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THE SITUATION ROOM
Ariel Castro Gets Life Plus 1,000 Years; Russia Grants Snowden Temporary Asylum
Aired August 1, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, a monster pretends to be a victim and it does not work. One of Ariel Castro's real victims faces him down, telling her tormenter -- and I'm quoting now -- "Your hell is just beginning."
And for the first time, we see and hear harrowing details of what three kidnapped women endured for year after year.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin with a court hearing the whole country will be talking about. You have to see what happened today when the kidnapper, the rapist, the murderer, Ariel Castro, was sentenced to life in prison. He pleaded guilty to more than 900 charges for abducting three Cleveland girls and holding them as sex slaves for more than a decade.
CNN's Martin Savidge is in Cleveland.
He's been covering the story for us from the very beginning.
What an awful day -- but tell our viewers, Martin, what happened.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was awful day. And, of course, It was a huge day, very emotional. I grew up in this town. I knew a lot of the law enforcement in that courtroom. I knew a lot of the attorneys.
I know they're tough people, but they were all overshadowed by one small victim who faced down her kidnapper.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Inside the courtroom where Ariel Castro was sentenced, it was the words of one victim, and those who spoke for the others, that will be remembered.
Michelle Knight was the only victim to appear in person, bringing the proceedings to an emotional halt.
She had suffered the most and the longest in captivity from Castro, which is why her words meant so much. MICHELLE KNIGHT, HELD CAPTIVE BY ARIEL CASTRO: You took 11 years of my life away and I have got it back. I spent 11 years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning.
SAVIDGE: Small in stature, her strength seemed to fill the entire courtroom. Knight said fellow captive, Gina DeJesus, was her teammate, the only good to come from so much horror -- a horror she put in her own words.
KNIGHT: I cried every night. I was so alone. I worried about what would happen to me and the other girls every day.
SAVIDGE: Speaking on behalf of Gina DeJesus was her cousin, Sylvia Colon, telling the court today marked the end of a dark chapter of suffering and the start of a new life.
SYLVIA COLON, GINA DEJESUS' COUSIN: Today, we will close this chapter of our lives.
SAVIDGE: Colon also spoke to Castro's family, who has known the DeJesus family for decades, saying it is Ariel they blame.
COLON: To the Castro family, we are saddened that you are burdened with this horror and will unfortunately forever be tied to these atrocities. Please know that we do not hold you accountable.
SAVIDGE: Most of her statement was said to the judge, but she spoke her last words to Castro himself, in his family's native language.
(SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
SAVIDGE: "May God have mercy on your soul."
Amanda Berry's sister fought back tears, describing the suffering Castro had brought to their family for years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is impossible to (INAUDIBLE) how much it hurts.
SAVIDGE: Castro himself was given the opportunity to speak, delivering a rambling, self-serving statement.
ARIEL CASTRO, CONVICTED KIDNAPPER AND RAPIST: -- that these people are trying to hate me as a monster. And I'm not a monster.
I'm sick. (INAUDIBLE) my sexual problems is so bad on my mind that I'm impulsive.
SAVIDGE: And at one jaw-dropping point, he said life in his prison home was actually a family.
CASTRO: I just hope they can find it in their hearts to forgive me, because we had a lot of harmony going on in that home.
SAVIDGE: Michelle Knight remained through it all. Then, as Castro was led away, walked out of the courtroom, finally free to start the rest of her life.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SAVIDGE: And the number to keep in mind, beyond the sentence that Castro got, which, of course, was life plus 1,000 years, is another staggering number -- 13,226, the number of days that those three women were held, going back to the first girl that was taken, Michelle Knight -- Wolf.
BLITZER: She was really amazing, that Michelle Knight, and this courage, the strength of her statement. The other two, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, they did not want to appear.
Did they offer an explanation?
