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Report: Govt. Seizing Phone Records; More of Interview with Ann and Mitt Romney

Aired June 6, 2013 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jake, thanks very much.

Happening now, government spying on a really massive scale. New details of a secret surveillance program targeting potentially millions of American phone users.

Also Tropical Storm Andrea pounding Florida with wind and rain and now taking aim at the rest of the U.S. East Coast.

Plus, an exclusive interview with Mitt and Ann Romney. They talk to CNNs Gloria Borger about their campaign regrets, the devastating election loss, and the jarring transition to life out of politics.

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

A terror attack alleged thwarted by a stunning secret government surveillance program that's just been revealed. Britain's "Guardian" newspaper first reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone records of millions of Verizon customers every day. The records reportedly show who the customers have called, who's called them and the date and the duration of each conversation.

But as controversial as the surveillance may be, lawmakers are split right now over whether this is appropriate or even legal. CNNs national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, has been working this story for us with enormous ramifications. Jim, what are you picking up?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Obama administration officials are neither confirming nor denying the report in "The Guardian," but they are defending the practice of collecting phone data for national security purposes. All of a sudden, the white house is facing a brand-new controversy, one that is uniting Republicans and Democrats.


ACOSTA (voice-over): By all appearances, it's a tough secret program that's been going on for years, allowing the National Security Agency to collect the phone records of millions of Americans from one of the nation's largest communications companies. Under a court order signed in April obtained by the British newspaper, "The Guardian," Verizon is required to hand over to the government all call detail records between the U.S. and abroad or within the U.S., including local telephone calls. Without commenting specifically on "The Guardian" story, the Obama administration cautioned the NSA was only compiling data and not listening in on phone calls, saying the program is a critical tool in protecting the nation from terror threats, but some in Congress aren't buying it.

SEN. MIKE LEE, (R) UTAH: They basically said to Verizon, give us your call logged. If they involve international calls, give them to us. If they involve domestic calls, give them to us. If they involve purely local calls, give them to us. We want all of them. And that's a little disturbing to some of us.

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI, (D) MARYLAND: Oh, God, not one more thing. And not one more thing where we're trying to protect America, and then, it looks like we're spying on America.

ACOSTA: The controversy spilled into a Congressional hearing with attorney general, Eric Holder, who's already in the hot seat over allegations the justice department has been snooping on journalists.

SEN. MARK KIRK, (R) ILLINOIS: We're just asked, could you ensure to us that no phones inside the capital were monitored?

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: With all due respect, senator, I don't think this is an appropriate setting for me to discuss that issue.

ACOSTA: But the program also has its fierce defenders.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: So, you keep up what you're doing, and if you've gone outside the lane, you fix it. President Bush started it. President Obama is continuing it. We need it from my point of view.

ACOSTA: Intelligence committee members from both parties insist the program is authorized under the foreign surveillance intelligence court or FISA, which was expanded during the Bush administration under the Patriot Act and then renewed by Congress.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D) CALIFORNIA: It is lawful. It has been briefed to Congress.

REP. MIKE ROGERS, (R) MICHIGAN: This program was used to stop a program -- excuse me -- stop a terrorist attack in the United States. We know that.

ACOSTA: But the president's critics argue it's another example of Mr. Obama walking away from his own tough talks six years ago when he accused the Bush administration of sacrificing civil liberties.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not. There are no shortcuts to protecting America.


ACOSTA (on-camera): Now, because the exposure of this program came from the news media, one U.S. official tells CNN it is likely that there will be some sort of investigation into who leaked that information. But for now, the White House is not saying anything more about it, whether other phone companies were involved. And speaking of phone companies, Verizon has no comment on this controversy.

The president who was down in North Carolina today for an even also did not address the matter. But we can tell you, Wolf, members of Congress are demanding answers. There is a letter from a James Sensenbrenner, a congressman from Wisconsin and author of the Patriot Act who says this collection of phone records, in his words, is an overbroad interpretation of the act. And Wolf, he is just one of many members who want answers. This is a controversy that has launched a thousand ships, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. It looks like at least, so far, a real split developing among members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, and not necessarily along party lines. Thanks very much, Jim Acosta, over the at the White House.

