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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  June 3, 2011 3:28pm-4:00pm PDT

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the question is, what does this heene for the u.s.? >> reporter: you're absolutely right. president obama's counterterrorism chief called on him a greater threat to the homeland here in the u.s. than osama bin laden himself. against officials told us the al qaeda group based in yemen is its biggest strategic threat when it comes to terrorism. the u.s. military have bank ad lot of money and effort into yemen. a new $75 million program to beef up yemen's counterterrorism forces, giving them four helicopters to reach some of those more remote areas and extend their reach. now with saleh in trouble, a lot of that remains in flux, if perhaps the government there changes. wasn't his forces occupied to such an extent with the opposition, a lot of people, including at the state department is wondering how much effort success extended to go after these terrorists. >> obviously the political
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uncertainty right now makes it difficult for us to do very much, but we had been working to train the yemeni security forces again to exercise more control and as i mentioned earlier, we had a lot of success in 2009 and 2010. >> but now, obviously, the big question it's 2011 and how much of that effort is still being made, wolf? >> chris, thank you. chris lawrence at the pentagon. let's dig deeper on this potentially very dangerous short fallout from the yemen complex. joining us once again is the director of middle east studies at johns hopkins of international studies here in washington. thanks very much. how concerned should we be that al qaeda could take over yemen? >> well, wolf, i think you said it well when you compare yemen with afghanistan. i mean, look, yemen is wafg a coastline. it's the most dangerous country in the region.
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if you talk to saudi officials, wolf, they tell you there's two things they are concerned about, egypt and prospect for egypt and yemen. so the stakes in yemen are very huge and i think we, the american presence in yemen is, i think, unprepared for the games that are being played. saleh has played the americans and gulf states for a fool. he has promised he'll relinquish power. he in tends to do nothing of the kind. >> here's what concerns me. we saw opportune snartunisia. a little violent. similar in egypt. since then we've seen violence in libya, bahrain, yemen. these leaders have decided to fight to the bitter end. >> you're absolutely right. there's a document leaked out from syria from syria intelligence. what they end up saying is the lesson of egypt and tunisia is
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never to relinquish power it's to use the armed forces to hunker down and kill as many people as you can and so, in fact, you're absolutely right. you have egypt and tunisia as one story and then you have syria, libya and yemen. yemen itself is interesting. because saleh was always a rogue but not a killer. now i think with the complications in yemen i think now there's more blood on his hands and there's greater reluctance on his part to relinquish power. >> in syria, the u.n. secretary-general says at least 1,000 people have been killed over these past several weeks in syria and i fear many, many more are about to die because they don't want to give up, they don't want saleh to stay in power but he's getting even more bold in his crackdown. >> you know, there's something very ironic which the wolf has come to hamad.
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since his father wreaked convenient against in 1982. here we are three decades later, almost, a year short of three decades and violence has come in a big way. children are being killed. innocent are being killed. and the only thing that is on the horizon is the syrians have begun to think about a future. here's a quotation i like. it's the quotation from our own secretary of state, hillary clinton, saleh's legitimacy has run out. >> a lot of people are wondering where is the obama administration on syria. why isn't it doing what it did towards moammar gadhafi and basically say he must go? >> well, i think it's very interesting and i have some sympathy for the obama administration. i'm not usually friendly with them. when they say the arab league, for example which broke from moammar gadhafi is still in the syrian regime, i saw a placard
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somewhere where the syrian protesters are saying may god set free and loose the tongue of the mute out of the legal arab states. they still haven't broken with saleh. you can pardon the obama administration to say we have a mandate to intervene in libya but no mandate for syria. >> this killing of this 13-year-old boy in sir area he was tortured. you saw the pictures. mutilated. is this going to be the symbol, though, that will eventually result in his overthrow? >> as we say, may this be from the tongue to the ears of god. we don't know. we would love to see the end of this regime, all human beings. when you think that unicef is worried about children, you want it gone. but the regime that's tenacity
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and staying power. they have goons, there's a group that are goons. they go every where. so death and destruction. so the regime has hunkered down. >> remind our viewers what happened back in 1982. it seems to be happening again right now. >> absolutely. basically in hamad, in fact, a sunni city rebelled. a fight broke out and basically leveled the old city, killed tens of thousands, there's a controversy was it 10,000, 20,000, the numbers may have been as high as 30,000. this is what put the fear of the regime in the syrian body politic. after that, in fact, syrian society opted for acquiesence.