SAVIDGE: No. The attorney said that simply at this time in their life, they weren't ready. They felt that this was the best way to go forward. And, quite frankly, Michelle, and especially in the words of the judge, Michael Russo, he said that she appeared to be the true heroine in all of this, the one that oversaw the other two younger girls.
BLITZER: Martin Savidge on the scene for us in Cleveland, as he has been all these weeks.
Thanks very much.
We have a lot more to show you from today's hearing, and a lot to talk about, as well.
Joining us right now in THE SITUATION ROOM, our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. He's a former federal prosecutor.
Also, the criminal defense attorney, Danny Cevallos.
And we're also joined by Dr. Gail Saltz. She's a psychiatrist -- Jeff, what was the point -- if you get life in prison without the possibility of parole, of adding another 1,000 years?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's really just symbolic, Wolf. This was a life sentence. It was always going to be a life sentence. I think the prosecutors were worried about public criticism for not seeking the death penalty, so they wanted to make as abundantly clear as they could that Ariel Castro will never get out of prison. And this is how they did it.
BLITZER: Because the -- what -- I mean what raises -- I mean I'm not a lawyer, but it suggested to me, Jeffrey, that maybe if you get life in prison without the possibility of parole, there could be a loophole down the road and you do get parole, that's why they add the 1,000 years.
But what you're saying is you don't have to worry about that?
TOOBIN: Not -- no. I mean in this case, you don't. I mean it varies a little by state how -- how life without parole works. But this is life without parole. He will die in prison. There is absolutely no doubt of that.
BLITZER: I can't tell you, Danny, how many people Tweeted me or e-mailed me or said to me, this is a guy who deserved the death sentence. If you believe in capital punishment, this guy deserved it.
Why didn't the prosecutors go for the death sentence?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I can't speak to that. I can say that when it comes to the life plus a 1,000 years, another reason that we have less to worry about is that this was a plea agreement. If this had gone to verdict, there are more avenues of appeal. But when you enter a plea, your avenues of appeal are very limited, which is why, as Jeff said, the number of years here is largely symbolic.
Had this gone to trial and a verdict, there may be more avenues for appeal.
Why the government chose not to pursue the death penalty is probably -- one of the compelling public policy reasons would be cost. It would have cost so much more to pursue it -- and these are taxpayers paying for it -- to pursue the death penalty, that whatever symbolic nature, whatever your opinion is about the death penalty, that could be one compelling reason.
The other reason would be, that would require a trial and do you want to put these victims through more than they've already been through?
BLITZER: They've been through hell already. That's a fair point.
Gail, what makes somebody become a monster like this Ariel Castro?
DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: I think we heard a lot of things from him that are suggestive of psychopathy, of anti-social personality disorder. He talks about the sex addiction. You know, whatever you want to think about sex addiction, it certainly doesn't explain this kind of behavior.
So what -- what causes somebody?
We think that it's a combination, probably, of biology. There do seem to be brain differences in people who are really sociopaths. But also, early life experience does affect that, as well. So somebody who's already predisposed who then has trauma in their early childhood, as he alluded to, that can also accentuate the likelihood of repeating that kind of behavior.
SALTZ: But his description was definitely, you know, not remorseful, though he used the word sorry, you know, not -- that none of this was really as it appeared, non-empathic at all. It was all a beautiful family, etc. And it -- very impulsive. It really sounds like psychopathy.
BLITZER: Yes. I liked what the judge, Michael Russo, said. He said maybe he had some problems as a kid or as a child, but he was an adult and he certainly had no child's along -- no problems along those lines as a mature adult. He just became, as we say, this monster. Everybody stay -- stand by. We have a lot more to discuss.
We're also going to hear more from the heart-wrenching statement the former captive, Michelle Knight, read in court today. Stand by for that.
Also, for the first time, we'll see the horrifying conditions in which Castro's captives lived.
BLITZER: At Ariel Castro's sentencing today, we got our first real look inside what truly was a house of horrors. An FBI agent showed photos of the living conditions Castro's victims had to endure for more than a decade.
