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President Obama Takes on Genocide; Secret Service Sex Scandal Grows; Source: Prostitutes at Multiple Hotels; Giuliani Endorses Romney; Huntsman Explains Comments; Basement Search for Missing Boy Ends; Study: Mexican Immigration Down; Stocks End Day Down; Police Chief in Trayvon Martin Case Resigns; Zimmerman Freed on Bail; U.S. Negotiating Future Afghan Ties

Aired April 23, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: President Obama takes on genocide, announcing increased U.S. efforts to prevent mass slaughter.

Also, the Secret Service prostitution scandal grows again with a 12th agent now on leave after allegedly bringing a woman to the same Colombian hotel where President Obama was going to be staying.

And a sight that has political tongues wagging, Marco Rubio campaigning today with Mitt Romney. Is this Republican dream team for November or not?

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

On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, a vow by President Obama that the United States will not ignore genocide. The president gave a powerful speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum right here in Washington, D.C., speaking about atrocities old and new, including the government slaughter in Syria which has now claimed as many as 11,000 lives.

Our foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty is joining us and she has got the latest details -- Jill.


At the museum, President Obama referred to the unhappy record of the State Department during the Holocaust in World War II. Now he says preventing mass atrocities is not only a moral responsibility, it's a key national security interest of the United States.


DOUGHERTY (voice-over): At the Holocaust Museum, President Barack Obama shook hands with Jews who survived the death camps more than 60 years ago. In his speech, he found new meaning in the phrase never again.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: "Never again" is a challenge to nations. It's a bitter truth: Too often, the world has failed to prevent the killing of innocents on a massive scale and we are haunted by the atrocities that we did not stop and the lives we did not save.

DOUGHERTY: We are seeing the horror again, Mr. Obama said.

OBAMA: The killings in Cambodia, the killings in Rwanda, the killings in Bosnia, the killings in Darfur, they shock our conscience. But they are the awful extreme of a spectrum of ignorance and intolerance that we see every day, the bigotry that says another person is less than my equal.

DOUGHERTY: Before the president spoke, a challenge from Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

ELIE WIESEL, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: How is that the Holocaust number one denier, Ahmadinejad, is still a president? Have you learned anything from it? If so, how is it that Assad is still in power?

DOUGHERTY: On Iran and on Syria, the president announced new sanctions against the governments and against the companies and individual who helped them use new technology like Internet monitoring and cell phone tracking to target and hunt down their citizens.

President Obama, who visited the Buchenwald death camp in 2009, also announced he's creating an atrocities prevention board, aimed at detecting and preventing mass crimes against humanity. Critics charge that Mr. Obama is not doing enough to prevent modern-day atrocities.

At the Holocaust Museum, he acknowledged more than half a century ago, the world failed to save six million people and it can't happen again.

OBAMA: The Syrian people still brave the streets, they still demand to be heard, they still seek their dignity. The Syrian people have not given up, which is why we cannot give up.

And so with allies and partners we will keep increasing the pressure


DOUGHERTY: And the president said the world can take pride in saving lives in Libya by stopping Moammar Gadhafi.

But he pointed to another atrocity unfolding and that is in Central Africa with Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army. He said U.S. advisers are continuing their efforts to bring him to justice and to save lives -- Wolf.

BLITZER: He also ordered, as you know, Jill, the intelligence community to go ahead and prepare a routine national intelligence estimate designed to fight genocide and mass atrocities. We will have much more on this part of the story in our next hour.

Jill Dougherty reporting for us, thank you.

In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, a sight that no doubt had some Republican hearts beating a little bit faster, their almost certain presidential nominee side by side with the young, Hispanic senator from Florida that some believe would be the ideal running mate for Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio.

Our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us now live.

Jim, what's the latest with Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio speculation?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, This was Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney's first campaign appearance together. For Republicans it was a chance to see these two men as potential running mates? What do they think about that prospect? They aren't willing to say.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: His name is Mitt Romney, the next president of the United States.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Add Marco Rubio to Mitt Romney's audition reel of potential running mates. Not only did the duo look good to one woman in the audience.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First of all, I think you look great.

ACOSTA: Rubio showed he can assume the traditional role of vice presidential attack dog.

