Return to Transcripts main page


Detroit Declares Bankruptcy; No Plans to Change "Stand Your Ground"; Zimmerman Alternate Juror Goes Public

Aired July 18, 2013 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, breaking news -- the City of Detroit files for bankruptcy, the largest of its kind in the history of the United States.

Plus, Trayvon Martin's parents breaking their silence, speaking out for the first time since a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the killing of their son. You're going to hear from the newest juror coming forward to talk about the case.

And firefighters battling a massive wildfire burning almost entirely out of control. I'll speak with one of the 6,000 residents ordered to evacuate their homes.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: And let's get right to the breaking news. A major American city, Detroit -- Detroit has just declared bankruptcy. It's the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the United States, with huge economic implications.

Let's go straight to CNN's Poppy Harlow.

She's been covering this story for us -- Poppy, it came a little bit earlier than a lot of us expected.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it did. I think a lot of us were expecting this possibly tomorrow. It came at 4:06 p.m., exactly, Eastern today. The emergency manager, the man put in charge in March to take over the City of Detroit, get its finances in order -- his name is Kevin Orr. He, along with the Republican governor of Michigan, Rick Schneider, filed for Chapter IX bankruptcy. This is so big because it is symbolic of the woes that Detroit has had for decades. But it's also, by far, the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of this country.

The -- behind it, you have Stockton, California, a city of about 300,000 people. That was the biggest until today. Detroit is a city of 700,000 people, with $18 billion in debt. That is what drove it here.

How did we get here, Wolf? It has been going on for decades. You've had a huge population decline. The population down 63 percent in the past six decades. Fewer people paying taxes, the decline of the auto sector, corrupt politics, wasted money. A lot of things have led to this.

And the governor issued this letter that just came out, saying that he does not see any alternative for Detroit other than to file for bankruptcy, saying it's the only reasonable choice at this point in time because the financial situation has gotten so dire in the City of Detroit.

He, also, though, pointed to this being a potential fresh start for the City of Detroit. That's the hope.

This goes to a bankruptcy judge. A federal bankruptcy court judge who will have to approve a plan for Detroit to emerge from bankruptcy. As you know, that can take years.

But the impact -- what is the impact to real people here?

City workers, current and retired, will likely see their pensions cut, probably dramatically, and their health care benefits cut, as well. Creditors, investors, everyone from investment banks to average Joes that have their money through -- you know, through their investments in the City of Detroit and in those bonds will see a big cut likely to that money.

That's the down side.

The up side is that if they can get a plan that works approved, you eliminate a lot of the debt and you get the city back on its feet -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Are those the major steps they're proposing to get out of this bankruptcy problem?

HARLOW: They are. So they've got, as I said, about $18 billion in debt. About $11.5 billion of that is unsecured, meaning technically, in a bankruptcy, the city doesn't have to pay that back. They have to pay back about $6.5 billion. But about $11.5 billion, they don't.

So they're proposing cutting that down by about 80 percent. That's the proposal right now, is to take that $11.5 billion that's owed down to about $2 billion.

Now, there are going to be legal fights over this in court. The creditors I've been talking to all week, the pension funds, the firefighters, you name it. They see that as way too draconian. They don't want that.

But now it's going to be in the hands of a judge. And, again, this being backed by the Republican governor and the emergency manager. We're going to hop on a plane to Detroit, so we'll be live for you all day from there tomorrow. There's a 10:00 a.m. press conference where we'll get a lot more details on this from the governor -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And Detroit clearly, you're going to have a later report -- a report here in THE SITUATION ROOM later today. Detroit's needing to sell assets...


BLITZER: -- desperately needing to sell some assets in order to start paying back all those creditors.

All right, Poppy.


BLITZER: Thanks very much.


BLITZER: Poppy Harlow with the latest on Detroit.

Let's go to Florida right now and the mounting backlash against the state's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law in the wake of the George Zimmerman murder trial.

The governor, in his first public comments since the verdict, saying that while he mourns the death of Trayvon Martin, he has no plans to amend the law. This as scores of protesters outside his office will remain there for another day and they're refusing to back down.

Let's bring in CNN's John Zarrella.

He's got the very latest on what's going on.