CNN's Pamela Brown has been covering this part of the story.
She's in Cleveland right now -- so, Pam, what knew details did we learn?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We learned a lot today, Wolf. We learned about the deplorable conditions these women experienced inside of Ariel Castro's home. It's really our first peek inside the home.
And we learned about the great lengths that Ariel Castro went to to keep these women hidden and to lead his secret life.
Some of the first pictures we saw today showed Amanda Berry's room, that she shared her little girl that she had with Ariel Castro. And it was shocking to see this room. We see child's art work on the walls. And that's, you know, you juxtapose that with the disheveled -- the deplorable conditions in the room, the chains. It's really incredible to see that picture and to see that the tiny room that Amanda Berry and her
Daughter lived in. We learned that the windows are boarded up in the room, that the only ventilation they had was at the bottom of the door, that there was no door knob, so they couldn't escape, and that Ariel Castro set up alarm so that he would be alerted if the women tried to escape.
And then you see the dichotomy between the living conditions for Amanda and her little girl and where Gina and Michelle shared a room. That was even smaller than where Amanda was. And it was even seemingly worse off.
And we have heard all along, Wolf, that -- that Amanda was treated a little bit better than the other two and that Michelle Knight took the brunt of the abuse. And we saw in their room that they shared together, we saw the chains, the rusty chains, 99 feet long, according to the investigator. Today, we learned that there was just a cutout in the ceiling to give them a little bit of ventilation.
And we also saw the pictures of the basement where these women were restrained. We saw the pull where the women were chained to after Ariel Castro abducted them. So we were able to see for ourselves -- we -- add color to the picture that we've been trying to understand. We learned the disturbing details of this case.
Also, an investigator, Wolf, presented the gun that Ariel Castro used as a way to intimidate the women. He would show them this gun and threaten them with it. And he admitted he used the gun as a way to -- to keep control of these women, to dominate them and to make them feel powerless, essentially.
We also saw the note that Ariel Castro wrote in 2004 where he wrote in the, "I am a sexual predator." And they had those words pulled out from that note.
So we really learned a lot today, Wolf, not only about the horrific conditions these women had to endure, but also just the energy -- the amount of energy that Ariel Castro expended trying to keep these women hidden inside his home for a decade.
BLITZER: And when you see those chains that he had, those long chains that he locked up these women in, it's just heartbreaking to imagine what was going on.
BLITZER: Pamela Brown will be back later with us.
Pam, thanks very much.
Let's get some more now on how Castro's victims endured year after year of these kinds of conditions. Let's bring back the psychiatrist, Dr. Gail Saltz. At one point, Gail, he spoke of what he said was harmony, harmony in the home. But when you look at those pictures, what kind of harmony this crazy guy think he's talking about?
DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: You know, I don't know whether he really believes what he's saying, you know, or whether this is simply, as I said, psychopathy. He wants to convince everyone that, you know, he's really not the monster.
Obviously, you know, this is no one's definition of harmony, except that when you exert a control in this kind of way over this long period of time, often, victims suffer in what's called Stockholm syndrome, the feeling that, you know, this person is essentially supplying their life line.
And they come to feel at least not, you know, thoroughly hateful while they're there, while they're dependent. And so, it made a peer (ph) that there isn't constant sort of fighting or constant fear or constant, you know, let me go going on. And whether that, you know, convinced him because he wants to believe so that, you know, they were willing to stay, as it were, you know, only he knows.
BLITZER: In that rambling sort of 15-minute defense that he presented before the court today, at one point, he said he never tortured these women. He said he never hurt these women. He insisted the sex was, in his words, consensual. Is this guy delusional?
SALTZ: You know, delusional or, you know, I hate to use this word as a psychiatrist because it's not a clinical word per se but really quite evil, you know? He wants the world to remember him in the grandiose way that he wants to remember himself. And, you know, it's incredible grandiosity. And, I think he doesn't want them to believe these women and it's sort of in a way you could say it's kind of continued abuse.