The "New York Times" editorial board is blasting the Obama administration's phone surveillance program in a stinging editorial headlined, "President Obama's Dragnet." The editorial accuses him of overreaching his powers.

And then, it goes on to say this, "The administration has now lost all credibility. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. The stunning use of the Patriot Act shows once again why it needs to be sharply curtailed if not repealed."

Those words in an editorial just released by the "New York Times" editorial board. CNNs Tom Foreman is digging into the story a little bit deeper for us. Tom, walk us through this surveillance program. How does it work?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, we're talking about billions and billions of phone calls all across this country. So, let's narrow it down to just one neighborhood so you have an idea. Imagine all of those calls taking place just here. And imagine you have a computer that's tracking every time a call is made, when it's received, where it was made, where it was received, and how long it lasted.

That is metadata. You don't know what was said. You just know that contact was made, Wolf. That's the cornerstone of this program as we understand it.

BLITZER: Tom, even if the government has all of this information, how does that help stop terrorism?

FOREMAN: In and of itself, it doesn't, but if you analyze the information which is easy to do, you could establish if there were networks here. You'd know who was talking to whom. For example, all the red houses here, the yellow houses, because we all talk to the same people most of the time. Then, if you have an event in the calendar year, you have some kind of terrorist event happen here, investigators can go back and look through that metadata, again, billions of calls, and they would look for patterns.

Was one group, like the red group here, really active and really talking a lot near and close to the time of this attack and should they be looked at more closely? Now, that maybe triggered by looking at the material or you might have a suspect more likely that would say we should look in this area. And then, you would trace the network here.

Privacy advocates, Wolf, as you would imagine, go crazy over this, because they say, in effect, if these were in the real world, not in the electronic world, this would be like posting a police officer outside every single person's door who just wrote down every time you came and went and everyone you met just in case one day, you might be involved in a crime.

BLITZER: So, Tom, as far as we know, is the government simply combing through a lot of this material constantly looking for something suspicious?

FOREMAN: No. And that's really important to understand. If you want to be really fair about this whole thing, what we're told by members of Congress who have been briefed on this program is that the information, even though, it's being collected constantly by these computers on apparently all of us, as far as we can tell, or at least on awful lot of people, the information is not accessed without law enforcement having suspicion of something and without an additional FISA court order.

So, imagine this computer packed with all this information about all of our calls, but they can't go into it, unless, they have some justification to then look at that information. Still, that leaves some big questions that are unanswered as of this evening, and people are concern about. First of all, how detailed or extensive is this data? If you have GPS on your phone, does the metadata include tracking every place you go, every hour of the day?

We don't know that. How long is the data being kept? We don't really know that either. Is this perpetually? Will it be there for years and years? And if they decided to go after tax cheats (ph) in the future, can then be accessed for that purpose? And what about the possible future uses? This is one of the really big ones out there, Wolf, that people are concern about.

You say it's about national security now, but the concern is in the future as administrations change and politics change, could it be used for something else that could really upset an awful lot of people out there, Wolf, who really, right now even the government would say, have done nothing at all wrong? They've just used their --

BLITZER: We're going to have much more on this story later here in the SITUATION ROOM. Tom, thanks very much. All right. This just coming in to the SITUATION ROOM right now. We're getting word that current and former U.S. marines and sailors are among 50 people arrested in a massive criminal network bust out in California. Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's got the details. What are you hearing, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, nasty business out in San Diego, Southern California. Fifty people, 64 criminal indictments, and it does include seven currently serving marines, seven former marines, and a navy sailor. Wide-sweeping crackdown to shut down the criminal network in San Diego, involving stolen cars, drugs, weapons and other military gear.

The charges include vehicles theft. I want to read this all to you. Sales of cocaine and methamphetamines, sale of high capacity ammunition magazines, burglary, possession of stolen military equipment. what kind of military equipment involved, wolf? Over 10,000 rounds of ammunition, high capacity magazines, bullet proof vests, Kevlar helmets, night vision goggles.

This, apparently, was an undercover operation being run by local, federal, and military law enforcement officials. It was a sting. They stung these guys into coming to a store front operation in San Diego and then videotaped them trying to sell all of this equipment.

So now, a number of people under arrest. And according to the Marine Corps here at the pentagon, those seven currently serving marines, active duty marines are in custody -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara, thanks for that report. Disturbing, disturbing information.

