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THE SITUATION ROOM
Boston: Was There A Warning?; Kidnapping Suspect's First Court Appearance; Playing Politics with Benghazi Attack?; Prince Harry in the U.S.; Global Cybertheft Ring Busted; Investigators Combing Through Writings
Aired May 9, 2013 - 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: Jake, thanks very much.
Happening now, accused of turning his Cleveland home into a prison for three young women Ariel Castro appears in court today charged with kidnapping and rape. His two brothers are now free.
New details on the house of horrors, you'll hear how the captives were locked in a basement surrounded by flyers listing them as missing and how one eventually lost her ability to speak Spanish.
And new information emerging right now about that alleged cyber theft ring accused of stealing $45 million from banks around the world, including nearly $3 million at New York City ATMs. We're going to show you how they did it.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
A dramatic first court appearance for the man accused of kidnapping three women and turning 10 years of their lives into hell. Ariel Castro, never once lifting his head up, was ordered held on $8 million bond -- $2 million for each of the three women and the child born to one of them in captivity.
And we've just learned, just a little while ago, that the prosecutor may even seek the death penalty.
TIMOTHY MCGINTY, CUYAHOGA COUNTY PROSECUTOR: So I fully intend to seek charges for each and every act of sexual violence, rape, each day of kidnapping, every felonious assault, all his attempted murders and each act of aggravated murder he committed by terminating pregnancies that the offender perpetuated against the hostages during this decade long ordeal. My office of the county prosecutor will also engage in a formal process in which we evaluate whether to seek charges eligible for the death penalty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Meantime, investigators are combing through writings found in Castro's home, which one source says contain specific details that may attempt to justify his actions. And while two of the three women are now home with their families, Michelle Knight remains hospitalized this hour. She is said to be in quote, "good condition."
Brian Todd was inside the courtroom for Ariel Castro's arraignment earlier today.
Brian is joining us now with more -- Brian, what happened?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Ariel Castro looked very despondent when he walked into the court. He was handcuffed, but he did not have leg shackles on. He looked despondent. He never really looked up. He never spoke. He didn't make eye contact with the judge. He did not appear to make eye contact even with his own attorney.
He did not enter a plea. But as you mentioned, bond was posted at $8 million, $2 million for each of the cases against him.
And one of the more dramatic moments of the hearing this morning came when the city prosecutor, Brian Murphy, kind of detailed some of the allegations against him.
Take a listen to what Mr. Murphy said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY WJW)
BRAIN MURPHY, ASSISTANT PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: The charges against Mr. Castro are based on the premeditated, deliberate, depraved decision to snatch three young ladies from Cleveland's west side streets, to be used in whatever self-gratifying, self-serving way he saw fit. Two of the victims endured this horrifying ordeal for more than a decade. The third was close to a decade. And (INAUDIBLE) eventually, there was a little girl believed to have been born to one of the women while in captivity.
Also while in captivity, they endured repeated beatings. They were bound and restrained and sexually assaulted, basically never free to leave this residence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And again, we have to reiterate that Ariel Castro did not enter a plea today. We're told by officials here that he may enter a formal plea when there are more formal arraignment proceedings, within 30 days.
Also, his defense attorney told us after hearing he's been on suicide watch in the city jail. Now that his case is going to Cuyahoga County, she expects he'll be on suicide watch in the county jail, as well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You've also obtained, Brian, an initial what they call incident report with very gruesome details about what allegedly happened to these three women.
Update our viewers.
TODD: The details are jarring, Wolf. Yes, CNN has obtained an incident report from Monday night, when the police first rescued these three ladies and the child from that house.
According to that report, and, also, it's kind of -- it's backed up by a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation who's telling us this.
Here are some quotes from that incident report. Now this is related to Michelle Knight, who told police this, quote, "Michelle stated that at least five times, she was pregnant. He starved her for at least two weeks. Then he repeatedly punched her in the stomach until she miscarried."
Here is another quote. This is about the time when Amanda Berry was going to give birth to the girl, who is now six years old, who, we're told, according to this report, is Ariel Castro's child and was born in that house six years ago. Quote, "Amanda stated that she had the baby in the house. They put a baby -- put a baby plastic pool under her so the mess was easier to clean up."
And some more disturbing details here about that delivery. Quote, "Michelle," meaning Michelle Knight, "delivered the baby and told her that" -- excuse me, "Ariel told her that if the baby died, he'd kill her. The baby stopped breathing at one point, but she, Michelle, breathed into her mouth and breathed for her to keep her alive."