The sorries really were not sorry at all. He said very negative things about his victim and it's really a continued pattern of being emotionally abusive. So, I would say, you know, it's really quite evil and monstrous behavior.
BLITZER: I mean, he was so evil when he even brought up this notion today in front of the court, the whole world was watching and saying that these women, they wanted it. They were not virgins when he brought them into his home. The fact that he would even talk like this on a daylight this after what these three women had gone through, it is the face of evil right there.
SALTZ: And lacking of any empathy whatsoever. This is all about him, which is why, hopefully, now, he will go away and none of this will be about him at all. We will forget him and we will remember the resilience of these incredible women.
BLITZER: That is the face of evil right there. Gail, don't go too far away. We're going to continue this analysis.
Also coming up, the former captive, Michelle Knight, who was held and tormented the longest, 11 years, we'll hear from her in her own words. And you'll also hear Ariel Castro's really monstrous rant in that courtroom, at least, a chunk of it. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Two of Ariel Castro's three captives stayed away from the courtroom today, but Michelle Knight who was kidnapped first and held for 11 years, she was there. Court documents revealed Castro lured Knight with promises of a puppy for her son. She referred to her boy who's just a toddler at the time of the kidnapping when she wrote a very emotional statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE KNIGHT, HELD CAPTIVE BY ARIEL CASTRO: I cried every night. I worried about what would happen to me and the other girls every day. Days never got shorter. Days turned into nights, nights turned into days. Years turned into eternity. I knew nobody cared about me. He told me that my family didn't care, even on holidays. Christmas was the most traumatic day because I never got to spend it with my son.
Nobody should ever have to go through what I went through or anybody else, not even worst enemy. Ariel Castro, I remember all the times that you came home talking about what everybody else did wrong and act like you wasn't doing the same thing. You said "at least I didn't kill you." You took 11 years of my life away and now I have got it back. I spent 11 years in hell. Now, your hell is just beginning.
I will overcome all this that happened, but you will face hell for eternity. As you think about the 11 years and atrocities you inflicted on us, what does God think of you hypocritically going to church every Sunday coming home to torture us? The death penalty will be so much easier. You don't deserve that. You deserve to spend life in prison. I can forgive you, but I'll never forget.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Strong words from a brave, courageous young woman, Michelle Knight. Back with us, Dr. Gail Saltz, the psychiatrist. Was it smart, from your professional standpoint, Gail, smart that let her go into that courtroom and make that statement today?
SALTZ: I think what's smart is to allow each person to decide what would work for them. So, for some people, it's really cathartic to be able to read that statement and know that it's been heard by the perpetrator. For other people, actually, it's not so. It's best not to force someone to do something like that, but to let them make their own choice.
And as you see, the girls made -- the women made different choices for themselves. But clearly, for her, it has been important. Her words really ring of a lot of things that speak for resilience like, you know, "I may forgive you but I will not forget." You know, "I will move on and overcome, you are going to be here."
She pointed out the particular abuses that disturbed her most in some ways, which is frankly the loss of the childhood of her child that she was not able to be there for. And I think that she really summed it up in a way that clearly was particularly meaningful to her and in that, hopefully, it would be cathartic and she can, again, close the door and move on.
BLITZER: Amanda Berry was not in the courtroom, but her sister, Beth Serrano, did make a statement on her behalf. Amanda Berry is one of the three women who did have a child, a little girl, with Ariel Castro. Listen to what Amanda Berry's sister, Beth, said in the court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETH SERRANO, AMANDA BERRY'S SISTER: Amanda's concern is that her daughter will hear about things or read about things said by the wrong people the wrong way at the wrong time before Amanda thinks the time is right to tell her daughter. My sister has been saying the same thing since this case started. Please respect her privacy. She does not want other people to talk or write about what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: How do you raise, Gail, a little girl like this? She's six years old now. Knowing what you know how she came into this world and that her dad is this monster?