Up next, powerful winds, drenching rain, and possible tornadoes. We're tracking tropical storm Andrea right now. Florida is just her first stop. Millions of Americans along the east coast are now in the storm's path.

Plus, a candid conversation with Ann Romney. She tells CNNs Gloria Borger why she and her husband were convinced, yes, she says they were convinced he would win the White House.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLITZER: And we're following the breaking news. Tropical storm Andrea now making landfall in Florida with sustained winds of up to 65 miles per hour. And this is only just the beginning. Andrea is charting a path right up the east coast, heading towards us in Washington and beyond (ph). Our severe weather expert, our meteorologist, Chad Myers, is tracking the storm for us. What are we seeing, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, SEVERE WEATHER EXPERT: We're seeing Andrea making landfall right now at Horseshoe Beach, Florida. A tornado was on the ground in Mayport Naval right there near Jacksonville, traveling to Amelia Island and on up maybe even in toward Georgia. And more of these storms could be spinning later on tonight as it moves on land.

Right now, moving onshore and eventually, as you said, will be moving on up towards the northeast. And this is the bigger story. It's more about the rainfall and how much rainfall is still to come with this storm from Tallahassee moving right up toward Charleston and Charlotte and on up into Washington, D.C., there will be a swath here of six to 10 inches of rainfall, because that's the track, Wolf, right up in the New York City.

And remember, this has been so hard hit with all of this Sandy damage through here, even though the winds may only be 40 or 50 miles per hour, that will be enough to cause more damage of things that aren't truly yet nailed down. And we're going to see that wind at 40, 50, and rainfall four to five inches, causing more flooding all along here, all along the Appalachian train here.

All this rain eventually has to work its way back down toward the ocean. It's going to be a long couple of days. There's Andrea right now. Moving right on shore, wind 65 miles per hour. Only nine miles per hour from a hurricane. But right now, Wolf, there's not even any cloud cover right around where the center. So, there certainly is no eye (ph), and this is not the first hurricane of the year.

BLITZER: And just because it's not a hurricane doesn't reach that threshold, a tropical storm, that can be pretty serious?

MYERS: Well, you know what, this is a very saturated area. We've had a lot of rainfall this spring. Now, all of a sudden, you bring in winds of 65 sustained, wind gusts to 75, trees are going to be falling down all night long. That's going to be another big problem. Trees falling on houses. Flooding, especially at night. Starts to get dark here in about three or four hours.

Another three to six inches of rainfall on top of what has been an almost flooded area, so far. And then, on up into D.C., on up into New York City, and by late tomorrow night, this something almost over Boston, Mass. So, this is going to be a quick moving storm but putting out an awful lot of tropical rain.

BLITZER: Yes. All right. Well, thanks very much. We'll be following it together with you, Chad. Tropical storm Andrea in this hurricane season began on June 1st. We'll see what happens in the weeks and months to come.

When we come back, she says it's like going from 100 miles an hour to zero. Ann Romney tells on Gloria Borger about moving on after the presidential election.

Plus, a bombshell announcement from the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and his wife of nearly 30 years.

And more trouble for Taco Bell this week. We'll explain when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: And the quick look at some of the other stories we're monitoring right now in the SITUATION ROOM. Governor Christie of New Jersey has named his attorney general, a fellow Republican, Jeffrey Chiesa to temporarily succeed longtime Democratic senator, Frank Lautenberg. He died Monday at the age of 89.

The decision changes the balance of power in the Senate with the Democrats 55-45 majority over Republicans now slipping to 54-46, included to that majority are two independent senators who caucus with the Democrats. Chiesa will not run in the October special election for the seat.

Just days after announcing its fighting the government's request to recall more than two million owner jeep models due to fire risk, Chrysler group is now recalling 630 newer model SUVs due to separate issues.

Today's recall involves the sensor activated restraint system in more than 400,000 2010 to 2012 jeep Patriot and Compass models and a power steering component in more than 200,000 2012-2013 jeep Wranglers. The company says no accidents or injuries are associated with either problem.