What is going on -- John?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as you mentioned, those protesters in Tallahassee, at the government's office, continuing their sit-in, now into its third day. The governor, of course, nowhere near Tallahassee. He was in Tampa today. And, at the same time that was going on, nationwide, these Justice for Trayvon rallies and vigils this weekend, this Saturday, are beginning to take shape.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, find George Zimmerman not guilty.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): For the first time since the George Zimmerman verdict, Florida's governor, Rick Scott, spoke publicly, the governor saying that right after the shooting, he assembled a task force to evaluate the state's "Stand Your Ground" law, even though Zimmerman never invoked the law.

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: They listened to experts. And they concluded that we didn't need to make a change to the law. And I agree with their conclusion.

ZARRELLA: Scott was in Tampa, not at the capital in Tallahassee. There, about two dozen protesters waited for a third day at his office.


ZARRELLA: Calling themselves Dream Defenders, the group wants Scott to call a special session of the Republican-controlled state legislature in hopes they can get Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law repealed. The governor has already said that's not going to happen, the session or a repeal.

JABARI MICKELS, DREAM DEFENDERS: We don't plan for him to give in easily. That's why we want people to understand that we ain't -- we're not going to leave until we've shown him that this fight is for real.

ZARRELLA: State Democratic leaders gathered in Fort Lauderdale, saying the fight against "Stand Your Ground" is for real. They're calling for the legislature to, at the very least, look at amending the law. They acknowledge it won't be easy, but doing nothing, they say, could lead to a boycott of Florida, conventions, tourism.

CHRIS SMITH, FLORIDA STATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER: And if there's inaction by the legislature, if there's inaction by the leaders of this state, I see those voices gaining in popularity throughout this nation. Florida has to act.

ZARRELLA: The moves are not just aimed at the Florida law. Justice for Trayvon rallies and vigils are planned across the nation this Saturday to pressure the Justice Department to investigate whether Zimmerman's actions violated Martin's civil rights.

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: National Justice for Trayvon Day.

ZARRELLA: Organizers, including the Reverend Al Sharpton, say events will take place in at least 100 cities, including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The National Action Network says Sybrina Fulton, Martin's mother, will be at the New York rally at One Police Plaza. His father, Tracy, will be at the Miami event. (END VIDEO TAPE)

ZARRELLA: Now, I spoke to Miami police late this afternoon, Wolf. And they say, look, they expect it to be peaceful here. And that certainly is the expectation at these rallies and vigils across the country -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope that stays like that.

All right, thanks very much.

John Zarrella reporting. Dramatic new insight from inside the jury room in the Zimmerman trial. An alternate juror in the case is now the second person to come forward and speak publicly.

In an interview with WFOL, he reacted to all of the protests we're seeing in the wake of the not guilty verdict.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just don't understand the civil right complaint. I don't -- I didn't see the evidence there that -- in the courtroom that would make anybody believe there was a civil rights case for this. The protests, you know, people are going to be angry no matter what the verdict was. And there's nothing we can do about that.


BLITZER: Just ahead in our 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour, we're going to compare and contrast this alternate juror's interview with the exclusive interview Juror B-37 did with our own Anderson Cooper. Meantime, the parents of Trayvon Martin, they are breaking their silence, speaking out in a series of television interviews for the first time since the verdict was announced.

On "CBS This Morning," Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, responded to some of what Juror B-37 had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you hear that juror who spoke out with Anderson Cooper?

And what did you think when you heard her say that she believes that Trayvon played a huge role in his own death?

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: I don't think she knows Trayvon. Trayvon is not a confrontational person. So instead of placing the blame on the teenager, we need to place the blame on the responsible adult. There were two people involved. We had an adult that was chasing a kid and we had the kid, who I feel was afraid.


BLITZER: Joining us now to react to these latest interviews from the parents, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Mark NeJame; also CNN contributor, "The New York Times" columnist, Charles Blow -- Charles, you wrote a deeply personal and powerful column in "The New York Times," "The Whole System Failed Trayvon."

What, in your opinion, was the biggest failure here?

CHARLES BLOW, "NEW YORK TIMES" COLUMNIST: Well, I think the biggest failure was not charging George Zimmerman immediately with a crime, or even arresting him. He was taken into custody, but he was never actually arrested that night. It took 40 plus days for there to be an arrest.

And I think that what that points to is how we apply the presumption of innocence and guilt in cases like that.

