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General Court-Martialed; Violence in Egypt; Cut Off Aid to Egypt?; Mass Carnage Has Egypt Staggering; Clown Act Starts Political Fight; Michael Jackson's Ex-Wife Gives Emotional Testimony in Wrongful Death Case; Movie Tells Tale of Former White House Butler

Aired August 15, 2013 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Is the largest Arab country about to tear itself apart?

They once called each other pet names, but an Army general's long elicit affair with a junior officer has now ended in accusations of sexual abuse, and he faces a rare court-martial.

Plus, a rodeo clown is banned from a state fair after mocking President Obama. So why is the Republican right so outraged?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

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

Shock, grief, and simmering rage in Egypt. Just a day after ferocious clashes left the city of Cairo with more than 500 people dead, thousands wounded, the streets of the Egyptian capital are quieter with burned-out vehicles and rubble left by battles between security forces and supporters of the ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsy.

The staggering toll among protesters can be seen in the rows of white shrouded bodies lined up in a mosque. And police today began holding the first funerals for dozens, dozens of officers who were killed yesterday. Violence is still flaring.

On the outskirts of Cairo, a mob burned a government building in Giza, just a couple of miles from the ancient pyramids. While U.S. aid to Egypt continues, at least for now, President Obama today strongly condemned the military's crackdown and he announced a punitive step.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back.

As a result, this morning, we notified the Egyptian government that we are canceling our biannual joint military exercise which was scheduled for next month.

And to the Egyptian people, let me say, the cycle of violence and escalation needs to stop. We call on the Egyptian authorities to respect the universal rights of the people. We call on those who are protesting to do so peacefully, and condemn the attacks that we've seen by protesters, including on churches.


BLITZER: When he says churches, it's a serious, serious problem.

The Christian community in Egypt, what's left of it, very, very worried.

Let's get some more on what the president was referring to. Let's go to Cairo. Our senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, is standing by.

The Coptic Christians, they are fearful right now for their very existence as a community, aren't they, Arwa?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They most certainly are, Wolf, and with very good reason.

This is not the first time that Egypt's minority Christian community has come under attack, but what we have been seeing have been attacks that have been very fierce and vicious in nature. And this was one of the efforts that those who are trying to urge a political resolution, this is exactly what they were worried about, this kind of violence targeting Egypt's Christians.


DAMON (voice-over): Amid the scorched walls of the Virgin Mary Church in the small village outside of Cairo, 67-year-old Shenouda El Sayeh steadily, silently sweeps, seemingly oblivious to the others around him.

"I'm sad," he says. "My religion tells me to come clean. I clean the church. The church is my home." The Islamist pro-Morsy mob attacked at night, leaving and then torching the building. What makes it all the more painful is that the perpetrators are from around here. They know some of them. At least 30 other churches across the country were attacked in less than 24 hours.

Egypt's minority Christian community once again finding itself in the crosshairs of a battle over which they have no control. The violence started after Morsy's ouster on June 30, Father Boktar Saad tells us.

"They started organizing marches and demonstrations, chanting outside the church, chanting, 'Down with the church.'" He says he will continue to preach about the need for peace and tolerance. But it is going to take time to heal Egypt's many wounds.

(on camera): While we have been filming inside, some of the people kept on closing the door. They are worried that those who carried out this attack would see us here. They are concerned about our safety in all of this as well.

And even while this cleanup operation is under way, there are still great fears that similar attacks are going to become more frequent in the future.

(voice-over): As we depart, gunfire on the overpass. We're signaled to go back. Someone tells us it was a demonstration, an ominous sign, perhaps, of what's to come.


DAMON: And Wolf, there are many reasons for people to be greatly concerned here, the Muslim Brotherhood calling for even more demonstrations to take place on Friday.

And as we know only too well and as we have seen, the more violence there is, the more potential for violence, even greater violence there remains for the future.

BLITZER: Arwa Damon reporting for us. Arwa, thanks very, very much.

It's certainly not just Egypt on fire. Two-and-a-half years after the Arab spring began, much of the Arab world is in flames. In Lebanon today, a car bomb exploded in the Beirut area known as the stronghold of the Shiite Hezbollah militia, 14 people dead. In Iraq, at least two dozen died today in a series of car bombings, mostly in Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad.