RUBIO: He's no longer a theory. Barack Obama is a reality and for millions of Americans today life is worse than it was three years ago because he doesn't know what he's doing.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The process for selecting a vice presidential running mate is just beginning.

ACOSTA: But before their town hall in Pennsylvania, both men steered clear of veepstakes questions.

RUBIO: I'm not talking about that process anymore.

ACOSTA: So far signs point to Romney picking someone else. Even though polls Rubio near the top of Republican Party V.P. wish lists, he's repeatedly said he doesn't want the job.

RUBIO: I'm not going to be the vice president.

ACOSTA: And unlike Rubio, other potential vice presidential contenders took the riskier move of campaigning with Romney earlier in the process. Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Nikki Haley, Rob Portman, and Bob McDonnell all appeared with Romney before their state contest. Rubio and Jeb Bush waited until after the Florida primary and Rubio seems to be saying pick Bush.

RUBIO: I hope he will say yes if a future President Romney asks him. ACOSTA: There's also been differences over illegal immigration, although Romney signaled he will consider Rubio's version of the DREAM Act, a bill that would give legal status to children of the undocumented.

ROMNEY: It has many features to commend it.

ACOSTA: Romney did move to the middle on financial aid for higher education, saying he agreed with the president's decision to keep student loans at discount rates.

ROMNEY: I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans.

ACOSTA: The day also had less desirable distractions. Consider this endorsement from Rudy Giuliani.

RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: He has the understanding of the economy that's far deeper than the president and far deeper than most people.

ACOSTA: That dredged up memories the former New York City mayor hasn't always been on team Romney.

GIULIANI: He's changed his position on virtually everything.

ACOSTA: Romney waxed poetically about his travels to France in response to a question that seemed to be more about his Mormon mission work there.

ROMNEY: I have a lot of memories of France. I think the best memories were with my wife on vacations from time to time in France.


ACOSTA: Getting back to the veepstakes, running for vice president is politically risky business. The last losing vice presidential candidate to go on and win the presidency was Franklin Roosevelt.

Of course, there is an upside in running for vice president. If you win, it increases your chances of becoming president.

BLITZER: It certainly does.

Thanks very much for that, Jim Acosta on the road for us.

Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

Gloria, are we seeing the morphing of Mitt Romney from a Republican primary candidate to a general election candidate?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, we are. If this were a dance, we might call it the pivot because that's exactly what Mitt Romney is doing. As Jim just pointed out, he's doing it with Hispanic voters, saying that he would support or is looking at a newer version of the DREAM Act that Senator Rubio is proposing it. Younger voters, an extension of those low interest rates on student loans that none other than President Obama supports and we have also seen it with women voters in recent weeks, they have a large gender gap.

You have seen Ann Romney out there. Today, when he was asked a question about Hispanics and the potential legal status for certain groups of now illegal immigrants, just listen to what he said.


ROMNEY: Obviously our first priority is to secure the border, and yet we also have very substantial visa programs in this country. I have spoken about the need to have a visa system that is right-sized for the needs of our employment community. How we adjust our visa program to make it fit the needs of our country is something I will be speaking about down the road.


BORGER: You can really see a softening here. If this were the Republican primary, I bet that's not the answer he would have given.


BLITZER: Hispanic voters, as you know, are the fastest growing community in the country right now. Both parties are going after them big time.

BORGER: I would say they're probably the largest and most important swing voters right now in this country, particularly if you look at the battleground states, like Florida, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico.

Hispanic voters are so important. The problem the Romney campaign has right now is that they're not doing well with Hispanic voters. Take a look at this new "Wall Street Journal"/NBC News poll. Who would you support for president of registered Hispanic voters, 69 percent for President Obama, 22 percent Mitt Romney. That's a 47 percent difference.

He's got a lot to overcome. This is a man who talked about the self-deportation of immigrants who had been -- illegal immigrants who had been in this country for a long time during the primaries. What he's doing now is shifting to an economic message saying that Hispanics have suffered. They're 20 percent of the unemployed in this country and that they should vote against President Obama because he's the one that can fix the economy.

BLITZER: It not only explains why the president and his Democratic surrogates, his advisers believe that Colorado might be in play, Nevada might be in play, obvious.