Do we value that brown body that was on the ground or not?

Do we -- you know, do we advocate for them and now that his voice is gone, he can't tell his story. He can't give his version of events of what led to his death. But there was a man, a grown man, standing over his body with the gun that he had used to kill him. And that grown man was allowed to talk his way out of a police precinct and go home and sleep in his own bed and do that for the next 40 days.

That, to me, is a real problem. And whether or not the police department was using just all of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" defenses, or "Stand Your Ground" -- I mean all of their self-defense laws and "Stand Your Ground" or "Stand Your Ground" on its own, as a -- as the way to look at that and say it's OK for him to go home, it's a problem.

The way the laws are written is a problem.

And what B-37 -- Juror B-37 says is she invoked "Stand Your Ground" as a reason why what -- a part of the reason that they acquitted and let George go home again.

And that's a problem, I think, systematically...

BLITZER: All right...

BLOW: -- in Florida and across the country.

BLITZER: Well, let's let the Florida attorney, let Mark NeJame weigh in on that.

What's your reaction?

MARK NEJAME, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I agree with that it in great part. We have a systemic issue that just permeates our culture. We have a great divide. We have inequities in the system. I've been doing this an awful long time.

What concerns me is that this was not the best case for the state. And -- but this case has become symbolic of the inequities that exist in Florida and throughout the country.

And that, I think, is what has gotten so many so upset, that we have a situation where we have a young teenager dead. And we know that he was unarmed and we know all the facts and people argue back and forth.

But what we have in this culture is we do have inequities in our system, with the police, with the court system and otherwise. And I think this has become a rallying point, a rallying cry for all the vast discrepancies and the vast inequities that we have in our culture. And so what I'm concerned about is that we're going to have a knee jerk reaction to the "Stand Your Ground" law. Look, this is an NRA-backed law. It's been in effect. We've got it in 30 states now. It's been since in the 1990s with Jeb Bush in Florida. So -- and we've got a Republican-based legislature. So the chances, politically, of getting this overturned are really, really small.

But what we have to understand is that we have an issue that is far more infectious in our culture. And that is what I think so many are so upset about.

Of course, it's a horrible tragedy, with this young man's death. But this gets repeated every day on and on.

BLITZER: All right...

NEJAME: And let me ask a question.

How many other young black teenagers have been killed since Trayvon?


How many of their names can we name?


And the reason is...

BLOW: But that's not because...

NEJAME: -- is because we have a system -- BLOW: No, that's not the reason. That's not the reason. I'm sorry to interrupt here, but there's a huge difference here. There's a huge moral difference.

When someone is standing over a black body with a gun, that person is likely to be arrested. This was...

NEJAME: We agree.

BLOW: -- this is really...

NEJAME: We agree with that.

BLOW: -- this is really about the fact that he -- that his body was not even valued enough that an arrest was even -- was ever made. I think that people keep citing the fact that...

NEJAME: But that's the...

BLOW: -- other people are dying...

NEJAME: -- point I'm making. That -- that's the point I'm making, though, that we have this happen over and over again. I've been a defense lawyer for 32 or 33 years. I've seen these injustices throughout in a career and been fighting for a career.

This is a tragedy, like many others are tragedies. We need to understand that this is not as uncommon as people think it is. We have inequities in our system. I don't agree with you on that.

But we have to understand that it's more than this case. We have it where we have systemic inequities in our system, that a lot of times, we just look the other way or we accept it.

We can't accept that.

BLITZER: Charles, you wrote about having a conversation with your teenage sons about this. And without getting, obviously, too personal, I wonder if you'd share with us what you said to them.

BLOW: Well, I talked to my boys about the idea of running and things like that, and particularly in front of police at night. And, you know -- and I try to talk about it in a way that doesn't make them too uncomfortable and just say, you know, you really don't want that. You don't want anybody to think you stole anything, and just try to kind of have a light conversation.

I have yet to even sit down after this verdict to try to figure out, how do I tell them that maybe what dad told you before is not even going to help, that in this particular case, George Zimmerman said that he was suspicious of Trayvon Martin, in part, because he was walking too slowly, like there is no actual right pace that you could walk to relieve yourself of suspicion.