And then there's one other quote about them being in the basement that -- that says, from this report, that Ariel Castro, quote, "chained them in the basement, but eventually he let them free from the chains and let them live upstairs on the second floor."
Going back to these quotes from the report about the birth of that child, Wolf, that's maybe one of the more disturbing details about the circumstances around that birth. And Ariel Castro allegedly threatening to kill Michelle Knight as she's delivering this child, trying to do something that she clearly didn't have any training to do.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, I know you're going to be back later with more.
Thanks very much.
Ariel Castro's two brothers are free this evening. They were also in court today, answering misdemeanor charges unrelated to this case. The brothers were initially arrested with Ariel, but so far, authorities say they haven't found any connection to the three women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY WEWS)
VICTOR PEREZ, CLEVELAND PROSECUTOR: As it relates to Pedro and Onil Castro, no charges will be filed against these two individuals at this time. There is no evidence that these two individuals had any involvement in the commission of the crimes committed against Michelle, Gina, Amanda and the minor child.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Police have said that Castro kept everybody, in their words, at a distance.
CNN's Brooke Baldwin is also in Cleveland.
She's watching what's going on. She just wrapped up a powerful interview with a journalist and family friend who actually got to spend some time with one of the women, Gina DeJesus, earlier today -- Brooke, you did a really great interview with her. Tell us what she told you about how Gina, right now, is doing.
BROOKE BALDWIN, HOST: It was absolutely stunning. I spoke with Lydia Esparra. She's a family friend of the Gina DeJesus family, as you mentioned. She's also a journalist here in Cleveland. She's a weekend anchor at one of local affiliates, WOIO.
And I tell you, I mean she had just sat down with Gina DeJesus. She covered her missing story ever since she was plucked off Lorain Avenue back in 2004.
And in this conversation, you know, she talked to me about how Gina confided in her that she lost the ability to communicate in her -- with her mother in her native tongue, Puerto Rican. She lost her ability to speak Spanish, having lived as a prisoner in this home on Seymour Avenue for just about 10 entire years.
And that was just one nugget of several that I gleaned from this conversation.
Let me just set this sound bite up. She begins by being invited into this DeJesus family. She has really become kind of an unofficial family member because of the decade she's come to know and cover the story.
Here she was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYDIA ESPARRA, WEEKEND ANCHOR, WOIO: I go inside the house. And I have my moment with Nancy. And we're crying -- and with Felix. And we're crying, because I haven't spent any time with them. And I'm friends besides being a journalist. It's just such a tough line trying to be a friend and do your job.
ESPARRA: But first, I'm a human being. So that's the attitude I took.
ESPARRA: So I went and I cried with them, because that's what I did. And I cried. And then I was like, am I going to be able to see Gina?
And she -- the niece says, "Yes. And Gina wants to see you." BALDWIN: What?
ESPARRA: And I said really?
And she says, yes, mom asked her. And she goes, "Lydia is out there.
Do you want to see Lydia?"
BALDWIN: And you've never met Gina before?
ESPARRA: I've never met...
BALDWIN: You got to know her...
BALDWIN: -- through missing posters and talking to...
BALDWIN: -- the family.
ESPARRA: -- missing posters, talking to the family. I used to keep her pictures on my desk. Any time I covered a vigil, I'd keep everything on my desk of her to remind me that she was missing. I would talk to Nancy. She would tell me stories. She was shy. She'd never get in a car with anybody, a stranger.
BALDWIN: How is -- how is she?
How is Gina?
ESPARRA: She's doing fabulous. It was -- it was unbelievable. My hands were sweating, because here's someone I never imagined would come back to us. And so when I went inside, I embraced her. And she embraced me, reluctantly, because she has obviously been locked in a basement for nine years. And we talked. And the first thing I said is, "You look nothing like your composite."
She's a tiny little thing. She's very small, short hair. She had longer hair when she disappeared. And her skin is a little pale from the lack of Vitamin D from being outside. But she was just so kind and so happy. And -- and a relative came up to her and said, was talking in Spanish. And she looked at her mom and says, "Mom, I don't remember my Spanish anymore."
BALDWIN: She can't speak Spanish anymore?
ESPARRA: No, interesting thing. She had one of her fliers in the basement with her. And I actually -- I should have brought those fliers. I have several fliers I've kept over the years. She wanted to see them and I didn't have time. I forgot to show them to her. She wanted to see them.