BORGER: They even say Arizona. BLITZER: And maybe even Arizona would be in play because he's doing so well among Hispanic voters.


BLITZER: He lost Arizona last time because McCain was from Arizona.

But how important would it be potentially for him to pick a Hispanic as his running mate?

BORGER: I think it would make Hispanic voters give Mitt Romney a second look. I don't think it guarantees anything, Wolf.

Did Sarah Palin guarantee that John McCain was going to rid of his gender gap? No, absolutely not. But I think what you see Marco Rubio doing right now is handing Mitt Romney an opportunity, saying, look, I'm revising the DREAM Act, which is something that's very important to Hispanic voters in a way that perhaps you could support it.

So if Mitt Romney supports Marco Rubio on this, I think that could do just as much to get Hispanic voters on his side. I think Rubio is a little young.


BLITZER: I don't think he will be the Republican vice presidential running mate.

BORGER: Not this time around.

BLITZER: But I don't think anybody knows for sure, including Mitt Romney himself, I'm sure doesn't know for sure. They will just begin a long vetting process, unlike four years ago when they vetted Sarah Palin in five days or whatever.


BORGER: Well, 50 lawyers, five days, right.

BLITZER: Yes. Thanks very much.


BLITZER: Well, 45 million Americans now on food stamps. Jack Cafferty is standing by with "The Cafferty File."

Also, the explosive story that just keeps growing, the Secret Service prostitution scandal. Now a 12th agent is being put on leave.

Plus, the man who shot Trayvon Martin walks out of jail sooner than a lot of people expected. Details of his sudden release on bond.


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

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, 45 million people, that's one in seven, living in the United States got food stamps last year. Forty five million, a 70 percent increase from 2007, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office. It shows that in 2010, about three out of four food stamp households, included a child, a person over 60 or someone who's disabled.

Most people who use foods stamps get by very little, only about $8,800 a year.

And the average food stamp benefit per household was about 290 bucks a month. That works out to just $4.30 per person per day.

The worst part is food stamp use is only expected to grow. The CBO report says that the number of people getting food stamps will rise for the next two years at which point it should start to drop off as long as the economy continues to improve. But we're still talking historic highs here.

In 2022, it's estimated spending on foot stamps will be among the highest of all health related programs for the poor. Speaking of spending, it follows that cost of the food stamp program has skyrocketed, right along with the growth of the number of participants. It's gone from $30 million in 2007 to $72 billion last year. The CBO says about 2/3 of the cost increase due to more people getting food stamps, but it's also up from temporarily higher benefits from the stimulus law.

Anyway, here's the question, what does it mean when one in seven people in the United States is getting food stamps?

Go to, post a comment on my blog, or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page.

Pretty staggering numbers in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

BLITZER: Yes. And the richest country in the world, you would think.


BLITZER: And you know what? These people, a lot of them would starve to death if they didn't get these food stamps, because that's what they survive on.

CAFFERTY: Well, $8,800 a year annual average income for the households that get food stamp. I mena, you can't -- how do you live on that? You got to have help.

BLITZER: Yes. All right. Thanks for raising the issue. Appreciate it.

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: Let's get the widening scandal now involving prostitutes in Columbia. The Pentagon says another member of the United States military has been linked to the incident. He had been working with the White House communications team. We're also learning about a 12th Secret Service agent who brought a woman to the exact same hotel where the president of the United States was staying.

Dana Bash is our chief congressional correspondent. She's following the story for us.

Dana, the number of people involved seems to be growing by the day.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It sure does. At the White House, however, they say, at least announced today that the White House counsel has looked into it and he doesn't believe that any White House staff in particular did anything inappropriate on that trip.

But as you say, we now have 24 individuals in both the military and Secret Service who are underneath investigation. And when it comes to the Secret Service, thanks to an internal investigation, and sources that are familiar with that, it appears that there's more troubling conduct.


BASH (voice-over): The Cartagena Hilton, the hotel where President Obama stayed on his trip to Colombia and we are now told the site of an inappropriate incident with the 12th Secret Service member and a woman. A source familiar with the investigation tells CNN it took place five days before the president arrived. That was two days before the now infamous evening where 11 other Secret Service members and prostitutes at the Hotel Caribe.