And I think that idea, that there is nothing that I can do to protect my boys, there's nothing -- if somebody wants -- if somebody wants to project somebody else's crimes or criminality onto my boys because that person has an experience with somebody who looks like them who committed a crime or saw about it on television or heard about it or read about it in a newspaper, there's actually nothing that I can do.

And that is, as a parent, that defeats you. That wounds your spirit, the fact that you cannot do something to protect your child. That is hard for me to do. I have yet to do it. I have yet to have that conversation with them because I can't bring myself to say it.

BLITZER: And people all over the country are going to have to have these kinds of conversations in the aftermath of this trial. Charles Blow, thanks very much for joining us. Mark Nejame, thanks to you as well. The support know to our viewers. You're going to want to tune in to "Anderson Cooper 360" later tonight, 8:00 p.m. eastern on CNN.

He's going to sit down with Trayvon Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. He'll speak with them live. This is an all- new interview that will air only here on CNN. Much more on this story.

Coming up later in the SITUATION ROOM, when we come back, though, amazing new images of that raging California wildfire from one of the 6,000 residents just evacuated. She's here in the SITUATION ROOM. That's coming up.

And Italy claims it's about to nab an American ex-CIA station chief accused of kidnapping this, this terrorism suspect.


BLITZER: Firefighters are desperately working to contain a raging California wildfire that's burning almost out of control. Nearly 23,000 acres have already burned. Six thousand residents have been ordered evacuated and more than 4,000 homes are threatened. Joining us now on the phone is Jenny Kirchner who was evacuated from her home. Jenny, tell us what it was like. What was going on?

VOICE OF JENNY KIRCHNER, FIRE EVACUEE: Well, the fire has been raging out of control. They did a mandatory evacuation yesterday out of the Idyllwild area. And, I went home and packed up the car and I actually haven't left a while, that I'm not allowed to stay in my home. So, I've been staying in Pine Cone, which is about five miles up the road. They have not been evacuated at this point.

So, I'm here covering what I can with photos and talking with the fire department as much as I can.

BLITZER: And you shared with us these photos, we're showing our viewers, Jenny, right now. And obviously, a horrible, horrible situation. How close were you actually to the flames?

KIRCHNER: Within feet. Those flames are -- what you see in the camera is pretty much what I was seeing from where I was standing. So, it wasn't a lot of zooming, anything like that. It was definitely right there at my face.

BLITZER: Were you ever scared you were too close to those flames?

KIRCHNER: There was a couple of moments when the trees go up and I was a little concerned, backed up a little bit. But, you know, it's all kind of part of the job and I've just been, you know, doing my best out there to stay safe.

BLITZER: So, you were evacuated from your home. Do you have any idea of what your home is like right now, the status of your home?

KIRCHNER: Yes. My home is safe right now. There have been no structures lost here in Idyllwild as far as that is concerned. It has yet touched (ph) the hangover the ridge. Though, everybody is safe in Idyllwild still and all the residents are intact.

BLITZER: So, is the situation getting better? Is that what you're hearing?

KIRCHNER: Yes. The situation does seem to be getting better. They're concerned with the weather change tonight possibly. I haven't had a chance to talk to any public information officers today, but they did hold a press conference recently. There are still concerns, but they definitely are feeling more confident than they were last night.

BLITZER: Jenny Kirchner, good luck to you. Good luck to everyone out there, and thanks for sharing these really, really well- done photos of what is, obviously, a horrible situation. Good luck to everyone out in the Idyllwild, California area.

The Zimmerman verdict focus national attention on self-defense. Just ahead, you're going to see what happened with some similar cases. Stand by for that.

And we're also looking at the political fallout of the verdict. Should President Obama get more involved and speak out publicly? All that coming up, but first, a preview of this weekend's "The Next List."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Meet Jennifer Phalka, founder of Code for America. It's kind of a peace corps for geeks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most people have seen that really geeks have changed the world so much in the past 10 or 20 years, but they haven't changed government yet.

We get people to take a year off. It's geeks, it's also designers, it's also product managers, the people from the technical industries. And, we get them to work with people in city hall to solve problems in cities for a year.

GUPTA: She wants to fix local government one smartphone app at a time. This Saturday, 2:30 eastern on "The Next List."




BLITZER (voice-over): Happening now, reaction to the Zimmerman verdict that's political. Where is President Obama on all of this? We're checking into some claims that some people on Capitol Hill have been hacked by the internationally feared group anonymous.

