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THE SITUATION ROOM
Mayor's Drug Tape?; Russia Unmasks Alleged CIA Station Chief
Aired May 17, 2013 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: spy wars heating up, first this arrest, and now Russia outs the man it says is the CIA station chief in Moscow.
A killer tornado outbreak bigger than anyone thought, and now emotional survivors are speaking out.
And the mayor of the fourth largest city in North America accused of smoking crack and allegedly caught on tape.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It's the biggest twist yet in a spy scandal that exploded this week. Russian media now blowing the cover of the man it says is the CIA's top man in Moscow. The move dramatically ups the ante in what may be a high-stakes spy game between Russia and the United States.
CNN's foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, is joining us now. She's following all of this from the State Department.
What's going on here, Jill?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, this story broke four days ago, and it just won't stop.
Every day, the Russian media are coming out with more allegations, and this latest chapter is the outing of what they say is a CIA station chief in Moscow.
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): The plot thickens in an already convoluted and very public spy scandal. Just days after Russia nabs an alleged CIA officer, Ryan Fogle, claiming they caught him red- handed trying to recruit a Russian agent, Russia's English-language broadcaster, RT, in a highly unusual step, publishes the name of what it claims is the CIA station chief at U.S. Embassy Moscow.
The CIA isn't commenting. It also broadcast a recording of an alleged second American spy expelled in January. Details of the spy scandal have been splashed across the Russian media, Interfax news agency even reporting that the wigs Ryan Fogle allegedly wore to disguise himself, a blond one and a dark one, are similar to wigs taken from a CIA agent caught in 1986. Experienced Russia watchers say it's not surprising alleged spies are being unmasked, but they question, why so publicly and why now? Russia hands say it could be the Cold War hangovers, suspicions that just won't die, or an FSB warning to Russians not to work with the U.S. or maybe the U.S. behind the scenes did something to anger Moscow.
But it's happening just as Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are cooperating more on Syria. Russia is helping in the standoff with North Korea. Russia's FSB gave the FBI intelligence information on one of the Boston bombers. In the world of spying, much goes on in the shadows.
One former CIA officer says, it's all part of America's improved, but sometimes schizophrenic relationship with Russia.
PETER EARNEST, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: During the Cold War, it was all sort of either/or. You're for us or against us. They were our adversaries. Everything they did was bad. You know, we're in a different era.
DOUGHERTY: And in a bizarre footnote, we went back this afternoon to check that media story, the Russian media story about the CIA station chief, and, lo and behold, his name was no longer there.
So, maybe, Wolf, there really is such a thing as disappearing ink even on the Web.
BLITZER: Maybe the Russians made a mistake and got the wrong guy and they decided to remove the name also. Jill, thanks very much for that report.
I want to dig a little bit deeper right now with CNN intelligence analyst, the former CIA officer Robert Baer.
Bob, thanks very much for coming in.
You worked in Moscow right after the fall of the Soviet Union. What's going on here in your assessment?
BOB BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think there's a deep problem here, Wolf.
This could have been done very quietly, if it was a KGB against the CIA. Simply, you expel one, two, three people, everybody if you want. You put them on an airplane, nobody knows any better. The message gets across. But the KGB is clearly at war with the CIA in a very obvious way. And it's got to be something very serious.
I, frankly think, and I still think, and I have thought for a while that some of this stuff we're seeing coming out, the wigs, the letter, has been manufactured by the KGB. The CIA just does not operate that way. It does not write letters. What I'm saying here is, they're overdramatizing this because there's a deeper problem. Now, my guess is as good as anyone's. It could be over Syria. It could be over adoptions. It could be thanks to the Kerry visit to Moscow last week. I just don't know. But I don't think we should downplay this division.
This is the worst time it could possibly come, you know, as we're going into the Syria negotiations.
BLITZER: The way the Russians described that young diplomat who was accused of being a CIA operative, with the wig and the letter and the money and the paraphernalia that he had, did that sound realistic to you?
BAER: Not at all, Wolf, seriously. You know, the training I went through that's called denied area of operations, and it goes for months, and it's the most rigorous training there is in the U.S. government.
And by the end of It, if you don't fail out, and a lot of people do, you know how to operate in a place like Moscow and get away with it. We understand the KGB, how they operate, what they're up to, what they're capable of. And, frankly, Wolf, without -- being as modest as I can, we can run circles around them when we think about it.
