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Russian Flotilla Headed to Syria; Hillary Clinton's Round the World Marathon; Obama vs. Romney Getting Nasty; Warm Waters Fueling Pacific Storms; Fire Destroys RVs, Boats; Israel's War against Iran; Alligator Attacks Teen; Queen Welcomes the Olympic Torch; Sexual Predator at Sea

Aired July 10, 2012 - 17:00   ET



Happening now, extreme globetrotting -- the secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is on a marathon diplomatic mission with an itinerary you have to see to believe.

Is she starting to feel the strain?

Also, a nasty new phase in the race for the White House. Mitt Romney himself is now pushing back against President Obama's attacks.

And a shocking CNN investigation -- sexual predators on cruise ships. Passengers, even crew members targeting victims for rape.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


We begin this hour in Syria. Opposition groups are reporting at least 41 deaths, as the regime of the president, Bashar al-Assad, continues its assault on its own people.

In a potentially critical new development, Russia, a strong Syrian ally, is offering to host new talks aimed at ending the bloodshed. But it wants to include Iran. That would be unacceptable to the United States. Iran totally, totally backing the Syrian regime.

Also new, a fleet of Russian ships now en route to a Syrian port.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is working that part of the story for us.

What are you seeing -- Barbara?

What's going on?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Wolf, the question on the table today, is Russia changing its mind about Syria? There has been some good news. Russia has agreed no new weapons shipments into Syria as long as the country remains so unstable. Influential Russian analysts are saying if it came to it, Russia would not resist if there was some sort of military intervention inside Syria.

But Russia is making these other moves with its ships. And it's being called a flotilla.

Let's go right to the map. There are a number of ships, at least four, that have left a northern port, are making their way all the way around Europe, through the Mediterranean, on a journey to the Syrian port of Tartous. They are likely to be joined by other ships along the way in this flotilla. Russia says it's all part of a training exercise. The White House says it's not too worried.

But let's go to another map. There are two other ships, military cargo ships, also on the move from Russia to Syria. They are transiting today through the Turkish Straits into the Mediterranean, also to the port of Tartous. The Russians say they are resupplying the Russian facility there.

All of this, Wolf, being watched very closely by U.S. intelligence.

BLITZER: What about, Barbara, the routes?

Why are these ports, these routes, so important?

STARR: This is really the crux of it, isn't it?

Let's -- let's keep looking at maps here, because this is all about geography.

Look at where Tartous is. This is the port on the Mediterranean. Both the Russians -- and even the Iranians, coming around the other way -- want to maintain access to this port. It's their access into the Mediterranean. And look, in through the Suez Canal, down the Red Sea and around into the oil shipping lanes of the Persian Gulf. The Russians want to be able to dock at their facility at Tartous, have their supplies there, their personnel there. It's not a port they're going to give up very easily. It's of great strategic importance to Moscow. And that's one of the reasons the Russians have been hanging onto the Assad regime all these weeks and months -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara Starr reporting for us.

Thank you.

Syria is just one of many pressing issues on the plate of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In fact, right now, she's on a marathon trip spanning the globe, with an itinerary that would leave even the most hearty traveler exhausted.

Our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, is joining us now. She's got some details -- Jill, how is the secretary of State holding up, based on all of the evidence out there?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think overall, she's OK, Wolf. But there -- there was one incident we'll show you here.

But, you know, these trips, really, I've been on plenty of them with Secretary Clinton. And if there's one golden rule, it's that you never really know where you're going to end up.

But this trip is extraordinary, even for a secretary of State who keeps her bags packed.


DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Secretary of State Hillary Clinton packs a lot into a day on the road. In Hanoi, Vietnam Tuesday, she visited the foreign ministry, the foreign trade university, the prime minister, the secretary of the ruling Communist Party, then made remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: And I've been talking all day, so excuse me.


DOUGHERTY: That's when the trip caught up with her.

CLINTON: So we've come a long way in a short period of time.


CLINTON: And that is...


CLINTON: -- excuse me.


CLINTON: -- what economic statecraft is all about.


CLINTON: So we want to hear from all of you about what more we can do together.

And at the risk of coughing any longer, I just want to say thank you and let's get to work.

DOUGHERTY: Her coughing fit forced her to cut short her speech. The State Department said she's in excellent health and doing just fine. But the journey struck fear in the hearts of seasoned journalists who have to keep up with her.

Clinton's almost two week trip is a mile busting marathon and it's taking its toll. Flying from Washington, DC to Paris for a conference on Syria, then to Afghanistan and Tokyo for a conference on Afghan reconstruction. Next stop, Mongolia. Then three countries in Southeast Asia. Then Egypt, after its election; Israel; and, finally, back home to Washington.

