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Obama's Press Conference Discussed; Current Terror Threat Examined; DNA Proves Man isn't Stolen Baby; Rethinking Pot's Effect on the Body; Great White on Board

Aired August 9, 2013 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, President Obama strongly defends government surveillance, but says he'll work to protect privacy rights.

Tough talk, too, about the NSA leaker, Edward Snowden. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and a possible U.S. government shut down. We have it all covered for you this hour.

The hunt for a California AMBER Alert suspect and the 16-year-old girl he may be holding captive moves to the Idaho wilderness, after horseback riders report a possible sighting.

And a great white shark in the waters frightening enough, but imagine pulling a live one onto your boat. And that's just what some researchers are trying to do. We'll take you to the waters off Cape Cod.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


We begin this hour with President Obama. He says America is not interested in spying on ordinary people. Following leaks revealing massive government snooping programs, he says he's acting to boost public confidence in national security surveillance, working with Congress to make it more transparent.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I'm going to be pushing the IC to do is, rather than have a trunk come out here and a leg come out here and a tail come out there, let's just put the whole elephant out there so people know exactly what they're looking at. Let's examine what is working, what's not.


BLITZER: The president also says his decision to skip a Moscow summit was not solely related to Russia's granting asylum to the NSA leaker, Edward Snowden.

This as much, much more comes out in a wide-ranging news conference the president held for nearly an hour earlier today. We have full coverage this hour.

Let's go to straight, first of all, to our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, with more of the highlights -- Jessica?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, in that sound bite you played from the president just now, he announced a major new effort to make more transparent how the surveillance programs in the U.S. work. Basically, what he's trying to do is pull back the curtain on more of the massive surveillance system that the U.S. has deployed and explain, from the president and the administration's perspective, both why it's necessary and more of the details about it, because they feel that the U.S. public has been misinformed, as has the world, by the release of documents by Edward Snowden.

And the president and the administration have been criticized from left and from right for failing to do what many say has been a better job explaining all that.

So in the coming days, they've already started releasing documents. I have one now. And in coming days, we expect many more about the details of the surveillance here in the U.S. -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jessica, you asked an important question to the president.

Let me play your question and his answer right now.


YELLIN: Republicans in the House might give you that choice soon, to either allow the government to shut down or see ObamaCare defunded.

Would you choose to let the government shut down to ensure that ObamaCare remains funded?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I'm not going to engage in hypotheticals. I can tell that you the American people would have difficulty understanding why we would weaken our economy, shut down our government, shut down vital services, have people who are not getting paid, who then can't go to restaurants or shop for clothes or all the other things that we're doing here, because Republicans have determined that they don't want to see these folks get health care. Again, they used to say they had a replacement. That never actually arrived, right.


BLITZER: He clearly is irritated with these threats coming from some Republicans, like Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas, among others, that they might be willing to shut down the government in order to defund ObamaCare.

YELLIN: Wolf, it's a possibility that's facing him come October 1st. The government runs out of money. And Congress will have to decide exactly how to fund government going into next year. Some Republicans in the House are saying they will not vote for any funding increases, any new spending for next year, unless ObamaCare is defunded. And you heard, also, a very fierce defense of ObamaCare from him just before I asked my question. So it led right into this, to say, Mr. President, given this fierce defense, does that mean your top priority is Obama over a government shut down?

He really wouldn't go there. You heard him say I'm not engaging in hypotheticals. But given everything he said, it sure sounded like he was on the firm side of ObamaCare and pressing Republicans, they'd better not shut down the government or we could be facing a pretty big showdown -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good point.

All right, thanks very much.

Jessica Yellin over at the White House.

President Obama says he's confident common sense will prevail and that the government won't shut down in October because of a battle over the budget and health care.

Let's go to Capitol Hill.

Our chief Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is watching what's going on, getting reaction to the news conference.

Is this really what the Republicans are threatening to do, Dana, shut down the government to try to kill ObamaCare?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some are absolutely. You mentioned Ted Cruz. I spoke with him, the Republican senator from Texas, before he left for recess last week. And he said point blank that he believes that this is the most critical, most fundamental time for Republicans to make good on their promise to try to repeal ObamaCare, by making this threat -- the threat that the government is going to run out of money at the end of September and they're not going to vote for funding it unless ObamaCare is defunded, unless they take the money out of that.