Why? What went wrong this time? I simply don't know. I just -- I think it's a provocation on the part of the Russians, myself.
BLITZER: Do you this it could be sort of payback for what the U.S. did a few years ago? Remember when the U.S. rounded up what the U.S. said was a Russian spy ring in New York and elsewhere, Anna Chapman, who was that good-looking redheaded -- redhead woman who was sent back to Russia? That was highly publicized, a lot of TV, pictures, stuff like that. Is this just payback to what the U.S. did then?
BAER: You know, Wolf, I think you are on to something.
And you have got to keep in mind that the president of Russia, Putin, was once head of the KGB, was a KGB officer himself, left as a colonel. Yes, he could have been mad about that, waited for his revenge. He's known to be very volatile. He puts a lot of faith in his intelligence services. And he could have remembered it all these years and finally said, here, I'm doing it. I don't care what the negotiations are over Syria or anything else. This is payback. Absolutely possible.
BLITZER: And we remember she was shown with a bunch of wigs, too, in her alleged espionage ring in New York, and the other Russians who were picked up just waiting supposedly to be activated. That's my sense. It could have been payback. But we will see. I'm sure we will learn more down the road.
Hey, Bob, thanks very much.
BAER: Thanks. BLITZER: We received a statement today from a man who reports say was visited by Tamerlan Tsarnaev just before the Boston Marathon bombing.
The Voice of America says the man is a former resistance fighter in Chechnya who fought against Russian security services. His statement today says, and I will read it to our viewers: "I would like to state that I barely knew the Tsarnaev family, and only met them for the first time after we moved to the United States. During the very few encounters which were initiated by Tsarnaev, we have never discussed political or religious issues, so I could never guess what ideas were in their minds. Should I have any suspicions, I would do my duty to prevent what happened at the Boston Marathon" -- that statement coming in today after the story we did yesterday from our Brian Todd.
Up next, scandals stealing President Obama's spotlight. We're going to tell you how he's trying, without too much success, at least so far, to change the subject.
Plus, O.J. Simpson's old and new attorneys confronted each other today. Things got pretty testy. You're going to want to hear what happened.
BLITZER: The president is trying to keep up the appearance of business as usual, but the scandals dogging his administration continue to steal some of the spotlight.
There are new revelations about when exactly when the Obama administration first learned there was trouble over brewing at the IRS. The inspector general saying he told senior Treasury officials about the IRS investigation in June of last year. That would be before the presidential election.
Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, has been looking into this story for us.
What are you finding out, Jessica?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
Well, administration officials were told that there was an ongoing I.G. investigation after the IRS before the 2012 presidential election. We now know that. But we're assured by administration officials that they did not know the outcome of that audit until just weeks ago.
So I will just walk you through the facts. As you say, they were told over at the Treasury Department about this audit back in June of 2012. Now, let's look at this graphic we had built for you. In the summer of last year, the deputy treasury secretary was informed of the investigation, but, again, just the fact that it was going on, not that there was any actual wrongdoing found. Then in November, there was the presidential election. In March, that's when the Treasury Department was first informed at a staff level only, we're told, that there was -- they were given a draft that showed there had been wrongdoing. They found wrongdoing, but that only got to the staff level. In April of 2012, a final report got to the treasury secretary and the deputy treasury secretary. And then in May, we all know that the final report went public.
So it was in March of this year that others inside the Treasury Department got word, and then in April that the treasury secretary found out. I'm told by Treasury that Treasury officials never told anyone outside the Treasury Department about it. So that includes the White House.
The problem, Wolf, for officials here, is that, as they answer some questions, that only raises other questions, and so the answer for the president today was just to get out of town.
YELLIN (voice-over): Sticking to his pre-crisis schedule, President Obama hit the road, visiting a manufacturing plant.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Others may get distracted by chasing every fleeting issue that passes by, but the middle class will always be my number one focus.
YELLIN: And a Baltimore elementary school.
OBAMA: Did you see me on TV?
YELLIN: An apparent effort to show the controversies in Washington aren't changing his agenda.
But the outcry on Capitol Hill is only growing. The first hearing over the IRS scandal took place Friday.