No wonder Clinton had this to say in June, when students in Latvia asked her what are the biggest challenges of her job.

CLINTON: The personal stamina that is required in today's world in a job like this is quite an experience.

DOUGHERTY: Two weeks ago, on yet another trip, Clinton made diplomatic history, racking up the 100th country she's visited as secretary of State -- more than any other secretary in the history, according to the State Department.

But the end is in sight. Clinton, at age 64, says even if President Barack Obama is reelected, she won't stick around for another term as secretary of State.

CLINTON: I think after 20 years -- and it will be 20 years of being on the high wire of American politics and all of the challenges that -- that come with that, it would be probably a good idea to just find out how tired I am.


DOUGHERTY: You know, she may not know how tired she is, Wolf. But, you know, it's no surprise if the secretary is a little more tired than usual after this trip.

And we did a rough calculation. And it turns out that when this trip is over, she will have added another approximately 27,000 miles to her total -- Wolf.

BLITZER: No, she is definitely amazing. I -- I had the chance to travel with her last year, Jill. We went to Paris, then Cairo, then Tunisia. And I saw -- I saw her in action aboard the plane. She does have a bed on her plane, so she can sleep.

But I'm sure that she doesn't get very restful sleeps aboard that aircraft.

But, you know, I -- I had covered Bill Clinton, like you, Jill, over the years, traveled with him. He used to do day trips to Bosnia. She has so much of that stamina, so much of that drive. She went, in Cairo, for example, or in Tunisia, from meeting to meeting to meeting. She was nonstop all the way, to the point that I started getting a little worried about her stamina.

Here's my bottom line, though, Jill. I don't know if you agree with me or disagree. She's going to have four years to rest up. She'll be 68 years old in 2016. I wouldn't be surprised to -- that's, by the way, the bed that she has aboard her plane. I wouldn't be surprised to see her run once again, try to make history and become the first woman president of the United States. DOUGHERTY: Yes, you may...

BLITZER: But that's just my opinion.

DOUGHERTY: You may be right, Wolf.


Jill Dougherty, thanks very, very much.

Speaking of politics, the race for the White House is entering a new phase. And it's getting personal and even somewhat nasty between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

Our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is following all of this for us.

What's going on on the campaign trail today?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, interesting today, Mitt Romney said the words "Bain Capital." And by mentioning Bain Capital by name today, Mitt Romney personally, not just his aides and his surrogates, started to push back against the Obama campaign's attacks on his business career.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to turn to you and ask you for any questions you might have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So why does the Obama team and the liberal media want us to think that we should be more angry with what you do with your money than what Obama has done with mine?

ACOSTA (voice-over): It took a question at a town hall for Mitt Romney to offer up a rare public defense of his former private investment firm, Bain Capital.

ROMNEY: I went out and began a business. And the business turned out to be far more successful than I ever would imagine.

ACOSTA: And Romney brushed off calls from the Obama campaign to release years of additional tax returns.

ROMNEY: And all they're doing is attacking on every -- on every diversion they can come up with.

BLITZER: Should he return -- release the tax returns?


ACOSTA: The Obama campaign says Romney won't show more than the 2010 and 2011 tax records he's already released because he's hiding his foreign investments.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He wants you to show your papers, but he won't show us his.

ACOSTA: Even the president is piling on.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's important if you are running for president is that the American people know who you are, what you've done and that you're an open book.

ACOSTA: Romney told an Iowa radio station even he doesn't know the full extent of his foreign holdings because they're managed by a blind trust.

ROMNEY: I don't manage them. I don't even know where they are. Those -- that trustee follows all U.S. laws. All the taxes are paid as appropriate. All of them have been reported to the government. There's nothing hidden there.

ACOSTA: Appearing in swing states on the same day, Romney in Colorado and the president in Iowa, both men also exchanged blows over outsourcing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newly published documents show Mitt Romney's firms were pioneers at helping companies outsource their manufacturing to countries including China.

ACOSTA: The Romney campaign seized on this Obama ad that accused the GOP contender of shipping jobs overseas, citing, which said the spot included untrue claims. And Republicans tried to turn the tables, blasting out this 2010 letter from four Democratic senators, who complained the president's stimulus program was using taxpayer dollars to support foreign manufacturing and foreign jobs.

ROMNEY: If there's an outsourcer-in-chief, it's the president of the United States, not the guy who's running to replace him.

ACOSTA: At his own event, the president appeared to repeat the outsourcing attacks in his ad.

