, months indeed, of being barred. She filed this report from the capital of Damascus.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the heart of ancient Damascus, the appearance of media cameras prompts a small crowd to erupt into pro-government chants. Posters and pictures of the President Bashar al-Assad quickly materialize.

Government minders escorted us here to the historic old city outside the Umayyad Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam. A few dozen gathered are raging against foreign powers, claiming the unrest in Syria is a well-plotted international conspiracy to bring down the regime, one that includes the media.

"We feel like the international media is conducting a world war against us," 67-year-old Mohammed Al-Hamwi states. "Not a single outlet has broadcast a real image of what is happening."

We explain that we have just only officially been allowed inside the country.

"It's out of concern for you," the man next to him says. In fact, government officials tell us that they were worried about our safety, with so many armed gangs fomenting unrest throughout the country.

That is how the government justifies its military crackdowns, most recently in the northwest of the country, one that sent more than 10,000 refugees fleeing across the border to Turkey, her voice trembling with emotion, Naime Mahmoud El-Sheik says that even those who have fled are part of this scheme to smear the government.

"They are hostages. I refuse to call them refugees," she says. "They are hostages taken to bring down the regime. We are with the regime. We are with Assad."

Other claims we hear are that the demonstrators are being sprayed with poisonous water that makes them more aggressive, that terrorists are killing protesters and blaming the security forces.

Opposition activists reported protests in several Syrian cities. And we heard of anti-government demonstrations in other parts of the capital and reports of gunfire. But we were told that the permission to go to those area had not come through.

(on camera): And less than an hour after we arrived, the small crowd that had gathered quickly dispersed, having delivered their message of ultimate support for the government of President Bashar al- Assad and blaming the unrest in Syria on armed gangs fueled by foreign powers.

(voice-over): Very much the message that the Syrian government wants us to see.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Damascus.


BLITZER: A cell phone is now raising new questions about whether Osama bin Laden was getting help from Pakistan while he was in hiding.

CNN's Brian Todd is working this story for us.

What's going on here, Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is about the close ties that a feared Pakistani militant group had with al Qaeda and the links between that group and Pakistan's intelligence service.


TODD (voice-over): It was Osama bin Laden's trusted courier who unwittingly led U.S. intelligence to the al Qaeda leader and this hideout. Could that courier killed in the bin Laden raid have left evidence tying bin Laden to Pakistani intelligence?

"The New York Times" quotes U.S. officials saying the courier's cell phone recovered in the bin Laden raid contained contact information for members of a group called Harakat-ul-Mujahedin, a band of militants with strong ties to Pakistan's interservices intelligence agency, ISI.

(on camera): Is this a smoking gun linking bin Laden to the ISI?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: It's not a smoking gun. It's six degrees of separation, with the separate getting a little bit closer, because these Kashmiri militant groups that al Qaeda, the al Qaeda courier was in touch with have had state sponsorship.

TODD (voice-over): CNN security analyst Peter Bergen says Harakat-ul-Mujahedin was supported by Pakistani intelligence because it helped Pakistan fight Indian forces in Kashmir and fought the Soviets Afghanistan.

The group and its leader have longstanding ties to al Qaeda and experts say the people who murdered "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl have connections to the group. "The Times" says, in tracing the calls on bin Laden's courier's phone, U.S. analysts determined that members of this militant group had called Pakistani intelligence officials.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers won't comment on the report, but he does believe elements of Pakistan's militant and intelligence services assisted bin Laden at some point.

(on camera): What level of help do you believe they gave bin Laden?

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIR, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I do think that there was some logistical support efforts that had to happen by either members of the military, former members of the military, or former members of ISI or current members. So there was some logistical assistance

TODD: Allegations denied by the Pakistanis. We couldn't get Pakistani officials to comment on the "Times" report.

(on camera): Contacted by CNN, a U.S. counterterrorism official would not content directly on the report and could not confirm that Harakat-ul-Mujahedin was assisting bin Laden at that compound. A member of the militant group denied the cell phone linked his group to bin Laden.