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>> professor, thanks very much. >> thank you all. a check on the day's top stories, including the death of a tv star. congressman wiener takes heat from fellow democrats and cancels an appearance. a high school trip end in real tragedy as an american teenager is shot dead in costa rica. impact your world, members of tv's dugger family takes action after tornadoes rip through missouri. >> i'm jill dugger. >> i'm josh digger. >> we can make a difference. >> we were here in arkansas where we live when the tornado hit. >> thoughts started coming looking what? what can we do to help. >> we packed everything up and we got water bottles, gatorade. i've been around emergency
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situations, and, you know, working as a volunteer firefighter. being that jill, john they are active duty volunteer firefighters they were able to plug right in. giving them hope by being there, i think really inspires them to continue on. join the movement. >> impact your world. >> go to cnn.com/impact.
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the u.s. martial service says the biggest money makers were his journals. no surprise there. they went for more than $40,000. and his infamous hooded sweat shirt and sunglasses featured on wanted posters, those sold for $20,000. the men woil be used to compensate his victims. saudi arabiian women's right activists are calling on secretary of state hillary clinton to support their right to drive. the movement has been gaining steam since a young saudi mother was arrested for driving. the activists are asking clinton to make a public statement in support of ending the ban on women drivers in saudi arabia. and first lady michele obama will make an official visit to south africa and botswana later this month. the white house say it's her on going effort to engage young people in south africa. she will give the keynote address. her daughters will join mrs. obama on her trip along with her mother.
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we're sad to report the star of the popular long running tv western gun smoke is dead. actor james arness played marshall james dillon. in real life he was a world war ii hero who received the purple heart. he left a letter on his website to his fans thanking them and saying he had a wonderful life. he was 88 years old. >> i remember "gun smoke." popular show. >> he was over 6'6". >> big guy. >> very tall guy. >> thank you. a high school trip abroad turns into real tragedy as an american teenager is shot dead in costa rica. >> we don't know what to think right now. being told -- he was a very good kid. ♪
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not just the news media pressuring congressman weiner about a lewd picture sent over his twitter account. fellow democrats are urging him to put an to end the controversy which sources are calling painful. dana bash is up on capitol hill. what's the latest on this whole congressman weiner saga. >> reporter: a member told me today that a democratic leaders have talked to anthony weiner and told him they want to stop this political distraction. he described the performance as painful and said that they told weiner he's got to put a period at the end of the sentence. either clear things up with this lewd photograph allegedly sent from his twitter account or stop
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talking. other democrats agree. walk the halls of congress and hear this from some of anthony weiner's democratic colleagues. >> i like anthony weiner. i think he's a great public servant. only anthony weiner can clean this up. >> this democrat told cnn publicly that others told us privately. >> these things hang on like a disease. you can't make this stuff up. tony is the only one that can clear it up. >> earlier in the week weiner came to the cameras but didn't answer questions about a lewd photograph sent from his twitter account. >> can you say why you haven't asked law enforcement to investigate what you are alleging -- >> dana, if i was giving a speech to 45,000 people, and someone in the back of the room threw a pie or yelled out an insult, i would spend the next two hours responding to that?
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no. >> have you ever taken a picture of yourself like this? >> i have photographs, i don't know what photographs are out there in the world of me. i don't know what things have been manipulated and dock toward, and we're going try to find out what happened. >> reporter: now weiner's strategy, try to completely avoid reporters questions. >> i don't have anything more to speak to the press. >> reporter: he even abruptly cancelled a friday night sfeech the wisconsin democratic party convention, a party spokesman telling cnn they were told under the circumstances he's going new york to be with his wife. long time hillary clinton aid. some of weiner's democratic colleagues are careful not to be critical snipe really think it's a personal matter that anthony weiner needs to deal with himself. >> reporter: others disagree. >> it's a personal matter but he's a congressman. anything that affects one of us affects all of us.
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>> reporter: weiner said he was hacked but never asked law enforcement to look into it, deflecting questions about why not? he said he hired his own law firm to do their own investigation into why a lewd photograph went out on his twitter account. we called that law firm several times today to get a status report we never heard back. >> thanks very much. a cool trip to costa rica turns into a tragedy when a gun is drawn and an american student, a teenager is shot. no matter what the market does e-trade can help. they've got strategies, screeners...