And Italy says a terrorist suspect was treated so badly, a former CIA station chief in Italy has just been arrested.

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


BLITZER: The backlash against George Zimmerman's not guilty verdict is propelling more and more self-defense cases across the country into the spotlight and raising growing questions about if and when the use of deadly force is justified. CNNs Tom Foreman is working this part of the story for us. He's got some new information. What are you finding out, Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as you mentioned, there are people all over this country looking for cases out there that they think are similar to the Zimmerman case. And at first blush, there are plenty of them with different types of verdicts, but then you have to look closer.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Phoenix, Arizona. Daniel Atkins who's mentally disabled is walking his dog past to taco bell. Police say a car in the drive-thru nearly runs into him and argument begins with the driver, Cordell Jude (ph) who soon pulled a pistol and shoot Atkins dead, leaving his family stricken.

Jude says Atkins made a threatening move with some sort of bat. Police find no such weapon and Jude is charged with second-degree murder.

BILL MONTGOMERY, COUNTY ATTORNEY: Mere words alone cannot provide justification for the use of physical force.

FOREMAN: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, police say 76-year-old John Spooner accuses 13-year-old Darius Simmons of burglarizing his home two days earlier. The teen denies and the security camera records the explosive moments, and Spooner caused (ph) the boy and fired the shot, killing him as his mother watches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Innocent kid (ph) who do not deserve to die!

FOREMAN: Spooner's lawyer claims mental illness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn't appreciate the wrongfulness of what he was doing.

FOREMAN: But this week, he was convicted of murder anyway.


(CHANTING) Justice!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When do we want it?


FOREMAN: In the wake of the Zimmerman case, debates are raging over just when people do and do not have the right to use deadly force defending their lives and property. Almost every state has castle laws, which generally say people in their own homes do not have to retreat from attackers before fighting back.

More than 20 states have stand your ground laws, which extend that legal protection to situations outside the home. In almost every circumstance, however, the law requires reasonable judgment about the seriousness of the threat. That can make each case wildly different and that's the problem for CNN legal analyst, Mark Nejame. MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The standards are typically what a reasonable person would do under the circumstances, and do you reasonably fear for death or great bodily injury? That's a very subjective standard. It's not an objective standard. You know, everybody, we're all human beings. So, everybody is going to perceive something differently.


FOREMAN (on-camera): It comes down to this, whether or not a court buys self-defense as a defense requires looking at a person's state of mind, did he or she feel extremely threatened, did circumstances warrant pronounced fear? That's different than almost any other kind of crime out there. Someone robs the bank, all we care is did they rob the bank. We don't care how they felt about it.

Those details, though, can make massive differences in the verdict, and what's more, they can explain how some cases that look similar to the Zimmerman case at first blush, in fact, may not really be similar at all -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good point, Tom. Thank you.

President Obama issued a written statement on Sunday after the verdict but he hasn't publicly addressed the Zimmerman case now in nearly a week since the verdict last Saturday night. Some say it's time for him to speak out directly on the sensitive subject.

At a White House briefing today, the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, was asked what the president thinks African-Americans parents -- African-American parents should be telling their sons right now.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And they're difficult and it's very, I think, helpful for and I believe the president thinks helpful for the fact that those conversations are taking place and that they're difficult and painful be discussed. Amongst everyone in the country who is -- who are engaged -- everyone is engaged in conversation in the wake of this, of this trial and verdict and the death of Trayvon Martin.


BLITZER: Let's discuss what's going on with our chief political analyst Gloria Borger and "TIME" magazine's new Washington bureau chief, Michael Scherer.

Congratulations to Michael. He just, by the way, co-wrote this week's new cover story, new issue of "TIME" magazine "After Trayvon." "TIME" is a corporate cousin of CNN.

Why hasn't the president gone on television and made a statement? A lot of people would like to hear what he think about all of this. MICHAEL SCHERER, TIME WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: I think it's actually a remarkable turn of events. And it's because the White House doesn't believe he can be helpful to the conversation. He'd proved himself since he's been president when he weighs in on racially sensitive topics to be a divisive player. There's the situation which he said the police acted stupidly in the Skip Gates case of Harvard. He later had to backtrack from that.

BLITZER: He had the beer summit in the White House.