(voice-over): And Bergen says the discovery doesn't mean bin Laden had contacts with Harakat or with ISI officials.

BERGEN: Bin Laden was a very careful, paranoid and disciplined guy when he was alive. So he wouldn't have let anybody really, except the people in his immediate circle, know where he was.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD: And House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers reiterated to me he does not think top Pakistani military or intelligence leaders knew that bin Laden was at the compound. But he says rogue elements within those services or former members of them may well have -- Wolf.

BLITZER: This militant group with ties to Pakistan intelligence, at one point, they were even sharing training camps with al Qaeda.

TODD: They were. When the U.S. launched retaliatory airstrikes against al Qaeda in 1998 after those embassy bombings in Africa, several members of this militant group were killed in those airstrikes because they were sharing a training camp.

Experts say the ties between that group and al Qaeda go back at least 15 years.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.

Brian Todd doing some good reporting for us.

The battle over the U.S. debt is heating up. And so is the rhetoric. The House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, had some sharp words for Republicans. Listen to what she told CNN's Candy Crowley.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: In the Bush years, the Republicans said that tax cuts will produce jobs. They didn't. They produced a deficit. They produced a deficit.


PELOSI: Two wars, two unpaid-for wars. Well, are these people not patriotic? They want their special interest tax cuts and they don't want to pay for the war in Iraq to protect our great country and our freedom.

In the second year of the Obama administration, last year, more jobs were created in the private sector than in the eight years of the Bush administration under the regime of, tax cuts will produce jobs.


BLITZER: All right, let's bring in our chief political correspondent, the anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION," Candy Crowley.

This whole debt battle that is unfolding right now, there only may be a month or so deadline. It's about to go to a new level.


And I think you heard this in some of the rhetoric from Nancy Pelosi, saying, it's patriotic to start these wars, but you don't pay for them. It was a statement that worried them enough that they wanted -- they gave us a clarifying statement, saying that Nancy Pelosi, the leader, was referring -- in her patriotic questioning, "was referring to those who do not pay their fair share of taxes, like big oil, with their billions in tax breaks, as well as companies who receive tax breaks who to ship jobs overseas."

But it is emblematic of any time Congress is in a big fight with a deadline looming, there is a brinkmanship and a ratcheting up of the rhetoric, as you well know. They expanded the time they have, which right now is August 2. They may expand beyond that, because Republicans are not altogether sure that the debt somehow will default on the 2nd.

So, I think you will see more and more of this going on, the walking out, and this is posturing. This is all a part of the debate and a part of the back-and-forth negotiating.

BLITZER: Let me just get the patriotic thing clear. What she is suggesting is that ExxonMobil and General Electric, that the leaders of those companies are not patriotic?

CROWLEY: Well, she is suggesting that not paying your taxes in a time of war, not -- that these subsidies and supporting these subsidies -- she is angry with Republicans for saying absolutely no revenue enhancements, which includes tax subsidies.

They are focusing in on as you see in the statement the big oil subsidies, corporations' subsidies, because what they want to say is, we're cutting programs that will affect average everyday Americans. We also need to see some sacrifice.

So, that's what she meant when she referred to patriotism.

BLITZER: Yes, but let's be clear. What these big corporations -- nothing illegal.

CROWLEY: No, not a thing. Right. Right.

BLITZER: They are living within the current rules of the game, which include these loopholes, these subsidies, these tax breaks and everything else that she would like to get rid of. But a lot of Republicans see that as a tax increase, so they're not going to go along with that.

CROWLEY: Exactly. Exactly.

BLITZER: All right, now the unemployment rate is 9.1 percent. How worried is Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader in the House, that if that number stays around there, the Democrats could suffer big-time in November 2012?

CROWLEY: I asked her about that. I said, can you win Democratic seats with a 9.1 percent unemployment rate? And she said, well, history will show you that it's pretty difficult with high numbers of unemployment for the party in power to gain seats. And she said, but we are not the party in power.