BALDWIN: She kept a missing...
ESPARRA: I kept. I kept a file, but she had some of her fliers in the basement.
BALDWIN: In the basement of this home?
ESPARRA: Right. Right.
BALDWIN: So while she was held in this home...
ESPARRA: She knew.
BALDWIN: She knew...
ESPARRA: She knew.
BALDWIN: She -- who -- who would have...
ESPARRA: She knew. He would have brought.
BALDWIN: The flier?
ESPARRA: She knew the other reporter I was working on, Bill Safos, with Amanda, Amanda Berry. So she knows Bill from watching the reports. So him and I are the ones that have worked this story.
BALDWIN: So they watched television...
BALDWIN: -- in this home?
BALDWIN: He allowed them to watch television?
ESPARRA: Yes. So that's how they know who has been working on the story.
The irony out of this whole story is that I saw his picture and I actually knew members of his family, extended family. I actually had seen the suspect on my church grounds at church festivals.
ESPARRA: And for me, it was very unsettling that I'm covering a story that possibly one of my nieces could have gone missing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So it's tough, Wolf, for this DeJesus family just to wrap their heads around the fact that this family friend, Ariel Castro, you know, I know innocent until proven guilty, but could be capable of doing this. You heard her mention that Gina had a -- her own missing persons flyer in the basement where she was held. We've also learned through this police report that she and the other young women watched television news coverage.
In fact, Lydia told me Gina immediately recognized her from watching her live TV reports on her own disappearance.
I asked Lydia if she asked Gina at all about the time, how she was treated by Ariel. She said she didn't want to get into that just yet. This was a conversation just between the two of them, no cameras. I'm sure this will be the first of many visits that Lydia will have with Gina.
And just one other thing. She told me after we wrapped the interview in the commercial break, she told me that she actually brought a wad of "People" magazines to Gina, just so she could begin to catch up on what she's missed for 10 years -- Wolf.
BLITZER: She's missed a lot.
Brooke, you also have some exclusive photos of the scene in Ariel Castro's backyard.
Walk us through these pictures.
BALDWIN: Yes. So I did a little wandering today, Wolf, with my producer Julian Cummins. And so what we did is we walked behind this home here, Ariel Castro's home on Seymour Avenue.
And we walked to the back alley and we walked to the street parallel to this.
And let me begin with this first picture, because this is from the perspective of the backyard neighbor of Arial Castro. So the first image is a wide shot. This is a day time shot.
And if you can see sort of through this fencing, there is a white cross.
And if we can get to the tighter shot of the cross, you can see this is just something that this backyard neighbor, Verdi Adams, had never noticed until, you know, the FBI has been through and they have been digging these holes and some things were uncovered.
And so there was a little white cross in Ariel Castro's yard.
Two other pictures I want to show you. You can see some of the junk, if you will, from the back of Ariel Castro's home. But it's this fourth picture that's really the telling picture. Keep in mind, we've -- we've really not seen pictures of this backyard until now. I've been here in Cleveland for a couple days. We've seen FBI from the front of the house wearing their white protective suits. We've seen the dogs. We've seen the shovels. We've seen the cameras. But this is really our first vantage.
If you're looking at the picture, the bottom half -- obviously, this is a nighttime photo and the FBI erected this tarp so they can do their investigating and gathering their evidence. And the bottom half is sort of the bottom half of these FBI agents in these suits digging what this neighbor told us was a pretty sizable hole, sizable enough for these agents to be able to sit in. And then the tarp has since been removed and they have since filled in this massive hole with dirt.
But it was just, Wolf, our first glance as to what's been happening behind, you know, behind these tarps, behind this house of horrors -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. God only knows what was happening inside that house for 10 years.
All right, Brooke, I know you'll be back with us later, as well.
The last person to see Gina DeJesus before she was taken captive may, ironically, have been Ariel Castro's daughter, Arlene. She was with friends with -- she was friends with Gina.
She tells ABC's "Good Morning America" she is disappointed and embarrassed by her father's alleged actions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "GOOD MORNING AMERICA," COURTESY ABC NEWS)
ARLENE CASTRO, KIDNAPPING SUSPECT'S DAUGHTER: I had no idea. We -- me and my father were never really that close. We -- every time we would talk, it would just be short conversations and just a hello, how are you doing, and let me know if you need anything and that was it every time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: When asked what she wanted to say to Gina and the other two women now about what they've been through, she choked up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "GOOD MORNING AMERICA," COURTESY ABC NEWS)
CASTRO: I would like to say, I -- I am absolutely so, so sorry. I really want to see you, Gina. And I want you to meet my kids. I'm so sorry for everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That's a sad story. A lot has certainly changed since these three women, very young, were kidnapped. Let's give you some perspective right now.