REP. DAVE CAMP (R), MICHIGAN: Why did the IRS repeatedly target the American people, and then keep that fact covered up for so long?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the IRS targeting-gate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every tweet from your tweeter account.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is very chilling for the American people.
CAMP: I promise the American people this investigation has just begun. Hearing adjourned.
YELLIN: The White House attempted to contain the fallout, pressing the resignation of the IRS chief.
OBAMA: It's important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.
YELLIN: To rebut attacks over the Benghazi talking points, officials here released 100 pages over internal e-mails, while the president called on Congress to step up funding for embassy security.
OBAMA: And better secure our diplomatic posts around the world.
YELLIN: Turning to the wave of sexual assault cases hitting the military, the president made a show of meeting with Pentagon brass to talk solutions, and to quiet press outrage over the seizure of reporter phone records in a leaks investigation, new support for a media shield law.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We need to provide the protections to the media that this legislation would do.
YELLIN: How effective were these efforts at damage control? The jury's still out.
YELLIN: Now, Wolf, there was some positive news for the administration this week. After months of impasse, a bipartisan group in the House of Representatives did reach agreement in principle on an immigration reform framework. And there was some positive news on the deficit.
But both of those items will take a long time to pay dividends. And the administration will have to still fight the crises for now, if they ever want to be able to maximize both of these agenda items in the long term -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jessica Yellin over at the White House, thanks very much.
Let's dig a little bit deeper now with our chief political correspondent, host of the "STATE OF THE UNION," Candy Crowley.
The president trying to change the subject today. Didn't work that well, because the subject is still out there.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Listen, there's a formula for presidents who get into political trouble. And it begins with trying to change the questions, which he did pretty well, I think, in the Rose Garden. At least, it was a good first step. Went out there and said, OK, what we really need is money to help secure the embassies. That was his response to the Benghazi problem.
He talked about the IRS, and said, well, this was done because -- I take these leaks very seriously because they endanger Americans, sort of put it in a broader sort of 50,000-foot context. This wasn't about reporters. It was about the safety of Americans. And then he went after the IRS, and said, I am angry. I'm just as angry as you are, and we're going to get to the bottom of this, and I have already fired people and we're going to try to prevent this from happening again.
Next step, change the subject. That's today. No, we're talking about jobs and the economy, and, oh, my goodness, these people are looking at fleeting issues, but I am still focused on you.
The problem is that the third element for recovering from these is time. You have got all these House Republicans in particular up there going, well, I'm going to have a committee hearing on this angle and I'm going to have a committee hearing on this angle.
So for the IRS, for the AP story of the phone records, as well as for Benghazi, there are many more hearings to come. So it's going to take a while.
BLITZER: Which is the one you think that worries the administration the most?
CROWLEY: If you talk to them, the one they're most defensive about, so that's how I take the -- I mean, that's how I sort of glean what they think is most important -- is, the IRS. They do know that that has resonance, people -- long reach of the government, et cetera, et cetera.
But I will also say that part of the worry, I think, is they feel that most of the facts, that there's no sort of smoking gun -- any smoking gun in terms of the AP thing. They feel that the Benghazi facts are out there. The IRS, there's just still so many questions, and I think kind of the unknown, like waking up in the morning and thinking, oh, wait, we didn't know this. Now what are we going to do? So, I think that sort of adds to it.
BLITZER: And Candy is going to have a lot more Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m., "STATE OF THE UNION." You got new poll numbers coming out as well on how the American public feels about all of this.
BLITZER: We will be watching. Candy, thank you.
CROWLEY: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM: a case of life imitating art in a famous film festival. Everyone's talking right now about a jewel theft that wasn't on screen. It was for real.
Plus, new promises, as the Pentagon promises to crack down on the sexual assault crisis in the U.S. military.
BLITZER: Stunning statistics on sexual assault in the U.S. military, thousands of cases each year, but only a fraction of them are reported. Now the commander in chief himself is demanding action. Military leaders are speaking out about the causes.
Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is working the story for us.
What's the very latest, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, for too many victims, these are sex crimes of silence. And here at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says that is going to change.
STARR (voice-over): Retired Air Force Tech Sergeant Jennifer Norris is still full of emotion about being sexually assaulted.