And I said, well, the president and the White House -- she said, yes, but we run from the House and the people in power are the Republicans.

So, therein lies the strategy. The people that are doing this to you are not the Democrats. We are not in power in the House. It's the Republicans.

BLITZER: Yes, they're -- the majority in the House are the Republicans, the majority in the Senate, the Democrats.


BLITZER: The majority in the White House would be...

CROWLEY: The majority of one.

BLITZER: Yes, the Democrats.

CROWLEY: Right. Exactly.


BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Candy Crowley, for that.

CROWLEY: Sure. Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: You can see Candy's complete interview with the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, Sunday morning on "STATE OF THE UNION," 9:00 Eastern, also at noon Eastern, only here on CNN.

Sexual slavery and human trafficking, all in the shadow of the White House and Congress. What is going on. CNN goes in-depth.

And the accused mobster James "Whitey" Bulger back home in Boston after 16 years on the run -- we have new details of what happened within the past hour in court to this former most wanted fugitive.


BLITZER: For many people, it's not the first city that comes to mind when you talk about prostitution and sexual slavery, but there are untold numbers of women and even children forced into that life right here in Washington, D.C.

CNN's Barbara Starr is here. She has an in-depth a look at what's going on.

You have been investigating this for some time. It's pretty shocking, Barbara. What have you learned?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you know, CNN has joined the fight to end modern-day slavery. And we have learned it's a fight being waged right here on the streets of the nation's capital. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): As day turns into night in Washington, D.C., life changes on the street. Here, just a few blocks from the White House, at night, the corridors of power are the territory of pimps and their prostitutes. Many are children and teenagers trafficked into the sex trade.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey. I wanted to give you this. It's our street outreach. That's a hot line number (INAUDIBLE) nobody will know.

STARR: Tina Frundt, a 2007 CNN hero, was herself trafficked by a pimp into prostitution as a teenager. Now she works to rescue others.

TINA FRUNDT, COURTNEY'S HOUSE: What you see two blocks away from the White House are women and children being forced out. These are trafficking-controlled areas. All the money goes to the trafficker. And they are beaten and forced out every night. The average age entering is 11 to 14 for girls, and boys 6 to 9 years old.

STARR (on camera): We are in one of the busiest areas of Washington, D.C., and yet trafficking happens here?

BRADLEY MYLES, POLARIS PROJECT: It does. It's shocking for me to look around at all these people and realize that 99 percent of them have no clue that, late at night, 4:00 in the morning, 5:00 in the morning, all these different human traffickers come out on these blocks.

STARR: Bradley Myles is the executive director of Polaris Project, Running a national hot line for victims of trafficking. That four-story white building behind us was raided by law enforcement. A top-floor brothel had trafficked sex workers.

BRYAN CHRISTIAN, METROPOLITAN POLICE: They're controlling these young ladies through the force, fear, and coercion.

STARR: On Washington's upscale Embassy Row, trafficking into forced labor has caught the attention of the police.

BRIAN BRAY, METROPOLITAN POLICE: There are a lot of what we believe to be domestic servitude cases where they're actually being -- it's almost like an indentured servant.

STARR: This young woman from Africa speaks through a translator. Still fearful, she will not allow her face to be shown. She tells us the woman who brought her here promised a light housekeeping job with her country's diplomatic corps.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When I came to the country, she put me to work all day and all night. I got to a situation when I was very desperate, and I wanted to die. I wanted to kill myself.

STARR: Eventually, she went to a nearby church and was rescued. The police are trying to crack down on traffickers, but the sex trade alone is worth millions of dollars every year. And the buyers keep coming.

FRUNDT: If President Obama had to walk out of his door, his front door at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, and he would two blocks away and see traffickers forcing women and girls out on the street every night right here in the United States.


STARR: And of course it's not just in Washington, but across the country, there are trafficked persons living in fear every day.