OBAMA: As long as I'm president, I will keep fighting to make sure jobs are located here in United States of America.


ACOSTA: And both campaigns will have another chance to go at each other in the coming days, with both Romney and Vice President Biden scheduled to speak before the NAACP. The president is not making the trip -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, we'll have coverage of that tomorrow and Thursday, as well.

You know, there was an interesting exchange at that town hall meeting he had today. Someone asked him about a controversial Republican Congressman from South Florida, Allen West.

BLITZER: Let me play the...


BLITZER: -- the Q and the A.

ACOSTA: Sounds good.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been listening to Allen West talk. He would make a great vice president. He's a fighter and that's what we want.


ROMNEY: Thank you.


ROMNEY: All suggestions are welcome.


BLITZER: That was a diplomatic answer.


BLITZER: But I assume you've -- you've checked in. They're not really vetting Allen West as a potential vice presidential running mate.

ACOSTA: It sounds as if maybe the Romney campaign has a suggestion box up in Boston for vice presidential picks.

But, Wolf, I -- I asked the Romney campaign. I did not get a response on the Allen West question. And keep in mind, the Romney campaign has said that even Mitt Romney has said he isn't talking about who he's vetting and who he's not vetting, except for Marco Rubio, who he talked about a few weeks ago.

But we can tell you one thing on -- on the veep stakes front, and that is Rob Portman talked to reporters earlier this morning. He disclosed to reporters today that he was up in Boston yesterday. He met with Romney's staffers in three different meetings, although he says vetting did not come up.

It's safe to say that some vice presidential talk probably came up at that meeting.


ACOSTA: That is a very interesting development in the veep stakes -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I think he's way high, Rob Portman, on the short, short list. ACOSTA: A little higher than...


ACOSTA: -- Allen West is.

BLITZER: Yes, much higher than that.

All right, thanks very much for that.

ACOSTA: Thank you.

BLITZER: Mitt -- both Romney and President Obama, by the way, they are pouring considerable resources into two key states. We're going to show you what they're doing and why. Stand by for that.

And assassins, cyber attacks and more -- we're going inside Israel's secret war against Iran.

Plus, rapists at sea -- why cruise ships are becoming magnets for sexual predators. This is a CNN special investigation.


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty's back with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: While President Obama and Mitt Romney are neck and neck in the polls, it appears the president's supporters are more fired up when it comes to hitting the voting booth in the fall. A new "Washington Post"/ABC News poll shows 75 percent of the president's supporters say their vote is for him.

While 32 -- or 23 percent rather say they're going to vote against Mitt Romney. Compare that to only 37 percent of Romney's supporters who say their vote is for Romney. Fifty-nine percent say they're going to vote against the president. There was a similar trend back in 2004. President Bush's supporters were firmly behind him while most of John Kerry's supporters were voting against Bush.

This poll also shows President Obama benefitting from an enthusiasm gap although that is shrinking. More than half of Obama's supporters back him very enthusiastically. Only 38 percent of Romney's supporters say the same. Of course, it's not all roses for the president. When it comes to the number one issue of the economy, 54 percent of all adults, 60 percent of independents get Mr. Obama negative marks.

He also gets negative ratings on healthcare and immigration. And two-thirds of Americans think the country is seriously off course. A majority have not approved of the president's job performance in this poll for more than a year now. Nonetheless, in what's shaping up to be a tight race, motivating those few undecided voters could make the difference between who wins and who loses. In fact, it will.

The poll suggests most voters have already made up their mind and are unlikely to change candidates. To try to get you motivated though, if you're one of the undecided, the campaigns will bury you now under TV ads, e-mails, phone calls, you name it in the three and a half months remaining.

Here's the question, how motivated are you to vote in November? Go to and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Excellent question as usual, Jack. Thank you.

Let's continue in the world of politics. The election battle now moving to the center of the United States with President Obama in Iowa, Mitt Romney in Colorado, two very important battleground states that both campaigns are intensely focused on. Our chief national correspondent, John King, is joining us with more on these two states. What are you seeing, John?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I'm sorry, relatively small states but critically important. Let's look. Iowa where the president was, six electoral votes, not as big as they say in Florida, not as big as in Ohio, could be critical. Colorado, that's where Governor Romney was, say, nine electoral votes.

What do they have in common? Number one, they're among the states we now have as pure toss-ups. This is the electoral map. Slight advantage for the president, 247 solid or leaning Obama, 206 solid or leaning Romney. The gold states are the toss-ups states, Iowa and Colorado among them. Let's switch maps, Wolf, and take a closer look.