TECH SGT. JENNIFER NORRIS (RET.), U.S. AIR FORCE: The best option for me was to try to endure it, to suck it up, and try and make it -- sorry.
STARR: Last year, in the Air Force, nearly 800 cases of sexual assault and unwanted contact were reported. Across the military services, nobody knows how many victims stayed silent. President Obama is making clear he wants to see this behavior end.
OBAMA: So, not only is it a crime. Not only is it shameful and disgraceful.
STARR: After just a little more than two months on the job, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is at the center of the accountability question. Why has no senior commander been fired for not dealing with years of rising sex crimes in the ranks? Hagel has ordered retraining and education for the troops, and says he will crack down if needed.
CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: It's just not good enough for people to walk out of my office and say, well, we're doing it. I want to know how it's being done, and I want to know everything about it.
STARR: But why are there so many cases, an estimated 3,000 in 2011?
HAGEL: Yes, alcohol does play a very big factor in sexual assault.
STARR: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the president's top military adviser, also says years of war may have subtly changed how the military deals with it all.
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: You might argue that we have become a little too forgiving because, if a perpetrator shows up at a court-martial with a rack of ribbons and has four deployments and a Purple Heart, there is certainly the risk that we might be a little too forgiving of that particular crime.
STARR: Now, in the last two weeks, three service members assigned to sexual assault prevention units have been relieved of duty for misconduct, including some allegations of sexual misconduct, all of this, Wolf, adding to the pressure on the Pentagon to get moving on this problem -- Wolf.
BLITZER: They have got to get moving, and they have got to fix it, and fix it right away. Barbara, thank you.
O.J. Simpson's lawyers, past and present, they do battle in a heated court hearing today. It got so nasty, the judge had to step in.
Plus, a big city mayor who reporters say was caught on tape smoking crack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Is this the worst allegation you have heard so far?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Happening now: fireworks at today's O.J. Simpson hearing out in Las Vegas. You are going to hear his old and new attorneys really go at each other.
Also, the mayor of a major Canadian city fighting allegations of drug use.
And, as people across North Texas pick up the pieces, forecasters say it could be a very bad weekend for tornadoes across a huge swathe of the U.S.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Intense courtroom drama in Las Vegas, where O.J. Simpson is seeking a new trial on kidnapping and robbery charges, attorney -- their attorneys, various attorneys exchanging heated arguments, so heated the judge had to step in.
CNN's George Howell is on the scene for us.
It got pretty lively, I take it, George, out there?
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, absolutely.
I just stepped out of the courtroom. Fair to say this is a meticulous, it is a grueling examination of Yale Galanter and how he handled this case. It's still under way right now.
Even Galanter this morning admitted that he felt uncomfortable being put in this position, to effectively lift the veil and explain how he defended his client several years. And that goes to the heart of simple's new team, to their case, to basically paint Galanter as an ineffective attorney at the time and simply in it for the money.
HOWELL (voice-over): In his bid to get a new trial, O.J. Simpson watched attentively as his new attorneys scrutinized the advice and actions of his former attorney Yale Galanter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Your Honor.
HOWELL: Prosecutors called him to take the stand to rebut claims that he failed to reasonably represent Simpson in the 2008 kidnapping and robbery trial and in his appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.
YALE GALANTER, O.J. SIMPSON'S FORMER ATTORNEY: From my point of view, I wanted to do everything that I could possibly do to give O.J. a shot at getting released.
HOWELL: Galanter told the court he was fond of Simpson and thought the conviction was unfair. But in heated cross-examination, by one of Simpson's attorneys...
TOM PITARO, SIMPSON ATTORNEY: The man has put his interests, his financial interests above the interests of his client.
HOWELL: ... Galanter, several times, got testy.
GALANTER: My testimony is my testimony. Ask me what the question is. I've already testified as to my knowledge of the rules. What's your question? You just said it was a flat fee and on page 401-14 it says the report (ph) is 750.
PITARO: Do you want me to read the flat fee?
GALANTER: Read page 4.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both of you stop.
PITARO: You only paid him 15. You're telling us you paid him 25,000.
GALANTER: Simpson's team pressed on, claiming Galanter was cagey about expenses through the trial, shorting or even not paying some colleagues to pocket as much of Simpson's money as possible.