So, if you see someone that you think may be in trouble, you can call the national hot line at 1-888-373-7888. Or to find more ways to help, go to

Wolf, it is a crisis in this country.

BLITZER: I don't understand. This is Washington, D.C. This is the United States of America. The police, local authorities, district authorities, state, federal, they can't get out there, walk two, three blocks from the White House and crack down on this and stop this?

STARR: Well, what happens here in D.C. is the groups we spoke to and the victims say the D.C. police are pretty good about it. There is a Metropolitan Police trafficking task force. They work with some of these groups. They try and raid these places.

But, like, that four-story white building, we are told that place has been raided time and time and time again. They shut it down. It disappears for a couple of months and then these traffickers come right back into business.

BLITZER: Good report, shocking, shocking stuff going on. I have lived here for a long time. I didn't know this. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

STARR: Sure.

BLITZER: Barbara Starr doing good reporting for us.

Sex trafficking is a global problem. CNN's in-depth look continues this weekend, focusing in on Nepal. The actress Demi Moore joins the 2010 CNN hero of the year to take you inside the fight to end this modern-day slavery. "Nepal's Stolen Children," a CNN Freedom Project documentary, it airs Sunday night 8:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

The alleged mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger appears in federal court and tells a judge he wants more than $800,000 confiscated by the FBI returned to him so he can pay for a lawyer. We're going to give you details.

And with Bulger locked up and bin Laden dead, the FBI's top 10 most wanted list is dwindling. We're going to take a closer look. Who is still on the list?

Stay with us. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: An accused mob boss is whisked from California back home to Boston 16 years after he fled. You are going to hear what Whitey Bulger said to the judge today.

Also, with Bulger captured, bin Laden dead, who is left on the FBI's most wanted list? We will tell you.

And the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, in a rare interview, speaking candidly to CNN about meeting Nelson Mandela, her husband's campaign, their daughters, a lot more. Stay with us.

Here's a little clip.


MIRA SORVINO, ACTRESS: A lot of what I have learned about human trafficking has been through direct conversations with victims. I have interviewed many, many victims in several countries and different situations and different age ranges.

Almost all the victims I have spoken to have been women and most of them have been in sexual exploitation. Some of it is so shocking, that it ruins you for a few weeks, like, you can't actually escape the horrendousness of what people are telling you and the pain that they have lived through.

If all of us rise up and all of us fight this, it will end. This is going to change because it is morally intolerable.



BLITZER: The accused mobster, former most wanted fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger is back home in Boston 16 years after he fled and went underground, and just one day after being arrested in Southern California.

Bulger was whisked into court.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick is outside the courthouse for us to tell us what happened inside.

How did it go, Deb?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I will tell you, Wolf, after 16 years on the run, Whitey Bulger returned home to Boston in shackles. When he spotted his younger brother, prominent politician William Baldwin in -- William Bulger -- excuse me -- in the second row, he smiled, and it was so interesting. Because they did what seemed to be a gesture from long ago, with William Bulger sort of smiling and nodding down and Whitey Bulger sort of looking at him and smiling and nodding up.

It was a very quick proceeding. There were two hearings where some of the charges against him were read. He is facing a maximum of life in prison if convicted of some of the more serious charges. That does not include the alleged murders that he is accused of, as well.

The feds, when they searched his apartment back in Santa Monica, they seized around $800,000. Now, when the judge asked whether he planned on paying for his own lawyer, Whitey Bulger said, quote, "I could if you would give me my money back." And the prosecutor responded, saying that, first of all, he'd been told by Bulger's girlfriend that, in fact, his brother was going to be paying for his defense and that he believed that there was much more money, saying Whitey Bulger did not make $800,000 working a paper route along Santa Monica boulevard. That is sort of the tone of the hearing.

The judge keeping it very professional, very on target, making sure that Whitey Bulger knew at all times what was going on.

