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THE SITUATION ROOM

Chris Christie's Decision on Medical Marijuana; Violence in Egypt; Report: NSA Broke Rules Thousands of Times; U.S. Athlete Blasts Russian Anti-Gay Law; First Lady Opens Up for 'Parade' Magazine; Face to Face with a Great White Shark

Aired August 16, 2013 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with a decision that's making both medical and political headlines, and all the while, a little girl who suffers from seizures is caught in the middle.

Late this afternoon, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signaled he will make it easier for sick children to use medical marijuana, but his decision comes with several conditions.

CNN's Rosa Flores is joining us from New York. She's got the latest.

What's going on, Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the family of this 2-year-old girl who has become really the face of this issue is calling this a small victory, in part because of those conditions that you mentioned.

Now, here is what this bill would do, three things. First of all, minors would only need approval from a pediatrician and a psychiatrist if one of those physicians is registered with the medical marijuana program. Secondly, the three strain limits of marijuana available in New Jersey would be lifted. And it would allow medical marijuana in edible form for minors only.

But, you see, this bill sat on the governor's desk for about two months, which didn't sit well with Brian Wilson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN WILSON, FATHER: I was wondering what the hold-up is. It's been like two months now.

(CROSSTALK)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Sir, because these are complicated issues.

WILSON: Please don't let my daughter die, Governor.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FLORES: We want to warn you that the video you are about to see is difficult to watch. This is Brian Wilson's 2-year-old daughter, Vivian Wilson. She suffers from Dravet syndrome. This is a rare form of epilepsy. Her father tells us that she gets 20 to 70 minor seizures a day, averaging one major seizure every four days.

Now, she wears an eye patch because the patterns in the environment trigger more seizures and the Wilsons believe that medical marijuana can help their daughter. Now, in a statement, Governor Christi says that this is a commonsense recommendation to ensure that sick children receive the treatment their parents prefer.

Now, the governor did point out that the approach is endorsed by the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of pediatrics, but we should also add that the American Academy of Pediatrics opposes cannabis. So, Wolf, you know, aside from all of these politics, it's a very emotional issue for a lot of families.

BLITZER: Understandably so. Rosa, thank you very much.

Just a little while ago on CNN's "THE LEAD," Jake Tapper spoke with the man who literally begged Governor Christi to allow medical marijuana for his daughter and for other children. Brian Wilson calls the governor's decision a "small victory," but he added, the conditions make it "kind of ludicrous at the same time."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILSON: It's not what we were expecting. We had a few ideas of what he would be doing. There was a general consensus on what he might do.

Everyone expected a conditional veto, but this is kind of even lower than the worst-case conditional veto that we thought. So while it is a small victory, he kind of put himself all over it and really just maintains the idea of making one of the worst medical marijuana programs in the country and one of the most unsafe medical marijuana programs in the country and really loves to insert the government in between the parents and the doctors.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Joining us now is our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. His work on the CNN documentary on medical marijuana has caused him to change his own mind about the benefits.

Sanjay, so, what's your reaction to Governor Christie's decision?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think he has eased some of these laws, you know, in making it possible, more possible, I think, for kids, including Vivian, Brian Wilson's daughter, to get the therapy that could help her.

You know, I think that there was a couple of issues that came up. First of all, many of these dispensaries were only allowing three strains of marijuana in the past, and that was concerning, because some of the strains that could be most helpful are actually strains that are high in CBD, the more medicinal part of marijuana, and low in THC, and that's something that could certainly help Vivian.

The other thing was, obviously, this is a medicine that -- for Vivian, for example, she would not be smoking this, but, rather, taking it as an edible, so turning it into an oil or tincture, that could also be quite beneficial as well. I think Brian Wilson has concerns, as you just heard there, about the fact that, you know, you need to have your prescribing doctor, your pediatrician as well as a psychiatrist to both authorize the prescription.

That is how it is in other states as well, so I think he found that a bit onerous, but, you know, it's a pretty common practice, and I think, ultimately, Vivian should hopefully be able to get the treatment that could help her.

BLITZER: Well, let me just quickly be blunt. If this little 2- year-old girl were to get this medical marijuana, Sanjay, would those seizures stop?

GUPTA: I think there's a very good chance, Wolf.

Look, I think the one thing everyone agrees on is we need more study. But let me tell you, I met a girl with almost the exact same situation, something known as Dravet syndrome. It's a girl that was having 300 seizures a week. She's now down to three or four a month because of medical marijuana.