And take a look at this. Terrifying video of a mini-van apparently out of control. Crossing lanes plowing into an Ohio Taco Bell restaurant. Wow. Three people were reportedly transported to an area hospital with minor injuries, including the driver. Two others were said to be in the restaurant when the accident occurred. A medical condition reportedly caused the crash.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and his wife have announced the end of their nearly 30-year marriage. According to Russian state TV, the couple said it's a joint decision, that they almost never see each other and have different lives. The announcement comes after long- time speculation about their relationship. President Putin and his wife have two children.

Up next, Ann Romney opening up to our own Gloria Borger, revealing what was the hardest part of her husband's presidential campaign.


BLITZER: Happening now, Ann Romney's candid conversation with our own, Gloria Borger.


BLITZER (voice-over): She opens up about getting over the election, her marriage and what she says her husband would be doing differently if he were in the White House right now.

Also, the IRS official who played Mr. Spock in that infamous charity "Star Trek" video hammered on Capitol Hill for the millions in taxpayer dollars spent on the conference and where it was used.

And new details of a secret surveillance program targeting millions of American phone users. I'll get reaction from a former NSA employee and whistleblower.

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


BLITZER (on-camera): It was seven months ago today that Mitt Romney lost the presidential election to Barack Obama, paving the way for what's been a controversial second term, so far.

Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, sat down with both Mitt and Ann Romney together, and they also spoke separately to talk about how they're doing, and now, what they think of the ways things are going in the country. We begin with Ann Romney and what she told Gloria about life after the campaign.


GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: So, I have to ask you just as I asked your husband, are you over it?

ANN ROMNEY, WIFE OF MITT ROMNEY: I am over it. It's still hard to watch things and watch the news and feel like you wish you were there, but you move on. I think our life is actually pretty wonderful right now and we're enjoying our life very much right now.

BORGER: You were in the public eye every single day for, what, almost two years?

ROMNEY: Right.

BORGER: So, how do you go from that --

ROMNEY: To going 100 miles an hour to zero overnight?

BORGER: Yes. Yes.

ROMNEY: It's what it's like you're in this bubble of secret service and automobiles and planes and private, you know, jets, 737s, and the entire press corps following you, and then bang, done. I mean, for anyone, that would be a difficult adjustment. Mitt's father used to say this, and I loved it. He said, "Politics, it's the fastest way to go from who's who to who's that."

So, you know, and that's just an attitude that we always had. We knew that our life was more important, our private life. And that this public life was something that was -- it's just a unique thing that you go through and you go back very quickly to enjoying being together and to enjoying a little bit more slow pace. It's -- it is an adjustment, however.


BORGER: But talk more about that, because you just don't go from 100 to zero.

ROMNEY: No you don't. And you know, there's obviously in any process, whether it's a grieving process or anything, there is an adjustment period that you go through. But I feel like we've come out the other end. Whatever it was that --

BORGER: You did do the grieving, though?

ROMNEY: You do. I mean, it's like a grieving. And I have to say, the most common refrain that I heard when I would see people that were sad as well about the outcome of the election is they said that to me, thee feel like they're grieving. And they said, nobody died, but I feel like somebody died. And that's how they -- that was their reaction when they would see me.

And a lot of times, people burst into tears when they would see me. It just happened yesterday. Again, I was -- it's happening less and less where people see me and they start to cry. But I think that, you know, it was pretty evenly divided in this country. It was a pretty close race. And there are about half the country that still -- that literally went through a grieving process when we lost.

BORGER: Was it harder for you because you thought you were going to win?

ROMNEY: I think so. I think Mitt was more balanced about the whole thing. He's always very rational about everything. And he was saying how close this election is going to be and this is a difficult race. And he was always saying that. And I said, "don't worry about it, we're going to win."


ROMNEY: And I -- on the campaign trail, I'd see people and they'd be so intensely, you know, concerned about the country and everything. I said, "don't worry, we're going to win." And I felt that. I really truly felt that we were going to win. And so, I'm glad as I look back that i felt that way, because it's the way I had to feel, because I believed in it, I believed in Mitt, I believed in what we were doing.

For me, I had to believe we were going to win as well to be OK for me to even go through what we had to go through.

BORGER: But, of course, because after 2008, you were the one who said to Mitt Romney, never again. And then you changed your mind.

ROMNEY: I did. I completely -- I just knew we had to do it again. And I will tell you, Gloria, I know we never will do it again.