And he's also taunting fellow Republicans, saying that they're scared and that that's why they may not go his way.

But there really is a split, Wolf. He certainly has some supporters on this. He is spending all of August, as we speak, with petitions and trying to push Republican leaders to go forward on their strategy. But many -- even the most fiscally conservative Republicans here in Congress say, you know, for a lot of reasons this is just not the greatest way to go.

But if you take ObamaCare out of this, there still is a big question as to how the Republicans and the White House are going to come together on a plan to keep the government running. What they have to do is come up with spending measures, balance that again with tax cuts, if there are going to be any -- or excuse me, tax hikes, if there are going to be any. That is something that we have seen the White House and Republicans struggle with since Republicans took over in the House. And it's going on again right now. And they're going to have to find way to do that in the next month-and-a-half.

BLITZER: Let me switch gears and talk a little bit about the NSA surveillance program. The specific plan the president outlined today up on Capitol Hill, will it satisfy his critics?

And he has critics in both parties.

BASH: The short answer is no. And what has been most interesting is that, yes, he has critics in both parties, but most of them have been to the left, Libertarians, Republicans, and, of course, liberal Democrats.

He's had the support of Republicans, the Republican leadership in particular. It's been one of the rare issues where they actually agree, that the NSA programs are important for national security.

So the House speaker put out a statement today, his office, saying that this is absolutely the wrong thing to do, that he is trying to save face, not try to save American security and that the transparency is just basically effectively caving to the liberal wing.

As far as the liberal wing goes, they say that this is a nice first step, but they're still going to keep pushing him to narrow this program in a big way.

The Senate Intelligence Committee just announced that they're going to have major hearings on this all fall.

BLITZER: The tension will certainly continue.

All right, Dana, thanks very much.

ObamaCare has been a tough battle from the word go. And now with the law on the books, so why are conservatives still making an all-out effort against it?

Let's discuss with our CNN political commentators, Democratic pollster, Cornell Belcher, and former Bush White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer.

Let me play another clip from the president defending ObamaCare.


OBAMA: I think the really interesting question is why it is that my friends in the other party have made the idea of preventing these people from getting health care their holy grail, their number one priority. The one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don't have health care. The notion is simply that those 30 million people, or the 150 million who are benefiting from the other aspects of affordable care, will be better off without it. That's their assertion, not backed by fact, not backed by any evidence. It's just become an ideological fixation. Well, I tell you what, they're wrong about that.


BLITZER: All right, so Ari, is the president right, that defending ObamaCare is now the number one priority for the Republicans and the holy grail, as he calls it?

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Wolf, that sentence by the president encapsulates everything that's wrong with the ill will in Washington. The president acts as if it's all Republicans who are bitter and who want to fight. That sentence from the president challenges the motives of his opposition. It doesn't question their policies or substantive judgments against the policy that is unpopular, that raises taxes, that makes health care premiums go up on people who have them.

He says Republicans have a cold heart and don't want to give health insurance to 30 million people. That's a fundamentally wrong statement to make and it maligns the motives of his opposition. It helps drive all the ill feelings of Washington, DC.

The president is part of the problem in Washington, when he speaks ill of his opponents like that, instead of speaking substantively and debating the substance.

BLITZER: Cornell...

FLEISCHER: One final point. Right as he said that, Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, issued a statement showing nine proposals Republicans have made to actually replace ObamaCare with substantive policies and changes.

BLITZER: All right, let's let Cornell respond.

Go ahead.

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER, PRESIDENT, BRILLIANT CORNERS RESEARCH & STRATEGIES: Well, it's kind of tough for him to argue substantive, because, like the president said, I mean this is a Congress that's not -- the last 211 days, they haven't moved one piece of jobs legislation, but they've -- yet they've been able to keep continually voting on appealing health care reform. And the president is right.

I didn't see what I think you said Cantor presented today, but the truth of the matter is, they haven't presented anything on the floor of the Congress that's about replacing health care.

So the question is, they haven't debated the question.

Why is it that you're going to take 30, 40 votes on repealing health care when you know it's actually not going to happen and not one vote on comprehensive job reform?

This has become the obsession of the Republican Party. And unfortunately, Congress is broken because of it. BLITZER: Go ahead, Ari.