And U.N. chemical weapons investigators will soon go to Syria, where the civil war over the past two years now tops more than 100,000 dead.

Joining us now is our chief national correspondent, John King and the Middle East expert Vali Nasr. He's the dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, his new book, "The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat."

Vali, thanks for coming in. John, thanks to you as well.

Vali, how interconnected, if they are, all this violence, all this bloodshed that is exploding in the region right now?

VALI NASR, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Well, they're interconnected, first of all, in the sense that in Egypt, we're seeing a major reversal of the Arab spring, where it started towards a democratic process.

Now the military has stepped in. In Syria, we saw Assad actually not even letting the Arab spring get off the ground. The other way in which they are connected is that a big part of the change in the Arab world was that the Islamists came to power. They came to power in Tunisia. They're a big part of the opposition in Syria. They're part of the government in Libya. And what we're seeing -- and also they came to power in Egypt.

Now, in Egypt, they have been pushed out of power. This is now a major struggle that runs throughout this region between the old order, the secularists, now backed by liberals in Egypt against Islam.

BLITZER: This is a nightmare for the region, certainly for the countries, the people who live there. It's also a nightmare for the president of the United States, John, because the U.S. has so many critical interests in that part of the world, with Egypt exploding as it is right now. This is a dangerous situation.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And pick the countries you just went through and the options if you're the president of the United States, the secretary of state of the United States, generally range from bad to worse.

There are no good options. There are no magic options. In Egypt, I think it's fair to say the administration just backed away from a bet. It made a bet. It had some indications the ouster of Morsy was coming. It didn't do anything.

Then it hoped that the military would take a more moderate path, would try to get the government on a path towards new elections. And it was relying on the United Arab Emirates and the Qataris to try to broker between the rival factions in Egypt. Now you're hearing that the president today had to condemn this military that just weeks ago they had such hope in that the administration, A., made a bad bet and, B., you're starting to hear again a chorus of criticism that here's another example of America leading from behind.

Now, how would the president lead? That's a great question, but leaving it to others hasn't worked.

BLITZER: Your book is entitled "The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat."

It certainly doesn't look like the U.S. over these past six weeks since Morsy was removed has had a lot of influence with the Egyptian generals.

NASR: Well, largely because the Egyptian gels think that the president pushed Mubarak off and then basically we washed our hands of Egypt. We didn't intervene to correct Morsy's way. We didn't help the country in the right direction.

They assumed that we passively accepted the coup. We called it a restoration of democracy. We refused to call it what it was, a coup. And then when the coup began to face difficulties, we all of a sudden are turning on the generals. We're not winning any friends. We're creating a lot of enemies. And the perception is that we really don't have a strategy here.

We are reacting to events based on what is happening in the street, but nobody knows what our game plan is. And, as John said, this is the most important Arab country, and the situation is quite difficult. BLITZER: The decision the president had to make, he's canceled the joint exercises scheduled for next month in Sinai, but he's certainly going forward with $1.5 billion in economic and military aid to Egypt.

BLITZER: And the administration believes, Wolf, that it has very limited leverage in Egypt, but that the leverage it has is tied to that aid, it's tied to that aid, the money, and it's tied to the relationship between the military, because you do have now -- you have generals who know generals, colonels who know colonels because they have trained together, because they have gone to school together, because they have practiced together.

But the critics are beginning to say, if you have these relationships that are supposed to work in a crisis like this, they are supposed to be able to pick up the phone and say, general, you know me. Stop. Dial it back. Please help. Where is the proof that that works?


BLITZER: Because Chuck Hagel, the defense secretary, as you know, he was calling General al-Sisi, the top military general in Egypt, almost every day over the past six weeks. What good did that do?

NASR: Well, but what is it that Chuck Hagel is offering him? We are not offering a way out of the situation.

BLITZER: Well, what would you do?

NASR: Well, largely is that we should have had a plan as to how we're going to help the generals deal with this situation.

So they have rolled the dice. They came in. They are facing stiff resistance. They can't go back. They have to find a way forward. And we're not providing a solution. And the aid issue cuts both ways. We forget that in exchange for the aid, we're getting things from Egypt like intelligence cooperation, like faster travel by our ships through the Suez Canal.