What else do they have in common? These are classic swing states. This is the 2008 map. You see Iowa and Colorado, both part of the Obama coalition, but let's go back in time. Erase those. Let's try that again. We'll do this. Now, we go back in time, and what do you get in 2004? George W. Bush won both of those states.

You go back to the year 2000, they were split. Al Gore winning in Iowa, George Bush winning in Colorado. So, classic swing states. So, why are the candidates spending so much time there? One of the reasons right now, Wolf, in this race, they are not only toss up states, they are about as close as you can come, Obama 46, Romney 45, in the latest Colorado poll.

It's about two months old we'd like to see more recent data, but look at that. A lot of money going into these states, but this is important. Look at this right now. Yes, Governor Romney has been raising more money of late, but in TV ads spending just in the last month in Colorado, almost $500,000 advantage there. $2.1 million for the president, $1.6 million spent by these or just by the campaigns in the state of Colorado.

Both campaigns now beginning to invest in resources, 26 offices. That's a lot for the Democrats and Obama. Four opposites statewide, so far, for the Romney campaign. That's the state of Colorado. Let's move these out of the way. We'll come back to the state of Iowa for you, Wolf. When you bring up that state again, you see something quite similar. The latest poll is a couple months old. We'd like more recent data, but it's a toss up. Both campaigns say it is still very close there. Slide that one over, and again, you see this. This is where they're spending money almost two-to-one here, President Obama $1.9 million in tiny Iowa. That's just in the last month in TV ad spending.

Just over a million dollars for the Romney campaign. And again, they are beginning to spend some of their money investing on the ground in campaign offices, Wolf, 14 for the Democrats and President Obama, six offices now for Governor Romney. So, two classic toss-up states. You look in electoral map, if you think they're not big, this race being so close, those two states could potentially be decisive.

BLITZER: Yes. Very decisive, indeed. So, if Romney is raising more money, but Obama's spending more money in those states, is that continuing across the country as well or is it just to those two states?

KING: No, it is. And it's a fascinating dynamic for the moment. Let's clear this out and come back to the other map if you will. Get these out of the way so they're not blocking anybody's view and will come back to the electoral map, which is easier to make the distinction. Again, the gold states are the toss up states, all of the campaigns.

Both campaigns are advertising in these states, New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada. The president's campaign is also on the air in Pennsylvania and in North Carolina. Governor Romney's campaign is on the air in all of those states except Pennsylvania. So, they do the terrain as the same. They're fighting for the same states with the exception of Pennsylvania at the moment.

But the Romney campaign says, look -- but look at these numbers right now in terms of TV spending in the last month, $21 million, almost $22 million for the Obama campaign just over $9 million for the Romney campaign. So, yes, Governor Romney is raising more money, a lot more money at the moment than the president.

But, Wolf, the incumbent president having to spend more at the moment to keep this race as close as it is.

BLITZER: Fascinating numbers. And I know you'll be watching them closely in the weeks and four months to come. Thanks, John, very much.

Meanwhile, a fire rages in the early hours of the morning as firefighters struggle to get water to the flames despite extensive damage. I'm going to tell you why it could have been even worse.

And a news helicopter captures a ride gone awry. Details on this hot air balloon's rough landing.


BLITZER: Two strong storms are brewing in the Pacific Ocean right now. There's another one likely on the way as well. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM. Lisa, what's going on?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, we're keeping an eye on this one. Hurricane season definitely in full swing, and it's already busier than usual for the pacific. Two storms are raging with one of them, Emilia, today becoming a Category 4 hurricane. Now, while these storms don't pose a threat to land, there's a third storm brewing just south of Mexico. And with very warm waters, there may be more storms coming.

It took firefighters three hours to contain this raging fire, but not before it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. It started this morning at a storage facility near Houston. About a dozen RVs, campers, and boats were destroyed. Bit of good news, though, the fire was stopped before spreading to a neighboring lumber and palette yard.

And a group of hot air balloon riders in Arizona probably didn't imagine their trip would end quite like this. You can see that basket bounce and drag along the ground for 800 to 900 feet as the balloon pilot tries to bring it down in the gusts of 20 miles an hour. He says it was a textbook high-wind landing.

All of the passengers walked away unscathed. I know a lot of people would not have wanted to be on that particular balloon ride, though, Wolf.

BLITZER: Pretty scary stuff. Lisa, thank you.

Cyber attacks on Iran's nuclear program allegedly part of a secret war by Israel. We're going to talk to the author of a new book that reads like a spy thriller.

And a baby hidden in a carryon bag and deliberately put through an airport x-ray machine. We now know why the parents did it. That's coming up in our brand new 6:00 p.m. eastern hour.