And keep in mind, she was on lots of different anti-seizure medications, seven of them at one time, and none of them really worked for her. If you look at about 41 kids now around the nation with Dravet, all of them have had some improvement with medicinal marijuana. Several of them -- or a majority of them, I would say, have been able to get off of all their other medications.

So, I think, from that standpoint, the odds are on Vivian's side. Keep in mind, for years, even 100 years ago, we knew that medicinal marijuana could have an impact on convulsive disorders, the very thing that Vivian and Charlotte have.

BLITZER: Sanjay, in your new documentary, "Weed," you went to Israel, and you got a firsthand look at how Israeli medical experts were dealing with medical marijuana. They're on the front lines of this issue. Let me play a little clip from your documentary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA (voice-over): This is Israeli's largest hospital, Sheba Medical Center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You put your medical cannabis.

GUPTA: Amache (ph) is using marijuana to help him with the pain and nausea from chemotherapy.

So that's your medicine inside there. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take it out, put in your mouth.

GUPTA: And he is doing it inside the hospital.

How are you feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A relief. First of all, in the muscle, in the leg.

GUPTA: And you're not worried about any potential damage to your body?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at all. The opposite, actually. I really believe I can be cancer-free for a long time if I continue, you know, to consume cannabis.

GUPTA: Yes, he said cancer-free.

Very early studies on mice in Israel, Spain and the United States are now showing the potential of marijuana to kill cancer cells. It's exciting research, but it is still in its infancy, and it's inconclusive.

This program at Sheba is well established. And experts say a teaching tool for using marijuana in other hospitals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Sanjay, you foresee U.S. hospitals, American doctors using medical marijuana in that way any time soon?

GUPTA: You know, it's so hard to say, Wolf.

I mean, I think that, you know, earlier, I had mentioned that I think this is an area that both sides agree on, the need for more research, but it's difficult to get research studies approved the way things stand right now, Wolf. In addition to getting, you know, if it's a cancer study, for example, getting the National Cancer Institute to approve it, in order to get the substrate or in this case the marijuana for the study, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has to allow that to happen.

And, remember, this is the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Their mission is to study drug abuse. Their mission is not to study the potential benefits of drugs, including marijuana. So, I would like to see more research done. I think, again, everyone agrees on that. But I think part of the structure of how this all works is going to have to change in order for that to happen.

BLITZER: Sanjay, thanks very much. Thanks for your excellent work on this subject.

And I want to just point out to our viewers, Dr. Gupta's excellent documentary "Weed" will re-air tonight 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. If you didn't see it, watch it. And if you actually saw it, you may want to watch it a second time. Up next, the bloody struggle between Egypt's military and Islamists, critically important to Israel at the same time. It neighbors Egypt. Why are the Israelis keeping so quiet? We're going to Jerusalem.

And as Russia's new anti-gay law casts a cloud over the upcoming Olympic Games, a prominent American athlete is now speaking out while in Russia.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A fresh wave of violence erupted across Egypt once again today. Islamist supporters of the ousted president, Mohammed Morsy, took to the streets in what they called a Friday of anger.

Defying the troops and armored vehicles that were deployed at key positions, the protesters marched through Cairo. But, as gunfire echoed throughout the capital, they scattered in panic as they crossed the bridge, the death toll now topping 600 with another 17 people reported killed in Cairo today and at least 16 dead in Alexandria. Thousands of people have stayed on the streets tonight, despite a strict curfew.

Right now, there's a huge building on fire right in the center of Cairo.

CNN's Reza Sayah was right there during the violence. Here's how he described it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This face-off is really intensifying and now involving sporadic gunfire.

We witnessed about 20 heavily armed police officers who are blocking these protesters from moving forward towards Ramses Square. And, as we're talking, we're hearing more gunfire. There's another gunshot. It's very difficult to determine what's happening, because, as in the past, it's very likely that supporters of former the President Mohammed Morsy have weapons. I know we have to go, but here's someone that appears to be injured.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: Reza, we will stay with you.

SAYAH: OK. OK, let's go see what's happened here.

OK, This is -- this is someone who appears to be injured. I see a hole in his side.

Come this way. OK. OK. It looks -- it looks like -- it looks like he's been shot. And he looks remarkably calm. I saw what appeared to be a bullet wound in his leg. And as we've seen so often, one of the fellow demonstrators taking him on a motorcycle away.