SALTZ: In that way, she has the most difficult challenge of the three because she loves her child, but obviously, her child is a product of this horrendous abuse. And while it is a challenge, there are sadly a number of women who raise children who are a result of rape, and it is possible, though difficult, to separate out that this is your child and to sort of, you know, disconnect in a way from the identity of the parent and if she is able to be very nurturing, a very positive parent.
As her child grows, she'll see that her child has nothing in common really with these awful aspects of the other parent and that will make it easier as time goes on. What becomes most difficult is when you reach an age where you really want to understand who your other parent was. And that's a very difficult period.
She may need to sort of dip back into therapy and get some help with -- or that child may need some help in understanding that even though, biologically, they're related, you know, they can fall very far from that tree, on a completely different universe from that tree, but that can be scary.
BLITZER: Yes. I was happy the judge, Michael Russo, said that Castro could have no contact with the three women and no contact with this little girl either, even though Castro professed his love for his daughter.
All right. Gail, We'll continue our analysis. When we come back, Ariel Castro in his own words, including his unbelievable excuses, his astonishing complaint. He's upset, get this, because people are calling him a monster.
We're also following another huge story today. The NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, in Moscow, he goes free.
BLITZER: Happening now, Ariel Castro tells a judge he never tortured the three women he kidnapped for a decade. His disturbing and mindboggling testimony, that's coming up.
Edward Snowden finally leaves the Moscow airport. So what's next for the NSA leaker? And how should the United States deal with Russia right now?
And new footage taken by some of Richard Nixon's closes aides. Footage that shows a side of the disgraced president you've never seen before.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Before he was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years, Ariel Castro made a rambling statement. He denied many of the crimes he pleaded guilty to, apologized to the women he held captive, and complained about being painted as a monster. He began by talking about the little girl he fathered with one of his captives, Amanda Berry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARIEL CASTRO, CONVICTED KIDNAPPER AND RAPIST : I'm not a violent person. I simply kept them there without them being able to leave. Most of the sex that went on in the house, practically all of it, was consensual. This -- these allegations about being forced upon them, that is totally wrong. There was times that they would even ask me for sex. Many times. I never tortured them.
Finally, I'd like to apologize to the victims, to Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. I am truly sorry for what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's discuss what we just heard with CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and criminal defense attorney Danny Cevallos.
It's not easy to listen to this guy at all.
Jeffrey, but when you hear what he says, did any of what he said make any difference at all as far as the judge is concerned, the law is concerned?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No, this sentence was agreed to well in advance. You know, just listening to it again and I've heard it several times today, it reminded me a lot of Jerry Sandusky, the assistant coach at Penn State. This combination of narcissism and self-pity, and sort of an apology but sort of not. I'm not a psychiatrist. I don't know what was going on in his head. But it is actually -- a lot of the patterns of thought and behavior are similar between the two of them.
BLITZER: Danny, he apparently wants to challenge the judge's decision that he should have no visitation rights with his 6-year-old daughter. He wants -- he says he loves his daughter, he wants to be able to have visitation rights with his daughter. What do you make of that?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I see this a lot, Wolf. And this is negotiating after the plea is already set. He did this a few times today. First as to the daughter and second when he tried to say that, well, I'm only -- I'm not agreeing to the facts, I'm only entering into the plea agreement to save people the trial. So the reality is, this agreement was already entered into some time ago.
The other thing that makes this so compelling is that what people don't know is his defense attorneys absolutely must have talked to him beforehand and said whatever you do, don't blame this on the victims, whatever you do, for god sake, don't say that we had a harmonious family. So you have to realize that he's probably saying these things and his defense counsel is slapping their forehead at the table thinking, we talked to him about this.
This was not a spontaneous conversation. He was prepped for this. And you have to imagine he must have gone against what his own attorneys probably told him. This -- he had time to prepare for this. He probably went off the script.