Investigators believe these were completely separate incident, according to the source as well as House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: He was by himself with this other woman. He was not a group of agents going out.

BASH: That 12th Secret Service member was put on administrative leave, six have been forced out.

A primary question for members of Congress, was security breached in any way?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: It is reckless, dangerous behavior that could endanger the security of the president of the United States.

BASH: At this point, investigators do not think security was compromised. In fact, a source familiar with the investigation tells CNN that based on interviews with the prostitutes and other women involved, there was no evidence that they even knew that they were involved with the U.S. Secret Service.

The 11 Secret Service members at the Hotel Caribe were all tested for drugs.

KING: My understanding was everyone was drug tested and all of the tests came back negative.

BASH: Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan has ordered a comprehensive, broad inquiry, and is in constant with senior lawmakers, working the phones to make clear he is outraged and surprised by the conduct of his personnel and promises to get to the bottom of it.

Still, homeland security chairman in both the House and Senate are conducting their own investigations. Peter King sent Sullivan a later with 50 questions to be answered by Friday, everything from a minute-to-minute timeline of all known actions and violations in Colombia, to whether a foreign organization, terrorist organization or drug organization was involved.


BASH: Now, Congressman King says that he believes more people will be pushed out of the Secret Service in the next day or two. And, Wolf, another course confirms that to me.

Now, historically, when scandals like this erupt, you hear members of Congress here on Capitol Hill calling for resignations of the agency at the helm, but not in this case. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan really has the support at this point of lawmakers in both parties who say publicly that they believe that he is doing a good job odds moving as quickly as he can to get rid of people who are involved in this reckless and embarrassing incident.

BLITZER: Any indication, Dana, when Sullivan will be called for a congressional committee to testify?

BASH: Not yet. You know, the chairman of the homeland security committees and others who have oversight, they say that they first want to get a lot of answers to questions that they have sent over, 50 questions again from the House committee and or, I think to do come in the Senate tomorrow. So, I think that they want to get all of that done before they announce a public hearing. But there's no question that will happen at some point in the near future.

BLITZER: Yes, I suspect it will happen sooner rather than later.

All right. Dana Bash up on the hill for us -- thank you.

Rudy Giuliani now throws his support behind Mitt Romney. But wait until you what the former New York City mayor said about Romney only a few months ago.

And CNN's Nick Payton Walsh was asked to stop reporting at a U.S. base in Afghanistan. You're going to find out what he discovered. He has a CNN exclusive report.


BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer. Here are some of the stories we're working on for our next hour.

President Obama comes out swinging on Syria, warning them it's a losing bet to side with President Bashar al-Assad.

John Edwards was once a favorite to be president of the United States, but now he faces up to 30 years in prison. We're going live to North Carolina to his trial.

And if you've been waiting for snow all winter, wait no more, winter has arrived with a vengeance in spring.

Stand by. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: All that coming up in our next hour. But, right now, let's go to our strategy session.

Joining us, the Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Paul Begala, that's him over there, and Republican strategist Bay Buchanan. She's also the author of a brand new book entitled, "Bay and Her Boys: Unexpected Lessons I Learned as a Single Mom." Here it is right here. We showed the full screen.

Congratulations, Bay. I know you worked hard on this book.


BLITZER: It tells a powerful story, indeed. A lot of people will want to read it.

Let's start off with Rudy Giuliani, right. The former mayor of New York today warmly, enthusiastically endorsing Mitt Romney for president of the United States, a little different than two months ago. I got two clips, today and back in December, Rudy Giuliani.


RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NYC MAYOR: I think he has an understanding of the understanding that's far deeper than the president and far deeper than most people. And I think he has the strength and toughness to handle foreign policy.

I have never seen a guy, and I run in a lot of elections, supported a lot of people, opposed them -- never seen a guy change his positions on so many things so fast, on a dime. Everything.


BLITZER: Everything. You know, this is why a lot of Americans are cynical about politicians because they can see this kind of flip- flop on a dime.

BUCHANAN: Yes, and, you know, in fairness, that's politics, it's the primary, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's why people are cynical about politics.

BUCHANAN: Well, in fairness, we were in the primary. He had his candidate, even if he didn't endorse Newt. They were very close. They worked together four years ago. He ran against milt Romney four years ago.