FLEISCHER: Yes. I don't know what comprehensive job reform is. Maybe Cornell thinks in Washington, they can create all the jobs for all the unemployed Americans.

Our country doesn't really work that way.

But what Republicans have done is come out with legislation that would deny insurance companies the right to deny people who have preexisting conditions, to allow people who are children 26 and older stay on policies, to do all those good things that ObamaCare did, indeed, do, but without the harm to the economy that ObamaCare is doing.

And they're bipartisan, these reforms. You notice that Democrats have joined increasingly with Republicans on the desire to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with something new. The only partisan here really left is Barack Obama.

BELCHER: This is breaking news to me. It is amazing now that, you know, Republicans are now coming up with embracing pieces of ObamaCare that they think is good and works.

Where were they when he was initially rolling it out, when the president reached across and said, you know, work with me on this and let's find some common ground?

They were lockstep against him. But all of a sudden now, oh, all of a sudden now, piece of ObamaCare, we're actually for. This is breaking news and really interesting. And it shows you how broken Congress really is.

FLEISCHER: But that's because of all the job killing aspects, the tax hiking aspects and the health redistribution of assets. That's where it takes away health plans.

Now we're hearing from unions who don't want ObamaCare to affect their health care. It's because of the negative things in ObamaCare.

The good things can and should be done. And that's what Republicans, with some Democratic support, have been moving forward.

But when the president says Republicans don't want 30 million people to have health care, Republicans want insurance companies to knock people off of preexisting conditions, the president is contributing to the terrible cesspool of Washington. He is part of the problem, because he's misstating Republican positions. And he knows it.

BELCHER: Here is the problem with that. It's fantasy. I mean this ideal that you can have all the good things but there can be nothing bad.

You know why there was an individual mandate in your last presidential candidate's platform for health care that he did in Massachusetts?

Because, quite frankly, that's the part that makes all the other good things work.

So we're talking fantasy. And the job killing bill that health care reform is, how many jobs have we actually created over the last 12 months?

We've created an awful lot of jobs over the last 12 months. The only thing that's going to kill jobs in this country right now is Republicans shutting down our government and throwing our economy...

BLITZER: Well, let me...

BELCHER: -- in a tailspin because -- over health care. It makes no sense.

BLITZER: All right, Ari, you lived through the last government shutdown back in the '90s.


BLITZER: Twice the Republicans shut down the government. They paid a steep price for it.

They're not going to do it again, right?

FLEISCHER: Wolf, on this one I agree with Cornell. I think tactically, it's a terrible mistake to Republicans to pursue, as Ted Cruz is doing, the senator from Texas, the repeal of ObamaCare on the regular bills that fund the government. As much as I would like to see ObamaCare repealed, because it's bad for the economy and bad for people's insurance and their ability to afford health care, shutting down the government, it's just not the right way to go.

The American people are tired of taking the fights to the extreme. And this is where both people -- both parties...

BLITZER: All right...

FLEISCHER: -- but Ted Cruz is the one leading this. He needs to bring it back and be reasonable.


FLEISCHER: It's a mistake for Republicans to pursue it.

BLITZER: On that note of a little...

BELCHER: We agree...


BELCHER: -- in the end.

BLITZER: We'll leave it on that. Ari Fleischer, Cornell Belcher, guys, thanks very much.

Up next, President Obama says the core of al Qaeda has been broken apart.

Is that enough to keep Americans safe?

Peter Bergen is here. He's standing by live.

And President Obama also slams Russia's treatment of gays and lesbians, including athletes.

How will that impact Russia's Winter Olympic Games?

That's coming up, as well.


BLITZER: With a worldwide terror alert underway and U.S. embassies shut down, how much of a threat does Al Qaeda really pose?

President Obama spoke about that today at the news conference.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said specifically that, although they are less likely to be able to carry out spectacular homeland attacks, like 9/11, they have the capacity to go after our embassies. They have the capacity, potentially, to go after our businesses. They have the capacity to be destabilizing and disruptive in countries where the security apparatus is weak.

And that's exactly what we are seeing right now. So it's entirely consistent to say that this tightly organized and relatively centralized Al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11 has been broken apart.


BLITZER: Let's discuss what's going on with our national security analyst, Peter Bergen.