BLITZER: Assassins speeding through the streets on motorcycles carrying bombs to blow up valuable targets. Cyber attacks causing nuclear centrifuges to simply spin out of control. This is no fictional thriller. Included details included in a brand new book entitled "Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel's Secret Wars."

Dan Raviv is one of the book's co-authors. He's also a CBS News correspondent. He's joining me in the SITUATION ROOM. Dan, you and Yossi Melman have done an excellent job writing this book, but let's go through some of the specifics, because in terms of Iran's nuclear program, a lot of focus on the economic, diplomatic, political sanctions whether that won't work, if not, a full-scale military operation to blow up Iran's nuclear facilities. But there's another option that you detail covert operations going on by the Israelis right now. Give us a little detail of what they're doing to try to stop Iran from building a bomb. DAN RAVIV, AUTHOR, "SPIES AGAINST ARMAGEDDON": You know, Wolf, taking up your point, it's almost like a middle ground. Not all-out war. Not just sanctions and negotiations. Covert action actually means assassinations in Tehran. It's known that at least four nuclear scientists in Tehran have been murdered, some by gunfire, mostly by bombs that have been placed on their cars on the outside by men on motorcycles who just plain got away. We're reporting in this book that those are Israelis and that's an intentional campaign to try to slow down Iran's nuclear program.

BLITZER: So Israel sends in operatives and they look for these nuclear scientists and then they whack them, if you will.

RAVIV: Well, a lot of people will be surprised that it's Israelis doing it because some experts had assumed Israel hires other people to do it. We found what the methodology of the Masad (ph), Israel's foreign operations agency they don't trust other people to do it. And the Masad (ph) has done it elsewhere in Beirut, Damascus and other places, so it's Israelis who have ways of getting in and out of Iran. They must have safe houses. They must have transportation routes. And we find that for more than 30 years Israel has had all of that.

BLITZER: And the reaction from Washington to these assassinations, if you will, because you detail that in the book as well.

RAVIV: Yes. It depends on the timing. There have been a few occasions in which Israel has carried out an assassination, killing of a nuclear scientist in Tehran just when it seemed like talks might be getting underway and the U.S. was angry at that and didn't really hide that fact. But in general, the U.S. and Israeli intelligence are working together to slow down Iran, working together more than they ever have in the past. That includes computer viruses like Stuxnet (ph), but it also includes field operations and that's something quite --

BLITZER: What does that mean, field operations?

RAVIV: It means that the planning how to get in and out of Iran, debriefing defectors, Iranian scientists and others who have been in the Iranian military who leave that country. The U.S. and Israel are sharing their intel, but here's why. The extra element that I think we're revealing, Wolf, is that Israel wanted the U.S. involved. Get the CIA and other U.S. agencies involved, you'll get President Obama's attention. America's been too caught up in the Israeli view with Afghanistan and Iraq and they probably succeeded in getting the U.S. interested in Iran again is a very big issue.

BLITZER: The cyber warfare against Iran's nuclear program, it's been detailed in some other books. Lots of stuff is coming up. And you have got some new information there as well and the level of cooperation between the U.S. and Israel.

RAVIV: Well, there's an Israeli unit it's part of the military intelligence, that agency is called Amman (ph). Unit 8200, they're geniuses at everything high-tech, so they've worked with the American NSA, the National Security Agency and together created computer viruses. Now you've had reports here on CNN that that's something new, offensive (ph) cyber war. It raises a lot of issues, but again bottom line, it's something short of all-out war. Even the Israelis don't want to bomb Iran. They have a lot of covert action that they're still attempting.

BLITZER: How far would the Israelis go in terms of assassination in Iran? How high up the chain of command?

RAVIV: Well, again, looking at the Masad (ph) playbook for decades, which is what we do in this history, they're reluctant to kill a national leader. They don't think that killing the president of Iran or the supreme leader would accomplish much, who would replace them, et cetera. They prefer to be tactical. When they've been fighting terrorists, they try to look for the people who actually do the planning, take them out, scare off others from joining that operation. That's the kind of thinking that they're doing in the nuclear program to scare off scientists from joining the nuclear program.

BLITZER: Now we know there's been some tension on a personal level between the president of the United States, President Obama and the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, but you have done some close investigation into the military, to military cooperation, intelligence agency to intelligence agency cooperation over the past three or four years, what is your bottom line.