It's like, OK, that's two -- twice going through this, it's a very difficult thing for families. It's a very difficult thing emotionally to invest yourself at that level, at that depth. And, you know, I was just looking at the list of people that are coming to this conference. There's a lot of friends of ours that are going to be here that I haven't seen. It's going to -- it was hard for me just to see their names and just say their -- just say their name because it brought up so much emotion again of how committed so many people were, how many people tried so hard. How disappointing it was that -- we do, we feel like we let people down.

BORGER: Is that the hardest part?

ROMNEY: It is. For right now it is for me. I think it's frustrating as well to see what's going on in Washington and I wish Mitt were there.

BORGER: Why? Why is it frustrating to see what's going on?

ROMNEY: I know that Mitt is a good executive. He is -- you know, a lot of people used to say that I was a good campaigner. Well, I like to say, you -- I would love for the American people to have had the opportunity to see what a good executive Mitt would have been. And being the president is an executive position. It's not a campaign position. It's an executive position.

It's a person that acts, that brings people together that has great vision, has great leadership skills, and takes the country in a new direction. And I think he would have done that.

BORGER: So what's frustrating in particular?

ROMNEY: You know, I think everyone thinks well, the economy is improving, but I think under Mitt it would have -- it would have dramatically improved. I think we were in that to make a difference for -- in people's lives. To give that opportunity that economic opportunity to make sure that America would stay competitive in the world.

BORGER: Now I remember at one point during the end of the campaign when Republicans were piling on the campaign and you said -- and you said, this is hard.


ROMNEY: Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it, get in the ring.

BORGER: Who were you talking to when you said that?

ROMNEY: Well, you know, it's -- just -- you could pick about just about anybody at that point. Because it felt so many times that it wasn't just that we were fighting against, you know, a Democratic machine that was operating quite well, but that we were fighting even against some of our -- of our own fellow Republicans and -- or even some of our -- of our commentators and people that would have -- that should have been a little more helpful.

Now it's fine. Everyone does what they want to do. But, you know, you really did feel like you were taking on the world sometimes.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to have much more of Gloria's excellent conversation with Ann Romney. That's just ahead. When we come back, she talks about the impact of the campaign on her marriage, her health, even why she decided to turn down "Dancing with the Stars." Stay with us.


BLITZER: We're back with part two of Gloria Borger's interview with Ann Romney. In it she talks about what her relationship is like with her husband now that the campaign is over.


BORGER: What does the presidential campaign do to a marriage?

ROMNEY: You know, for us, nothing, except to make it better. And it's a blessing that we've had this amazing marriage. I think we have a unique marriage. I think we care for each other very deeply. I -- we were always concerned about each other. I think when I was on the road and with -- not with Mitt and, you know, he was -- I would always be calling, being upset, you're working him too hard, stop, stop.

He'd be doing the same thing calling, you know, into my staff, and saying, stop it, don't make her work so hard. So we were -- we were always very, very worried about each other when we weren't together.

BORGER: You had a relapse of MS, for example, I remember --

ROMNEY: I had --

BORGER: Super Tuesday.

ROMNEY: I had a little -- a little bubble step there.

BORGER: How are you feeling now?

ROMNEY: I'm feeling terrific. I was very, very careful after the campaign was over for about two months. I was very tired as you might imagine. And I took two months to really just be quiet and recover and rest. And I was very worried at that time that the adrenaline rush with somehow, you know, have some impact on my disease, the lack of the adrenaline rush.

BORGER: So what's next for you? I know there's a cookbook.

ROMNEY: Yes, I've got a cookbook. And I had -- I had an absolute ball doing that, by the way. I've just -- I've had so much fun doing that. And it comes out in October, just before Christmas.

BORGER: Are you cooking again?

ROMNEY: I'm cooking again. Believe it or not, even though I swore I never would after that last child left. I love to cook. So yes, I'm cooking again. Mitt's helping a lot. I mean, you can't believe how helpful he's been in the kitchen, washing dishes, going to the grocery store. He's even doing laundry.

BORGER: Yes. OK. Well --

ROMNEY: He's been great. BORGER: And then I have to ask you this question. Did you really turn down "Dancing with the Stars"?

