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THE SITUATION ROOM
Suicide Bomber Caught On Tape; Romney Seizing On Obama Remark; Interview with Dan Rather; Racial Profiling; Nazi War Crimes Trial
Aired July 19, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And you're in the SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, a suicide bomber caught on tape before he blew up a bus full of Israeli tourists. Is he linked to Iran as Israel claims?
Also, allegations the Syrian president has gone into hiding. We go live to the Turkish/Syrian border for the very latest.
And Dan Rather accusing the news media of selling out at least some elements of the news media. We have details of controversial new conditions for some political reporting.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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BLITZER: But we begin with chilling new details emerging about that suicide bomb attack on a bus full of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. Six people were killed, more than 30 injured. And there are now new clues about the bomber who was captured by surveillance cameras and who he was -- and how he was -- what was he doing? Was he carrying a fake American I.D.?
Those are the suggestions. We'll go live to Jerusalem in a moment for the latest Israeli action. But first CNN's Atika Shubert is in Bulgaria. She's joining us right now. She has learned exclusive details. Atika, what's the latest there?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're literally meters away from that explosion took place. And some of the most crucial evidence came from actually the terminal right behind me. There are number of security cameras there, and they were able to catch the suspect on tape. Take a look.
SHUBERT (voice-over): He could be any backpack tourist looking at flight arrivals, but this is the man suspected of carrying out the deadly attack targeting Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria. Airport security cameras captured him wandering around the airport up to an hour before the attack. Authorities focused on him because he was the only one killed who could not be identified. Closest to the blast, the man's fingerprints and DNA have now been retrieved, but, he did have a U.S. I.D. A Michigan driver's license that FBI officials now say is a fake. This is exactly where the attack took place. But to solve the mystery of who carried it out and why, there's going to have to be a lot of intelligence cooperation not just between Bulgaria, the United States and Israel, but possibly many other countries.
But Bulgaria's interior minister gave CNN an exclusive look into how that investigation is unfolding.
TSVETAN TSVETANOV, BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): In fact, this is the exact place of the blast. He was standing here. The luggage compartment was at his back. That's when he detonated the backpack. The blast impact destroyed the luggage area. The whole bus caught fire. This is where it all started.
SHUBERT: He believes the suspect is not Bulgarian but may have been in the area for up to a week preparing for the attack. It's not the first time Bulgaria has been targeted for its popularity with Israeli tourists. In January, Bulgarian security were tipped off to a luggage filled with explosives onboard a tour bus.
By Thursday evening, the site of Burgas had been hosed down and the airport reopened to tired and jittery passengers subjected to random searches. The charred remains of the bus were towed away. But the question of who carried out this horrific attack remains.
SHUBERT (on-camera): Now as you can see, the airport is fully operational. All those passengers that have been waiting for these flights to come through are finally coming through. However, just this morning, they were still going through this entire area with evidence.
And I just wanted to show you, Wolf, when we were here with the Bulgarian interior minister, we did find this charred piece of a $10 bill what you could easily imagine have been from one of those buses that was hit in the attack. So, Bulgaria's interior minister says they're going to use every scrap of evidence they can to figure out just who did it.
BLITZER: And so far, Atika, no one has claimed responsibility for this attack. Has anyone done so?
SHUBERT: No. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Of course, we've been hearing a lot from Israeli officials. However, Bulgarian officials say they do not want to jump to any conclusions. They want to go through the evidence with a fine-tooth comb to find out exactly what happened.
BLITZER: Atika Shubert on the scene for us in Bulgaria. Thank you.
Israel, though, is already pointing a direct finger at Hezbollah and Iran. Our foreign affairs reporter, Elise Labott is in Jerusalem. She's joining us now. Elise, are the Israelis saying anything about their own investigation, what they're learning?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, Wolf, that's the weird thing. They're not saying anything at all about the investigation. They're just focused like a laser on pointing the finger at Iran and its proxy groups like Hezbollah and drawing a link with Iran's nuclear program and the international need to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a statement just a few hours ago. And after he did it in Hebrew, Wolf, he then did it in English, clearly, intended for an international audience. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Yesterday's attack in Bulgaria was perpetrated by Hezbollah, Iran's leading terrorist proxy. This attack was part of a global campaign of terror carried out by Iran and Hezbollah. This stir campaign has reached a dozen countries on five continents.