Peter, as we're speaking, we're getting this word in from our Elise Labott; she's reporting that the majority of U.S. diplomatic posts that were closed this past week because of fears of a possible Al Qaeda attack will reopen on Sunday.

She's quoting a senior State Department official. As you know, 19 embassies and consulates were shut down. A majority of them will open. Maybe some of them will remain closed.

But is the president right that core Al Qaeda, which I guess means the Al Qaeda that attacked the U.S. on 9/11, is, for all practical purposes, destroyed?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think the president is correct. I think that's a factually correct statement. I mean, an account that we have done at the American Foundation, where I work, of senior Al Qaeda leaders killed in drone strikes in Pakistan, that you've got at least 30 that have been killed just in the last several years.

And their band's (ph) just been decimated. They're finding it hard to replace people. One interpretation that can be put on this recent alert is Al Qaeda central, Ayman al-Zawahiri who runs it, reaching out to the one part of his organization that retains some virulence, which is in Yemen, saying essentially, "Do something." But "do something" isn't a plan. I mean, CNN is reporting that the message was do something. You know, it's not I have an extremely well thought-out plan to attack a particular place valuable to the United States.

BLITZER: But Al Qaeda does have all these presence throughout -- in Syria there's a significant Al Qaeda presence, in Iraq, not only in Yemen, but elsewhere, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, even Al Qaeda in Sinai right now. You see all these affiliates, these supporters of Al Qaeda, creating new Al Qaedas.

Don't they represent a significant potential threat?

BERGEN: Yes, potential threat. I mean, Syria in particular, where you have thousands of foreign fighters, some of them are Europeans, the most effective fighting force, fighting against Assad is really an Al Qaeda front organization. But for the moment they're focused on overthrowing Assad. That's a project that could take years.

For the first time, they haven't shown any interest in attacking anywhere outside Syria or, indeed, against any U.S. associated target.

That said, things can change. So Syria is a real concern. And it's not only a concern that we would have been talking about a year ago, because the situation in Syria has developed in a very sort of radical way.

BLITZER: Yes, and as Mike Morel, the outgoing number two at the CIA, said in "The Wall Street Journal" this week, "If those Al Qaeda elements in Syria get their hands on some of Syria's chemical weapons, stockpiles, other weapons, who know what they would do with all that equipment." So that's a serious potential threat, as you accurately point out.

Peter, thanks very much.

BERGEN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, a real breakthrough in the search for the Amber Alert suspect, but it also raises some very disturbing new questions.

And later, President Obama criticizes Russia's anti-gay laws. But what he says about their effect at the upcoming Winter Olympic Games may surprise you. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: There are important developments in the manhunt for a California kidnapping and murder suspect. Mary Snow is monitoring that for us and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Mary, what do you have?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, authorities have recovered James DiMaggio's car in Idaho. They found it after a pair of horseback riders reported meeting a man and girl in the wilderness Wednesday. The riders made contact with authorities yesterday after seeing reports about DiMaggio and the Amber Alert for his alleged captive. They say the woman didn't seem like she was being held against her will. Police found the car today, hidden under some brush. Much more on this ahead in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Authorities are searching for bodies after a twin-engine private plane crashed into a neighborhood in East Haven, Connecticut. The crash started a fire that destroyed two homes. Authorities say there are at least two victims, but they can't say who they are or their ages.

In addition to the pilot in the plane, two children were in one of the homes that burned.

And finally, watch what happened when a reporter from Britain's ITV caught up with New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. To say the least, he didn't quite take her seriously.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would anything stop you?

ANTHONY WEINER, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN FROM N.Y.: I just have the feeling I've like stepped into a Monty Python bit. I don't know. Would anything stop me? What do you want? Now is a rocket going to fall on my head? Anything else I can do for ITV? You want me to do the weather or something.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you can do the weather, you can do the weather for me.

WEINER: What -- where's it from? This is in England?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can do the weather here in New York if you like.

WEINER: No, no, no, I'll do yours instead.

It's going to be raining, cloudy and gray. So do what you can, guys. Try to keep your head up. Keep a stiff -- what is it, a stiff upper lip?


SNOW: A new poll shows Weiner's in fourth place heading into next month's Democratic primary.