So, there's a lot of bad blood, you know, a little bit, I think maybe exaggerated but it was there. And now, he realizes that Mitt did win, fair and square. And so, he's given him a second look, and he's saying (INAUDIBLE). And as he said, he's got a great resume, he knows the economy. He's the guy that we need in the White House.

BLITZER: Back in December, Giuliani did like Newt Gingrich pretty much. He thought Newt Gingrich turned to be great didn't exactly happen as far as the Republicans are concerned. But your pro- Obama super PAC.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right, I advise the pro-Obama super PAC.

BLITZER: You've got all three of these clips out there. Do you think you're going to be using these Republican comments that were made in a very tough primary challenge over the course of the next few months?

BEGALA: I would say stay tuned. Probably not the one from Rudy Giuliani, though, who first of all, very impressive guy. He really is.


BLITZER: And Rudy Giuliani does appeal to a lot of moderates out there, independents.

BEGALA: Absolutely. And appeals to the middle class. I think the bigger problem for Romney, today, again he had one of those rich guy gaffes, something Rudy would have never said. He was asked by a French reporter about his time in France. He spent 30 months there as a missionary for his church, terrific selfless service. Instead of talking about that, he talked about the luxury vacation he likes to take there, strolling down the (INAUDIBLE).

In a middle of a recession, the guy who's building an elevator for his car, is now -- instead of talking about this really great service he gave many decades ago in France, talking about instead the luxury vacations he likes to take there. Big mistake -- something Rudy Giuliani would have never done.

BLITZER: Well, Rudy didn't exactly do that well when he was running for the Republican presidential nomination. I don't know if you remember, Bay.

BUCHANAN: I remember well.

BLITZER: He was not exactly, you know, up to the top tier throughout that process, Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida, et cetera.

BUCHANAN: No, no. And in fact, if you remember, everybody expected him to finally announce, and there'd enormous enthusiasm for his candidacy, it never got off the ground. It was -- I think people didn't really understand the Republican primary process and they would have understood that someone as moderate as he would not have done well, and did not do well. So, I think he felt badly about that.

But he's come around and what we care about most, Wolf, is what he says today about Mitt Romney and I think -

BLITZER: Those old clips, they're there forever nowadays. It's amazing. Jon Huntsman, he was speaking (INAUDIBLE) in New York and he said some stuff that a lot of Republicans found not necessarily so good. He went on TV this morning to explain what he said. Here's the clip.


JON HUNTSMAN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Last night I said, you know, if you're not on script and you get knocked out of an event like that, the parties are supposed to be big tent. You're going to bring in all ideas.

And I said, I thought for a moment about what they do in China, if you're off script for the party, they knock you out. We shouldn't be doing that here. We should be accommodating all voices, I'm a proud Republican.


BLITZER: He wants a big tent like Ronald Reagan, a man you remember, well, it was a big tent. What's wrong with what he was saying?

BUCHANAN: Listen, nothing is wrong in the idea of big ideas. I've been with candidates that had big ideas and they weren't well received in the party and felt very badly about it.

I think big ideas are a terrific idea. But one idea that's not so big and certainly not welcome is when you talk third party. You can't expect them, the party, the Republican Party to embrace you and bring you to GOP fundraisers.

And that's where he got himself a little trouble. I think the big ideas are welcome in our party and are considered in that national debate is very important.

BLITZER: It's always a problem when you compare one of the political parties in the United States to a political party in China, shall we say.

BEGALA: Not fair at all probably to the Chinese Communist Party. The Republicans -- Mitt Romney is not even -- he's probably met the levels of transparency that they have in Beijing, in other words, right? There are secretive, closed sect, and so is the Romney Republican Party.

He won't even release his tax returns except the one year that he sanitized. He won't even meet the standard of his own father set, a well Republican, a good Republican. He's got to come clean or he's going to look like he's one of these hide things, secret Chinese communist guys.

BUCHANAN: You have the president of states that he had to go golfing to get away from the scandals this week if you can remember. He has got one scandal on and another. Everything single agency seems to be -- that something (INAUDIBLE) out there. And as for transparency, there's nobody less transparent than this president, come on.