ROMNEY: You know, isn't that amazing? I love the show so much, and I actually turned it down.

BORGER: They called you and says --

ROMNEY: They called me a couple of times and I went -- they actually invited me on, and I went to the final last -- was it the season before. And it was after the campaign. I can't even remember what month that would have been. And got to meet a lot of dancers, got to meet who would have been my partner. And I was very tempted. But I decided not to.

BORGER: It's grueling.

ROMNEY: Well, you know, I was a little worried about it for, again, coming off the campaign and how intense it would have been. And, you know, and I told them, I do have MS. I mean, you know, can I -- can I do this? I'm not sure I would have been able to have done it. And I -- I love the show. I'm sure anyone that watches it at all gets hooked and loves it.

BORGER: So no dancing for you with the stars.

ROMNEY: Not with the stars, just with my husband.


BLITZER: and that's with one star. That would be her husband.

And, Gloria, your excellent interview. Much more, we're going to have much more in our next hour as well.

But why have they decided -- we're going to speaking, you're going to be speaking with Mitt Romney, not just Ann Romney.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: Why do you think they've decided now to come out and speak?

BORGER: Well, I think it's taken them this long to kind of come down, regroup after the campaign. I think Mitt Romney is in the process of trying to figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life. As we speak, they're having a confab in Park City which is where I did this --


BORGER: This interview in Utah. And they've invited Republican presidential possibilities, like Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul. David Axelrod, who ran the Democratic campaign, is also going to be there, talking about epilepsy which is an important cause of his. So I think Mitt Romney's idea is, that he wants to be in the world of ideas. The politics is kind of over for him. BLITZER: It sounds like he wants to do what Bill Clinton has done with his Clinton Global Initiative. Maybe see if there's some new opportunities in that area. Just to have a voice and to do good, if you will.

BORGER: I think he wants to have a policy voice. You know, I asked him specifically, would he rule out government service forever and ever and ever? And he -- you know, he doesn't do that.

BLITZER: He doesn't rule it out?

BORGER: No. Well, you know, there could be some appointed position I -- in his future. But I think that this is the part of sort of coming out and saying, OK, I'm not done, I haven't disappeared. I have something to contribute in the world of ideas. And I think that's why he's gathering people this weekend to try and sort of start taking it to another level. I don't know, Wolf, where it's going to lead him.

BLITZER: Well, we'll soon -- I know much more of the interview is coming up in our next hour and we're looking forward to that.

BORGER: You know Ann will be dancing with him. OK?

BLITZER: Are they going to be dancing on the show?

BORGER: I don't know.

BLITZER: Yes. We'll see.


BLITZER: All right, Gloria. Good work. Thank you.

Much more coming up in our next hour of Gloria's interview. She'll be speaking with Mitt Romney and jointly with Mitt and Ann Romney as well.

Coming up, surgery for Britain's Prince Philip. Possibly as soon as tomorrow. We have details of the new health scare.

And personal man cave set up in a government facility. We have shocking revelations of more government waste.

But first, a preview of this weekend's "THE NEXT LIST."


IZHAR GAFNI, INVENTOR: The best way to test bicycle, take them and go ride. Go ride across USA, go ride across the world.

My name is Izhar Gafni. I invented and built the cardboard bicycle. It's a bicycle like any other bicycle. Hold the same, drive the same. The only difference, cardboard is cheap, very durable and can be fully recycled.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Can this bike change the world? This Saturday on "THE NEXT LIST," the cardboard bike guy, Izhar Gafni.



BLITZER: Britain's Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth, is hospitalized and likely to go under -- undergo an exploratory operation as soon as tomorrow. Buckingham Palace says he could be in the hospital for as long as two weeks.

CNN royal correspondent Max Foster is in -- in London for us.

Max, what else are you hearing about Prince Philip?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it will happen tomorrow if the medical advice is unchanged. He will go under general anesthetic and he's about to turn 92 so that serious as someone of his age. He was at a garden party today and he looked well. But what we didn't know was that he was awaiting some test results and we he got those test results today or he did rather, and at that point he set off from this garden party and he went to the hospital.

And he's going to be there for two weeks. So there's quite something to say he's going to be in for two weeks. It's a long period of time. It's pretty precise. And we have been asked not to speculate about what's actually wrong with him. So it does seem serious. It's got a serious tone to it. But himself, he certainly looks and feels well.