SCHERER: I think one of the most interesting drama that's going on here is what will President Obama write in his memoirs in this chapter about what he wanted to be saying during this time? Because I think it's clear, everything we know about President Obama, everything we know about why he came to politics, how he came to politics, these are issues that he cares deeply about and right now he's basically allowing Eric Holder, his attorney general, to speak as his surrogate but he's not speaking those words himself.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I mean, in his autobiography there's an awful lot about race.

SCHERER: Sure. A lot of them.

BORGER: And so --

SCHERER: And these issues.

BORGER: And these -- and these particular issues. So I think that this is something he would want to talk about. But he's president of the United States, he has an open investigation going on in his own Justice Department, which he cannot appear to be prejudicing in one way -- in one way or another. There's a potential civil suit. And also he's polarizing. So I think for one reason or another he issued a written statement now.

I'm told they are prepared when asked with an answer. We don't know what that answer is but I think he thought he was going to be asked about this when he was interviewed by some Latino journalists.

BLITZER: Those Hispanic stations. Yes.

BORGER: Right. But he wasn't asked.

BLITZER: He was ready to give an answer but none of those four journalists --


BLITZER: -- asked him a question, which was obviously surprising to me. But some people say not that surprising.

Listen to Jimmy Carter, the former president of the United States, and Hillary Clinton, who may be a future president of the United States. They are -- they have not been shy in reacting.


JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT: I think the jury made the right decision based on the evidence presented because the prosecution inadvertently set the standard so high that the jury had to be convinced that it was a deliberate act by Zimmerman, that he was not at all defending himself. And so forth. It's not a moral question, it was a legal question.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: My prayers are with the Martin family and with every family who loves someone who is lost to violence.


BLITZER: So what do you make of their respective statements and potentially the impact on the current president of the United States?

SCHERER: One of them is possibly running for president and you can guess which one. I think the other thing, though, is that they were answering different questions there. And I think this -- actually If you talk to people about how they react to the verdict, you have a group focusing on the legal technicalities of the case and what the jury had to decide and then there are those who are focused on the outrage of the situation, which is much broader and has much bigger societal impacts.

BORGER: And Eric Holder, who is focusing on the Stand Your Ground law itself.


BORGER: Which he clearly thinks is an abomination. You know, Hillary Clinton could be a presidential contender has a very different answer from Jimmy Carter who of course is not running for anything.

BLITZER: I mean, she certainly at least in that presentation, in that speech, she looked like somebody who was seriously thinking about running for that Democratic presidential nomination.

SCHERER: I don't think she has done anything yet to suggest otherwise.


BORGER: But she did not weigh in on the verdict itself. Because as somebody who may be seeking public office at some time, maybe the highest office, that's not something you ought to do.

BLITZER: I thought -- by the way, I thought she looked good, too. That rest she's had since leaving the State Department seems to be working at least --


BLITZER: Yes, rest is good. All right, guys. Thanks.

SCHERER: Go get one, Wolf.

BLITZER: One of these days. Thanks very much for coming in. Good cover story, too.

Up next, the alleged treatment of a terror suspect picked up years ago leads to the arrest of a man Italy claims is a one-time CIA station chief in Italy. Stand by, new information.

And the hackers group Anonymous suggests it has compromised lots of people who work on Capitol Hill.


BLITZER: We're following some important new developments in a story that goes back to the early years in the war on terrorism. The Italians say back in 2003 the CIA kidnapped a terrorism suspect and sent him away to be tortured in Egypt. Now a U.S. citizens whom the Italians say was the CIA's station chief in Milan, Italy, has just been picked up in Panama. Potentially if extradited to Italy and convicted he could spend years in prison.

Let's bring our national security analyst Peter Bergen, who knows this story well. First of all, Peter, do you think Panama is going to extradite this former CIA station chief to Italy where he will be tried for crimes?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I mean, I think the U.S. government is going to put a huge amount of pressure on the Panamanian government to prevent that happening. And after all, you know, the United States has quite a lot of influence in Panama. So this may not happen but I think this precedent surely will cause a lot of people who work at the CIA to be concerned.

Robert Lady who is the CIA station chief in Milan who's been arrested in Panama probably realized that any trips to Europe weren't smart because there's a Europe wide arrest warrant for him. He probably calculated that Panama was OK but that calculation clearly isn't -- you know, didn't work out.