Earlier this week, O.J. Simpson even took the stand to accuse Galanter of giving him bad legal advice, claiming his then attorney told him he could confront two men who he believed had stolen property from him, the day before the incident happened.
PATRICIA PALM, SIMPSON'S CURRENT ATTORNEY: What was the advice to you regarding the entire plan?
SIMPSON: That if they didn't give me the stuff, yes, call the police.
SIMPSON: And that is what I told everybody involved, that if they don't give it to me, I'm going to get the police in it.
PALM: At the time you're leaving the Palace Station Room, were you aware of any use or display of weapons? SIMPSON: No.
PALM: During the incident?
SIMPSON: No, not at all.
HOWELL: But with his former attorney now on the spot, Galanter revealed when pressed that Simpson did admit to him he did know guns were present.
Galanter also refuted claims that he failed to tell Simpson about a plea deal that could have resulted in less time in prison, because the discussions about a deal didn't go anywhere. In the he said/he said debate over what could have or should have happened, Galanter held firm.
GALANTER: But the truth of the matter is, is when you look at the entire trial, I don't think I could have fought harder, done more, or -- I mean, I really did. I put every ounce of blood, sweat and soul I had into defending him.
HOWELL: So, Wolf, right now, it's about 3:30 here in Nevada. There's plenty of time, plenty of time for this case to continue. It's still unclear how the judge, or when the judge will decide in this case. To decide whether, again, whether Yale Galanter was effective in his defense, or if O.J. Simpson deserves a new trial.
BLITZER: You'll let us know when we get a decision. Thanks very much for that. George Howell, in Las Vegas.
The mayor of Toronto has allegedly been caught on tape smoking crack. The video has been viewed by reporters from the Toronto "Star" newspaper. The mayor denies the allegations.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... the allegations of this video?
ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO: Absolutely not. It's ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: CNN's Paula Newton is following developments. She's in Ottawa right now. Paula, what does this video show us?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Toronto "Star" reporters say they each viewed it three times and have the video that was taken on a cell phone. They viewed it. They say in broad daylight, essentially, here is the mayor smoking crack cocaine with a pipe. And he is with other people who are taking the cell-phone video.
But it appears that the mayor does not know he is being filmed, because he actually says at one point, "You're not rolling on that, are you?" And apparently, the video stops. You just heard the mayor denying this. We have no way of authenticating this video, Wolf. I have not seen it, and the Toronto "Star" says we have to take their word for it. They went to great lengths, they say, to authenticate it.
At the end of the day, though, Wolf, this is quite a scandal in Toronto. It's been difficult to talk about anything else. The mayor and his lawyer both say they will fight these charges, that they are ridiculous.
But right now, Wolf, Gawker.com, which has also been on top of this story, has started a crowdsourcing thing online to try and raise money to get that video released. How will it be released? The "Star" says that it was shown this video by a person who claims to sell crack cocaine to the mayor, and he says he won't release that video until he gets cash. Tens of thousands of dollars, Wolf. And Gawker.com now has $20,000, they say, in hand to release that video. So this story isn't going anywhere, Wolf.
BLITZER: Did the Toronto "Star" say how much cash this guy wanted for that video?
NEWTON: They said that they did not have a figure, but it was in the tens of thousands. And they said they refused to pay for it, which is why they were just allowed to look at it.
Again, the mayor and his lawyer saying, look, no such video exists. We're denying these allegations. And we here at CNN, Wolf, have not seen the video and are not able to authenticate it.
BLITZER: All right, Paula. Thanks very much. Paula Newton watching this story for us in Canada.
Coming up, an emotional interview with survivors of a massive killer tornado storm (ph).
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RUTH ZAPATA, TORNADO SURVIVOR: I just came to that point. And I just gave up. This is it. I just said it, "This is it. We're gone." We thought we were gone.
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BLITZER: A sliver of relief today in the north Texas town devastated by tornadoes. Authorities now say they've accounted for all seven people they had feared were missing. The storms killed six people, destroyed so many homes. CNN's Alina Machado is on the scene for us. She's joining us now live.
What's the latest, Alina?
ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we spent the afternoon talking to survivors, people who lived in the subdivision called Rancho Brazo. It's one of the hardest-hit areas here, the place where six people died. And we spoke with one woman who was home with her children when the twister hit. She said they sought shelter inside their bathroom, in the bathtub. And she got very emotional when she talked to us about the moment she realized that they might not survive. Take a listen.