BLITZER: A little excitement in New York, I got to tell you, Mary, thank you.

Up next, are relations with Russia back in the deep freeze? President Obama speaking bluntly about Russia's President Putin.

And a Great White shark in the water is frightening enough, but imagine pulling a live one on to your boat. That's just what some researchers are actually trying to do. We're taking to you the waters off Cape Cod. That's coming up.


BLITZER: At his news conference, President Obama today explained his decision to skip a Moscow summit, saying it goes beyond Russia's granting of asylum to the NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Listen to this.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's also true is that when President Putin, who was prime minister when Medvedev was president, came back into power, I think we saw more rhetoric on the Russian side that was anti-American, that played into some of the old stereotypes about the Cold War contest between the United States and Russia.

And I've encouraged Mr. Putin to think forward as opposed to backwards on those issues. With mixed success.

I don't have a bad personal relationship with Putin. When we have conversations they're candid, they're blunt. Oftentimes they're constructive. I know the press likes to focus on body language and he's got that kind of slouch, looking like the bored kid in the back of the classroom, but the truth is that when we're in conversations together, oftentimes it's very productive.


BLITZER: Let's discuss what's going on with the Russia expert, Julia Ioffe, senior editor at the "New Republic."

Julia, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: It's a complicated relationship, it's not necessarily like it was in the bad old days of the Cold War but it's tense.

IOFFE: That's right. And also unlike in the bad days of the Cold War, there's just not as much to talk about. It's not like the U.S. and Russia are in charge of the whole world. It's more like the U.S. and Europe and China, and then Russia is kind of lagging somewhere -- far behind. So actually the decision to cancel the summit recalibrate relations a little bit. I think it's kind of a nod to catching up with the times.

BLITZER: They'll have a chance, though, to get together on the sidelines, Presidents Putin and Obama, in St. Petersburg at the G-20 and maybe they'll make nicer then.

IOFFE: They probably will. They'll probably have some back-of- the room conversations but Putin's foreign policy adviser today came out and said that, you know, they had intended to talk in Moscow at this bilateral summit. Now that it's cancelled, they're not really planning on anything specific or special at the G-20 but they might talk on the sidelines.

BLITZER: Could you see the Russians actually handing over Snowden to the United States?



IOFFE: Can you see the U.S. handing somebody over like Snowden to Russia?

BLITZER: You don't think so?

IOFFE: No. I mean, it just looks bad, it looks weak. It got to the point where Eric Holder had to come out and say look, we won't torture this guy, we won't put him to death because it became -- he became kind of a folk hero in the Russian media, and there was also the trope that he would be put to death and tortured if he was sent back to the U.S. So it -- that was very much a kind of Cold War thing there.

BLITZER: The president was very specific when it came to this recent wave of anti-gay laws in Russia but he also said don't boycott the Olympic Games in Sochi. Listen to this.


OBAMA: One of the things I'm really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold, or silver or bronze, which I think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we're seeing there. And if Russia doesn't have gay or lesbian athletes, then it will probably make their team weaker.


BLITZER: A lot of people don't understand why the Russians are doing this? Now why are they imposing all of these anti-gay laws?

IOFFE: Well, you have to also look at it in the broader context. You had Pussy Riot being imprisoned for two years last summer. You had at the same time that the gay law -- anti-gay law was passed, you had a law that punished with jail time offending the feelings of religious believers. It's this kind of neoconservative attitude, this kind of looking and grasping for an ideology to tie a country together. To get Putin's legitimacy which he very much lost in coming back for a third term. His ascent or re-ascent was greeted with wide protests in Moscow and his -- you know, his capital.

And this is a kind of trying to create an image of a Russia that may not have ever existed but he feels, you know, that it's a kind of image that the Russian heartland can get behind, even if he's lost the city.

BLITZER: Does Putin personally support a crackdown on gays and lesbians in Russia?

IOFFE: I don't think he particularly cares. I don't think he really ever cared before, I'm sure he's a pretty traditional guy who probably doesn't realize that he knows some gay people in his life but he -- you know, he's going along with it. He's using it in a pretty cynical way to kind of build, like I said, to bring the heartland into his tent.

BLITZER: Yes, if they -- if they want to host the Olympic Games, they're not going to able to do that effectively. But we'll see what happens, Julia. Thanks very much for coming in.