The world's leading powers should make it clear that Iran is the country that stands behind this terror campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LABOTT: Now, Wolf, obviously, the Iranians are denying any responsibility for this attack, but the question now is, is Israel going to use this attack in Bulgaria as a pretax to go after Iran, to go after its nuclear program. For now, we understand the Israelis and the Bulgarians will be going to the U.N. Security Council looking for condemnation of the attack, but it remains to be seen whether they're going to point the finger at Iran.
It's one thing to say this in a press conference or statement. It's another thing to go to the U.N. Security Council when they don't actually haven't delivered any concrete proof about Iranian involvement, Wolf.
BLITZER: Elise, tell us a little about the victims. What do we know about them?
LABOTT: Well, the victims were supposed to arrive here in Israel any moment, Wolf, on a military plane. There'll be a mourners cottage delivered for them. Really sad stories, obviously, Wolf. Three friends in their late 20s that were taking a trip to Bulgaria and then a man in his 40s with another friend going to celebrate his birthday with his wife.
You know, wolf, terrorist attacks aren't as common as they used to be here in Israel. And so much so security restrictions were reduced just this week at the Jerusalem bus station. So, obviously, this has everybody jittery thinking that the country is still under attack, Wolf.
BLITZER: Elise Labott reporting for us from Jerusalem. Thank you, Elise. We'll stay on top of this story. Other news, for the third time in ten months, China and Russia have vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at stopping the violence in Syria. I talked about that and more with U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, and she was totally outraged.
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SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Irreprehensible and immoral, because they have three times now made the very harsh and cold decision to back Assad to the bitter end at the expense of the Syrian people and at the expense of regional peace and security.
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BLITZER: The full interview with Ambassador Rice airs here in the SITUATION ROOM in our next hour.
But let's get the latest on what's going on in Syria right now. CNN's Ivan Watson is out there on the Turkish/Syrian border. Ivan, much has been made about the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad possibly going into hiding. What do we know?
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's certainly got to be concerned about his security after three of his top security officials were all killed in a bombing yesterday, including his brother-in-law. He was seen on Syrian state TV swearing in his new defense minister, replacing the one who was just killed yesterday, Fahad Jassim al-Freij.
We don't know exactly where the Syrian president is right now, but this is a very secretive regime. In the meantime, the Syrian capital neighborhoods -- entire neighborhoods becoming war zones. We've been talking with one family, refugees who had to flee because their neighborhood of (INAUDIBLE) became a war zone.
A man describing how he fled with his son in his arms to the back streets and through orchards to escape with just a few small possessions in his hand and in his wife's hands in addition to their two sons as they fled. Just terrifying situation for the civilian population of the Syrian capital.
BLITZER: Ivan, on the Syrian/Turkish border where you are right now, what's going on? What are you seeing there?
WATSON We've seen the rebels not only pushing the offensive in the capital but also at strategic border posts here on the Turkish border with Syria, there was a fierce gun battle taking place earlier today just about a mile from where I'm standing at the Syrian border crossing called Bab al-Hawa.
The Syrian rebels appeared to have captured it for a short time, flushing out Syrian army forces from there. They say they kind of looted some of the customs offices and security offices before eventually being forced to flee. Further east from here, there were also Syrian rebel moves towards the Iraqi border crossing of Albu Kamal.
Iraqi security officers in Al-Anbar province telling CNN that the rebels captured that border crossing as well as several other smaller security posts as well. Rebel commanders telling us they're trying to push the offensive to lower morale in the Syrian government army forces and also to sell confusion within the Syrian government ranks at a time where they're on the defensive both in the Syrian capital and now at these strategic border points as well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ivan Watson reporting for us. Thank you, Ivan.
A hard-hitting web video by Mitt Romney's campaign portraying President Obama as insulting of American entrepreneurs using his own words, but is it all accurate? We're checking the facts. Jessica Yellin is here.
And a missing boy found trapped inside a sewer. We're going to show you the dramatic rescue.
And should the campaigns be the ones to decide which candidate, quote, "you see, read, which ones you don't see or read?" Dan Rather, yes, Dan Rather, he's here in the SITUATION ROOM. We're going to talk about what he calls a jaw-dropping turn in American journalism.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty's here with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, some storm clouds are beginning to gather for President Obama. The latest "New York Times"/CBS News poll actually shows Mitt Romney with a one point lead over the president with four percent of voters undecided. When asked about the economy, the difference is even more glaring.