And also the aid is really also aid to American military industry. If we cut off the aid, we're cutting off jobs in the United States. And that will have other implications in this kind of a climate. In some ways, aid is not -- we don't have as much leverage on the aid. The Egyptians have leverage on us.

BLITZER: Vali Nasr, thanks very much for coming in.

John, thanks to you as well.

I know the Egyptian military, they are very happy getting free F- 16s and free Abrams battle tanks from the United States. The jobs may be here in the United States, but the Egyptian army gets it for nothing.

Thanks very much, guys.

Just ahead, should the U.S. halt that $1.5 billion in economic and military aid to Egypt? We're going to have a debate later this hour between two former State Department insiders.

And a very rare court-martial for a U.S. Army general after an illicit affair with a junior officer went bad. So, will this case be a symbol for the military's new get-tough policy on sexual abuse?


BLITZER: A U.S. Army general now facing a rare court-martial after an illicit affair with a junior officer. It all ended in accusations of sexual abuse. It's a case that could become a symbol of the U.S. military's new get-tough policy.

Let's go live to our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence. He's got the details.

What happened, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this sordid case involves sex on hotel balconies and small offices in Afghanistan.

But some are already saying that the military went too far in charging this case and hasn't done enough to inspire trust in other alleged and potential victims.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair texts, "You are so hot. You excite me."

And so begins a series of messages from the high-ranking officer now charged with forcible sodomy on his subordinate. In one exchange, the accuser writes: "I love you, Mr. Sexy Pants," and the general tells her, "You are my hopeless panda."

The alleged victim is younger female soldier who had an affair with the general. The case is a black eye for the Pentagon still reeling from its estimate that 26,000 troops were assaulted last year.

JESSICA WRIGHT, ACTING UNDERSECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR PERSONNEL AND READINESS: The bottom line is, sexual assault is not tolerated, not condoned.

LAWRENCE: The military unveiled new plans to combat abuse, mandating a lawyer conduct pretrial hearings and allowing commanders to transfer accused troops so they don't come into contact with the victim.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unfortunately, with one exception, these really just tinker with the margins.

LAWRENCE: Former JAG officer Tara Meak (ph) says the Pentagon's only significant change is assigning a lawyer to advocate for victims throughout the process.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They fall short of real reform.

LAWRENCE: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also issued a new memo to the military, ordering them to ignore remarks from President Obama, who said those who commit sexual assault should be:

OBAMA: Prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The comments made by the president did result in an impact in some of the cases that were ongoing.

LAWRENCE: Judges in some cases found the commander in chief's comments amounted to unlawful command influence and dismissed the charges.

RICHARD SCHEFF, ATTORNEY FOR SINCLAIR: I don't know how somebody can, in essence, unring the bell.

LAWRENCE: And attorney Richard Scheff argues Hagel's memo is too little too late.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In fact, I'm pretty convinced it's not effective to simply tell people to ignore it.


LAWRENCE: Scheff represents General Sinclair, a married general charged with forcing an officer 17 years younger than himself to have oral sex.

But Jeff says those text messages we saw earlier are prime evidence that this relationship, while clearly wrong and against the rules, is consensual, and it really represents the murky area that the military is wading in to as it attempts to combat this problem, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Chris, thanks very much, Chris Lawrence over at the Pentagon.

Up next, new information from investigators sifting through the burned wreckage of that cargo plane that crashed in Alabama.

And a political shocker from one of President George W. Bush's daughters.


BLITZER: Coming into THE SITUATION ROOM, we're getting new details about that deadly crash of a UPS cargo jet. The National Transportation Safety Board has just updated reporters on the course of its investigation.

CNN's Rene Marsh is watching what is going on.

What did you learn? RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

We know that the wreckage of this UPS cargo plane in Birmingham, Alabama, has finally stopped smoldering, but accident investigators are bracing themselves for what may be a longer-than-usual investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board briefing, that ended just minutes ago.

Listen to what investigators know so far.


ROBERT SUMWALT, NTSB BOARD MEMBER: No evidence of an uncontained engine failure.