BEGALA: The president released his tax returns for a number of years. Romney's running as a business guy. He's not running --

BLITZER: The 2011 tax returns will be released before the election in November. He got a six-month extension.

BEGALA: He should go back 20 years just like his father, 12. His father released 12 years of returns.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens in the coming weeks. Guys, thanks very much.

Coming up in our next hour, by the way, a suspected cyber attack on Iran's oil industry, we're getting new information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. Standby for that.

Also, an amazing discovery thousands of miles away from Japan. More than a year after that massive tsunami.

Plus major new developments in the Trayvon Martin case including the release the shooter. There he is, George Zimmerman.


BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now including word that New York City Police no longer searching a basement area for Etan Patz. Lisa, what it's the latest?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, he has been missing since 1979 and police were hopeful they would find clues to his disappearance under a basement near his family's home.

Unfortunately, police didn't find conclusive evidence, but pieces of the floor will be further analyzed. The man who put down the concrete floor days after Etan's disappearance says he is innocent.

And a new study shows the number of Mexican immigrants coming to the United States has declined by a lot. About half as many Mexican immigrants came to the U.S. from 2005 to 2010 as in the previous five years.

The number of Mexicans leaving the U.S. has also sharply increased. The report says rising deportations, greater border enforcement and a weak job market are some of the reasons behind that trend.

And a boy in Japan says, he has, quote, "No doubt it is his soccer ball that got washed ashore in Alaska. Last year's tsunami swept an enormous amount of debris into the ocean.

Some of which traveled 3,000 miles to the North American coast. Luckily, the ball had the boy's name written on it. So it could be the first piece of tsunami debris returned to its owner.

And political uncertainty in Europe plus the slowdown in the Chinese economy made for a rough day on Wall Street. All three major indexes fell more than 1 percent before rebounding an afternoon trading. The Dow ended the day down 102 points. The S&P fell 12 points and the Nasdaq lost 30 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lisa, thank you.

The man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin is free on bail and what they're saying in Florida right now about George Zimmerman's release.

Plus, the resignation of the town's police chief. That's coming up.

And CNN's Nick Payton Walsh is asked to stop reporting at a U.S. Military base in Afghanistan. We're going to find out what he discovered in this CNN exclusive report.


BLITZER: The city council in Sanford, Florida is meeting this hour and topping the agenda, the resignation of the police chief, Bill Lee. He's stepping down amidst a controversy over the Trayvon Martin shooting and the way his department handled the investigation.

This coming just hours after the man who shot and killed the unarmed teenager was freed from jail on bond. CNN's David Mattingly is following this story for you. He's on the scene. David, do we have a clue where George Zimmerman is right now?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right now, George Zimmerman has gone back into hiding where he was before he turned himself in. In this case, his attorney not giving up his location though, but at this hour, we have the city commissioners here in the city of Sanford, behind me in the building considering the future of their police chief.

He's offered to resign reportedly reached a deal with the city manager where he would resign as effective as midnight tonight. The department here coming under tremendous criticism, public criticism, a lot of demonstrations about now arresting George Zimmerman.

And now on the day that Zimmerman is out of jail, tasting his first hours out of that facility. Everyone wondering now, what will be happening next in this emotional case.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): George Zimmerman emerged from jail shortly after midnight under escort and he appeared to be wearing body armor under his jacket.

As they drove away into the night, it was clear that Zimmerman maybe out of jail, but he is far from free.

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He'll in a safe house. He'll be in parts unknown and that's the way it should be. There's been so much passion that's been attributed to this and truthfully, it seems like that some people the facts are not going to matter.

MATTINGLY: Already the parents of Trayvon Martin are clearly stating their expectations of a conviction and a prison sentence for Zimmerman.

A statement from their attorney reads, it is their hope that his release is only temporary because the pain he has caused to their family is permanent.

And they are trying to have faith in the system. For a case that is supposed to take months not weeks to complete. The city of Sanford is already anticipating the emotional fallout and possible impacts on the fragile peace officials are trying to build on.

NORTON BONAPARTE, SANFORD, FLORIDA CITY MANAGER: Certainly in the past, we have seen situations where the public was not pleased with the judiciary system. And a decision was made by a jury and there had been some demonstrations. We were hoping that as we have seen in the past, that people will be peaceful, regardless of outcome of the trial.