Back in April 2003, when the second victim, Amanda Berry, was last seen, the United States had just invaded Iraq. Neither Facebook nor Twitter had been launched. And Apple was years away from making a cell phone.
NBA superstar, Lebron James, he was finishing his senior year of high school. Fifty Cent and Norah Jones, they were topping the music charts, and Barack Obama was then a young state senator from Illinois and few people outside of that state had heard of him.
Coming up, you'll see dash cam video of a traffic stop involving Ariel Castro several years ago. Could police have busted the case wide open back then?
Up next, the lawyers -- lawmakers holding their first hearing on the Boston marathon bombings. Were there warning signs that could have headed off that tragedy?
BLITZER: We're going to get back to Cleveland in a few moments, but there's another developing story happening right now. Three weeks after his death, the Bosaton bombing suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, finally has a final resting place. Several cemeteries, as all of you know, refused adamantly to accept his body. But police in Worcester, Massachusetts say the remains have now been entombed after, quote, "a courageous and compassionate individual came forward".
The location was not disclosed. The person was not disclosed who took charge of the body either. All of this coming as Congress today held its first formal hearing on the Boston bombings. Let's bring in our crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns. He monitored what was going on. There was some dramatic stuff.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's true, Wolf. This is just the beginning of a long look back at what worked, what didn't, and why. Meanwhile, today, we started to hear a few details about a report just before the marathon that came close to predicting what happened.
JOHNS (voice-over): An intelligence assessment done by state and local officials in Massachusetts days before the Boston marathon said there could be bombs at the finish line according to a government source. But a state police spokesman is playing that down. There was a statement that start and finish lines generally speaking are likely targets in a race event based on common sense.
And the spokesman said it's important to note this was not in response to any specific threat or information. On Capitol Hill, there was a sense of deja vu relearning the lessons of 9/11.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, (R) HOMELAND SECURITY CHAIRMAN: Since the bombing, questions have been raised about whether the dots were connected before and after the attack. We learned over a decade ago the danger in failing to connect the dots.
JOHNS: The issue? Spreading the word about potential threats, whether Boston police have been told of a warning from Russian intelligence which went to two federal agencies about suspected Boston bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The answer according to the Boston police commissioner was no.
MCCAUL: Before the bombing were you aware that based on this Russian intelligence, that the FBI opened an investigation into Tamerlan?
COMM. EDWARD DAVIS, BOSTON POLICE: We were not aware of that.
MCCAUL: Would you've liked to have known about that?
JOHNS: But here's what Davis said when asked if it would have made any difference.
DAVIS: It is very hard to say. We would certainly look at the information. We would certainly talk to the individual. From the information I received, the FBI did that and they closed the case out. I can't say that I would have come to a different conclusion.
JOHNS: The bottom line question is whether the bombings could have been prevented. Former senator and homeland security committee chairman, Joe Lieberman, said yes.
JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, (I) FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I believe that though it would not have been easy, it was possible to have prevented the terrorist attacks in Boston. In the literal sense, the homeland security system, we must acknowledge that we built after 9/11 to protect the American people from terrorist attacks, failed to stop the Tsarnaev Brothers.
JOHNS (on-camera): After today's hearing on Capitol Hill, the Boston FBI issued a detailed statement that said, "state and local members of the joint terrorism task force are supposed to stay aware of possible threats in their jurisdictions and that they're given access to a database called guardian which had the assessment of Tamerlan Tsarnaev in it." So, basically, they're saying if Boston police didn't know about Tsarnaev, they should have checked the computer because his name was in there.
BLITZER: Do we know if, in fact, the Boston police ever checked that guardian system in the computer?
JOHNS: I've reached out to the police commissioner's office to ask that question and haven't heard back from them yet, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let us know what he says. All right. John, thanks very much.
Just ahead, Amanda Berry's grandmother speaking to CNN. She has an emotional message for the granddaughter she hasn't seen in a decade.