There's no evidence of a pre-impact fire. And there is evidence of debris -- ingestion of foreign debris, such as dirt and wood debris from trees. Now, all of this is a preliminary look at the engine. And the engine will be transported -- both engines will be transported to the manufacturer for complete tear-down.


MARSH: All right. So what board member Sumwalt is saying there, essentially, is that the engine did not violently break up in flight, piercing the engine cover.

As far as the debris found in the engine, that is not surprising either. It's consistent with the reports that the plane hit trees before crashing.

Now, today, investigators were able to recover the flight recorders. They couldn't do that yesterday because part of the aircraft was still smoldering. You can see the recorder on the right badly damaged, covered in soot there. Compare that to the recorders in the Asiana crash one month ago. That's the recorder you see on the left.

But ,despite the damage, investigators say they are cautiously optimistic they will get data off of the recorders. They are going to be working on this throughout the night. We should know by tomorrow if they are successful. Certainly, this would make for a very complex investigation if they are unable to pull that data off, because, of course, you know the two pilots, they passed away in the crash.

There was no distress call that we know of. So those recorders are really going to be crucial.

BLITZER: You will let us know what they find out.


BLITZER: Thanks very much, Rene, for that report.

Up next, shattering images you have not seen before that show the ferocity and the brutality of Egypt's bloody street battles. Also, new information declassified about what is called Area 52, that top-secret base where the CIA may have stashed, supposedly, some UFOs.


BLITZER: Happening now: in the wake of this week's bloodbath in Egypt, calls for the United States to cut off the money.

A rodeo clown who got in big trouble for mocking the president of the United States is picking up some big-name conservative support.

And before you see the movie, you will hear the real story. The son of the legendary White House butler speaks with CNN.

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

Let's get back to our top story. An extraordinary burst of violence leaves Egypt staggering. The United States provides Egypt with about $1.5 billion in economic and military aid each year. Most of that, I should say, about $1.3 billion, goes to the Egyptian military.

If the Obama administration were to call the events in Egypt a coup, the aid could be cut off. For now, though, all of that is under review. The military money to Egypt flows as normal.

Joining us now, two guests, the former Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley and the former Middle East peace negotiator Aaron David Miller. He was an adviser to six secretaries of state. He's at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars right now.

Let me read to you what Senator Rand Paul said today about the $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt. "With more than 500 dead and thousands more injured this week alone, chaos only continues to grow in Egypt. So, Mr. President, stop skirting the issue. Follow the law and cancel all foreign aid to Egypt."

You think, Aaron, that would be a blunder?

AARON DAVID MILLER, PUBLIC POLICY SCHOLAR, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR SCHOLARS: I think the president and the U.S. is in an investment trap. We can't fix Egypt and we can't extricate ourselves from it. It's too important to the country.

So the president, I think wisely and willfully, is trying to find that balance, walk that line, suspend F-16s, cancel Bright Star.


BLITZER: The delivery.

MILLER: Right, which isn't part of the 1.3. It's a separate pot of money for the Pentagon.

BLITZER: Right. MILLER: Cancel Bright Star, the joint exercise, which was canceled once before, but hold back on suspension of U.S. military assistance.

And, by the way, I am under no illusion that the continuation of this money is going to change one iota the generals' conception of what they need to do. But suspension of the assistance won't do it either. And that is the nature -- that's the cruel predicament in which we find ourselves.

BLITZER: You say suspend the money, P.J., right now?

P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Well, I say we should have done it six weeks ago, because the greatest challenge to the administration is less communicating with the generals.

The president sent a strong message to the generals today. The real problem is how do you entice the Muslim Brotherhood that has a rising list of grievances, a coup, followed by violence against them, how do you entice them back into the political process, so you get to where everyone wants, a return to civilian rule and an inclusive democracy?

The conditions are getting worse in terms of the ability to do that.

BLITZER: Was this a coup d'etat in Egypt?

CROWLEY: Of course it was.

BLITZER: Was this a coup, Aaron, in Egypt?

MILLER: It was a military intervention.

BLITZER: Was it a coup?

MILLER: Yes, it was a coup.

BLITZER: The law stipulate that if it's a coup that removes democratically-elected government from power, U.S. military aid should stop.