MATTINGLY: And now just a few hours after that interview was conducted, we're seeing some of the discourse popping up among the commissioners themselves here at Sanford City Hall as they're arguing whether or not they should accept the resignation of their Police Chief Bill Lee -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Zimmerman will be able to leave the state of Florida, he'll have an ankle bracelet, but he can go to any place in the country he wants. Is that right?

MATTINGLY: That's right and that was an extraordinary concession on the part of the court. They know that there's a great deal of security concerns about Zimmerman and his family as well.

So they were allowing him to go out of state and into hiding where he was before he turned himself in, but he is on that GPS. They're going to make very sure that they were going to be able to keep tabs on him and make sure he was complying with the rules of curfew, checking in when he was supposed to.

He's on a very short leash, even though he is allowed to roam outside the state of Florida.

BLITZER: Yes, you could clearly see that body armor in the back of his jacket over there as he was leaving that jail. Thanks very much, David Mattingly.

So how much of the fighting in Afghanistan is coming from across the border in Pakistan supposedly a U.S. ally? American forces are reluctant to talk about it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can neither confirm or deny that. You'll have to talk to my commander, Staff Sergeant Correll.


BLITZER: CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is on the scene for us. He has an exclusive report from the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Plus, remarkable video of a chemical plant explosion.


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

SYLVESTER: Hi, Wolf. Well, North Korea says their forces will take, quote, "special actions" to do and the operation will last about 3 or 4 minutes. In an unusual broadcast, North Korean TV showed people throwing rocks at an image of the South Korean president. The threat is likely a response to South Korea's claim that they can strike anywhere in North Korea with a cruise missile.

And checkout this incredible video of an explosion in Japan, a chemical plant. AFP reports at least one worker died in the blast and at least 15 were injured. Police are investigating it as negligence -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lisa, thanks very much. Let's get right back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Shocking statistic, the question this hour, what does it meaning when one in seven people in the United States gets food stamps?

Dawn in Canada writes, "Take another look at the average income of recipient families, just $8,800 year. The shocking statistic embedded in your question is how little income, so many households in America exists on. Something has gone drastically wrong with the American dream."

Gary in San Jose writes, "It tells me that 8.2 percent unemployment understates our employment problem. If 14 percent of the population can't feed themselves without assistance, then they must either be unemployed and not counted or under employed."

Emilio writes, "It means that the greatest county in the world is a farce and that Americans are living in a propaganda fed Utopians state of Nile. There's only one way to get the food stamp population down and that is with jobs.

Rob writes, "It shows the lengths to which this administration will go to buy votes."

Michael in Connecticut, "Americans are hurting. Over here gas is $4.25 a gallon. Food prices keep going up, millions are still unemployed. President Obama broke a major campaign promise in 2008 to put the brakes on the outsourcing of American jobs."

Jeff in Bishop, Georgia writes, "It means President Obama and his sycophants are methodically turning this country into a nanny state little by little. I encourage all to vote against this fool in November."

And then in Pennsylvania says it means we're well on our way to seeing hunger games right in our own nation as a result of the greed of a very few.

If you want to read more on this, go to my blog or through our post in THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLIZTER: All right, Jack. Thank you.

An exclusive visit to an American base on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our own Nick Paton Walsh discovers unnerving information about a critical U.S. ally.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I said you would have five times have fired from Pakistan as opposed to being fired on from Pakistan. Does that sound accurate or does that sound low number to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's sounds accurate.


BLITZER: And U.S. forces are under fire from other sides as well. We have exclusive details.

Plus we also have the latest on an apparent cyber attack on Iran's oil industries, stay with us.


BLITZER: The United States and Afghanistan appear to be getting close to a final deal that would continue cooperation between the two countries after NATO troops and all U.S. troops are supposed to leave the country by the end of 2014.

The proposed pact does not address the future presence of American troops. That issue will be dealt with in a separate agreement. Those issues are far off from the deadly and complex reality U.S. troops are facing right now along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

CNN's Nick Payton Walsh saw it all firsthand. He's joining us now from Kabul with an exclusive report. Nick, what's happening along that very, very dangerous border?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the dicey relationship between America and Pakistan is nowhere more in evident and strained at that vital Afghanistan and Pakistan border.