TOOBIN: You can see in the video the attorneys sort of trying to jump in, trying to get him to stop, but, you know, he's crazy so he didn't stop.
BLITZER: These are court-appointed attorneys, right, the public defenders if you will? These -- he didn't have any money to pay these lawyers, Jeffrey, right?
TOOBIN: No. Yes, yet another reason why the taxpayers get a good deal out of a plea bargain rather than a death penalty case because everybody would have been paid by the government, the defense, the prosecution, the experts, the jurors. It would have gone on for years. So yet another reason why this will be a cheaper resolution than a death penalty case.
BLITZER: He's going to spend the next few decades assuming he lives -- he's in his mid-50s, Danny, right now -- in Lorraine, Ohio, at a prison there. We've been trying to check, I assume he's not going to be in the general population because that will be pretty dangerous for him if he were so will he be in isolation all these years down the road? What happens to a monster like this in jail?
CEVALLOS: There are a couple different reasons why Ohio may segregate him or put him in ad seg or whatever their equivalent is. One of the biggest is going to be that he is a -- he is a known child sex offender. And so for that reason, that's one compelling reason among many others they might choose to segregate him. I would expect that he would be segregated. And when you are segregated like that, you're usually confined to a small cell, 23 out of 24 hours a day, maybe a little more, maybe a little less, with limited exercise.
To many that is a very cruel fate and that's a really tough life to live. Virtually no human contact. Humans are designed for other human contact. He won't got it.
BLITZER: Danny Cevallos and Jeffrey Toobin are sticking around because we have more to discuss.
Guys, thanks very much.
Other news we're following here in the SITUATION ROOM today including Edward Snowden. He leaves the Moscow airport for the first time in 39 days. So what's next for the NSA leaker?
And a company is recalling 50,000 pounds of ground beef shipped all over the country. We'll have the details. That's coming up as well. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Let's take a quick look at some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now.
Starting with new information just coming in, the U.S. will be closing an unspecified number of embassies this Sunday on a security concern. A senior official telling CNN it's because of an increase in what they describe as chatter about a potential terrorist threat. This official noted that it coincides with the one-year anniversary of the September 11th attack in Benghazi, Libya. More information coming in on that. We'll update you.
A Kansas company now recalling about 50,000 pounds of ground beef over fears of e. Coli contamination. The USDA says the meat was shipped to food service distributors nationwide but it's unclear if it was sold at a retail level. There have been no reported -- no reported cases of illness so far, but it is the second mass recall of beef from this company this summer alone.
Italy's high court has upheld Silvio Berlusconi's prison sentence for tax fraud. He received a four-year sentence but will face only one year under an amnesty program. The controversial Berlusconi served on and off as prime minister of Italy between 1994 and 2011. He's been entangled in a number of fraud, corruption and sex scandals for many years.
And one of the great careers in baseball history could now be in jeopardy. Alex Rodriguez is accused of taking performance-enhancing drugs from a clinic in Florida. ESPN is now reporting the Yankee slugger and Major League Baseball are negotiating a deal that would result in a suspension rather than a lifetime ban. A-Rod denies the allegations but has admitted to taking banned substances before.
Coming up, the NSA leaker Edward Snowden is granted asylum in Russia. How badly will this strain U.S.-Russian relations? And Richard Nixon like you've never seen him before. We have a sneak peak of a new film that contains footage forgotten now for 40 years.
BLITZER: The NSA leaker Edward Snowden is now out of the Moscow airport and has been given temporary asylum inside Russia. The White House says it's, quote, "very disappointed by Russia's decision."
Joining us now, CNN foreign affairs correspondent, former CNN Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty, Fareed Zakaria, he's the host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" that airs here on CNN every Sunday. And "TIME" magazine's senior correspondent Michael Crowley. The latest issue of "TIME" magazine, by the way, is available on newsstands. You see the cover, "The Childfree Life" there right on the screen right now.
