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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  August 23, 2011 2:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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right and still make landfall somewhere between south carolina and maybe a complete miss but the middle of the cone is over north carolina and something that just changed, you talked about people being affected number one category 1 that center of the cone is very close to new jersey and new york city with 85 mile category 1, could you knowledge that in the city? >> not at all, chad. >> stay tuned. >> we will tomorrow and talk more about irene and obviously the earthquake and libya, big breaking news day. wolf blitzer picks up where i'm leaving off. "the situation room" starts right now. brooke, thanks very much. happening now, two huge breaking stories. one of the strongest earthquakes ever to rock the east coast, measuring 5.8, triggers massive evacuations, and shutdowns here in the nation's capital and aprops the region. this hour the damage, the disruptions and the fear and the very serious questions about whether this part of the country
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is really prepared for this kind of quake or worse, and the other breaking news story we're following, bullets flying from moammar gadhafi's compound in tripoli, only hours after it was captured by rebels. cnn goes inside the compound as chaos, looting and celebrations unfold. we're following a very dangerous and uncertain situation in libya right now. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." millions of americans on the east coast and beyond heard the ground rumble and felt buildings sway. the earthquake that struck just a few hours ago measured 5.8, the strongest to rock the area in over a century. for this part of the country it's a rare event. many people were dazed and scared as they poured into the streets. some are still feeling emotional aftershocks. the quake was centered almost 90 miles southwest of washington,
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d.c., and northern virginia. it was felt to some degree as far away as both detroit and atlanta. damage reports are still coming in. no word yet of serious injuries. major airports and national monuments here in washington were closed. the white house, congress and the pentagon were evacuated. look at what we experienced here at cnn's bureau here in washington. we're going to show you a video, the dramatic video and the sound that's coming up. i want to bring in homeland security correspondent jeanne meserve working the story for us. it's fair to say, jeanne, a lot of folks watched the reaction, especially people at the department of homeland security and elsewhere, and are wondering is this part of the country ready for this kind of a situation? >> well, this is an earthquake zone, wolf, clearly not one as active as the west coast or the new madrid fault in the middle of the country but it is a zone that does occasionally have earthquakes. one of the things that the administrator of fema, craig
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fugate said to me in an earthquake you're not supposed to evacuate a building. you're supposed to find a safe place inside and leave. clearly that's not what happened in our building and other buildings surrounding us where we felt the earthquake. people went down the stairwells out into the street. things appeared to be orderly, but it does point out the fact that people in this part of the country have not been educated about earthquake protocol. they have things to learn. you can bet that fema will be underlining that. we are already pointing people to their website where they can get information about what to do before, after and during an earthquake. some other things that have come up that people have pointed to, traffic. a lot of people immediately tried to leave the national capital region. the roads here are always congested at rush hour. today they were congested a little bit earlier. i spoke to a regional official who said they were using all the tools that they have at their disposal in terms of cameras, in terms of communications, among agencies. their feelings is that things
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went relatively smoothly. you might not agree if you were stuck out on one of their roadways. from their vantage point things went relatively well. they told me they will be looking at what happened today and trying to draw any additional lessons about what they may need to do for events in the future. the third thing that people learned a little bit about today was communications. if you picked up your cell phone in the earthquake zone and you were trying to make a call you found out that you simply could not do it. the system was too congested. emergency officials say that's something you should have expected. that is going to happen. you can't take for granted in an emergency you're going to be able to make a cell phone communication. texting works better and tweeting was working, that everybody should be thinking about having alternative means of communication and before an event like this they should have a communications plan in place. we're looking at irene coming up the east coast. craig fugate says a lot of
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things give absolutely no warning. you have to be prepared and have to be ready and apparently a lot of us on the east coast had not thought seriously about earthquakes and what we might need to do to be ready for that. >> a lot of government employees in washington simply evacuated all of the federal buildings. the epicenter was 80 or 90 miles away from washington, not far from richmond, virginia, and there's a nuclear power plant in that area as well, jeanne. what do we know about that? as soon as i heard about an earthquake, knowing there are nuclear power plants in this area, i'm beginning to think of japan, the fukushima nuclear power plant there. what do the experts here, authorities say? >> i spoke to the nuclear regulatory commission. they say the north anna plant, the plant closest to the epicenter in mineral, virginia, two units, both of them tripped offline, emergency diesel generators went into police station operation.
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that is exactly what is supposed to happen. this is categorized as an unusual event, the lowest category in the nrc spreadsheet of things that might occur. in addition, there are many other nuclear events in the zone that was affected by this earthquake, all of them, too, have registered an unusual event but as far as we know, the north anna units are the only ones that have tripped offline. you can bet inspectors are going over those plans with a fine toothed comb to determine if there is any sort of damage, any sort of impact that we need to be concerned about. >> we'll stay on that part of the story. i want to bring in chad myers from the cnn weather center. chad this is an area that was so widespread that felt this earthquake, give us a little sense of how big of a deal this is. >> it was a pretty big deal because the east coast is sitting on one plate. we think of the west coast and the different plates and all of the different faults. when one shakes, there's enough of a break that the next one doesn't shake. we don't have those breaks. and if you'll take a look at these red dots that's all one
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minute. the shake in this case was a little bit big here. this was the first p wave, almost that box car event where all the dirt and the earth moves in one direction and the s wave that up and down shaking that really shakes the buildings apart was almost one solid minute long, if you were in virginia. now people that aren't there felt it a little bit shorter, and the farther you were away from the epicenter, the shorter this really felt, but if we get right to this magnitude 5.8 west along the james river, west of richmond virginia in ranko county, it lost outside power. the outside power was cut to the plant and that's why the generators had to do g and that's why the entire east coast was shaking and going oh what are we doing now.