This was a packed courtroom, Wolf. There were top U.S. law enforcement officials who were there from Boston, the FBI, the special agent in charge, as well as the U.S. attorney; also, members of the task force, who spent 16 years trying to track him down. But in that court, most poignant, perhaps, of all were family members, relatives of some of Bulger's alleged victims. Hear what they had to say afterwards.


PATRICIA DONAHUE, WIDOW OF VICTIM: I feel very satisfied. He seemed like a very meek man; spoke very softly. He was more concerned about what he had rather than what's going on in his life.

FEYERICK: What was it like to finally see him in that courtroom?

TOM DONAHUE, SON OF VICTIM: A sickening feeling seeing him, you know, the guy that murdered my father. It's never, ever an easy thing, you know; never an easy thing for any -- for any of us.

But it's -- you know, you've got to look through that, and hopefully, justice will prevail, because there's been no justice for my family whatsoever during any of this. None of it. During our civil case, during anything. You know, we're searching for some serious justice here.


FEYERICK: Now, the judge magistrate who was overseeing the arraignment said that he was not going to read the charges against Bulger until Bulger had a chance to meet with his attorney. Interesting: when he left court, U.S. marshals, three of them, armed, which is something they do do in Boston, but seemed rather striking, led Bulger out of court with his hands shackled behind his back. And it was at that moment that Whitey Bulger looked back at his brother, locked eyes with him, and smiled broadly for entire the distance, really, from the counsel table to the out -- to the door through which he was led out of the courthouse. And it almost seemed like it was a very odd -- and a reunion long time coming. Of course under circumstances, certainly, in which he is known as probably the worst mob figure in south Boston -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What about his girlfriend? What happened to her?

FEYERICK: She was also in court. She's been charged with harboring a fugitive. Her twin sister was in court. She looked back, smiled; the two of them smiled. Again, kind of very odd. She's facing maximum of five years in prison, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much for that. Deborah Feyerick in Boston. We're also learning new details about how Bulger's arrest went down. Let's go to Santa Monica. CNN's Kara Finnstrom is working this part of the story for us.

Kara, what are you finding out?

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we've learned more details about how Bulger was arrested here at his Santa Monica apartment. A source tells us that he got a phone call that his lock box down in the basement parking area of this apartment complex had been broken into and that when he came down to check it out, FBI agents were waiting. It's just one more part of this unfolding story that neighbors here tell us they find incredible.


FINNSTROM (voice-over): This quiet, largely retirement community just blocks from Santa Monica's beaches is mystified by the arrest of James Whitey Bulger.

DENISE WALSH, NEIGHBOR: I actually was really shaking, because I was really saddened to know it was them. And I thought it was -- you know, it's like finding out your grandparents are murderers.

FINNSTROM: Denise Walsh lives four doors down from apartment 303, where Bulger lived under the alias of Charles Gasko for up to 15 years with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig. She says she'd casually known the couple, who often walked hand in hand, stopping to pet dogs and explaining they were dog lovers.

WALSH: He was very avuncular. She was very sweet. They were very kind people, from my knowledge of them.

CATALINA SCHLANK, NEIGHBOR: He was a handsome old man with a little beard and always with a hat with the brim down.

FINNSTROM: Also living just doors away was 88-year-old Catalina Schlank. Schlank says Greig was a friend who brought her newspaper to her door and recently told her Bulger was showing early signs of Alzheimer's and having trouble sleeping. She says the couple was thoughtful but secretive.

SCHLANK: Even the phone, you couldn't call them. They have a system of answering service. If you call that number, the answering service will answer and get the message, and they would relate to them.

FINNSTROM; At nearby Michael's restaurant, general manager Andrew Turner says the pair came occasionally and liked to sit at the secluded corner table No. 23.

ANDREW TURNER, GENERAL MANAGER, MICHAEL'S RESTAURANT: They were pleasant but kind of kept to themselves and certainly didn't have, as far as I can recall, any interaction with any other guests.