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ZAPATA: I just came to that point, and I just gave up. This is it. I just said it, "This is it. We're gone." We thought we were gone. I thought -- I just seen myself just -- I don't know. I just came into that point. I just gave up. I couldn't hold no more, you know? You know, it was that much. The strong winds, the mattress -- we felt -- we felt that, you know, it was trying to pull the mattresses away.
And -- but then it changed to -- it sucked the whole air from that small space. And we just couldn't breathe there for a moment. I just don't understand. And that's whenever I said, you know, I can't do this. You know?
MACHADO: You thought it was over?
ZAPATA: Yes. We're gone. And I just told God, "Just take over. You know, whatever, just take over, I can't do this." And that's whenever -- you know, it just -- I don't know. A couple of seconds it lasted, you know; we couldn't breathe. And as I started breathing again, it stopped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACHADO: And that was Ruth Zapata, reliving that moment for us. She obviously survived; she was not hurt. Her children were not hurt. She's very thankful for that. But she did lose everything that she owned.
The Hood County Sheriff's Office here is saying that their hope is that they'll be allowing residents like Zapata to go back into that subdivision starting tomorrow morning. Again, that is their hope. It is unclear if that's how things will turn out. We'll just have to wait and see what happens tomorrow -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I know there are two shelters that are open in the area right now, Alina. Is the Zapata family staying there?
MACHADO: The Zapata family is actually pretty lucky: a local church has been helping them out. They provided them with a temporary home while they rebuild. And they've even given them a car to use for the time being -- Wolf.
COOPER: Alina Machado on the scene for us, covering this story.
Midwesterners need to watch the weather this weekend. Our meteorologist, Chad Myers, is joining us now from the CNN Severe Weather Center with a heads-up about what's coming over the weekend.
What do we know, Chad?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Maybe a little catch-up here, Wolf. We know that there will be three outbreaks of severe weather: one Saturday, one Sunday, and another on Monday, progressing from Nebraska, eventually almost all the way to Chicago.
By this time of the year we should have 500 tornadoes on the ground, on average. We've only had 250. In fact, the 250 doesn't even stack up to what we should have had in April, which was just less than 100. There has been a tornado drought. There's been a rain drought for that matter, too. We will make up for some of those tornadoes this weekend.
From the Dakotas back down into the Texas Panhandle for tomorrow. It slides eastward to Omaha, Kansas City, Oklahoma City; more populated towns, again, even on Monday. We're talking Chicago, St. Louis, all the way down maybe to Arkansas, Saturday, Sunday, and eventually into Monday. We could see dozens of tornadoes a day.
I know this is a wakeup call. Texas is a wakeup call. When you look out there, and you see houses missing, Wolf -- the foundation is there; the slab is there; and there's nothing else. This is the wakeup call that you need if you don't have a NOAA Weather Radio. You go find them. They're called SAME, "same." This means that you can program your own county.
The old ones just went off all night long. They went off for every county in your state. By the time the storm got to you, you threw the thing out the window or turned it off. The new ones don't do that; they only warn you where you live. And they could save your life this weekend.
BLITZER: Excellent advice from Chad, as he always gives our viewers. Thank you.
CNN's Anthony Bourdain has been to a country few Americans venture into it these days. Up next, he's here in THE SITUATION ROOM to tell us why Libya is both inspiring right now, as well as heartbreaking.
And later, lights, cameras, movie stars and some very unexpected jewel thieves.
BLITZER: A land wracked by violence and turmoil with tragic significance for Americans. CNN's Anthony Bourdain takes us to Libya in his new CNN series, "PARTS UNKNOWN." It airs this Sunday night. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM; he joins us with a preview.
BLITZER: And we're really excited Anthony Bourdain is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Is this your first time in THE SITUATION ROOM? ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN": It is. It's a dream come true.
BLITZER: What do you think? This is pretty impressive, isn't it?
BOURDAIN: It's nice.
BLITZER: It's not Libya. Libya is a little different than THE SITUATION ROOM. What was it like?
BOURDAIN: If I could come up with one word: inspiring. It was a very inspiring place to go.