And then I think we have another person who's injured. We have another person who appears to be injured on the ground here. OK. Let's see if we can -- OK. This is just an awful, awful scene.

And we can tell you, this particular route through Ramses Square has been blocked off as we look at what appears to be more people injured coming from the front lines.

But it's important -- it's important to stress that we're not all over the city. We're in a very small location. We're not sure what's happening in other locations. But based on what we have observed, these were -- OK. People are warning us.

NEWTON: That's OK. Reza, you go ahead and get to a safer place. We will come back to you and we thank you for your updates there, Reza Sayah in Cairo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That was Paula Newton talking to Reza Sayah as that was unfolding. He's OK. I just want to reassure our viewers. But all our journalists in Cairo right now watching the situation very, very carefully. It's a dangerous situation.

And we have some new video that's just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. We want to warn you, it is very graphic. In what could become an iconic image of this violent struggle, we see protesters approach a tank as gunfire breaks out. They flee, except for one man who stands with arms outstretched until he's shot and falls to the ground.

Watch this. Shocking images, I must say. It's very disturbing, this video, reminiscent, I must say, also that classic image from China's Tiananmen Square of a lone protester defying tanks. There you see that lone protester.

The struggle between Egypt's security forces and Islamists has extraordinary implications for neighboring Israel. Officials there are keeping a very close eye on Egypt's unrest. They are also remaining silent.

And Jim Clancy is joining from us Jerusalem right now.

Jim, the Israelis, there's almost like a thunderous silence coming from the Israeli government on what's going on in Egypt right now. What are you hearing over there?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, I talked this day with Mark Regev, the spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and he was -- flat out told me, we're not saying anything on Egypt. He wouldn't be pressed on or off the record, nothing on background.

They are, indeed, remaining silent. But anonymous sources within the Israeli leadership have talked to CNN, and they have said that while they see the situation there with great concern, they believe that only the military is going to be able to maintain control of the country and prevent it from sliding into chaos. At the same time, they're very concerned about the militants in the Sinai, militants who have fired or tried to fire missiles into Israel in the past week alone.

You know, there was a purported raid by Israel by drone or otherwise that killed some militants in the Sinai. Now, that would have been a violation of the sovereignty of Egypt, but the military in Egypt very quick to come out and say flatly, well, that never happened. They're looking at that rather favorably.

Also, they're looking at the crackdown on Hamas. You know, shortly after Morsy was deposed, the Egyptian military went after Hamas, an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, and destroyed some of the tunnels, or most of the tunnels that lead into Gaza. This cripples Hamas' ability to bring cash and arms into Gaza. The Israelis see that as a good development -- Wolf.

BLITZER: The Israelis never had a good relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood. They have a good relationship, though, military to military between the Israeli military and the Egyptian military, so I assume, if you speak privately with Israelis, they want to see the United States continue its military assistance to Egypt.

CLANCY: Certainly.

You know, once again, they see the military as that only source that can maintain control here. It is not a comfortable feeling looking at one of your borders and seeing your neighbor facing the kind of crisis that Egypt is facing tonight.

And I think there's a lot of concern that money is going to be needed by the Egyptian military to maintain that kind of order, to try to bring some stability here. And, as a result of all of that, they are probably encouraging Washington to continue with its current policy.

Now, these killings in the streets make it difficult. We saw where the United States had to cancel its joint military maneuvers with Egypt. I think a lot of people in Israel tonight are hoping it doesn't go so far as canceling the more than $1 billion in aid that Egypt's military gets annually -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lots at stake, certainly for Egypt, but for Israel, the entire region, including the United States. Jim Clancy in Jerusalem for us, thanks very much.

And this just into THE SITUATION ROOM. We're just -- we're getting new information on that fiery crash of a UPS cargo plane.

Also, why did Michelle Obama give up on her bangs? The first lady opening up about her private life and the possibility of a female president.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right, we're just getting this into THE SITUATION ROOM.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are finding what they call good data on the recorders from the UPS cargo jet that crashed in Birmingham, Alabama.

CNN's Rene Marsh watched the briefing. It just ended.

What did you learn?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know that NTSB member Robert Sumwalt is breathing a sigh of relief this evening.