And could police have busted the case wide open years ago? You're going to see some dash cam video, this is pretty amazing, of the traffic stop involving, guess who? Ariel Castro. Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Get back to Cleveland right now where Amanda Berry's grandmother is hoping to be reunited with the granddaughter she hasn't seen in a decade. She spoke to CNN today. She shared this emotional message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FERN GENTRY, AMANDA BERRY'S GRANDMOTHER: Amanda, you hang in there, honey. You be strong. I'm praying for you. And I love you. We all love you down here. So, you remember that. And day by day, you will get better. And we'll all be together pretty soon. But I love you with all my heart.
And, God, I hope you're OK. I just hope you're all right. And that you can make it day by day one day at a time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Ariel Castro's last known run-in with police didn't have anything to do with the three missing women, although, we now know he was allegedly holding them captive at that very moment. CNN's Martin Savidge has obtained very dramatic video from a traffic stop involving a motorcycle he was driving illegally.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a little after 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 12th, 2008, on the west side of Cleveland. Traffic officer, Jim Simone, is on patrol when he spots a motorcyclist was passed. It's Ariel Castro. Now, what catches the officer's eye and probably was too quick for you is the license plate on the back of the bike is turned sideways. Simone says that is an old trick when riders have something to hide. So, the officer follows Castro into the gas station and confronts him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me see your driver's license.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me see your driver's license please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's wrong?
SAVIDGE: Castro, it turns out, doesn't have a motorcycle driver's license, and that is a serious offense. It could lead to his arrest. And it may be why Castro seems nervous. This, by the way, is the last known interaction that Castro has with law enforcement before he was arrested last Monday, a little less than five years later.
And notice how polite Castro is when the officer comes back with the other news. That the plates on the bike don't belong to that bike.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These plates don't belong to this bike, do they? What year Yamaha is this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is 2000.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's the Harley if the plates gone (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, the Harley. I sold it and I traded it in for this one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Ariel, you keep getting deeper and deeper and deeper.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know, but I just got off work. I'm a school bus driver. And --
SAVIDGE: Castro makes his plea seeking sympathy saying that he's a school bus driver. In the end, the officer gives Castro two tickets, one for not having a motorcycle operator's license and another for the incorrect license plates. Simone could have arrested him, but he lets him go and it appears his politeness and the fact that he is a school bus driver has bought him some slack.
Officer Simone drives off. Twenty minutes later, we see Castro again, pushing his motor bike for the mile it will take him to get to the house back on Seymour.
Martin Savidge, CNN, Cleveland.
BLITZER: So many what ifs. When we come back, the political debate over the deadly attack in Benghazi. It's intensifying just one day after an emotional hearing up on Capitol Hill.
And I'll speak with a local reporter in Cleveland with new information about the three missing women found alive after 10 years in captivity.
BLITZER: A day after a very emotional hearing up on Capitol Hill on the deadly Benghazi consulate attack, House Speaker John Boehner is accusing the Obama administration of stone-walling while the Secretary of State John Kerry, he is pledging answers.
Joining us now our chief national correspondent John King, our chief political analyst Gloria Borger, and the senior correspondent for "TIME" magazine, our sister publication, Michael Crowley.
Guys, thanks very much for coming in. How much pressure is the White House under, Gloria, right now to deliver some answers?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they're under more pressure today than they were a couple of days ago. Look, you've had a very compelling witness, Wolf, at that -- at that hearing yesterday. Somebody who'd been a career foreign service officer for 22 years describing the desolation and the sort of sense of being abandoned by his government the night of that attack, giving on-the-ground details about the support that they asked for and couldn't get for whatever reason.
So this hearing with a credible witness served the purpose of raising a lot of questions, stirring the pot, which is what the Republicans really wanted to do, stirring the pot so that the administration is now being called upon to answer more questions about what occurred that night.
Look, they've already admitted that there were systemic failures there. The question that Republicans want answered is, OK, we know there were systemic failures, but was -- was there an actual cover-up? And that's the point they're trying to get to.
BLITZER: Sometimes the cover-up is worse than the actual crime if in fact there was a crime or an oversight or an mistake.
John, you have a good piece on CNN.com. Among other things, you write, "Tough legitimate congressional oversight or partisan politics." The question mark. "Leading Republicans say the former, most Democrats the latter. Truth is, it is both."
So what's going on?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that presents a challenge for both parties. To Gloria's point there are legitimate questions. What happened? Why were those locations so insecure? What were the communications with the State Department and the White House? Why did Susan Rice say something on television the Sunday after that nobody thought was anywhere close to the truth or accurate?
The administration, there are legitimate role of oversight for the administration which has given conflicting and confusing accounts at times. So any congressional committee controlled by Democrats of Republicans has the right to ask those questions. And if the White House just says it's just politics well, that's the wrong answer.