MILLER: Yes. And the administration has found, because of its own conception of what constitutes American national interest around that. It's walking a fine balance.

The law is the law, no question about it. Is the president obligated to follow it? Have you seen a grassroots movement in Congress or among the American public to suspend military systems? The answer is no. And there are reasons for that.

CROWLEY: Part of this is about the credibility of the United States in the region. If you don't call this a coup, you are never going to call something a coup and so the narrative that the United States advances in the region is in favor of democracy is being decimated by what's happening here.

I would say that the military aid is one thing. But you also mentioned that we only give $250 million in civilian aid. What Egypt really needs is economic assistance, you know, to create jobs that can address the challenge of a rested and young...

BLITZER: They're getting 10 or $15 billion from the UAE, from Kuwait, from Saudi Arabia. They've decided that they want this anti- Morsy government in power.

CROWLEY: Sure. But the challenge here is how does Egypt get beyond this crisis, back to a stable government so that we can address the economic and cultural reforms that are vitally needed? The longer it takes Egypt to recover, the harder it's going to be to...

BLITZER: How does Egypt do that?

MILLER: Well, that I can't answer, and no one can. We will not be the central driver in this narrative.

The fact is, the three key elements that you need for democratic life just aren't available right now.

BLITZER: Sir, you served in the military. You and I go way back to your days at the Pentagon, P.J. Isn't the military in Egypt the most, quote, "pro-American element" in the Egyptian society?

CROWLEY: Sure. I mean, I'm very sympathetic to this. We're searching for leverage. We have a very weak hand to play.

BLITZER: They are a lot more pro-American than Muslim Brotherhood.

CROWLEY: But -- but, you know, if you understand what's happening behind the scenes, we told the generals not to conduct the coup. They did anyway. We told them to avoid violence. They did it anyway. We told them to produce a viable civilian government. The military is running the country and not doing very well. They are making mistakes.

The real question here is that, if we have leverage, how do we use that to get Egypt back to civilian rule in a very aggressive time frame in six to nine months?

BLITZER: Because even Mohammed ElBaradei, one of the fiercest opponents of Morsy, the ousted president of Egypt, the former head of the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, he quit yesterday because he didn't want -- he couldn't stomach what was going on anymore.

MILLER: Yes, and he's trapped in a very difficult position. There's also a logic problem here. We've provided $1.3 billion to a regime, an authoritarian regime which we supported, with no pretense of being a democracy, abused human rights, wouldn't allow the kinds of protests and demonstrations. How now -- and this is an interesting point. How now can we suspend military assistance to a government, to a people that is generally trying to cope to find another way out of this? That's an important question. I think the president realizes.

But above all, I think he realizes that the U.S. will not be the central actor here, will not be the central driver, and ultimately, we are not going to fashion a democratic policy in this country.

BLITZER: What do you think is going to happen in the next few weeks with Egypt?

CROWLEY: It's going to be very, very difficult. Conditions do not exist right now for anything that you would process...

BLITZER: The violence will continue?

CROWLEY: The violence will continue, but really, the greatest challenge in the next several weeks is how do you entice the Muslim Brotherhood to participate in the political process? Otherwise, what we've been complicit in is...

BLITZER: I don't think the military wants the Muslim Brotherhood...

CROWLEY: You know, all we've -- all we've done is move from one political constituency to another and back towards, you know, the autocracy guard, the old guard that ruled Egypt for 30 years.

MILLER: I don't want to go to the -- for the military, but the reality is joining the Brotherhood isn't like joining the health club. I mean, this is an organization that has a long-range view of Egypt's identity, the kind of power that it wants there. That view, frankly, my judgment, doesn't coincide with an American view, either our interests or our values. And I would argue that it may not even coincide with the views of millions of Egyptians.

BLITZER: We've got to leave it there. Egypt, good debate, discussion. A debate as much as a good discussion. Thanks very much for that.

Let's get to some of the most unbelievable images out of Egypt right now. We want to warn you, the pictures you're about to see are very disturbing.

Brian Todd has collected some of the strongest images over the past couple of days.

Brian, show our viewers what you're seeing.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the images are so powerful and such heavy volume that we've had to comb through them again to comb more of these pictures and videos.