They were able to pull the good data, as you just said, from those badly damaged recorders recovered from the U.S. -- UPS cargo plane. An initial review suggests there were no signs anything was wrong in the cockpit until the final 15 seconds of the flight. Then three things happened in a rapid succession.

An automated warning system can be heard alerting pilots sink rate, sink rate, indicating the plane was descending too quickly. And right after that, one pilot is heard telling the other the runway is in sight, then sounds of impact. We know that that plane clipped trees before landing short of the runway and both pilots died.

One additional detail. We do know that this was the end of the pilot's workday, so this will likely spark interest among cargo pilots. We know that the FAA issued new work hour rules for commercial airline pilots to give them more rest, but they exempted cargo pilots. So, we know the NTSB will be looking into whether fatigue played a role.

We know that those pilots were very experienced. We're expecting another briefing tomorrow, Wolf.

BLITZER: We will stay in touch with you. Thanks for the information, Rene reporting.

Up next, the White House just reacted to those new details about how the NSA broke its own rules thousands of times.

And remember how we took you aboard a boat where researchers are hauling up giant sharks? Well, now new pictures of a great white shark captured and tagged. Wait until you see this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now: New revelations show the government went too far in violating people's privacy, not a few times, but thousands.

Also, CNN video of a gay couple's harassment in Russia causing an outraged U.S. athlete in Moscow to speak out.

And the first lady, Michelle Obama, talking openly now about many parts of life that many parents dread, raising teenagers.

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

Days after President Obama vowed to protect your privacy rights and make national security surveillance more transparent, there's a new report that is raising fresh concerns. Documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published in "The Washington Post" show the agency has overstepped its authority thousands of times.

Often, the unauthorized harvesting of phone calls and e-mails has been accidental, like confusing the area code for Washington, D.C., with the area code for a country, a country code in this specific case for Egypt.

Our White House correspondent Dan Lothian reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Revelations in the "Washington Post" raise new questions about whether the snooping violates privacy laws and comes just a week after President Obama trumpeted safeguards that he says help minimize the risk to Americans' privacy.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Checks are in place, and those abuses would be against the law and would be against the orders of the FISC.

LOTHIAN: An internal NSA audit and other top-secret files revealed there were more than 2,000 violations in a recent 12-month period, mostly unintentional. The NSA says when mistakes are made, "the agency reports the issue internally and to federal overseers -- and aggressively gets to the bottom of it."

But the new report raises concerns about that balance of power. The "Washington Post" reported the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, wasn't even aware of the audit until it was reported in the paper.

Feinstein disputes that, but in a statement admitted "the committee can and should do more to independently verify that NSA's operations are appropriate and its reports of compliance incidents are accurate."

And the top judge on the secretive court that approves surveillance programs said judges aren't able to independently verify whether the government violates the law, saying that they are, quote, "forced to rely upon the accuracy of the information that is provided to the court."

Critics have been demanding more oversight.

JESSELYN RADACK, GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT: Why is the government spying on its own people?

LOTHIAN: And even prominent Democrats are troubled. Nancy Pelosi called the new report extremely disturbing. Congressman Jim Langevin, "deeply concerned."

Cracks in the public trust seemed to widen after embarrassing testimony by the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, in a Senate hearing last March. SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?

JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: No, sir.

WYDEN: It does not?

CLAPPER: Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.

LOTHIAN: Clapper later apologized for what he called clearly erroneous testimony.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN: Late today, the White House finally weighed in on these latest developments, defending the NSA. White House deputy spokesman Josh Ernest saying in a statement, quote, "This administration is committed to ensuring that privacy protections are carefully adhered to and to continually reviewing ways to effectively enhance privacy procedures."

Well, Wolf, these latest revelations no doubt throwing more heat on the whole debate between privacy versus security.

BLITZER: Dan Lothian out in Martha's Vineyard with the president, where he's vacationing. Thanks very much, Dan, for that.

Let's bring in our national security contributor, Fran Townsend. She was the homeland security adviser to President Bush. She serves on the CIA's external advisory board.

Thanks, Fran, for coming in. I think it's fair to say we wouldn't know about any of this if it weren't for Edward Snowden, is that right?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, that's mostly right, Wolf. Look, there are regular reports filed with Congress. Senator Dianne Feinstein acknowledged as much today in a public statement, about these missteps. When there's an inadvertent collection or there's a mistaken collection, those things have to be reported to Congress, and they do that on a regular basis.