And ISAF and NATO don't like to talk about the cross border skirmishes that happened there because of that deeply sensitive relationship. But our visit to one of the outposts there revealed to us that NATO has returned fire into Pakistan four times just since June of last year.


WALSH (voice-over): Forward operating base, Tilmon, is at the heart of the most complex part of America's war, the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. On the other side of the border, insurgents seek shelter.

Across it the Pakistani and American military eye each other often with suspicion. Their sensitivity about our visit, and unusually a press officer is sent to watch over us.

Twenty four Pakistani soldiers were extensively killed by U.S. forces in November on this border so it's tense even up in these silent heights. Nobody wants to talk about insurgents crossing over here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can either confirm or deny that you would have to talk to my commander, Staff Sergeant Correll.

WALSH: Here you can see just close they are to Pakistan's border on the other side of which it's said to be a sanctuary for the Haqqani insurgent network.

Incidents on this border tend to flare into massive diplomatic scandals so you can see why everybody here is so acutely sensitive about what they might say.

We visit the Afghan unit and interrupt a friendly wrestling match. The Americans tell us the Afghans are reliable partners in this fight. One of them exhausts this American into a tie.

The Afghans tell us that the nearby Pakistani army not only let the Taliban cross the border to attack them, but make a strong accusation, the Pakistanis also fire upon them, most recently on April 14. MASOUD KARIMI, AFGHAN ARMY COMMANDER (through translator): The Pakistani checkpoints are only three kilometers from here. When we come to the border, we come under fire both from the Pakistani military and the Taliban.

Last week, when we went near the border, we were attacked with an anti-aircraft gun and mortars by the Pakistani army from their checkpoints. We are not only attacked from the Pakistani side, but we are also attacked by the Pakistani army.

We just saw them with our own eyes, the Pakistani soldiers were firing at us and at the same day, we reported to the Americans, but the Americans told us that it was from the other side of the border and they didn't have the permission to conduct operations there.

WALSH: The Afghans pinpoint that checkpoint is on the border and show us video of that day's clashes. NATO confirms Afghan soldiers here were in a cross border clash that day. But it's not just the Afghans. The Americans here are also targeted by shells fired from inside Pakistan, the U.S. commander admits to us.

(on camera): How many times since you have been here have you returned fire to Pakistanis on the other side of the boarder?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea. I don't remember those numbers.

WALSH: Because there must be a serious issue here when you have to return fire to a neighboring country.

CAPT. CHARLES SEITZ, U.S. ARMY: It is, but like I said because I'm not the approval authority for it, I don't keep that number.

WALSH: But you act from this base?

SEITZ: I don't know the number. And that's what you're asking me, is the number.

WALSH: But that has happened during the time that you're being here. If I said to you the -- you're over five time have fired into Pakistan in response to being fired upon from inside Pakistan, would that be accurate or is that sound like a low number to you?

SEITZ: No, that sounds accurate.

WALSH (voice-over): NATO confirmed outpost Tillman has fired into Pakistan four times since June. U.S. officials said they tried to contact Pakistani officials first although a Pakistani military spokesman said that doesn't always happen.

It's clearly a sensitive topic and we're asked to leave our imbed early. As we board an American helicopter, a Pakistani soldier gets off. Neither NATO nor the Pakistani military could explain what he was doing there.

The United States is slowly leaving this area. Leaving its complexities to the Afghans and their clear believe that the Pakistani army targets them leaving an enmity and mistrust on insurgent sanctuary behind.


WALSH: The question really remains, what was that Pakistani soldier doing at an American outpost on the border? No one is willing to give us that answer.

It is likely he was there as a liaison in my opinion accompanying for the translator he seems to be. I understand (INAUDIBLE) to openly talk about given the anti-Americanism in Pakistan.

And frankly, the anti-Pakistani sentiment in America where Bin Laden managed to hide out for a decades, but the presence of a liaison officer that suggest surely must be some sort of crisis or confusion that they require better communication to try to improve -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nick Paton Walsh on the scene for us in Kabul, Afghanistan. Nick, thanks for that absolute report.