FINNSTROM: The steps to Bulger's apartment complex have now become a photo stop for those who didn't know him as Charles Gasko...

JACK NICHOLSON, ACTOR: Makes me curious to see you in this neighborhood.

FINNSTROM: ... but had long heard about the fugitive mob boss who inspired Jack Nicholson's character in "The Departed."

NICHOLSON: It makes me sad, this regression.

FRANK QUINN, NEIGHBOR: There's certain people that you hear their names and who they are and what they do, and you know, Whitey always had that reputation of he was the guy you didn't obviously mess with and you stayed away from.


FINNSTROM: And most people here thought that Catherine Greig was Bulger's wife. She went, we're told, by the alias of Carol Gasko -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Kara. Kara Finnstrom reporting.

Now, with Bulger in custody, bin Laden dead, attention now turning to the other eight people on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. CNN's Tom Foreman is here for that part of the story. Tom, who is still at large?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of them are probably more nervous than they were before all this, Wolf. Take a look at the list here. You're absolutely right. Here's James Bulger over here. He's the oldest guy on the list. He's now been captured. Here's Osama bin Laden down here. All recent news

So now we have all these other folks on the list here. There's a wide variety of reasons they're on here. Let's take a look at just a couple of them. We have eight at the moment. Semion Mogilevich over here is a Russian who also is believed to hold Israeli and Greek passports. What he's wanted for is fraud, money laundering and more for a multimillion-dollar scheme back in the 1990s that defrauded thousands of investors of a tremendous amount of money, $150 million, something like that. The reward for that is up to about $100,000.

Another one worth looking at right now here is Victor Gerena. Victor Gerena has been on longer than anyone else, well over 25 years. The shortest time anyone was on, by the way, was two hours. He's wanted for bank robbery, armed robbery and theft. This had to do with a security company robbery in the 1980s. Seven million dollars. The reward for him is huge: $1 million there.

The thing is, Wolf, there are only eight people on here right now. It won't stay that way long. What will happen is the FBI, in -- in relationship with their field offices, will compile names of other people that the field offices say, "These are the most dangerous, the ones that we should include on this list."

This has been going on since 1950. And the truth is, it has changed with the times. Back then it was largely, like, bank robberies and car thieves and things like that. In the 1960s, as there was a rise in sort of rebellious activity, there was a little more focus on people who were involved in that sort of thing. And now we tend to have more people who are involved in big league drug running, securities scams, like we're talking about with Mogilevich over here and things like international terrorism.

So it's an evolving list, but Wolf, we'll have to see who the next two names are on it, now that two have been cleared away.

BLITZER: I wouldn't be surprised if Ayman al-Zawahiri, the new leader of al Qaeda, makes that top 10 list.

All right, Tom. Thanks very much.

Congress, meanwhile, sends some mixed messages on the U.S. million in Libya. Details of two votes seemingly at odds.

And the first lady, Michelle Obama, talks to CNN about the challenges of raising her daughters in the White House. Stand by for the interview.


BLITZER: A pair of important votes in the House of Representatives today on Libya. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that, some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM. Tell our viewers what happened.


Well, it was actually a mixed message on the military action in Libya from lawmakers today. A resolution expressing support for the action was voted down, with Republicans leading the way. But a second measure that would have cut funding and restricted American involvement in the conflict was also defeated, this time with mostly Democrats in the majority.

New York's state Senate will vote on a controversial same-sex marriage bill as early as tonight. After a day behind closed doors, New York lawmakers have reached an agreement. Republicans wanted an amendment added to the original bill to protect religious institutions from lawsuits. Both parties finally came to an agreement, and a vote will be held.

Rising floodwaters hit record levels some parts of North Dakota. The latest measurements from the time of Minot show the Souris River reached the previous high water marks set way back in 1881.

Officials say the flow is coming faster and at a greater volume than they expected. They are now forecasting the river to rise another six feet.