BLITZER: But that would be secret stuff.

TOWNSEND: That's right.

BLITZER: The public wouldn't have a clue about any of this if it had not been for Snowden's leaks.

TOWNSEND: No, that's right; that's exactly right. But let's be clear, Wolf. There's -- there are reasons for that, right? And there are procedures. There are inspectors general, and there are these reports to Congress. There's oversight by the Justice Department of the NSA programs. There's a number of ways that these -- these problems get picked up, reported, and the oversight gets reported to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

BLITZER: I guess the question is, even if he broke the law -- and some day maybe he'll be tried, won't be tried; who knows if he's ever going to be back here in the United States. Does he deserve any credit for releasing this information?

TOWNSEND: Well, this is one of these, you may like the fact that you now know about it, but he went about it the wrong way. I mean, I think you can't condone the way he went about this. He had -- there were options for him, whether it was reporting to Congress, reporting to an inspector general, to respect the fact that he filed an agreement that he would not disclose classified information and he violated that. And that's the essence of the government's case against him.

BLITZER: The president, we just heard in Dan Lothian's piece, he said checks are in place. And then all of a sudden, we learn about this in the "Washington Post" today. Are more shoes likely to drop? Because we have no idea what other stuff Snowden may have taken from the U.S. government and given to the "Washington Post" or "The Guardian" or anyplace else.

TOWNSEND: Right. No, look, I think we and the government have to presume that there's additional information that hasn't come out that Edward Snowden has leaked to the press in violation of his nondisclosure agreement. So, yes, I do, but the president's right...

BLITZER: You expect more shoes to drop?

TOWNSEND: I do expect more shoes to drop, but the president's right: there is a process of oversight. We can argue about whether or not that's adequate. And I think that's the whole point the president's making about having a board review this.

Look, he has a privacy and civil liberties board that took an awfully long time to get appointed. That's what they ought to be doing, as well: looking at the policies related to these surveillance programs.

BLITZER: So, instead of waiting, though, for more shoes to drop, should the government just drop them themselves, make all this information public and then move on?

TOWNSEND: Well, I suspect that there's a good amount of internal debate about that, right? Because some of these, what you want to do is use the time before it becomes public to try and minimize the damage. Some of it you can't minimize, and you hope they choose not to leak.

And then there's also, of course, an ongoing dialogue with the press about, can you -- asking, making the case why the press shouldn't disclose certain things they may now be aware of until the government can take appropriate action.

BLITZER: Well, the "Washington Post," we do know, sat on this information for a few months; then they finally released it today. All right, we'll see what happens next, Fran.

TOWNSEND: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for coming in.

Up next, as Russia's new antigay law casts a cloud over the upcoming Olympic games in Russia, a prominent American athlete is speaking out while still in Russia.

But first, a month from tonight, "CROSSFIRE" returns to CNN. Take a look at this "CROSSFIRE" classic, introduced by our new host, Newt Gingrich.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEWT GINGRICH, HOST, "CROSSFIRE": One of the great virtues of "CROSSFIRE" is that it introduces new names, new people, new stars; gives you a chance to measure folks you've never heard of before. And here, from 15 years ago, is an example of just that: a brand-new Paul Ryan, elected but not yet even sworn in, describing what he believes in, what philosophy he follows. And I must say, I don't think he has aged a day. Take a look at it, and you decide.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is your philosophy that you should vote the way your constituents want because it is a democracy, or is your philosophy that you vote what you truly believe, and if your constituents don't like it, too bad?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: This is a great question, and this is a question that I campaigned on. You campaign on a specific set of ideas and principles. That's what I campaigned on. I campaigned on a very specific philosophy that I believed in. Having articulated that philosophy and those beliefs, I do believe that, once you're elected, you have the moral authority to act on that philosophy.

That is exactly what we need in Washington. We don't need people who are following the whims of public opinion polls but who are fighting for certain principles they believe in.

GINGRICH: Paul Ryan's still fighting for what he believes in. He'll be on the new "CROSSFIRE," and the future Paul Ryans on both the Republican and Democrat side are also going to show up, so you get to meet the stars of the future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A prominent U.S. athlete is speaking out against Russia's new antigay law, partly because of something he watched, what he saw on CNN.

Nick Symmonds is bringing home a medal from the Track and Field World Championships in Moscow, but he's also slamming the controversial, new law declaring it sparked a defining civil rights movement of our time.