IOFFE: Thank you.

BLITZER: Julia Ioffe from the "New Republic" magazine.

Just ahead, a real-life mystery. It started with a baby's disappearance. Almost 50 years later, a man who grew up thinking he was that child makes a big discovery.

Plus the Powerball jackpot keeps shrinking but it's still a lot of money.


BLITZER: A nearly half century old cold case is being reopened after a man made a startling discovery. The -- people, I should say, who raised him weren't his biological parents and he wasn't the child they thought he was.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is in Chicago. He's going to explain what is actually going on.

What do we know, Ted?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's quite a story, Wolf. Paul Fronczak's parents never told him about his past until -- when he was a child he stumbled across an old box and it had some newspaper clippings talking about his past. His parents said, don't worry about that, you are who you are. But he says it bothered him his whole life so a few months ago he got a DNA test, and he figured out he isn't who he thought he was.


PAUL FRONCZAK, GREW UP THINKING HE WAS THE STOLEN BABY: Well, I think it could be a great thing in the end.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Paul Fronczak is determined to find out who he really is. His story goes back to April 1964 at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. Chester and Dora Fronczak were celebrating the birth of their baby boy Paul when a woman posing as a nurse kidnapped the one-day-old newborn.

It was front page news and as police searched, the heartbroken parents could do nothing but wait. Then just over a year later, this little boy was found abandoned in Newark, New Jersey. Investigators thought he might be baby Paul because his ears were similar. But with DNA testing unavailable, they couldn't just hand him over.

The Fronczaks were sure it was baby Paul so they adopted him.

FRONCZAK: And they're great parents.

ROWLANDS: The boy in this home video grew up as Paul Fronczak, living a great life in the Chicago suburbs. But as an adult, decades later, living in Las Vegas with a family of his own, Paul decided to take a DNA test because he'd always had questions.

FRONCZAK: And I started thinking honestly what are the chances that out of a kidnapped baby from Chicago, that I am their kidnapped child found in New Jersey two and a half years later? It's pretty wild.

ROWLANDS: The results confirmed that Paul actually wasn't the baby stolen from the hospital. He now wants to find out his true identity and now nearly 50 years later because of Paul's DNA test, the FBI has re-opened the case in an effort to possibly find the real Paul Fronczak, the little baby stolen in 1964.

FRONCZAK: I just -- I mean, I just think it'd be really cool if we actually found the real kidnapped baby.


ROWLANDS: So, now, Wolf, Wolf, you have two mysteries here. Who is Paul Fronczak? He's trying to figure out his own identity. He's working with Apparently they've already located a second or third cousin. But then you have the FBI investigation. The FBI office here in Chicago opened it up. They went back and they actually did find the old case file and they say there's some evidence in there, they're going to reopen it, and see if they can determine where that little boy is today, 49 years later.

BLITZER: Wow. What a story. Let's see if they can. All right, Ted. Thank you very much. Fascinating material.

Also ahead, we're going to have more on today's big break in the manhunt for a suspected murderer who has been the subject of a multi- state AMBER alert. And our own Brian Todd follows some researchers as they get up close and personal with great white sharks.


BLITZER: Very important CNN special this weekend may make you rethink your attitude about medical marijuana.

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta spent nearly a year investigating the impact of marijuana on the body and it obviously changed his mind.

Sanjay is joining us once again right now.

Sanjay, marijuana often is thought of a -- as a bad drug, but you uncovered just how well it often works as a medication. What makes it work so well?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's made up of lots of different chemicals when you talk about marijuana, better known as cannabis. And a couple of these important chemicals, THC, is the chemical that is sort of the psycho active chemical that gives people the high.

There is also something known as CBD, which stands for cannabidiol. Now you may not remember all this but there are several different of these cannabidiol receptors throughout the body, including in the brain. Our body makes some natural sort of cannabidiol-like substances but marijuana, when it binds to these receptors can actually have some pretty important medical benefit.

Everything from helping address seizures in the brain, to helping address pain in the body. You've heard about it for emaciation, for nausea, things like that. They're looking at it for PTSD now. Even as a potent anti-inflammatory to protect the brain after a head injury or stroke. So -- but that's really the mechanism. These receptors and the fact that marijuana can really target those specific receptors.