Michael just wrote about Snowden calling this Putin's latest insult to Obama.
But let's start with you, Fareed. Senator Graham, and he's going to be joining us in the next hour, Lindsey Graham, says the U.S. now must have a firm response to what the Russians did. What do you think?
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: I would tend to agree. I think Putin did not need to do this. He had seemed quite sensitive to the diplomatic importance of maintaining good relations with the United States. He seems to have decided at the end of the day, as far as can I tell, he's playing to a certain kind of cheap nationalist popularity in Russia. The Russians do view Snowden as a hero for taking on the big, bad United States.
And I think the Obama administration should seriously consider whether the president should meet with Mr. Putin in St. Petersburg. There is a scheduled summit at the end of the G-20 meeting.
And I think perhaps Mr. Obama should decide that he has more pressing engagements at home and for unavoidable reasons, you know, not do it. In typical diplomatic fashion he should say it has nothing to do with Snowden.
BLITZER: Because he was supposed to go to Moscow the day before the start of the St. Petersburg G-20 summit for a one-on-one with Putin and then go to the G-20. Now there's a lot of suggestion he's not going to go to Moscow but he will go to the G-20 summit. But here's the question, Fareed.
Should he even go to the G-20 summit or send someone else? Send the vice president or the secretary of state?
ZAKARIA: No, I think the G-20 is very important. The G-20 is something that President Bush, to give him credit, and President Obama have really been trying to put at the center of international relations right now because the understanding is that the old system of just having the western countries meet wasn't enough, and you had to bring in India and China. So the G-20 represents really the 20 most important countries in the world sorting out issues of trade and, you know, whether or not you can advance free trade issues like that.
It's important that they all get together. But the one-on-one with Putin in Moscow beforehand, that I think the president should find he just can't make it. So sorry.
BLITZER: You spent many years, Jill, studying Russia. How important is this whole Snowden issue inside Russia right now?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Right now it's very big. It's something that the president of Russia can actually get some PR points domestically and maybe even internationally.
Don't forget that at the same time that he has kind of a hands- off, what is -- if you read the Russian media, listen to the -- look at the blogs, what they're saying is, well, Russia is protecting the rights of Snowden in opposition of course to the United States, which is trying to get him back, and they would argue perhaps torture or whatever. So I think that Putin on the one hand is kind of adamant, but he is also milking it as far as he can. Ultimately, though, I do think that he wants to kind of push it down the road and not make a decision, at least for the foreseeable future.
I was looking at one comment by a Russian politician who said they could put this off for quite a while, and that would be a fine solution, because eventually, of course, as we all know, Fareed's talking about it, they could have the G-20, Russia gets what it wants, and eventually, they solve this.
BLITZER: You know, Michael, Senator Lindsey Graham says this is a game-changer as far as U.S./Russia relations are concerned. It's a major -- it's a big deal, obviously.
MICHAEL CROWLEY, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, TIME: It's a big deal, although it is one of several points of contention that we have with Russia. What I wrote about on TIME.com was a flashback to around this time last year, and Mitt Romney called Russia our number one geopolitical foe. And you may remember, Wolf, you may recall you moderated this debate. Obama --
BLITZER: He said -- it was an interview with me.
CROWLEY: It was an interview with you.
CROWLEY: Congratulations, Obama said the 1980s called, they want their Cold War back, or something to that effect. He's ridiculing Romney for saying this, the Cold War is over and you're out of touch.
In the months since then it's been one front after another, whether it's Putin supporting Bashar al-Assad in Syria after we said he had to go, ending American adoptions of Russian children, that weird sort of a show trial where they threw the CIA agent out of the country, and put him on camera and made a fool of him.
You know, recently, a former senior Bush administration official told me that the Bush people watched Putin go from a confident man to an arrogant man. Now there's a worry that he's megalomaniacal, that he's just not entirely rational anymore and unfortunately really seems like he's enjoying taking it out on the U.S.