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should have been a high school high life and instead turned into a real tragedy resulting in the death of an american teenager in costa rica. martin, what do we know? >> reporter: i've been speaking with local journalists in costa rica as well as investigators and members of the u.s. embassy. 16-year-old justin johnston was among 12 students from a local high school spanish class from mcleod, kansas. along with two chaperones they were staying in a lodge near the volcano, a very popular tourist spot in the north of the country part of a larger group of 40 students staying at the hotel, boys in one building, girls in another. wednesday night johnston and three other boys left their room
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shortly after their 10:00 p.m. curfew to visit with the other kids in another building. six hours later 4:00 a.m. they're headed back to their rooms crossing a wooded area off the main path when they're spotted by a security guard. the guard mistook the boys as thieves apparently because they had backpacks. he reportedly told them to stop, fired a shot into the air according to police. the boys were frightened and started running toward the guard. he fired a second time hitting johnston, killing him. the news of the 16-year-old's tragic death has left the small town in kansas shaken and in tears. >> it's heart breaking. you don't really know what to think right now. he was one of my good friends. a very good kid please that always did good, loved sports. just all around a good kid. >> reporter: at the town's school where all grades k-12 fit under a single roof officials were in shock. >> our thoughts and our prayers are with the johnston family. as well as the many students and
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staff and families affected by this tragedy. >> reporter: people gathered at a church across the street from the school for a prayer service. >> he was just the class clown, you know, he loved making everybody laugh. he was one of the guys that all the guys wanted to be and all the girls wanted to be, wanted to date him. >> reporter: just days before students talked excitedly to a local tv station about the trip. among those interviewed, a charismatic justin johnston. >> my name is justin. i like cute girls. my telephone number is -- >> no, no. >> the trip that was to be the highlight of the summer ended tragically only days after it began. meanwhile the costa rica attorney general says the 34-year-old security guard was not licensed to carry a weapon. he had a .38. the man from nicaragua has been charged with as they call it simple murder which in this country we would say manslaughter. >> costa rica is a very popular
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destination for american tourists. how worried should we be about this incident? >> reporter: costa rica is considered to be one of the safest and tourist friendly countries in all of latin america. this doesn't change that at least according to officials i spoke with at the u.s. embassy. they say, look, it's horrible, terrible, but it was a tragic accident. by the way, in a sad coincidence, johnston is the second student from northeast kansas to die while oon trip to costa rica. ten years ago shannon martin only a few days from graduating from the university of kansas was murdered there in may of 2001. >> what a tragedy. thank you very much. a different take on congressman weiner's twitter controversy. weiner's twitter controversy. jeanne moos is next.
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an rv vacation can be. visit gorving.com and get a free video. or see an rv dealer. go affordably. go rving. a story that's inspiring countless puns. here is cnn's jeanne moos. >> reporter: over memorial day weekend we went from toasting wieners to roasting congressman weiner. >> weinergate. >> the answers to him are unweiner like. >> leaving us in the media searching for the right words to mention the unmentionables. >> bulging underwear. >> bulging underpants. >> sending a picture that aroused -- >> yes. >> well, anyway.
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>> so, yes, it might have been my area. >> it is below the waist area. >> it may or may not be his package. >> reporter: what is being delivered often comes in puns from front pages meant to tickle to editorials. >> this weiner is cooked. is this or is this not representative weiner's chief of staff? >> reporter: as "new york times" reporter john schwartz tweeted, all the bad weiner puns show that america is emotionally a sixth grader. >> the long and short of it is over the weekend you discovered -- >> you didn't just introduce that by saying the long and short of it, did you, earl? >> reporter: congressman weiner is even punning himself. >> one of the reasons i was perhaps if you forgive me a little bit stiff yesterday -- >> reporter: everything is starting to look weiner like. there are weiner cartoons. isn't that anthony weiner in the ballet tights? the news is coming across as comedy. >> do you guys know what your drawers look like. >> of course. >> i know what i look like in my drawers. >> do you?
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>> i could tell you i can identify my pelvis in a lineup. >> reporter: some can identify with anthony weiner so the guy behind the camera, what is your last name? >> weiner. >> just give me the camera. >> reporter: all right. talk to me about being a weiner. >> well, you know, being a weiner is not that bad. >> actually we both know a little bit about being called "wiener." look what my high school nickname was inscribed even in my year book. wiener. >> because i was so tall and skinny. but no one -- just watch where you point that thing. ♪ oh, i love to be an oscar meyer wiener ♪ >> reporter: anyone called wiener has a love/hate relationship with that song. these days