But Republicans have to be careful, too, Wolf, because at the one time the leaders of this investigation are saying we will lead, go where the facts take us, we have no predisposition, but then some of them are already on record saying there is a cover-up. Just today John Bolton, the former U.N. ambassador in the Bush -- George W. Bush administration is on an e-mail distributed by the National Republican Congressional Committee, saying aha, we've learned some things at these hearings. Send money.
And if you click on that link, it says Benghazi was a cover-up and shows President Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. So you can't on the one hand say, we're open minded, this is a fair and thorough investigation, and then in the middle of it, keep trying to raise money and play politics with it.
BLITZER: You know, Michael, that a lot of the subtext, if you will, is that this is an opportunity to go after Hillary Clinton. It was on her watch that all of this happened. She was the secretary of state. She may want to run for president in 2016. This is a good way right now to sort of beat her up a bit. MICHAEL CROWLEY, TIME SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely. She had what I think was generally seen as a quite successful tenure as secretary of state. Now some people would say, what were her big landmark accomplishments? And I think that's a fair question to ask and a conversation you can have. But the reality, the political reality of it is that her approval ratings are as high as they've -- as they've been in her career in public life and Republicans don't have that many angles of attack.
And this is really the one vulnerability in her record. To me it's not clear that they've really established that she really fell down on the job or has done something terribly wrong but I think that they've -- they see a chink in the armor and they're just going to drill into it as deep as they can.
I have to wonder if Americans to some degree aren't saying, now why are we still talking about this? It happened a long time ago. Not that much new information coming out. So I think from her perspective so far she is getting off fairly well.
BORGER: You know, by and large, though, at the hearings yesterday, I think they were pretty careful -- there were a couple of members that weren't, but pretty careful to kind of pull back from attacking Hillary because what they wanted to do was make this a question about at least right now the Obama administration, whether there was a cover-up and keep it there for right now rather than making it so blatantly political and attacking Hillary Clinton would be about 2016.
CROWLEY: Although at the hearing, yes. Online, on Twitter, other outlets people going much harder.
CROWLEY: But I do think the more substantive questions have to do with what the president was saying.
CROWLEY: That's more interesting to me.
KING: And remember, two challenges for Secretary Clinton if she decides to run. Number is Democrats. This will not hurt her among Democrats who are very loyal with her. The question is, does she think, enjoying her high popularity, this is proof I'm going to get bruised up again? But a lot of Democrats, Paul Begala among them, saying remember Iran contra? Everyone said -- George H.W. Bush was the vice president. He's the middle, he was not telling the truth when he said he wasn't in the loop.
Democrats tried to use that against him in the 1988. But he was the last vice president to succeed an eight-year administration to keep it in the same party. So a lot of Democrats say, if you look at the history of politics, it doesn't work that way.
BLITZER: Yes. My own feeling is that four Americans are dead, we've got to learn the lessons to make sure it doesn't happen again. Whatever mistakes were made we've got to fix those to avoid these kinds of deaths down the road.
Guys, thanks very much.
Just ahead a local reporter with inside information on the Cleveland house of horrors. We're going in depth.
And Britain's Prince Harry, he's in town. He begins a U.S. visit with stops on Capitol Hill over at the White House. First though here's a preview of this weekend's "NEXT LIST."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOSEF ABRAMOWITZ, ENERGIYA GLOBAL CAPITAL: This will be the 40- megawatt solar field.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They told him he could never do it.
ABRAMOWITZ: It was a disruptive idea.
SUSAN SILVERMAN, WIFE: He said someone has got to bring solar energy to this place. I was like, please, not you.
SILVERMAN: It will be the field with the best security in the whole world because we have two armies guarding it.
GUPTA: Yosef Abramowitz, and Israel's first solar field. On "THE NEXT LIST."
SILVERMAN: Whatever he can envision, he can then figure out how to make it happen.
ABRAMOWITZ: It is so moving.
SILVERMAN: If he can see it, he can do it. It's incredible.
UZI LANDAU, FORMER ISRAEL ENERGY AND WATER MINISTER: Like bulldog. He just put his teeth in something and he doesn't give it up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: His last visit to the United States ended with some controversial photographs, shall we say, of him in a Las Vegas hotel suite. You remember those. Britain's Prince Harry begins another visit today to the United States. You can bet it will be a lot tamer. He is here in Washington. He was up on Capitol Hill, over at the White House.