Romney holds an eight-point lead over the president. Just 39 percent of those surveyed approve of the president's handling of the economy, and that's down from 44 percent who approved in April. More bad news for the president in the crucial battleground state of Virginia. Romney has closed a 12-point gap with President Obama.
The two are now tied according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll. In 2008, President Obama was the first Democrat to win Virginia since 1964. Suffice to say if there's no significant improvement in the economy, and it better start happening pretty quick, Obama could have problems in Virginia and elsewhere.
The jobs picture remains bleak. Unemployment's been above eight percent for 41 consecutive months now, 41 months. And this morning, first-time jobless claims jumped sharply up 34,000 from the previous week.
A new Gallup poll shows Americans overwhelmingly say creating more and better jobs is the most important thing the government can do to jump start the economy, which is why some of the president's words and actions are not helping him much. Many took issue when Mr. Obama said, quote, "if you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen," unquote.
Then, there's the president's jobs council. It hasn't even met for six months. The White House says Mr. Obama has, quote, "obviously got a lot on his plate," unquote. Republicans suggest that he's had time in the last six months to attend more than 100 fundraisers and play golf ten times.
Here's the question, should the economy prevent President Obama from winning a second term? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on the the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Jack, thanks very much.
Mitt Romney is seizing on one remark by the president that Jack mentioned. It's the centerpiece of a tough new web video portraying the president of the United States is tone deaf and even insulting when it comes to American entrepreneurs. Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is here.
She's been doing a little fact-checking for us. It's getting a lot of buzz out there. You've looked at the video, you've looked at the background. What are you finding out?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you know, we talk about this campaign moving so fast that everything's at Twitter speed, but it actually took a few days for team Romney to capitalize on this sound bite. But now, it's getting traction. The team is up with this new web video. See if you get the point.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father's hands didn't build this company. My hands didn't build this company. My son's hands aren't building this company. Did somebody else take out the loan on my father's house to finance the equipment?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Now, team Obama calls that a false attack in an effort by the Romney campaign to change the topic from Bain. And Obama campaign spokesperson says the president was simply making the point that for small business to succeed, the nation needs to invest in roads and infrastructure. Well, here's the president's remark in full context. See what you think.
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OBAMA: If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you got a business, you didn't build that, somebody else made that happen.
The internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the internet so that all the companies could make money off the internet.
OBAMA: The point is is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: So, Wolf, the key phrase there is somebody invested in roads and bridges, if you've got a business, you didn't build that. Is that referring to roads and bridges or is he referring to a business? It sounds like the way he said it, he's referring to a business, obviously, he intended something else. Maybe this is why he usually uses a teleprompter.
BLITZER: Because the line that is used in that ad is only if you've got a business, you didn't build that, somebody else made that happen. It sounds like he's referring to the business. But what you're saying if you listen to the few sentences building up to that, forgive the pun, he's referring to the roads and bridges, the education, the internet, all this stuff that helped you build that.
YELLIN: A gaffe.
YELLIN: It sounds like a gaffe, but it's one of those unfortunate gaffes.
BLITZER: So, is it a serious problem, though, for the Obama campaign?
YELLIN: Well, the problem or the potential problem for the Obama campaign is that it plays into a larger narrative that the Romney team has been driving. And that's the president hasn't created enough jobs and doesn't understand business. This is what candidate Romney said today.
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MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It wasn't a gaffe. It was, instead, his ideology. The president does, in fact, believe that people who build enterprises like this really aren't responsible for it. But, in fact, it's a collective success of the whole society.
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YELLIN: Now, much like Mitt Romney saying corporations are people, too, or I like to fire people, these kind of remarks tend to reinforce the views of people who already dislike the candidate. They don't really change minds. In fact, the actual economy and the actual jobs picture are both far more meaningful for the president and will be far more lasting campaign issues, Wolf. BLITZER: Thanks for giving us the whole context of what the president said. Little artful, as we say.
BLITZER: But I think our viewers appreciate it a little bit better right now. Jessica, thank you.
Ford recalls thousands of a popular SUV model. We're going to tell you how serious the problem is.