We start with a scene like many others we saw. A crowd is moving from a confrontation, and a person is cut down in a split second. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Watch closely. Moving left to right, a veiled woman videotaping the protests in Cairo. As she moves backward, the sounds of gunfire. In an instant, as the camera repositions, she's on the ground. In this video posted on the Web site LiveLeak, you see the crowd around her dragging her away. She appears to be seriously wounded. Her eyes wide open.

We don't know who shot her. What kind of chaos is this when either side could cut down a seemingly harmless woman in the street?

PROFESSOR JAMES GELVIN, AUTHOR, "ARAB UPRISINGS: WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW": They believe that they are engaged in a struggle that is an all or nothing struggle. And so there is no room for compromise.

TODD: Egypt's binge of violence plays out most starkly on social media. These are the most graphic videos we feel we can show you. On Twitter, an injured man in a wheelchair. This forwarding this picture claim he was killed after this was taken. CNN is unable to verify that.

This video captures an apparent sniper on the rooftop of a building. The person posting it calls him the sniper of death. As you can see, the person videotaping this appears to be hiding.

Still pictures circulating on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr show a harrowing sequence: an armored vehicle falling from a bridge. Captions and other accounts say it was pushed over.

Video from an Egyptian news site captures the impact and this picture of the aftermath. There was at least one person inside.

By this Twitter photo of a family mourning a loved one, a single- word caption: "Heartbreaking."

In so many countries, a single day, in which more than 500 people, including dozens of policemen, are killed in one city, would bring global saturation media coverage for weeks.

GELVIN: If you look at the Arab newspapers, if you listen to the Arab broadcasts, this is all over the place. This is shocking. On the other hand, if you look at American newspapers, this is something that might be above the fold but not necessarily.


TODD: UCLA's James Gelvin says part of what makes this so disturbing is that we've all been spoiled. The media, analysts, government leaders, he says, have termed the coin Arab Spring. They did that two years ago, believing we have a cleaner, swifter transition to democracy in the region than we really have. We were on a sugar rush then, Gelvin says, and now we're in the midst of a sugar crash. And, Wolf, a key component of what's gone on this week, is I've had two analysts tell me this week that the Egyptian security forces are just no good at riot control. They're good at battlefield strategy, combat, intelligence. But when it comes to crowd control and moderating the violence on the street, they can't do it very well.

BLITZER: Obviously, that's a serious problem. Brian, thanks very much.

P.J. Crowley and Aaron David Miller are still here. You know, it's -- there's another side, too. Forty-three police officers were killed yesterday by some of the mobs, if you will, the pro-Morsy elements. Christian churches are being torched right now. This is -- there's two sides to this story.

CROWLEY: There's more than two sides to this story. And what it is, it's the fragmentation of politics in Egypt at a time where our policy and our approach is trying to bring it back together again. It's going to be very, very difficult.

MILLER: It's going to be worse before it gets worse, and in large part it's our own illusions that have conditioned us to believe in Hollywood endings.

When this started in the spring of 2011, the notion that the Arab Spring would somehow proceed, even in fits and starts, toward a quick or easy transition to democratic life was -- it was an illusion, because the basic requirements for democracy -- strong leaders who believe in a national vision, inclusive institutions, and a mechanism to basically debate without violence and without paralyzing your society, the most divisive and emotional questions -- these issues, these factors don't exist in Egypt. And we better condition ourselves to the reality it's going to be a long time coming. A long movie, Wolf, and a tragic one.

BLITZER: Aaron David Miller, thanks very much.

P.J. Crowley, thanks to you, as well.

Up next, the growing backlash over the treatment of a rodeo clown who made some fun of President Obama. What's going on?

And a big political surprise from a former Republican president's daughter.


BLITZER: Clowns are supposed to make people laugh, but when a rodeo clown at a Missouri state fair made fun of President Obama, it started a national debate that's getting louder and angrier right now. Here's CNN Athena Jones.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This is infantile; this is (UNINTELLIGIBLE). This is -- this is worse than political correctness.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The firestorm over this clown act mocking the president has created a firestorm of its own.

GLENN BECK, THE BLAZE TV, GLENNBECK.COM: He put on an Obama mask. He's a rodeo clown.