RAVIV: We find that that's very strong. I won't say unprecedented because at times the U.S. and Israel have had fantastic military cooperation, but in the past few years with Iran as the target it is really the golden age. But Mr. Obama and prime minister Netanyahu disagree about the future of the West Bank, how to try to renew talks with the Palestinians, Jewish housing in East Jerusalem. They have friction, personal friction too, but on the Iran issue, they're pretty much on the same page. Maybe some differences of timing, but I want to underline again the Israelis would like the U.S. to take care of this problem. So they keep saying it's not Israel's problem, but we find that Israel's covert agencies --

BLITZER: How likely is that if the sanctions fail, if the covert operations fail, that there will be either a U.S. or Israeli military operation?

RAVIV: It's a real possibility. Both governments, U.S. and Israeli are determined that Iran not get a nuclear weapon, really determined that it would change the entire Middle East. As I see this level of determination and I see it as a possibility, if there's no choice of sanctions, negotiations don't work, if Iran doesn't shut down, stop, freeze the program, I think there could be military action.

BLITZER: Dan Raviv is the co-author with Yelsie Mehlman (ph) of "Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel's Secret War". Dan thanks very much for coming in.

RAVIV: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good luck with the book.

RAVIV: Thanks.

BLITZER: With drought conditions across the state of Texas, rain is a welcomed weather event, but not when it leads to this -- look at this. Ten inches of rain in just a few hours sends residents of one community fleeing to higher ground.

And a teenager loses half his arm to an alligator. You're going to hear why he says a TV show though saved his life.


BLITZER: A showdown is brewing in Egypt right now. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that, some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM. Lisa, what's the latest?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well the power struggle between Egypt's president and the military is growing. This video is the latest blow in that fight. Weeks after the highest court ruled parliamentary elections unconstitutional and the military dissolved the legislature, the lawmakers convened for almost an hour. Egypt's president called them into session in direct opposition to the military, which had taken over legislative powers. The court struck back hours later stopping the president's move and, again, ruling the parliament invalid.

And there's been a dramatic turn in the trial of a Pakistani British couple accused of killing their daughter because they believed she shamed the family with her western lifestyle. The victim's mother abruptly changed her story in court and implicated her husband in their 17-year-old's death. Her dismembered body was found on a riverbank months after she disappeared. The parents have pleaded not guilty.

And a Texas community woke up to a slow-moving thunderstorm this morning that dropped about 10 inches of rain in just a few hours. Flash flooding left more than a dozen homes near Austin surrounded by water. The water receded by early afternoon and emergency officials say no one was injured.

A Florida teen is recovering after being attacked by an alligator. Jeremiah Jacobson with CNN affiliate WINK has the story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gator was about two feet away from him, just came straight at him. Abraham yelled (INAUDIBLE), he looked and he punched the gator and then it took his arm and he went under.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (voice-over): Fred Langdale's (ph) friend says the gator attack seemed to come out of nowhere as they went for a swim in the Caloosahatchee (ph) on Monday afternoon. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as he seen Fred, the gator was coming after him on top of the water as fast as it could pedal, his tail was wagging back and forth. He was coming.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Gary Beck (ph) was onshore but jumped in to get Fred and the other boys out of the water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said my arm -- my arm's gone and he was freaked out obviously.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Friends who were in the river with him say Langdale (ph) knew exactly what to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's been around alligators all his life. He's smart enough to know if he offers him his arm it won't take his torso, so he was smart. He took the risk.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (on camera): These teens like many of the families around here in Moore Haven (ph) are very well aware of the presence of alligators in these waters. But wildlife officials tell us now happens to be a very active time of year for gators.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just after mating season. Eggs are already laid but they -- alligators are still very active. Any type of commotion in the water is potential food in their eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (voice-over): Fish and wildlife officers say there had been reports of two gators called in from that same area earlier in the day. The bite spawned a three-hour search to find the animal that attacked Langdale (ph) and retrieve the 17-year-old's arm. Trappers also hauled in several other gators in that time. Langdale's (ph) friends say it's all part of their world.

(on camera): Will this stop you from heading down this river again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, especially not Fred.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He'll be the first person back in.


SYLVESTER: Yes, that boy is lucky. Well, the teen credits a move he learned on the popular TV show "Swamp Men" with saving his life. He told his sister that as that alligator approached he grabbed the skin under its mouth to try to keep it from biting him and that stopped it at first but he just couldn't swim away fast enough -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Wow, what a story that is. All right, Lisa, thank you very much.

Coming up in our new 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour, by the way, the mystery woman at the side of North Korea's new leader, she's sparking international intrigue. Who is this woman? Stand by and up next, a royal welcome for the Olympic Torch.