BLITZER: They don't want to tell us exactly what's going on, is that what you're saying?

FOSTER: Yes. There's something -- he's had some tests on his abdominal area. So that's all we really know. And it's as a result of that. He has canceled a couple of engagements this week already, but we're told that was because he lost his voice, not related to this. And we've also reported in the past about his health problems. He went into the hospital with a heart problem on one occasion, with an infection on another occasion.

But we're saying that none of this -- they're saying that none of this is linked to what has happened today. But certainly they're at the hospital with some serious medics there and he's going under general anesthetic from operation expected to happen tomorrow.

BLITZER: Let's hope for the best for Prince Philip and the whole family.

All right, thanks very much, Max Foster in London.

President Obama meets with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, tomorrow in California. And our corporate cousin "TIME" magazine marks the importance of the occasion with a very special cover, "The World According to China."

Take a look at this. "TIME" magazine's managing editor Rick Stengel is joining us from New York. Let's talk about this cover, let's keep it up for a moment as we talk about it. The cover, Ai Weiwei did the cover, his artwork. He's been a controversial figure within China.

What does this cover say? What is it trying to project to all of the readers of "TIME," Rick?

RICK STENGEL, MANAGING EDITOR, TIME MAGAZINE: Yes, Wolf. Ai Weiwei did the cover for us in Beijing and he is limited to staying in the city. He's under a kind of house arrest. He's a great, great artist and a dissident.

And the cover is a -- is a kind of chauvinistic Chinese cover. That shape using the flowers there is the -- is the shape of China and it emanates from that part of China on the global. And what he's saying is that this is how the Chinese see themselves. They see themselves as central in the world, central in world history. And that this era of China now is China again coming to the fore as a part of the world.

BLITZER: And as you know, they -- we reported that the Chinese president -- that the American president will be meeting with the Chinese leader in California starting tomorrow for a couple of days.

I assume China's cyber spying on the U.S. is going to be high on the agenda, but how do they deal with what's going on?

STENGEL: You know, it's a good question, Wolf. And I would assume it's very, very high on President Obama's agenda. But the talks have been billed as something special, a kind of more informal gathering between the two men. Xi Jinping is more personal and more forceful and more vigorous than his predecessor, Hu Jintao, and the talks have been orchestrated in a way that it gives the president and the new president of China more time together.

So I'm sure it will range over a wide range of topics. Obviously the economic ties between the two countries are enormous. And that will be something that they will discuss as well.

BLITZER: Xi Jinping will be there in California with his wife. But the president is not bringing the first lady out to California. Is that a snub? What does -- what does that mean?

STENGEL: I really don't know, Wolf. I mean, what would be interesting, of course, is that -- is that the Chinese president's wife is -- she's the first wife who has actually been on the public stage as a head of China -- China's wife. And she's a well-known singer. She's a singer for the Chinese Army. She's stylish and they follow her fashion choices. So it would have been interesting for her to meet the first lady. I'm sure they will at some point.

BLITZER: A lot of people are surprised that the first lady is not going out there, given how important this U.S./Chinese relationship is, and new Chinese leader right now.

We're going to have more on this part of the story in our next hour.

All right, Rick, thanks very much for coming in. Great cover, by the way.

STENGEL: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: When we come back, the latest twist in the IRS targeting scandal. Mr. Spock gets grilled up on Capitol Hill.

Plus, we debate national security and privacy. An NSA whistle blower getting ready to weigh in on the controversy.


BLITZER: You may not know his name, but you might have seen this impersonation of Mr. Spock. And today he was up on Capitol Hill for one of the hottest grillings yet in Congress' probe into the IRS.

Our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash was watching it every step of the way.

Dana, what happened?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What happened is that lawmakers really tried to channel their constituent outrage and aim it at one person. He's an IRS official who thought it was appropriate to make and even star in an IRS spoof called -- I kid you not -- "Planet No Tax."


BASH (voice-over): The star witness was the star of this now infamous IRS "Star Trek" video, Spock.

FARIS FINK, IRS COMMISSIONER, ON SMALL BUSINESS AND SELF-EMPLOYED DIVISION: If my calculations are correct, total anarchy will occur in 1111 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What were you thinking?