And shocking video of a missing boy found clinging to life in a sewer just in the nick of time. We'll show it to you and explain what happened right here in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Major Ford recall. Lisa Sylvester's monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. What do you have, Lisa?
SYLESTER: Wolf, the auto giant is recalling more than 11,000 of its 2013 Escape SUV models, because of a defect in the fuel line which could potentially cause a fire. Three fires have been reported, two of them at the factory, but no injuries. Ford is recommending owners stop driving their vehicles until the problem is repaired. And dealers are providing loaner cars in the interim.
And more bad news for the struggling economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting a sharp rise in jobless claims last week after hitting a four-year low this month. 386,000 people filed for first- time unemployment benefits. That's up 34,000 from the previous week.
Some economists say it's not unusual to witness extreme moves around the July 4th holiday, but based on the data, the 8.2 percent unemployment rate isn't likely to go down for July.
And the Obama White House is throwing its support behind the idea of a minute of silence during opening ceremonies of the London Olympics to commemorate the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed by terrorists during the 1972 summer games in Munich. The son of one of the victims just tweeted, "I'm literally crying right now. Thank you, President Obama."
And shocking video of a three-year-old boy discovered clinging to life in a Columbian sewer. The child who was reportedly missing, he apparently fell into the hole unnoticed while playing with his brother. Rescue teams searched the area once. They found nothing, but later, they did a second sweep.
You see him being pulled out there. He is said to be doing well considering the dramatic ordeal. And you saw those -- wow, look at those pictures just holding on. Lucky thing they came in time, Wolf.
BLITZER: Could have been disaster. Thank God for that. All right. Thank you, Lisa. The veteran journalist, Dan Rather, he's standing by to join us next to talk about a controversy brewing over what's called quote approval. Should political campaigns have veto power over political reporting?
And coming up in our new 6:00 p.m. eastern hour, I talk about Syria with the United States ambassador of the United Nations, Susan Rice. She's very upset with Russia and China for blocking U.N. Security Council sanctions, and she's very concerned about Syria's chemical weapons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": How you doing? Newt, Snooki, Snooki, Newt.
SNOOKI, REALITY STAR: I know.
NEWT GINGRICH, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What a deal.
SNOOKI: What up?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What up. Newt Gingrich meets the MTV reality star, Snooki. The two even share a fist bump. You saw the former Republican presidential candidate, by the way, he'll be here in the SITUATION ROOM tomorrow along with the Reverend Jesse Jackson in our brand new 6:00 p.m. eastern hour. You're going to want to see that tomorrow. Standby. Dan Rather coming up next.
BLITZER: Something different in this presidential campaign season. Something many journalists find deeply disturbing. It's called quote "approval". Reporters get access to the candidates only if the campaigns get pre -- can get to pre-approve any quotes the journalists plan to use.
Dan Rather calls it a sellout by the news media. He's the anchor and managing director of "Dan Rather Reports" on AXS TV and Dan has written an opinion piece about so-called quote "approval" for CNN.com. I recommend you read it.
Dan, first of all explain this new so-called journalistic procedure to our viewers. What's going on? And what's different about what you and I did for many campaigns that we've covered?
DAN RATHER, ANCHOR & MANAGING EDITOR, "DAN RATHER REPORTS" ON AXS TV: Well, we start of course, Wolf, with the fact that it is a fact that covering politics, particularly covering politics is a complicated and imperfect practice of the craft. And there have been versions of this before, but what's new as I understand it as "Times" and give them credit put it on the front page the other day is that when you interview certain members of a campaign whether it be Obama's campaign or Romney's campaign, you agree to submit any quotes that you intend to use in the piece to them before you send them to the editors.
And they have the right to edit that. In other words, they can sanitize it, they can jig it around, they can say, no, you can't say that. I find this jaw-dropping. And I want to emphasize -- listen, I've been covering politics for a long time and I certainly haven't done it perfectly. But this is something new on the campaigns. This is in a way institutionalizing the idea that you will in effect if you're a reporter and ask for certain interviews become an arm of the campaign rather than a representative of your viewers, listeners and readers.
And this is something I do think that all of us here in journalism should think very seriously about and the public at the very least should know about it, because up until now there's been very little transparency. In other words, the reader doesn't know that the reporter has submitted the quotes to the campaign apparatus through the press office for what I call this sanitizing.