BLITZER: Inspiring politically, or as far as food is concerned?
BOURDAIN: Well, not so much for food. But I just got the sense that, you know, you watch the news, and you wonder who did these things? Who overthrew this -- this monstrous dictator? Who are these people.
Again and again, I found the young people, many of whom had studied abroad and who returned home to fight, made themselves into militias, almost overnight. I mean, it was a heartbreaking -- a lot of earnest people who expressed a desire to remake their country, such that they could enjoy the things that -- they would say, "We just want the things Europe has."
BLITZER: Was the Arab Spring -- and we all had so many great expectations, as far as the Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East is concerned, does it seem to be playing out there in a positive sense? Because we're hearing about al Qaeda and resurgence and anti- American. And we, of course, know what happened in Benghazi last September 11.
BOURDAIN: All I kept hearing was, "We got rid of Gadhafi; we can fix this." Nobody there said, "Everything's going to be great in a year." Everyone there said, "It's going to take us five, ten years to -- to, you know, have something resembling a cohesive functioning government."
Now it's a very much do-it-yourself system, I mean, from everything from traffic direction. Basic social services seemed to be done on a voluntary basis by different militias with different agendas. But I, again and again, bumped into kids who want...
BLITZER: This is in Tripoli?
BOURDAIN: Tripoli and Misrata in particular. Young people who wanted simple, not scary things. Their aspirations for their country seemed to be things that I could understand and related to. They just wanted to join the 21st century. Very different than what the impression might be from all of the bad news you see.
BLITZER: I hope -- I hope it works. All of us hope it works. Were you ever scared? BOURDAIN: Uncomfortable at times. But I mean, I think that's probably something that, you know, real correspondents deal with all the time. I was much more excited and intrigued by the people I met. It was something that really surprised me.
BLITZER: Let's talk food. How was the food?
BOURDAIN: Pretty simple. Traditional mesh weed (ph), a whole roasted -- a whole roasted goat, or lamb. This is something I'm used to. Beach barbecue. Meat on a stick. A few fried local specialties that were quite nice.
The surprise to me were the first attempts at recreating American fast food...
BOURDAIN: ... which is something that the kids seem to really, really want. We went to a place called Uncle Kentucky, which is a Kentucky Fried Chicken knockoff. Not exactly franchising over there.
In the interim there, sort of like everything else, they're doing it themselves and trying to create something that looks and feels like American fast food.
BLITZER: No tourists, really, in all practical purposes. Is it in -- North Africa is a beautiful place; the Mediterranean is fabulous.
BLITZER: I've been throughout North Africa. If there were real peace and stability, that place would be thriving.
BOURDAIN: Well, Tripoli is a very -- it still has the Italian colonial architecture from colonial days. Still some Italian cooking traditions left over from the Italians. Fantastic seafood.
There's no doubt that there are a lot of people there who would very much like to hurt us, and that there are forces at work in Libya that would like to turn back the clock and keep things chaotic. But the sense I got every day, everywhere I went, was -- was hopeful of people struggling to join the rest of the world.
BLITZER: On food, it's a question I always wanted to ask you, because you eat everything, and you taste everything. You're a lot more daring than I am, ever. Do you ever get queasy? Do you ever get sick? Do you ever react, or is your stomach sort of used to this kind of stuff?
BOURDAIN: I'm a professional, so I -- we -- not just me; everyone on my crew does pretty well. I found again and again after 13 years that you are far more likely to get sick from the hotel breakfast buffet than eating local indigenous street food. None of these places are in business day after day by poisoning their neighbors. The hotel breakfast buffet, that's more of a transient clientele. So I've been lucky.
BLITZER: There are certain things you always stay away from, though?
BOURDAIN: It's the breakfast buffet. You know, the scrambled eggs in the chafing dish, it's lethal.
BLITZER: And the salad -- sometimes the water is not -- they wash the lettuce, it's not necessarily that great, the water.
BOURDAIN: Yes, I kind of stay away from -- Caesar salad would not be a good option in Tripoli or Kabul.
BLITZER: It's Sunday night, 9 p.m. Eastern. By the way, I loved you in Tangier. I saw it. It was excellent, as well. You're doing great work.
BOURDAIN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thanks for joining us.