BLITZER: Does it work better, Sanjay, than other medications for certain patients?

GUPTA: Yes, yes, I think it can. And, Wolf, I mean, I think it's a very important point, you know, when I was critical, if you will, of medical marijuana in the past, I mean, part of the issue was, does it really work that well, aren't there adequate medications already for these sorts of ailments?

And what I found as part of these researches, not only does it work as well, or better than some of the existing medications, sometimes it works when nothing else does.

Let me show you a quick example of what I'm talking about, Wolf

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GUPTA (voice-over): Meet 19-year-old Chaz Moore. He uses many different strains of marijuana. Many of them high in CBD to treat his rare disorder of the diaphragm.

CHAZ MOORE, PATIENT: My abs will like lock up --

GUPTA: That's why he's talking this way. Almost speaking in hiccups, like he can't catch his breath. He's about to show me how the marijuana works. He's been convulsing now for seven minutes.

(On camera): How quickly do you expect this to work?

MOORE: Within like the first five minutes. And I'm done, like.

GUPTA: That's it.

MOORE: That's it.

GUPTA (voice-over): It was actually less than a minute.


GUPTA: So you get a little bit of an idea there, Wolf. He used -- this man Chaz Moore, he'd been in hospitals, he'd been in the ICU and he had a whole table full of medications including muscle relaxants and even narcotics that he had been prescribed by his doctors who diagnosed him with this flutter of his diaphragm.

You saw it, Wolf. Those medications didn't work. And in this case it worked and it worked fairly quickly for him.

BLITZER: One thing we often hear is that marijuana today is a lot stronger than it was, let's say, a generation or so ago. Is it more potent right now and could that make it more addictive?

GUPTA: I think it's safe to say that it is more potent right now. We spent some time with the Marijuana Potency Project, there's a forum down in Mississippi where they analyze the marijuana that is confiscated in various places. And, you know, if back in the '60s and '70s marijuana was closer to 1 percent THC, the average is higher, even above 10 percent, 10 to 13 percent THC now.

The doctor down there said they have found -- they have found marijuana with THC concentrations as high as 37 percent. So there has been this breeding of the plant to try and increase the THC. So I think that that's true.

Whether or not that makes it more addictive is a little bit more -- it's a little bit of a tougher question to answer. Certainly if you talk to the scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which we did, they believe that a higher potency marijuana will be more addictive. But, you know, this has been a difficult thing to prove. So theoretically it seems so, but we haven't seen that absolutely clinically yet.

BLITZER: One final question, though. A lot of people were tweeting me saying -- in reacting to your report and your conversion on medical marijuana, they were saying, doesn't Sanjay know that you can get lung cancer from smoking marijuana. Can you?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I mean I think there's a concern any time you smoke anything that you can damage the lungs, caused lung disease, even lung cancer. Certainly we see that with cigarette smoke, tobacco. It took a long time to actually prove that. We don't have actually conclusive evidence to say right now that marijuana smoking leads to lung cancer.

But look, smoking is not something that I would advise as a physician. I think the patients who are taking this -- let me be really clear. Sometimes these strains of marijuana they're taking it as an oil. They take the marijuana as an oil. And it's a high CBD, low THC. What that means is they're not getting high off of it but rather using the medicine instead and then using it as an oil instead of smoking it.

I mean, look, I think of this as a medicine. And so when you think of reefer madness and imagine all the visuals that you think of reefer madness, when you watch this documentary, Wolf, I think you're going to see a whole different way potentially of using medical marijuana.

BLITZER: I think you're doing an excellent job, Sanjay. Thanks very much.

And the documentary is entitled "WEED." A fascinating special. You can see it this Sunday night 8:00 p.m. Eastern, also at 11:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

At the top of the hour, the hunt for a California AMBER alert suspect and the 16-year-old girl he may be holding captive moves to an Idaho wilderness.

And they're scary enough in the water so why would researchers bring live great white sharks on to their boat?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Brian Todd. Off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where a team of top scientists and fishermen have launched an ambitious project. An expedition aimed at tagging and tracking great white sharks. The footage of this you won't believe. That story coming up.


BLITZER: The only thing more frightening than a great white shark in the water is having one on your boat. Unless you're one of a small group of researchers going to remarkable lengths to study great white sharks up close.