BLITZER: I just want to be clear and up front with our viewers, this does not happen at CNN. It's not something that we have done at CNN. But let me read to you from that "New York Times" story that appeared on Monday. Major Garrett is a friend, an excellent journalist. He writes for "The National Journal". He's quoted in the article as saying this.
"It's not something I'm particularly proud of because there's a part of me that says don't do it, don't agree to their terms. There are times when this feels like I'm dealing with some of my editors. It's like 'you just changed this because you could!'" You go as far as saying this is a sellout. And I want to be precise because those are strong words.
RATHER: Well, I do think it's a sellout for journalism. The major institutions in journalism including CNN, "The New York Times", "Los Angeles Times," "Chicago Tribune", "The Wall Street Journal", "The Washington Post", they have the leverage to reverse this and just say we aren't going to do it. And as a personal opinion, I think that's what we should do and it has begun just in the last 24 to 48 hours some pushback on this, still not enough to suit me personally.
But the main thing I think needs to be emphasized, Wolf that if you're going to do this, if a reporter, his editor and news organizations are going to do it, then they have to be transparent with the -- with their readers, viewers and listeners and say this is what we agreed to and you should know we submitted the quotes to the campaign staff and they altered some of the quotes to suit their purposes.
BLITZER: It takes it one step further because a lot of journalists including myself I assume you've gone into what are called off the record meetings or background meetings with high ranking officials or whatever, and if it's off the record, you can't report that, obviously. If it's on background, you can report it but you can't say it's coming from somebody with a specific name. You can identify the sources if you will.
This is different. This takes it to a different level when you actually go back to these people and say I want to quote what the person said but you're not quoting what that person said, you're quoting that some new statement that that person is willing to make.
RATHER: Well, exactly, Wolf. And as I say, it's the institutionalizing of this by the campaigns for their purposes. Not in the public interest, but in the campaign's interest, in the candidates' interest. This takes it to a whole new level. You're quite right there's always been off the record background, deep background where the rules were fairly new. But in all of that in my experience the reporters and their editors kept control of the quotes.
RATHER: You said, this is the quote and we're going to run it this way. This is a whole new thing to say well we -- before we run it and even before the editors get it the reporter agrees in advance to take the quotes to the campaign press office and the press office approves or disapproves the quotes. I do find this outrageous. I recognize that's a very strong term. And I don't accept myself from the criticism inherent (ph) this.
But I don't think readers, viewers and listeners know this has been going on. One, they need to know it's going on. Number two, when it's practiced they definitely need transparency that we -- this news organization has agreed to it. And it's just a bad idea. I'll be very surprised if the meeting (ph) lights of journalism don't realize what a bad thing this is for journalism, yes, but more importantly for our viewers and listeners and readers and begin to push back as "The Times" news managing editor said, time to push back and push back strong and hard.
BLITZER: Yes, I agree and you know, what also -- and I want to be precise, we both accept that there are times when we can't quote somebody, we get information on background or on deep background sometimes you can quote a source, you can describe the source, the American public wouldn't know that information if we couldn't put it out and to a certain degree those -- the readers and the viewers and the listeners they have to trust people like you and me and our fellow journalists that we're giving them accurate information. That's not what's happening here. What we're talking about is something different.
RATHER: Well, that's exactly the point. That you know, no reporter, no editor, no news organization is any better than the trust the public has. And this undercuts quite considerably I think the trust that the public has. And as a matter of fact should have in reporters and editors and news organizations that do it. Time to put a halt to it and just say for those who say, look, we're not going to give you access because they use access as the leverage, we're not going to give you access and then say, gently, OK, we're going to report it, we're going to go ahead and report it and we'll call you for comment and see what you think about that.
BLITZER: Dan Rather thanks for coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM.
RATHER: Thank you very much, always good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And let me remind our viewers you can read Dan's commentary at CNN.com, a strong article he wrote for us.
He calls himself America's toughest sheriff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know I'm doing the right thing. I'm not going to surrender by those little small groups of people that don't like what I'm doing. You think I'm going to surrender? It will never happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Just ahead, why his tough anti-immigration tactics have now landed him in an Arizona courtroom.
BLITZER: Man who calls himself America's toughest sheriff is defending himself in an Arizona courtroom today against allegations of racial discrimination. CNN's Casey Wian is joining us now from Phoenix. He's got details for us. What's going on here, Casey?