BLITZER: The Olympic flame is making its way across England before it reaches its final destination of London just 16 days and a little more than 22 hours from now. As the torch weaves its way through major cities, small villages and towns, today it had a grander stage than usual for one of its handoffs. Amid off and on again rain, the queen and her husband welcomed the Olympic flame to Windsor Castle. CNN royal correspondent Max Foster has more.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Olympic atmosphere really is building here in the UK. The queen will officially open the Olympic Games in a few weeks time. But this was her first chance to see the Olympic torch, which is making its way around the United Kingdom. Wherever it goes, huge crowds, quite surprising really. And today in Windsor was no exception. Now, 74- year-old Gina McGregor (ph) had the honor of carrying the torch up to Windsor Castle, but there was torrential rain.

And when she met the queen, she was dripping wet. She said she was very embarrassed but the queen made a joke of it and everything was all right in the end. They had to gather for a meet and greet under shelter, but the sun did come out and the queen with Prince Phillip went out into the main quadrangle (ph) in the castle and met some other people. In the background you can see some children playing handball, one of the sports that is of course featured in the Olympic Games.

Now Prince Phillip was there at the queen's side, sometimes famous for making jokes or gaffes you could call them and today was no exception. He met Charles McAveny (ph), who ran the torch back in 1948 which was the last time the UK hosted the Olympics and apparently Charles said, Prince Phillip told me you look quite old, but Charles replied, well, not quite as old as you. So a good reply and Prince Phillip apparently appreciated it.

Now, there weren't any of the younger royals there today. But the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will get their chance to see the Olympic Torch as it goes past Buckingham Palace just before the Olympic opening ceremony. And there's some rumor that they will actually be running with the torch themselves, but we'll wait to see on that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We will indeed. Max, thank you. Max Foster reporting for us from London.

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

CAFFERTY: Indeed I am. Question this hour is how motivated are you to vote in November?

Valeria writes "I don't think people are motivated at all because we really don't have anything to vote for. Whether it's Romney or Obama, what will change?" Linda, Pullman, Washington, "I'll be voting in November, but I'm not excited about it. If Romney gets in, we'll just see more billionaires deciding public policy, which would be very bad for the poor and the middle class. These people aren't giving their money to political causes without expecting a huge return on their investment."

Dee in New York writes "I've never been more motivated to vote. Unfortunately I'm a red person living in a blue state. So my vote has the chance of a snowball in hell. However I will at least have my say and exercise one of our greatest rights as citizens."

Floyd in California says "seems like the California vote has already been decided. I do plan to vote but will most likely write-in none of the above. I feel like my vote doesn't matter anymore."

Sam in Florida "I'm 66 and very motivated to vote. This is the most important election during my lifetime. The next president will have two to three appointments to the Supreme Court. If President Obama doesn't get re-elected, Romney will appoint strictly conservative justices to the court and every gain by minorities and women over the last 50 years will be turned back."

Michael writes "I always vote. I'm voting for Obama. No way am I ever voting for Romney even if he really is a Massachusetts moderate who will throw the Tea Party under the bus. I just can't trust him."

And Mark in Oklahoma writes "I would crawl on my belly through hot coals to vote against this hope and change phony who is sitting in the White House now. Give him another four years in office, Obama will undo what it took our forefathers 200 years to accomplish. I'm motivated."

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

BLITZER: Thank you, Jack. They are motivated indeed.

A skyrocketing murder rate in Chicago right now. It has President Obama's close friend, the mayor, Rahm Emanuel on the defensive. We're going there live in our brand new 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour. And up next, a cruise ship rapist, a shocking CNN special investigation.


BLITZER: Sexual predators at sea. If you've ever been on a cruise, odds are there has been at least one such sexual predator onboard your ship. In fact, one expert says cruises have become magnets for rapists, some of whom may even be part of the crew. Drew Griffin of CNN Special Investigations Unit reports.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the cruise of a lifetime, a family spending New Year's rounding the volcanic White Island (ph) off New Zealand's coast, onboard Royal Caribbean's "Rhapsody of the Seas" (ph), January 1, 2010. This girl, then 15, decided to spend the morning alone in her cabin and the trip of a lifetime turned to terror as her locked door to cabin 3073 suddenly clipped.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't hear the card key go in, but I did hear like the door open, and like the lock like (INAUDIBLE) yes, and I thought it was my mother or sister at first. And then when I saw the guy come in, I didn't recognize the bartender uniform. I just -- it was someone working on the ship, so I thought it was a room attendant that was going to clean my room because I didn't put the sign like oh don't disturb or whatever.

GRIFFIN: It wasn't a room attendant. It was a crew member dressed in a bartender's uniform, threatening the girl not to say a word she says as he forced the teen to perform oral sex. At her family's request, we are not showing her face.