And so you have, you know, the possibility of other CIA officials being arrested in other countries for crimes that they've been convicted of in countries other than the United States. I think that, you know, will certainly cause some worry at the CIA.

BLITZER: And just to remind our viewers, I remember covering this story back in 2003 when there was this so-called rendition of a cleric, a man called by -- called Abu Omar who was picked up in Milan, sent to Egypt where supposedly not only was he questioned but he was tortured and the Italians blamed the CIA and put out a whole list, 20 or 25 former CIA officials, all of whom escaped Italy. But pick up the story.

BERGEN: Well, Abu Omar, as you say, is an Egyptian cleric. He was kidnapped in Milan by the CIA essentially and taken to Egypt. I interviewed him at some length. He was -- you know, he was tortured in a way that Egyptian jails often torture their prisoners. He was raped, he was crucified, he was beaten. He spent about four years on and off in Egypt's jail. He's emerged something of a broken man.

So there's no -- you know, I don't think it's controversial that he was tortured in Egypt, it's not controversial that he was taken there by the CIA. None of those facts are under any doubt. The question is, you know, to what extent is the CIA culpable. Certainly the CIA station chief was acting under orders. He certainly felt that the Italians kind of knew what he was doing.

On the other hand the Italian magistrate in the case, who I've also interviewed about this, Armando Spataro, feels very differently. He feels that, you know, the rule of law is the rule of law and you can't just kidnap anybody on the streets of Milan and take them somewhere else where they're tortured.

And so you have, you know, two different views of the situation and now sort of a crisis point because he's now -- the station chief has now been arrested in Panama.

BLITZER: Now a retired CIA station chief thinking he's having a trip for whatever reason to Panama but obviously in deep trouble right now. We'll stay on top of this story, Peter. Thanks very much, Peter Bergen, reporting for us.

Just ahead, the hacker group Anonymous suggests it has compromised lots of people who work on Capitol Hill. We're taking a closer look into what happened.


BLITZER: Lots of action on Capitol Hill today starting with an alarming claim by the internationally feared hacker group Anonymous. It's suggesting it compromised the e-mail of some House staffers.

Let's go to our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

Dana, what do we know?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the headline is that e-mails here on Capitol Hill were not hacked. And that's according to officials on both sides of the Capitol, but certainly the claim did leave a lot of frayed nerves here because basically what this hactivist group, Anonymous, said was that they got into the e-mail addresses and that they also found the passwords of e- mail addresses. But they scrambled them to protect people.

Now what officials here say is what they actually got was information from an outside vendor that many people here on Capitol Hill use and that the passwords were actually not accurate. But still Capitol police and the FBI are both investigating. And just talking to senators in the hallways, it is clear that they say they weren't that upset about this but it does give them pause because it makes them remember everybody, including them, they're vulnerable.

BLITZER: They certainly are. All right, Dana. There were also some fireworks up on Capitol Hill today. And a daylong hearing about the IRS, what's the latest? BASH: It was a very long day. It was really less about trying to get to the bottom of why some groups waited for about three years for IRS tax-exempt status and a lot more about a partisan slug fest. An investigation that, believe it or not, did start out bipartisan.


BASH (voice-over): The man who investigated Tea Party targeting under fire for missing some and leaving out other key information that progressive groups were targeted, too.

J. RUSSELL GEORGE, TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION: Progress? I have no idea what that stands for, sir. Teddy Roosevelt ran for president under the Progressive Party banner.

BASH: Democrats are hoping to finally debunk the notion that IRS targeting was politically motivated. They got an unexpected assist from the Republican relentlessly leading Congress' probe.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CHAIRMAN, OVERSIGHT AND GOVT. REFORM COMMITTEE: Do you know of anyone that you would say in your opinion had political motives in the role or treating of Tea Party groups?


BASH: Two IRS employees gave the same answer.


BASH: After some half a dozen IRS hearings and 16 transcribed interviews, Republicans have no proof of White House involvement in IRS targeting. Democrats were fed up and tensions high.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: The chairman's op-ed this morning in "USA Today" continues to raise questions about whether the White House, quote, "directed" the targeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would the gentleman yield?

CUMMINGS: Of course.

ISSA: I would hope that you are not linking the two. I have never said that it was the president.