FINK: Those videos were at the time they were made were an attempt to -- in a well-intentioned way, use humor. The fact of the matter is, it's embarrassing. And I apologize.

BASH: Faris Fink is now commissioner of the IRS division that held a lavish $4 million conference in Anaheim, California, where parody videos estimated to cost $50,000 were played. The committee's top Democrat was outraged.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I live in a block where most people don't even make $50,000 a year. But yet still we can produce a video that has no redeeming value. None.

BASH: During the conference, Fink, a 32-year IRS veteran, stayed in an upgraded hotel suite like this. The IRS inspector general called that inappropriate and other spending wasteful. Like $17,000 for an artist to paint celebrities. And $64,000 in swag we first showed you earlier this week, canvas bags, notebooks, even a plastic squirting fish. REP. MICHAEL TURNER (R), OHIO: Why would people get a plastic squirting fish?

FINK: I honestly have no idea what the plastic squirting fish was.

BASH: Frustration boiled over Fink then the division's second in command for admitting he didn't know how or why millions of taxpayer dollars were spent at this conference.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: You're totally ignorant in -- of the expenses?

FINK: I was not involved in the planning and the execution.

CHAFFETZ: Who was? You're in charge. This is what's so infuriating. You're in charge.

BASH: Lawmakers repeatedly blasted Fink for IRS hypocrisy. The agency that requires taxpayers to save receipts did not save its own documents to show what it spent at the conference.

FINK: At the time of the conference, there was no guidelines or requirement to track costs.

BASH: Fink admitted it actually may have cost millions more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could it be $5 million? Yes or no?

FINK: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Could it be $6 million? Think carefully. You're under oath.

FINK: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could it be $6 million?

FINK: There's no way that I know that.


BASH: Now two IRS employees were placed on administrative leave this week for violating ethics rules, they say, because they accepted free food at a party at one of those -- at the conference.

Now one thing that we should keep in mind, though, Wolf, is that part of the problem here is that most of this lavish spending was compliant with IRS rules at the time. Since they have changed. But really became clear watching this today, that the -- that the rules were not good at the time, and it allowed the spending to run amok.

BLITZER: Before I let you go, Dana, congratulations on winning and excellent award last night, you and your producer, Deidre Walsh, winning the Joan Barone Excellence in Congressional Reporting Award at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner.

BASH: Thank you. And it was great to share it with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: I just sat around and watched you get that award. And our photojournalist, Tony (INAUDIBLE), also getting an excellent award.

BASH: Yes.

BLITZER: Big night for CNN last night here in Washington.

Good work. Thanks to you. Thanks to Deidre.

BASH: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Congratulations to Tony as well.

Tropical storm Andrea has just made landfall. Our severe weather expert, our meteorologist, Chad Myers is tracking the storm for us.

Where it is right now, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is right near Steinhatchee, Florida, between Steinhatchee and Horseshoe beach. And a very, I would say, unpopulated area, compared to the rest of Florida. We're right here -- moving up to the west of Jacksonville. You know, of all the beaches down here, Clearwater Beach, all the beaches here, Panama City and Destin, and then this Horseshoe area right through here, including St. Marks and a couple of little towns, Lake City, and it's moving right on up to the northeast for about 15 miles per hour.

It will continue all night. So landfall is no more a problem. But we still have the potential for tornadoes. They could still be a problem. Now these are not the F-4 and F-5 tornadoes that I was tracking last week in Oklahoma. These are tornadoes that eventually could become F-1s or 2s. You can see wind speeds around 100 miles per hour. But that's enough if it hits your house to make a significant difference.

Four to six inches of rainfall, another problem. We could have flooding all the way from Florida right on into D.C. where we could see upwards of six inches of rainfall in an area that's already pretty wet.

BLITZER: Certainly. All right, we'll check back with you, Chad. Thanks very much.

Happening now, millions of Americans' phone records apparently turned over to the feds every day under secret court order. An NSA whistleblower with a dramatic story joins us to discuss what's going on on national security. And privacy.

Plus, secret personal lounges inside a government warehouse. Another outrageous expense on the taxpayers' dime, now revealed.

And Michelle Obama is opting out of a sensitive trip with her husband.