JONES: Conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are defending the acts that caused an uproar with moments like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama, hey, I know I'm a clown. He's just running around acting like one and doesn't know he is one.

JONES: And this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Soon as this bull comes out, Obama, don't you move. He's going to get you, get you, get you.

JONES: The Missouri State Fair has banned performer Tuffy Gessling for life. That's the man whose voice you hear in the clip. The man in the Obama mask hasn't been publicly identified.

CNN tried unsuccessfully to speak with Gessling. His supporters are reaching out on his Facebook page. He even started a petition on the White House Web site, asking the president to defend him. A White House spokesman had this to say about the incident.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I haven't heard about the president's reaction if he had one. I can tell you as a native Missourian, it's certainly not one of the finer moments for our state.

JONES: Texas Republican Congressman Steve Stockman is coming to the act's defense on Twitter and invited the clown to perform in his district.

Bashing presidents, through parody or otherwise, is nothing new. The Dixie Chicks drew fire from the right in 2003 for saying of then- President George W. Bush...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we're ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.

JONES: Some radio stations refused to play their songs.

The Missouri chapter of the NAACP wants the Secret Service and the Justice Department to investigate the incident, to the dismay of FOX News's Sean Hannity.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Really, this is how you want your government to spend your hard-earned taxpayer dollars, investigating this?

(END VIDEOTAPE) JONES: Now, I spoke with the Secret Service about this. A spokesman there told me they're aware of the incident, but they've determined that this behavior does not rise to the level of a threat. The Justice Department has declined the comment at this time -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Athena, thanks very much for that report. Athena Jones reporting.

Believe it or not, a member of the Bush family actually appears to be rooting, a little bit at least, for Hillary Clinton. President George W. Bush's daughter Barbara tells "People" magazine she thinks the former secretary of state is, quote, "unbelievably accomplished." While the former president's daughter says she'd like to see Mrs. Clinton run in 2016, she might not vote for her. It will depend on who the Republicans nominate.

Up next, Michael Jackson's ex-wife now takes the stand, giving some new insight into the singer's biggest fears.

And new clues about one of America's biggest secrets may have just been declassified.


BLITZER: Very emotional testimony today about the devastating impact Michael Jackson's death had on his children. Jackson's ex- wife, Debbie Rowe, testified in the wrongful death case against the company that promoted Jackson's 2009 concert tour.

Let's bring in Ted Rowlands. He was in the courtroom watching it all unfold.

What happened, Ted?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it was not only emotional, but it was incredibly engaging. She talked about what it was like to live a life with Michael Jackson, things like bearing his two eldest children. Talked about watching a movie with him, watching "To Kill a Mockingbird" and calling Gregory Peck to discuss the movie while they were watching it, and then she went into detail about meeting Michael Jackson when he had no drug problems and watching his fall into addiction. It was absolutely mesmerizing.

BLITZER: So what side did she help?

ROWLANDS: Well, AEG brought her on, and she did one thing for them, and that was to establish that Michael Jackson was using Propofol for decades, going back to his days with Arnie Klein, who she worked for.

For the Jackson family attorneys, though, she humanized him even more with these anecdotes, with these stories. Jurors were actually riveted to that. So, I think in totality, she really helped both sides.

BLITZER: Ted Rowlands with the latest on that trial. Thanks very much.

We're learning new details about the mysterious location known as, quote, "Area 51." For decades a lot of conspiracy theorists out there, they've suggested it's a secret area in the Nevada desert where the U.S. government hid evidence of a UFO crash.

Newly declassified CIA -- CIA reports and a map now tell a very different story. Area 51 exists in southern Nevada. It's highlighted here. The CIA claims it was a testing site for two -- for U-2 spy planes. No UFOs, no flying saucers, no little green men, no aliens, none of that.

Up next, the story behind a new Hollywood film. The son of a legendary White House butler remembers his father and the many presidents he served.


BLITZER: Back to work for Prince William; his first public appearance since bringing his wife and new baby home. Was at an agricultural show. Check it out.

Next month he finishes his tour of duty, by the way, as a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue pilot.