BASH: Despite no evidence that the president was not involved, Issa won't let him off the hook. Here with us last month.

(On camera): Do you think based on what you know now that the White House simply was not involved?

ISSA: For years the president bashed the Tea Party groups. He was very public against these groups and on his behalf, perhaps not on his request, on his behalf the IRS executed a delaying tactic against the very groups that he talked about.

BASH (voice-over): At the hearing acrimony between Issa and Democrat Elijah Cummings took an awkward turn.

ISSA: I'm always shocked when the ranking member seems to want to say like a little boy whose hands caught in a cookie jar what hand, what cookie?

BASH: Later Issa apologized to his African-American colleague for using the term "boy."

ISSA: That is something that I grew up with. It is intended to be about a small child, and in no way the use of boy or little boy to be anything else.

CUMMINGS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I really do appreciate your words.


BASH: And despite the tension and outright exasperation, the committee says that they are going to keep looking at this. The IRS investigation continues, this committee and others, and basically, Wolf, what this revealed was that there certainly is partisanship continuing to go on, but the IRS inspector general, who also took a lot of incoming in this hearing, for what Democrats say were -- was really shoddy work in his investigation, he says more reports are going to come out that make the IRS look even worse than it does now.

BLITZER: All right, Dana. Dana is watching this up on Capitol Hill. Thank you.

Coming up, a Taliban commander explains why they tried to assassinate a teenage schoolgirl.

And believe it or not, the wait for the royal baby is giving rise to all sorts of conspiracy theories. Wait until you hear what some people are now wondering.


BLITZER: It's rare to get a clarification from terrorists. Mary Snow is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What happened, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it comes from a Taliban commander in a letter to a Pakistani intelligence source released to CNN. He explains why they tried to assassinate Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who survived a bullet in the head. The letter says the attempt to assassinate her wasn't because she advocated education for girls, but because she criticized the Taliban.

Fortunately, nobody was home when a small plane crashed into a Maryland trailer park this morning. Witnesses say it had just taken off from a suburban airport about 20 miles northeast of Washington. CNN affiliate WJLA reports the pilot was conscious and alert after the crash, but was rushed to a hospital trauma center to treat his injuries.

"The Guardian" reporter who broke the story about National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden now plans to write a book about it. It won't be out until next year. The publisher promises it will contain new revelations about how private industry cooperates with the U.S. government surveillance of ordinary citizens.

And the world is honoring an ailing Nelson Mandela on this, his 95th birthday. The former South African president, who's been hospitalized with a lung ailment since June, is now said to be steadily improving. That's according to current South African president, Jacob Zuma. Mandela's condition has been described as critical, but stable, until now.

And Wolf, to honor his legacy, people were asked to perform today 67 minutes of community service, marking the years that he's spent doing public service.

BLITZER: He was a great, great man, indeed. I had the privilege of interviewing him back in 1998, in Cape Town, and as I've often said, one of the great moments of my journalistic career.

Mary, thanks very much.

Coming up, could the global media be camped outside the wrong hospital as the world awaits the arrival of a new royal baby. That's next.

And just at the top of the hour, two jurors, two accounts of what happened behind the scenes at the George Zimmerman murder trial. We're breaking down the interviews. That's coming up.


BLITZER: Another day has come and gone. So far there's no word about the arrival of a royal baby. The wait is beginning to give rise to questions about whether we're waiting outside the wrong hospital.

Here's CNN royal correspondent, Max Foster, in London.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, to give you a sense of the investment, really, that the media organizations have made here, there's a huge press pen here outside the London hospital. All the major U.S. networks, many networks from around the world, all the ladders representing photographic -- still photographic positions. They've been here for well over a week now.

But a degree of concern that this may be the wrong hospital, simply because the duchess is currently staying in Berkshire, she's overdue, and there's always been a contingency that she would go to the local hospital in Berkshire, and Royal Berkshire hospital and that seems more likely as she gets more overdue. She's still staying there, but the palace insists the plan is still to come to this hospital in London. This is where she wants to have the baby. So for now we're staying put -- Wolf. BLITZER: Max Foster, thank you. And as we wait for the royal baby, please be sure to tune in tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for a CNN special, "Will and Kate Plus One."

Happening now, conflict between jurors in the George Zimmerman trial.