And it was a dramatic day of testimony at the murder trial of Casey Anthony in Orlando, Florida, today. This morning Anthony's mother testified that 2-year-old Caylee Anthony was able to climb into the family's backyard pool on her own but couldn't open a gate leading to the pool or install the removable ladder.

Later, Anthony's brother testified about his strained relationship with the family when his sister was pregnant with Casey [SIC] and right after the birth. Both Anthony and her brother wept while he was on the stand.

And President Obama was in Pittsburgh to announce a $500 million initiative to invest in emerging technologies that will create high- quality jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness. He made this announcement at Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center, where he joked about old science fiction cliches about robots rising up.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You might not know this, but one of my responsibilities as commander in chief is to keep an eye on robots. And I'm pleased to report that the robots you manufacture here seem peaceful. At least for now.


SYLVESTER: I guess they were laughing there at his joke. This sounds like the president also has been watching just a bit too many sci-fi movies along the way.

BLITZER: Sometimes the jokes work; sometimes not.

SYLVESTER: I'm not sure if they were expecting something like that from the president. They probably were caught off guard for a moment.

BLITZER: That awkward moment. Thanks very much. The first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, sitting down with CNN in South Africa. You're going to find out what she's saying about raising her young daughters in the fishbowl of the White House.


BLITZER: First lady Michelle Obama is on a weeklong trip to Africa to promote youth leadership and education. The first lady sitting down with CNN's Robyn Curnow in Botswana today. Here's part of that interview.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The long view, obviously, the bigger picture is what you're talking about. You're going on safari here. When you go back home, you're going to walk into also a pretty dangerous environment, a political presidential campaign, a new presidential campaign. How is the family ready for this? It's going to be quite vicious, isn't it? How do you prepare for that?

M. OBAMA: You know, it's -- we're -- we're ready. You know, our children, you know, could care less about what we're doing. We work hard to do that. And...

CURNOW: How do you do it?

M. OBAMA: Well, we -- fortunately we have help from the media. And I -- I have to say this, that I'm very grateful for the support and kindness that we've gotten, and people have respected their privacy. And in that way, I think, you know, no matter what people may feel about my husband's policies or what have you, they care about children. And that's been good -- good to see.

But when it comes to the campaign, you know, we're ready to work hard. We did it before, and we'll do it again. So we're rolling up our sleeves and getting on with it.

CURNOW: Are you -- when we talk about Mandela and the long view, there's a chance your husband might lose. I mean, do you talk about that?

M. OBAMA: No, no. We really don't talk about the election. We're really doing the work. And that's an important and useful distraction in the midst of it. There's a lot on the president of the United States's plate that keeps him focused on what needs to be done. So you just keep doing what you believe is right.

I always say this: one of the reasons why I support this president, not just as my husband, but as a citizen, is because I see him taking that long view. I see him every day waking up, worrying not about polls but worrying about what's the right thing to do for the future. And that keeps you pretty focused on what's important.

CURNOW: When you look at the Obama White House, what would you like the legacy to be? You've spoken a lot about legacy and a generation taking -- taking the next step forward. How do you think he'll be defined -- he'll be defined?

M. OBAMA: Honestly, I don't know. You know, I can honestly say I haven't fully wrapped my head around that.


BLITZER: CNN's Robyn Curnow speaking with the first lady, Michelle Obama, in Botswana today.

CNN, by the way, is the only U.S. television network inside Syria right now, where hundreds have been killed in anti-government protests. CNN's Hala Gorani is in the capital of Damascus.


HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's Friday today, so the shops are closed. And we're just -- just about a two-minute walk away from the Ommaya Mosque, where the Friday prayers have just ended.

It's calm here in Damascus, in this part of Damascus. But there's something a bit tense about the place. It's definitely quieter than usual. People are looking at each other. There are some security forces that are sitting against the steel shutters of these stores there as we're passing by.

So we're just taking a stroll here in Damascus to get an idea of what the mood is like. This is 100, 101 days into the uprisings in some parts of Syria, and the capital of Damascus is a lot -- a lot quieter than usual.