BLITZER: Michael Crowley, thanks for joining us. Jill Daugherty, Fareed Zakaria, guys, thanks to you as well.
Much more on this story coming up in our next hour.
Coming up next, the 40-year-old footage of Richard Nixon hidden away in the FBI's vault, unveiled now for the first time in a new film. We'll get a preview.
And at the top of the hour, the bizarre, the disturbing testimony of the Cleveland kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro. We have more details about his court appearance, an appearance that everyone is talking about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This week on "THE NEXT LIST," neuroscientist David Eagleman takes us inside the mind of a mass murderer.
DAVID EAGLEMAN, NEUROSCIENTIST: When you see somebody commit a very strange, abnormal act, like a school shooting or a massacre like the one in Aurora, Colorado, we can safely assume that there is something abnormal about that person's brain even before we know exactly what that is.
GUPTA: How modern neuroscience is challenging our basic understanding of crime, punishment and personal responsibility.
Don't miss David Eagleman this Saturday, 2:30 Eastern on "THE NEXT LIST."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: It's not just about Watergate. A new CNN film entitled "Our Nixon" shows a much different side of our nation's 37th president. The filmmaker has combed through more than 500 reels of behind-the-scenes footage shot by Nixon's closest aides and recently released from the FBI vaults. The film airs later tonight on CNN, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Here's a little preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our thing was a machine and I knew my place. It really reflected a lot about Richard Nixon, the degree to which he wanted things controlled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It literally was from 6:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night every day of the week. And Saturdays and Sundays, too. And that pace was unremitting, totally consuming for somebody like me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Joining us now, one of the producers of this new film, Brian Frye, also CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, who worked for four presidents, including Richard Nixon.
Brian, these home videos, if you will, were -- were they intended to be made public?
BRIAN FRYE, CO-PRODUCER, "OUR NIXON": Well, they're Super 8 home movies. They were filmed by Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Chapin. And I believe that they intended at some point to make them public. In fact, Haldeman at one point wanted to make his own six-hour TV miniseries, but it never came to fruition.
BLITZER: And it took -- why did it take 40 years to get these films released?
FRYE: Well, really, they were just sitting there. No one was paying attention to them. The main thing people were interested in was the secret White House tapes, because of course those related to the abuse of power issues that were so critical to the end of the Nixon administration and the Watergate scandal.
And these films really didn't bear on that, so people kind of ignored them. And it just -- it just happened that no one was really paying attention until Penny Lane, the director and I, went ahead and paid for the National Archive to make video copies for the first time.
BLITZER: And I'm glad you did.
You know, David, you worked for Richard Nixon. That was your first White House job, but you once described when you first encountered him, a darker side. What happened?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I came in just as a junior lieutenant. I was a kid, and at the beginning, I was on the outside circles of what happened there. And at that point, when I saw the bright side of Richard Nixon, the strategist, the intellectual, the man who, you know, had rapport with Henry Kissinger, as they plotted out the future.
But as I got closer to him, he invited -- he dropped his guard and invited me sort of close in. And when I saw there, I really saw the dark side. And there was a dark side. There was a dark, brooding insecurity about him. He had demons inside him that he really had not learned to control.
And I think what you see in this film, and it's a fascinating film for me. The "Washington Post" today called it mesmerizing. Think about that, the "Washington Post," the old enemy of Nixon, if you would.
But what you see in this film are three guys who took celebratory films, thought this would be a great presidency. All three drawn into a web of deceit, all three went to jail. And it's both the triumph and the tragedy and the fall of Richard Nixon that are represented in this film.
BLITZER: The CNN film airs tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, entitled "Our Nixon." I highly, highly recommend it.
David -- Brian Frye, David Gergen, guys, thanks very much.
FRYE: Thank you, Wolf.
GERGEN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Happening now, the house of horrors. The kidnapper stunningly defends his actions, insisting he's not a monster.