He also sat down with CNN royal correspondent Max Foster for an exclusive interview. You'll be able to see it Monday, first on CNN's "NEW DAY," then later here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Presidents come and go, but for many years a man named Eugene Allen was just one step away from some of the most powerful men in the world. He was the White House butler. And his story will soon be in movie theaters. In fact, we'll start seeing them, all of us will be this weekend. Now his son is talking to CNN's Dan Lothian.


FOREST WHITAKER, ACTOR: I'm Cecil Gaines. I'm the new butler.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a Hollywood story built on the life of a humble man, Eugene Allen, the real butler who lived and worked in two very different worlds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You hear nothing, you see nothing.

LOTHIAN: Allen didn't just work but mingled with the rich and powerful, heard their stories, held their secrets. Like walking into an unlocked vault, his legacy lives on in this modest home a few miles from the White House, where Allen and his wife raised their only son, Charles.

CHARLES ALLEN, EUGENE ALLEN'S SON: When the presidents, when they got to the point where they could talk comfortably around, you know, that's when you, you know, you kind of, like, fit in. And they would just talk around you. Because he wasn't going to divulge anything. LOTHIAN: Not even to his wife of 65 years, played by Oprah Winfrey.

OPRAH WINFREY, ACTRESS/MEDIA MOGUL: I want to hear all the stories. I don't hear because they done swore him to some kind of secret code.

LOTHIAN: But Allen's son has said the butler who served eight presidents, from Truman to Reagan, was far from a silent witness to history.

C. ALLEN: They respected his opinion. He was a respected man.

WINFREY: That moment in the film where Cecil Gaines goes in and says, "The white help is making more than the black help here, and I think that's not fair, and we should, you know, get equal pay." That is his way of warring.

LOTHIAN: A proud black man who wasn't defined by a racial stereotype. The line between butler and friend could be blurred.

EUGENE ALLEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE BUTLER: Most of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at Christmas would invite our wives and children down for a Christmas party. Ms. Eisenhower used to give all the children a toy at Christmas.

LOTHIAN: Toys, ties, paintings.

C. ALLEN: These two paintings here were done by President Eisenhower. He'd be out there on the porch, and Mr. Ford -- Mrs. Ford would call my mother because she said, "The president wants to talk to you," you know? And they were nice people there.

LOTHIAN: Nancy Reagan and her tough-as-nails reputation seemed to have a soft spot for Allen, even if her personal attention sometimes rattled him.

C. ALLEN: She was looking for him and somebody said that...

LOTHIAN (on camera): She's looking for you.

C. ALLEN: ... "The first lady's looking for you." They say...

LOTHIAN: "I'm in trouble," right?

C. ALLEN: "I'm in trouble."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd like to invite you to the state dinner next week.

WHITAKER: I'll be there, Ms. Reagan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not as a -- not as a butler, Cecil. I'm inviting you as a guest.

LOTHIAN (voice-over): He became emotionally attached to all the first families but especially the Kennedys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our banner is lowered.

LOTHIAN: John F. Kennedy's assassination rocked Allen to the core.

(on camera): That was the first time you saw your father cry.

C. ALLEN: First time. The first time, yes.

LOTHIAN (voice-over): Following JFK's funeral, Allen was with Jackie as she celebrated her children's birthday.

In times of mourning or in the midst of the nation's racial conflicts or a controversial war, Allen was just a step away from power. Yet the butler never sought attention and years later shunned multiple offers to tell or sell his story, until his wife passed away.

C. ALLEN: I said, "You owe this to Mom, man." I said, "This is not about you. The fact that my mother's wanted my father recognized and this happened, I mean, it means everything to me.

LOTHIAN: Dan Lothian, CNN, reporting.


BLITZER: See that movie this weekend.

Finally take a look at this. Amazing pictures of what are now believed to be the oldest known rock carvings in all of North America. Researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder discovered them etched into several boulders in western Nevada, and they say they could date back as far as 15,000 years.

Researchers aren't sure what the symbols mean, but they say few are deeply -- a few of them are deeply carved in, as are these.

Remember, you can always follow what's going on here in THE SITUATION ROOM on Twitter. Go ahead and tweet me, @WolfBlitzer. Tweet the show, @CNNSitRoom.

Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.