We're in the old part of Damascus here, right next to the Ommaya Mosque, and we're starting to hear chanting. Now, a bit earlier, men were streaming out of the mosque. It was a calm scene. But right now, we're starting to hear slogans chanted in the distance. And I can tell right away that this is a pro-government, spontaneous or not, pro-government demonstration. Let's go check it out.



GORANI: OK. So this young man who -- he just came out of the mosque, and he said he doesn't want any trouble. The country with Bashar (ph). They're a small group of pro-government demonstrators there, expressing their support for the regime.

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) OK, his name is Ashar (ph).




GORANI: This young man is saying people are getting money...


GORANI: ... OK -- from outside in order to foment this unrest.




BLITZER: Hala Gorani reporting for us from Damascus.

On a very different note, it was Congress versus the news media on the softball field here in Washington. Our own Brianna Keilar was there. She is now here. She'll tell us the thrilling finish.


BLITZER: A group of female lawmakers made history yesterday evening, not on the floor, not in the Senate; instead, it took place on a softball field. Our White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar, explains.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pit a bipartisan team of female women in Congress against female members of the Washington press corps in a softball game, and Washington's heavy hitters come out for the slugfest. House speaker John Boehner, minority leader Nancy Pelosi and her deputy Steny Hoyer. Even CNN's Dana Bash, two weeks from her due date.

They gathered at a field not far from the Capitol to watch the Lady Lawmakers take on the Bad News Babes, who seemed to realize they have their work cut out for them this year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those are some competitive women.

TRISH TURNER, FOX NEWS: Yes, well, they run elections. They want to win.

KEILAR: And there to throw out the first pitch, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT: I just started throwing a softball, so forgive me if it's not perfect. But if I throw a strike, you better report on it.

KEILAR: Not bad. Not bad at all.

So how do you get all these people in one place? A great cause. The game raised about $50,000 for the Young Survival Coalition to help young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

(on camera) It's not very often that you can get Democrats and Republicans playing together on the same team, but you managed to do it. JENNIFER MERSCHDORF, CEO, YOUNG SURVIVAL COALITION: Yes, and unfortunately, breast cancer, the highest risk to get it is just being a woman. Doesn't matter what party you are.

KEILAR (voice-over): California Congresswoman Laura Richardson, the slugger for the lawmakers, batted in three runs early in the game.

In the sixth inning with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on the mound, we journalists tied it up 4-4. CNN producer Erica Dimler made an epic to keep the Bad News Babes in the game. But it wasn't enough.

With two outs on the board, a line drive by DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz brought Congresswoman Linda Sanchez home, winning the game 5-4 for the women of Congress.

New Hampshire freshman Senator Kelly Ayotte savored the taste of the victory.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I thought it was a blast, and it's so great to get to know your colleagues out of the Senate. And we won.

KEILAR: This is the third year the lawmakers have played this game and the only time they've won. And if you ask the press team, it will be their last.

(on camera) I have to challenge you to a rematch.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), DNC CHAIR: We're ready. Next year. You're on.

KEILAR: We look forward to it.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Game on, Brianna. Game on.




KEILAR: So you can tell that we're pretty competitive about all of this. In fact trash talking leading up to this game is sort of a hallmark of the event. But I have to tell you, Wolf, in all fairness to these lawmakers, average age of this team about 54, they kind of made us eat our words this year.

BLITZER: Older, more experienced, shall we say.

KEILAR: yes. More experienced, and I think they put in the practice. Twenty practices, 7 a.m. in the morning.

BLITZER: Good work. You got a little injury there, too. Are you going to be all right?

KEILAR: Yes, I'm going to hang in there. I got a little boo- boo.

BLITZER: All right.

KEILAR: I'll be all right.

BLITZER: We need you strong.

KEILAR: I'll be strong.

BLITZER: Brianna, thank you.

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. For those of you in North America, "JOHN KING USA" starts right now.