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's a question that's been on a lot of folks' minds in Arizona for a long time. Now that question will be answered after a trial expected to last about two weeks by a federal judge. And the question is are Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's immigration law enforcement efforts racial profiling?
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (INAUDIBLE)
WIAN (voice-over): Demonstrators outside the federal courthouse in Phoenix showing their support for a civil rights lawsuit that takes aim at Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the message is, you know, game over for Arpaio.
WIAN: For years Maricopa County deputies have been conducting saturation patrol operations in heavily Latino neighborhoods in search of illegal immigrants. The ACLU and Latino rights groups allege those actions amount to a widespread practice of racial profiling. The named plaintiffs in the case include a legal immigrant from Mexico and four U.S. citizens who claim they were mistreated by Maricopa County deputies because they appear to be Latino. Other plaintiffs in the class action case include every Latino motorist or passenger pulled over by Maricopa County deputies.
DANIEL POCHODA, LEGAL DIRECTOR, ACLU: They're never easy cases. You know, there's no smoking gun. We don't expect a memo on the file saying let's get these people solely because they're Hispanic, we believe the evidence will demonstrate that is indeed effectively what was done.
WIAN: Arpaio and his attorneys decline to comment before the trial. In opening statements Thursday Arpaio's attorney said there is "no evidence that race or ethnicity played any factor" in the detention of the named defendants. They also say the department's operations were legal and part of normal law enforcement activities. In an interview with CNN last year, Arpaio vowed to continue his pursuit of illegal immigrants.
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: I know I'm doing the right thing. I'm not going to surrender by those little small groups of people that don't like what I'm doing. You think I'm going to surrender? It will never happen.
WIAN: The suit seeks not money but an injunction against further so- called crime suppression sweeps.
SANDRA CASTRO, IMMIGRATION RIGHTS ACTIVIST: This is something that's going to change the total wave of how both Arpaio and any law official, any sheriff across the nation takes actions and abuses policies, abuses power, and violates human rights.
WIAN: Arpaio is expected to take the stand next week to defend his department's practices.
WIAN: Sheriff Joe has a very full plate. He's also going to be defending himself against a similar lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department. He's also been out there in public promoting those claims by so-called birther groups questioning President Obama's citizenship and he is running for re-election, a potential sixth term at age 80, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right thanks very much, Casey. Good report.
The video is chilling. A man allegedly grabs a child then drops her and runs. Now police make a major arrest.
And a potential blow for Apple and the popular iPad in an escalating battle of the tech tablets.
BLITZER: Rescuers scouring the waters off of Tanzania for survivors after a deadly ferry capsizing. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What's going on, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Wolf. Well the Red Cross says the death toll has now climbed to 60 with more than 80 people unaccounted for in the accident, which happened near the popular tourist destination Zanzibar (ph). Strong winds and rough waves, which officials blame for the capsizing, are also complicating rescue efforts. That vessel was carrying almost 300 people including 31 children.
And chilling surveillance video out of Philadelphia showing a man allegedly trying to snatch a 10-year-old girl walking home with her brother, her brother screams and the man drops her and runs. Now police have arrested this man in the case. He was charged today with a series of felony and misdemeanor charges including attempted kidnapping.
And a possible blow for Apple, which according to Bloomberg has been ordered by a British judge to run ads saying Samsung's Galaxy tablet is not a copy of the popular iPad design. The move is the latest twist in an ongoing patent war between the two tech giants. Apple declines to comment on that ruling.
And "Linsanity" is leaving the "Big Apple". It is official the global basketball phenomenon Jeremy Lin has signed with the Houston Rockets after his New York Knicks failed to match Houston's three-year $25 million offer. Lin sat down with CNN just today and he talked about his extraordinary rise to fame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY LIN, NBA PLAYER: It is just crazy to think about, you know, just because I remember so vividly what it was like a year or two years ago, just trying to make a roster, and the blessing that I've been given and the opportunities that have come my way, you know, I'm very thankful for, and sometimes I have to kind of remind myself of everything that has happened, and how much change there has been.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: Yes and Wolf, Lin says he was actually sleeping on a couch when he first came to play for the Knicks a year ago. Unbelievable, what a great story is that --
BLITZER: Yes. Great story, he went to Harvard, not exactly a basketball powerhouse, but he has done great. We wish him only, only success. Let's see if the New York Knicks live to regret that decision. We'll see what happens.