(on camera): You were 15.


GRIFFIN: Scared. You didn't tell your family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I -- at the time on the cruise I didn't want to ruin the vacation for them because it had already been ruined for me.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Up on deck her mother says the girl's demeanor instantly changed. She was clingy, never left her side for the rest of the cruise. It wasn't until two months later the secret broke.

(on camera): Do you feel the person who attacked you that this was the first time he attacked anybody?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, because the way he did it, he walked in like he already knew what he was doing.

GRIFFIN: Do you feel he was a predator?


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Randy Jacques has a very strong opinion about the likelihood of criminals onboard.

RANDY JACQUES, FORMER SHIP SECURITY OFFICER: Every single cruise that leaves the Port of Miami, Port Everglades, Cape Canaveral, Port Canaveral here in the state of Florida has a minimum of one perpetrator whether it be passenger or crew onboard its vessel each week.

GRIFFIN: Jacques is a former ship security officer. He now investigates onboard crimes for victims and lawyers who may want to file civil lawsuits. He says there is no doubt cruise ships have become magnets for predators who feel safe at sea, far from police jurisdictions, and given the nature of cruises with lots of alcohol, parents who leave children unattended, the predator passengers and yes, predator crew members, he says, feel they can get away with almost anything.

JACQUES: Yes. This is true. The -- there are a considerable amount of male perpetrators out there that are passengers and crew that get onboard these vessels with the only one thing in mind and that is to accost as many female passengers as they can, whether by getting them overly intoxicated or by using date rape drugs.

GRIFFIN: They're rapists.

JACQUES: Yes, they're rapists.

GRIFFIN: And according to Jacques who worked for two major cruise lines, crew members are often complicit, even using onboard computers, passenger manifests to spot their prey.

(on camera): You know this.

JACQUES: Yes, I know this for a fact.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Hard to believe? We thought so, too, until we met Laura Hains (ph) who worked for 17 years as an agent with Customs and Border Protection. Her main job she says was dealing with passengers and staff on cruise ships and she shares the same opinion and concerns as Jacques.

(on camera): So your estimate of ships that go out to sea loaded with passengers that may have at least one predator on board.


GRIFFIN: -- is --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eighty-five percent.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): You heard right, 85 percent. Crimes are rarely reported and in many instances, even if caught, crew members could still end up on another ship.

LAURA HAINS, FORMER CUSTOMS OFFICER: And the cruise line say that doesn't happen and I know for a fact it does because I have saw -- I've seen it.

GRIFFIN: The Cruise Line International Association disputes her assertion. In an e-mail to CNN a spokesman told us "it is disconcerting that this individual would irresponsibly offer such inflammatory and unfounded accusations. The safety of passengers and crew are the cruise industry's number one priority and no one is served when broad and alarming statements are made that have no basis in fact."

The cruise industry points to a law passed by Congress as recently as 2010 for the first time called for the public reporting of all crimes onboard American cruise ships at sea and cites only a handful of the millions of passengers with the victims of any kind of crime. Critics say that's because most crimes aren't even reported, and even fewer, especially sexual assaults, says Randy Jacques are ever solved.

(on camera): The criminal knows this, don't they?

JACQUES: The criminals know this. The passengers that are criminals know this. The crew members that are criminals know this.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): And now this teenager knows this, too. When she finally reported her crime to the FBI, two months after the event took place, an FBI agent in Riverside, California took the report, found her story to be credible, and forwarded the information to police in Australia and New Zealand "in an attempt, he wrote in this report, to identify a possible child predator onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise liner." The girl's family sued the cruise line which settled the case, but the family says it never heard from police in Australia or New Zealand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had no one to contact over there that was getting a report. It was just sent over there and then it kind of disappeared.

GRIFFIN: In a statement, Royal Caribbean said once it was informed of the assault, it notified the FBI, New Zealand authorities and Interpol. It also said it provided the FBI with 50 to 60 pictures of crew members, but quote "unfortunately the guest was unable to identify the crew member in question." Royal Caribbean insisted it "continuously supported law enforcement during the investigation of this incident." Additionally, the cruise line says its security personnel have been trained by the FBI and use FBI procedures. It has been more than two years. There has been no arrest.

(on camera): In effect, the person that assaulted you did get away.


GRIFFIN: And could very well still be floating around somewhere.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Drew Griffin, CNN, Miami.


BLITZER: Happening now, why Mitt Romney shouldn't keep secrets if he wants to live in the White House.

The president's pal, the Chicago mayor gets blamed for the exploding murder rate.

And an airport luggage scanner detects a baby hidden by his parents in a carry-on bag. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.