CNN's Brian Todd takes us up close with jaws.

TODD: Wolf, we're at the height of the migration season. The migration of great white sharks to here. The waters off Cape Cod. They're a vulnerable species. And on this research vessel a top team of scientists and fishermen have launched one of the most ambitious expeditions aimed at tracking and tagging great whites that has ever been attempted. But it's how they do it. Getting the great whites from here onto here while they're still alive that will make your heart stop.


TODD (voice-over): You're inches away from the ocean's most storied predator. A great white shark on the lift of the vessel OCEARCH.



TODD: It's been baited, hooked, and walked onto this platform. Fishing master Brett McBride jumps in, risking everything to guide the beast in. He's got to steady it, put a towel over the eyes to calm it, get a line around the tail. One mistake, the shark wins.

(On camera): What do you tell your family about what you're doing here?

BRETT MCBRIDE, FISHING MASTER, OCEARCH: That I'm being safe. You know, they know that this has been my whole life being around animals like this. And being in the ocean. Waiting for this. They know that I'm safe. I'm not a thrill seeker kind of person.

TODD (voice-over): A team of scientists has 15 minutes to take blood and tissue samples, place four tags on the shark, check to see if it's got health problems.

(On camera): Once the shark is on that lift, hydration is crucial. This hose runs nonstop. It attaches to this sleeve. They've got to run water through the shark's mouth to pump water through its gills to give it oxygen and water to survive. As you can see, this one's already been used on a great white shark.

(Voice-over): Samples taken, tags attached, the shark is set free. The crew celebrates and gives this one a name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Lydia. Yes, yes, yes.

TODD: This is the work of OCEARCH, a non-profit research vessel. Renowned scientists teaming with expert fishermen to tag, track, and save the great white shark.

We're with them as they track sharks off Cape Cod. This method of bringing these APEX predators aboard a lift, doing real-time experiments while they're alive had never been attempted by anyone else.

Greg Skomal is the chief scientist for the expedition.

GREG SKOMAL, MASSACHUSETTS DIVISION OF MARINE FISHERIES: This vessel allows you to take it to the next level. Bring big, big fish on board and do multiple studies on live fish. Up until now the only big sharks I've been able to examine up close and personal have been dead.

TODD: On the dorsal fin, a satellite enabled transmitter tag is attached, allowing anyone to log on to and use the global tracker to see where the shark goes. Some sharks tagged off Cape Cod have been tracked off the coast of Florida, Bermuda.

What's brought the great whites, OCEARCH and us to the waters off Cape Cod?

(On camera): They're chumming up the OCEARCH but the real bait for the great white sharks are these. The resurgence of the gray seals off Cape Cod. Some of these animals can get up to 800 pounds.

(Voice-over): The great whites attack the seals with a violent flourish. Their several rows of serrated teeth the perfect cutting tool. That danger always on the minds of this team in those critical 15 minutes.

MCBRIDE: Just stay away from the side of the tail and the side of the face.

TODD: But OCEARCH expedition leader Chris Fisher says despite a well-earned reputation as an eating machine, there's a misconception.

These animals are very skittish, very nervous, and don't want to really be around people at all. I think, you know, in the past they've had a branding perception problem. I oftentimes say sharks need a new PR agent.

TODD: Another misconception? That they're a huge threat to us. It's the opposite. Every year maybe five people are killed around the world by shark attacks. But we kill at least 38 million sharks a year.

(On camera): What happens if the shark population is decimated even more?

SKOMAL: Sharks are a critical component. They're the top predators. You remove those top predators, and something at which they feed may come out of balance and that which they feed upon suddenly be driven down. You get this cascade of effects that ultimately causes real problems not only for the ocean but ultimately for man.


TODD: Skomal says most of the killing is done in international waters where the fisheries are not policed very well. But this team is committed to the fight to save the species. From here they hope to move to the waters off South America to track tiger and bull sharks -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, an amazing report. Learned a lot about great white sharks. Happening now, some top Republicans slam President Obama's new plan to reform government surveillance, saying he's letting the NSA leaker pull his strings. I'll ask the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for his reaction.

Also a huge new break in the manhunt for a murder suspect and the teenage girl he allegedly kidnapped.