All right let's go to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File". What do you think, Jack, no "Linsanity" in New York at Madison Square Garden any more?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: You know he lit a fire under this team when he came to play and that night he lit up the Garden and scored 43 against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. You know he -- I think they raised ticket prices on the strength to his two or three week performance with the -- I think it's a huge mistake to let him get away, plus he is a classy kid.
CAFFERTY: And you know and we could use that. The NBA is not exactly populated with classy kids, if you get my drift.
BLITZER: Yes --
CAFFERTY: The question this hour should the economy prevent President Obama from winning a second term?
Cal writes from Ohio "absolutely positively yes. I'm going to give Romney a chance. The country badly needs new direction and someone with ideas to get us back on track or the economy and all of us are doomed. I absolutely do not care one iota that Romney has made millions. To me, that's what we need, a person who knows how to take a little and turn it into a lot."
Joe in Missouri writes "no, it would just reward a do-nothing Republican Congress."
J. writes "yes. Why should he be any different than any other politician? He's had over three years to turn it around. And all we have is more debt and no new jobs."
Michael writes "no, Jack, it should not. This election is about the future of America. The Republicans want to make sure the rich get richer and impose their ideology on the rest of us. To put it bluntly, I think the bullies, bigots and birthers are driving a lot of moderate Republicans right out of the party, so sad what's happened to the GOP."
Tony says "it depends on whether Romney would make the economy worse."
Caroline writes "God I hope so. I'll take anything right now just to get him out."
And Donald writes "in his own words he said if I don't improve the economy I'll be a one-term president. The campaigner in chief has spoken, nothing more to say."
If you want to read more on this, there's lot more to say on the blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you, very popular blog indeed.
He is almost 100 years old and now he's under arrests accused of Nazi war crimes. Will his trial be the last of its kind?
And in our next hour, the mighty Mississippi disappearing before our eyes, drought has portions of the river at near record low levels.
BLITZER: The stage is now set for what could be the last Nazi war crimes trial, the accused, a 97-year-old Hungarian man. CNN international security correspondent Paula Newton reports his arrest was decades in the making.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One of the (INAUDIBLE) most wanted, suspected war criminals is now in custody in his Hungarian homeland, more than 60 years after his alleged crimes. Hungarian prosecutors say (INAUDIBLE) was arrested and has been charged with war crimes. Authorities say that during World War II, he helped organize the deportation of thousands of Jews to oushwits (ph). They allege he regularly tortured them with a dog's whip. Holocaust historians say for decades they have meticulously documented his alleged crimes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to the survivors' testimonies, he was notoriously ruthless, cruel commander, very often it happened that he tortured and beat the victims.
NEWTON: And yet for almost 15 years now, Tatari (ph) was living in his native Hungary before prosecutors opened a case against him. His arrest comes not as a result of an international manhunt, but authorities say after decades of living in Canada, raising a family, and working as an art dealer, he immigrated here in 1949, but it was not until the 1990's as Jewish groups presented evidence to authorities that he was accused of lying about his past. He left for Hungary in 1997. The Canadian government stripped him of his citizenship saying he lied on his immigration application but he was never prosecuted for war crimes.
(on camera): The Canadian government maintains that for 25 years it has done all it can to make sure the country is not a safe haven for war criminals. Now in this specific case, the Justice Department said it was investigating whether Mr. Tatari (ph) lied about his service with the Royal Hungarian Police Force or his possible collaboration with Nazi occupation forces.
(voice-over): Tatari (ph) denied the allegations, telling Canadian officials he did not believe he was sending Jews to death camps, but to labor camps. But those advocating for his arrest say he must have known most of those he helped deport would die.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elderly people, women or children, so it was very clear for Tatari (ph) that those people could not be taken for work, so it was -- it was absolutely clear and I think this statement is an outright lie.
NEWTON: Investigators claim he was an overzealous collaborator who enjoyed the campaign against the Jews. Despite being convicted (INAUDIBLE) and condemned to death by a Czechoslovakian court in 1948, Tatari (ph) has never faced justice or been tried. He denies all of the charges against him. After living a full and free life in both Canada and Hungary, he will now face trial at the age of 97.
Paula Newton, CNN, Ottawa.