From Moscow, here's CNN's Phil Black.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nick Symmonds wrote a blog before the World Athletics Championships explaining his opposition to Russia's antigay propaganda law, but he says when he arrived in Moscow, his intention was to stay silent. He had a job to do. He wanted to respect Russia, its people, its laws and not be accused of breaching the laws.

But having finished his competition, winning silver in the men's 800 meters, he says he couldn't, in good conscience, stay silent, and he says one of his motivations for speaking out against the law was video of the gay rights protest he saw on CNN.

NICK SYMMONDS, WON SILVER IN 800M WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: That really powerful picture you had of two Russian women kissing in a street and a man coming and shoving them to the ground based on nothing more than they wanted to express their love for each other. I was just appalled, and I couldn't stay silent anymore.

BLACK (voice-over): The antigay propaganda law makes it illegal to promote the idea that gay relationships are equal to straight anywhere children could possibly see or hear it. The Russian government says it's not discriminatory; it's just there to protect children.

Symmonds disagrees and supports athletes making public statements in support of Russia's gay community, but he doesn't want athletes to boycott next year's Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi.

SYMMONDS: To say you can come here and be heterosexual and talk about being heterosexual, that's cool, but you can't come here and be homosexual and talk about being homosexual. That's saying this portion of people have these rights, and this portion of people have these different rights. That is discriminatory, and it's wrong.

BLACK: Russian world champion pole vaulter Elena Isinbaeva has made headlines by seeming to defend the controversial law. She says gay people and athletes are welcome in Russia, but they shouldn't publicize their personal choices. That, she says, would be disrespectful to Russian people.

She describes Russians as normal and says women live with boys, boys with women here.

(on camera): But she's since released a statement saying that she believes her comments were misunderstood. In the statement, she says she is opposed to discrimination based on sexuality.

Phil Black, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Coming up, Michelle Obama's talking about her family, her hair, the prospects of a woman president.

But first, the country music star Kellie Pickler loves entertaining U.S. troops. The granddaughter of a retired Marine impacts her world through song.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLIE PICKLER, COUNTRY SINGER: Hey, there. I'm Kellie Pickler. I come from a military family. I've always had a great deal of respect for our servicemen and women. I work a lot with the USO. I love working with them, and we've been able to go do so many tours overseas.

Where are my girls at? All right!

To be in a position where you can take a little piece of home to your servicemen and women, I mean, why would you not do that?

Because they need to know that we have their backs, because they have ours. It's just the right thing to do. That's why I do it.

The USO, they've been doing this for over 60 years. You cannot compare those shows to any other shows that you do.

I wish I could just donate my whole time to just doing those tours, because I'd do it in a heartbeat. I love it.

Join the movement. Impact your world, and you can be a part of something really special.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: First lady Michelle Obama's opening up about her private life, a significant birthday and why she tried, then abandoned her bangs. CNN's Athena Jones is here. She's got the details about what the first lady is saying.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.

Yes, about those bangs. The first lady says she's no longer sporting them because, quote, "It's hard to make speeches with hair in your face." That's just one of the topics she covers in a "Parade" magazine interview out this weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: First lady Michelle Obama biking with her family Friday on Martha's Vineyard and opening up to "Parade" magazine about raising 15-year-old Malia and 12-year-old Sasha.

"What I tell my kids is I'm preparing you for college and for life. So having independence, knowing how to set your own boundaries, figuring out how to make that balance." JONES: Asked about these comments to CNN affiliate WCIF...

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: As a busy single mother, or I should say single as a busy mother...

JONES: The first lady told "Parade," "I give my husband credit. He knows who their friends are. He knows what their schedule is, but he is not making the calls to the dance studio to figure out what classes they're taking next year."

Mrs. Obama has also made a point of promoting healthy eating with her own White House garden and exercise often serving as first example. Taking on Jimmy Fallon in a fitness battle and teaching workout moves to kids.

And the coveted cover model is not above a little vanity as she approaches 50.

"I have never felt more confident in myself, more clear on who I am as a woman. I want to be this really fly, 80-, 90-year-old."

I asked her former campaign chief of staff Stephanie Cutter how she'll be remembered.

STEPHANIE CUTTER, CO-HOST, CNN'S "CROSSFIRE": Fun, passionate, a good mom, a great spouse, somebody that so many women across this country can relate to.