BOURDAIN: It was a pleasure.
BLITZER: Welcome to CNN.
BOURDAIN: Thank you.
BLITZER: There's an unexpected mystery over at the famous film festival in Cannes. Stay with us for the story of a daring jewel theft that wasn't on screen.
BLITZER: Getting some disturbing news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. A crash on one of the major commuter railroad lines coming out of New York City. A Connecticut police officer telling CNN a train has derailed on the Metro North's Fairfield -- Fairfield-Bridgeport line. Police are en route to the scene, we're told. We'll have more details.
But we do have Brian Alvarez, who witnessed what was going on, joining us on the phone.
Brian, how close are you to these pictures? They look pretty awful, this collision, this Metro North collision.
BRIAN ALVAREZ, WITNESS (via phone): Yes, it's pretty drastic over there.
BLITZER: Tell us what you saw.
ALVAREZ: As I walked off, I just saw lots of rubble. And then I saw this one car, and it was completely just like destroyed. And they were pulling, you know, people out of -- out of the cart. And you know, they had broken -- broken body limbs. And they were all bloody.
BLITZER: We were told by a spokesperson for Metro North that it happened at around 6:10 p.m. That's less than an hour or so ago. It was an eastbound train collided with a westbound train. No reports of life-threatening injuries. There are some reports of nonlife- threatening injuries.
The New Haven line is suspended, we're told, right now in both directions between Stanford and New Haven.
How close to the -- to the wreckage are you right now, Brian?
ALVAREZ: Right now, I'm literally just, like, a three-minute walk away.
BLITZER: Stand by for a moment, Brian, because we've got -- Chris Martin is joining us on the phone.
Chris, you were on one of those trains that collided, is that right?
CHRIS MARTIN, WITNESS (via phone): Yes, that's right. I was on the New York-bound train.
BLITZER: You were heading towards New York. What happened?
MARTIN: Well, out of nowhere, there was a sort of jolt, and a very abrupt halt. I think we were just leaving the Bridgeport station heading toward the Fairfield metro station, and as far as we can tell, there was -- the New Haven-bound train, I think, somehow derailed, and we collided, and then we derailed, as well. I was in one of the middle cars. So I didn't feel...
BLITZER: What was the -- what was the impact on you?
MARTIN: Wolf, for us we were just kind of in the dark for a couple of minutes as they gathered what was going on. Then they called all the doctors up to the front. That's when we knew that there was probably some collision. And then the police and fire department here in Bridgeport evacuated all of us.
BLITZER: So you're -- you're OK, right?
MARTIN: Yes, I'm OK. And certainly there are plenty of people in this parking lot that are OK. You know, some people were shaken up. But there are also ambulances dealing with the people who are not OK.
But we have no -- we have no idea what really happened. We don't know a lot of information. We're kind of waiting here indefinitely as they sort out the safety of everyone.
BLITZER: Did you get a sense from what you saw, how many people may have been injured in this crash?
MARTIN: I don't know. I can see, like, eight or nine ambulances. And I've maybe seen four or five people who were on stretchers. I don't know -- you know, they could be taking precautions. It's really unclear, because we're just in a parking lot right now waiting it out.
BLITZER: How busy, how crowded was the train? This is rush hour on a Friday. Must have been -- must have had a lot of people on that train, I assume?
MARTIN: Yes. It was a pretty full train. I imagine the one going up toward New Haven leaving New York was probably fuller. But ours was pretty full.
BLITZER: And you were heading towards New York for a Friday night in New York City, is that right?
BLITZER: And so what do you see right now from your vantage point?
MARTIN: Right now, I just see the -- the various, you know, fire department and police officials surveying the train, the one that we were on. There were a couple of people inside of it, a couple of other officials inside of it. And I see the ambulances, and the fire department vehicles. And I guess they're just sort of assessing the situation.
Nobody's near the actual impact point, as far as any of the people who were riding on the commuter train. Because they're trying, I guess, probably just to see who's there, who's all right. They are scanning through the train...
BLITZER: All right.
MARTIN: ... trying to figure out if people are still inside.
BLITZER: Chris Martin on the train, helping us better appreciate what's going on. Brian Alvarez, another rider with us, as well. We'll continue to watch what's going on here on CNN. Stay with us throughout tonight.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.