Our royal correspondent Max Foster is here.
You're watching every step of the way. So far what happened?
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I was on the hill. It's extraordinary. The British press have come up with a new word for the lexicon, Harry-mania. Literally -- well, dozens of female staffers gathered in all the corridors and screaming as he walked through the Senate office building. And it was -- it was actually quite a poignant event for him, it was an exhibition about landmine clearance. And this is --
BLITZER: There with Senator McCain.
FOSTER: Absolutely. And this was, of course, very close to Princess Diana's heart. And what you're seeing with Harry is picking up on her causes, trying to keep her legacy alive. And Senator McCain, himself, pretty impressed by the man he met.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Frankly, I find him to be a very attractive young man and I think he is very serious certainly about this issue, so I was very, very impressed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: So the first stop on the -- on the tour under way.
BLITZER: So he's trying to go from the legislative branch to the U.S. government, Capitol Hill, to the executive branch. He then went over to the White House.
FOSTER: Yes. A surprise visit, although we were warned about it. But it was a surprise visit for the kids at the White House. The first lady holding an event making presents for Mother's Day. And he's really good with kids, as you can see. But there he was. And yes, it seemed to go quite well. They seemed to get on quite well. There was some suspicion that he might be meeting the president himself, but that didn't happen today.
There he was with Michelle Obama, and then later on, Wolf, he's going to go to a reception at the British embassy and it is what they're calling gentle diplomacy. And it's this idea that you're going to see throughout this tour, receptions, one in Denver, one in New York. It's really about promoting British trade actually and what they do is they bring Prince Harry in, then get -- give people the opportunity to meet him and they sell the UK so a lot of interest.
BLITZER: We invited him to come here, into THE SITUATION ROOM. I don't think he's doing a whole lot of TV.
FOSTER: No interviews, we're told. He may speak to us towards the end of the tour, but, you know a group of us --
BLITZER: When you say us, what does that mean?
FOSTER: A group of royal press.
BLITZER: Traveling -- the traveling royal correspondents?
FOSTER: Yes. But it won't be any one specific. We tried our hardest to get you an interview.
BLITZER: OK. It would have been nice.
FOSTER: Next time.
BLITZER: Next time. Prince Harry, he's always welcome in THE SITUATION ROOM. He's -- I am sure he is a great guy.
FOSTER: He is a good guy.
BLITZER: You've met him right?
FOSTER: Yes, yes. And he -- you know, you know, the Vegas thing, it was a big mistake for him. He was embarrassed.
FOSTER: And he said he let his family down and what he is trying to do with this tour is show that he can be a senior royal. The queen is stepping back, you see, and Harry is being drawn into --
BLITZER: Good for Harry. All right. He is welcome to the United States. Thanks very much.
Max Foster, our royal correspondent.
Coming up an alleged cyber theft ring accused of stealing $45 million from banks worldwide including almost $3 million at New York City's ATMs. We're going to show you how it was done.
Also, a local reporter with inside information on that Cleveland house of horrors.
BLITZER: New details on a cyber theft of extraordinary scope. Tens of millions of dollars looted from banks around the world.
Let's go to CNN's Mary Snow in New York.
Mary, what happened?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it was a massive and complex operation. A U.S. attorney here in New York along with the Secret Service says these left an electronic trail, and officials here say they worked with law enforcement in 16 other countries as part of this investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SNOW (voice-over): A bank heist using key strokes instead of guns. Thieves stealing $45 million from banks and financial institutions. U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch calls it the largest known theft of its kind.
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY, EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Moving literally at the speed of the Internet, the organization made its way from the computer systems of international corporations to the streets of New York, as well as major cities around the world.
SNOW: Lynch announced charges against eight men in New York, accused of being part of a ring that involved potentially hundreds of people in two attacks. They used prepaid debit cards linked to accounts that had been hacked by cyber thieves, thousands of miles away. The thieves had raised withdrawal limits.
LYNCH: So a card that might have had $200 on it literally has $20,000 on it, or $2 million on it.
SNOW: The prosecutor describes how it worked. Hackers first targeted a credit card processor in the United Arab Emirates in December. Then a second and larger attack in February in Oman. PIN numbers were stolen, and then sent to teams including one in New York.
(On camera): Those teams would then head to ATMs with plastic cards, even hotel key cards with the stolen information. Authorities say here in New York, eight men were able to withdraw $2.4 million within a 10-hour period.