JONES: When it comes to presidential politics and whether there will be a female commander in chief in her lifetime, Mrs. Obama says, "Yes, I think the country is ready for it. It's just a question of who's the best person out there."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: And while she insisted that she will never run for president, Mrs. Obama wouldn't comment on whether another first lady, by the name of Hillary Clinton, could get the job, saying she didn't want to get ahead of any announcement Clinton might make -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good political point from that. Thanks very much. Very good interview, by the way, in "Parade" magazine.

JONES: Yes.

BLITZER: Let's take a look at some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM.

This was a very poignant first day for school in Moore, Oklahoma. Classes resumed for the first time since a tornado tore through the Oklahoma City suburb last May. Students from two schools that took direct hits are attending classes in alternate locations. Things were pretty emotional when the superintendent welcomed everyone back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERT ROMINES, SUPERINTENDENT, MOORE PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Today is sweet to me. It's so good to see the smiling faces of this school, sitting here in front of me. This is about family. This is my extended family. This is your extended family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Moore still needs some help fixing up -- fixing up and repairing its schools. To find out how you can help, go to our Impact Your World Web site at CNN.com/Impact.

A federal grand jury in Oregon has indicted a member of Romania's royal family and her husband for allegedly running an illegal cockfighting and gambling operation. "The Portland Oregonian" newspaper says a judge just ruled they'll be freed until their trial.

And this a little bit hard to see, but if that animal in the cage looks more like a dog than a lion, that's because it is a dog. Officials at a Chinese Zoo say they put a Tibetan mastiff in the lion's cage out of safety concerns. Angry visitors accused the zoo of cheating them and took to social media to express their outrage.

Up next, remember last week, we took you aboard a boat where researchers are hauling up giant sharks. Now we have new pictures of a Great White Shark being captured and tagged. Wait until you see this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Our Brian Todd took you to the waters off Cape Cod last week where scientists have been hauling up some very dangerous sharks onto their boat. Now we have new pictures of a Great White Shark being captured and tagged. Brian's back. He's got the details,

Brian, pretty amazing stuff.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Great stuff, Wolf. You know, we were with the research vessel "Osearch" last week. The exciting news is they finally have caught a shark. They've been out there for two weeks, trying to tag and track Great White Sharks. A lot of patience involved in this.

Thursday they finally got one. Her name is Betsy. Advance the stream. Got some of the video there. We'll play the video in just a second. The measurements of Betsy -- this is her -- 12 feet 7 inches long, 1,400 pounds. And she's considered an immature shark, because these babies can get up to about 5,000 pounds.

We're going to play you some of the video and let you hear some of the sounds and see the sights of their capture of Betsy yesterday. Take a listen and look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lines up, lines up. Lines up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa, whoa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a shorty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about a lateral vein? Anyone want to try a lateral vein?

TODD: They have to guide Betsy in and put her on that platform and they have 15 minutes to take tissue and blood samples. They have 15 minutes to put a tag on the dorsal fin.

What's really cool about this process is they then let the shark go, and they have something called the Global Shark Tracker where Osearch and you can go on Osearch.org and track their tagged sharks anywhere in the world. They've gone from the coast of Cape Cod all the way down to South Africa.

Where is Betsy? Well, Shark Tracker has put her just off Monomoy Island. That's a wildlife refuge on Cape Cod. Look how close she came. This is updated every hour. So she could have very well been very recently been today off Monomoy Island, just off the coast there. But one thing we have to tell you: she only sends a signal when she surfaces and when the dorsal fin with the tag on it with the satellite-enabled tag on it is near or at the surface.

They got a ping earlier today where she was right here. She swam a little bit east, but when she goes to depth, they can't get any signal from Betsy, so at the last word, and they update this every hour on Osearch.org, their Global Shark Tracker, this is where Betsy was. Hasn't migrated too far off the coast of Cape Cod.

By the way, this is a refuge, a wildlife refuge. Not very many beachgoers on here, very hard to access by foot. In some places you can only get to it by boat. So really not many beachgoers here and nobody really in danger from this, so she's creeping around in this area, Wolf.

And his is the whole point of it. They want to -- they don't know anything about how these sharks migrate, how they feed, where they breed, and this will help them gather that research in an effort to save the Great White Sharks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Amazing stuff. Brian Todd, thank you very much.

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

I'll be back in one hour. I'm filling in for Anderson Cooper on "AC 360." And thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.