(Voice-over): Some 3,000 ATM withdrawals were said to be made that day as part of the heist, with these gift cards. Prosecutors recovered cash and Rolex watches. Cashers are given about 20 percent of the money and the rest is sent to the ringleaders. But what's unclear in this case is who those leaders are, specifically the hackers.
Sean Henry, a former executive assistant director of the FBI says, they typically come from one area.
SEAN HENRY, PRESIDENT, CROWDSTRIKE SERVICES: My time in the FBI, many of these cases emanated out of Eastern Europe. Out of Russia, Ukraine, Romania, throughout Eastern Europe, although now they're starting to spread into areas like Asia and Latin America. But primarily, historically, they've been in Eastern Europe.
SNOW: And catching the hackers is a constant cat-and-mouse game law enforcement plays.
SNOW: And as for the eight suspected so-called cashers in New York, one of those men considered to be the ringleader was found murdered in the Dominican Republic in April -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What a story. Thanks very much. Mary Snow in New York. Let's get back to Cleveland right now. We're getting more information about the case involving those three missing young women who were found in Ohio.
Joining us now, the investigative reporter Scott Taylor from our Cleveland affiliate WOIO.
Scott, thanks very much for coming in. I know you're getting a lot of information, you've been breaking news on this all of this week. What's the latest nugget you're learning?
SCOTT TAYLOR, WOIO INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, last night, Wolf, right around 9:00, we got details of what our sources are claiming is a letter, a letter written by the prime suspect in all of this, Ariel Castro, that police found this letter sometime earlier this week inside his home. It's a letter that investigators believe was actually written by him back nine years ago, and that's after -- shortly after he had all the three women tied up, chained, gagged in his basement. We're talking about Michele Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus.
And in this letter, he allegedly writes that he's a sexual predator. He admits it. He talks about being sick. He talks about having a problem in his head. And he also goes on and says that he has only hurt three, just three women, did bad things to them, and nobody else.
BLITZER: And does he also say in that letter, and I've heard it said -- I think we may have that as well that what he alleges he was abused as a young person, and that's why he's now doing this?
TAYLOR: Well, he doesn't go to that length, but he does mention that he was abused around 5 or 6. He talks about his failed marriage. He talks about his children a little bit, how much he loves his children. He also goes on and actually apologizes, he apologizes and then he also talks about killing himself. That's where some people are getting this idea that the suicide note, killing himself and then taking out all his money that he saved and actually giving them to his -- giving the money to his victims. He actually mentions "my victims."
BLITZER: He didn't do any of that. Let's talk a little bit about what's going on in the neighborhood. And we know you have excellent police sources there. Searches, I take it, are continuing around that house, elsewhere in the neighborhood as well, is that right?
TAYLOR: Yes. Tuesday night, into Wednesday, they really locked down the Castro home. And -- well, then they came back and started taking a look at adjacent abandoned buildings. They've taken cadaver dogs in, they've taken a lot of evidence bags in, they've come out with some. So yes, they're getting some idea that maybe something else is there in these adjacent homes.
And all of Cleveland is hoping they don't find anything. But they are definitely looking right now, Wolf. BLITZER: Do you have any knowledge of what is -- what was it like inside that house, any more information, any more details coming out?
TAYLOR: My sources have been talking to me since Monday. We do know that when Michele Knight was first taken back in 2002, when she was 20, she was placed in the basement. She was put up on a wall, in chains, almost like a trophy. Then came Amanda Berry in 2003, only 17. Picked up as she came back from that Burger King.
And I want to tell you that Castro, indeed, he wrote this letter, he talks about the abduction of each one. And then he gives somewhat of a chilling warning to potential victims of other abusers. He said, whatever you do, don't get into anyone's vehicle at all.
Now we also know that as soon as Amanda Berry's child was born, and remember, she was born around Christmastime, she's now 6 years old, that's when Castro, if he is the one who did all this, brought them up and put them in separate rooms. But occasionally they would actually watch television.
Now you know, Wolf, that last July, they started looking for Amanda Berry's body in a backyard, digging it up. Well, all the girls were together, and actually watching that, as it all unfolded.
BLITZER: I know you've got good sources. Good information. A lot of it very consistent with us. I just want to point out that's your information, a lot of it that you've been reporting, WOIO, investigative reporter Scott Taylor.
Scott, thanks very much for joining us. We'll have you back.
TAYLOR: All right. Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, everyone wants to know how the former captives are doing right now. I'll talk with the Cleveland councilman who met with Gina DeJesus and her family.