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let's get to the one thing now, the whole shaking reports from massachusetts through pennsylvania, all the way down to alabama, parts of buffalo and ontario as well, put it there, all one plate. when it shook there the whole plate literally started to vibrate and that's what doesn't happen on the west coast. the usgs has a phenomenal system now. this is just, we have upgraded the usgs, the geological survey tremd utsly. you don't even understand what we did here. this is what's called the shake map and also the pager map. the estimated fatalities from this, there is a 76% chance that less than one person died. there is a 35% chance that we had $100 million or more damage somewhere, and we also can tell you that it was a very strong shaking for 23,000 people. there was a moderate shaking for 76,000 people and over the east coast, if you add the numbers together, we're talking about 11
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million people that actually felt some shaking whatsoever today. not a lot of that shaking, it was really just rattling nerves, not rattling buildings but it shook pretty good, the 5.8 -- it was a 5.9 for awhile, reduced it to 5.8 so the real number after it settles down is 5.8 wolf. >> i think i felt and maybe i didn't, maybe it was my imagination, chad, some aftershocks, modest aftershocks. >> yes. >> after this 5.8 earthquake but what do we know about the aftershocks and what can we expect in the hours to come? >> the main quake right there, 5.8, and there have been really two that have shown up on usgs about a 2.8 and a 2.2 not very far from that epicenter. if you take a 5.8 quake and we take the first number that 5 and subtract 1 that's 4.8, technically the largest aftershock we can see and you might feel that in d.c. because 5.8 down to 4.8, 4.8 is a pretty
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big shake. right now the biggest one only 2.8. >> there are times correct me if i'm wrong, chad, the aftershock could be more powerful than the initial earthquake, is that right? >> it is and we call that a foreshock. we won't know whether this is a foreshock or aftershock until another one comes but typically foreshocks only happen about one hour before the real quake. it's been now almost two, two and a half hours so the potential for a bigger quake is going down rapidly. >> watch this video from one of the studios, one of the sets here in the d.c. bureau. let me play the video and then we'll discuss. all right, you can see how that camera was beginning to shake in that studio. you saw one of the anchors, i
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think from cnn espaniol standing in front of the camera. i was there in this 11-story building, everybody felt it, and people obviously quickly discovered it was an earthquake and they began running out of the building. >> some people said they actually felt two separate shakes, a shake, a stop, and a shake. and let me tell you why that happens, because there are p waves and s waves and they act completely differently across the earth. the first wave that you felt which was right here, this kind of big part right there is when you run into the back of a car and that car runs into the next car and the next car and that's what the dirt, earth and the soil does, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom so that was the rear ending of the freight train and the next wave is the s wave, the wave that looks like this. if you put a building right there and that building shakes a
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lot, especially if you're on a higher floor you'll feel it. that's the secondary wave, the wave that goes through the earth, and that's that big wave right there. >> well everybody felt it in this building, originally we didn't know what it was, but initially i thought it might be some construction going on, some thought it could be terrorism, began to worry about that. >> of course. >> within a few seconds we realized it was an earthquake. chad, i want you to stay with us. we have more coverage coming up on this earthquake here along the east coast of the united states. i want to get to the other huge story, the breaking news that we're following out of libya, rebels today seizing control of moammar gadhafi's presidential compound in tripoli. this is a chaotic, historic day in the libyan capital, just after 11:00 p.m. in tripoli. we've got some late word of gunfire in that presidential compound, hours after the rebels moved in and forced our own cnn crew to leave. but earlier, cnn's very
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courageous journalist sara sidner got inside the compound with the rebels. she dodged bullets to show the world what was going on live. look at this videotape. >> reporter: that is the first part of the eastern gate. there are large blast holes in that gate. the sun is setting in this area just behind us so it's starting to become darker. over here you're seeing them, these are cars that belonged to the gadhafi regime. they are sitting blowing off rounds behind them. that is a security -- [ gunfire ] i'm going to try not to get hit by any of those rounds. if you go just over here you see the people streaming through the main gate. that's all the way into the compound so you see [ gunfire ] streaming into the main gate of the compound, a lot of spoke coming from the compound. you see these huge walls. these were supposed to be protective walls.
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[ gunfire ] this also gives you a sense of the power of the gadhafi regime. [ gunfire ] this honestly is the nicest part of the city. you're seeing these large, very nicely -- [ gunfire ] all right, i'm going to back up. >> we're going to be speaking with sara, joining us live in a few minutes. we'll get an eyewitness account of what's going on now. there's late word of gunfire inside a tripoli hotel where international journalists have been trapped. the hotel is still held by gadhafi's forces who may be using the journalists as human shields. a senior nato official is warning this war is not over yet and this hour no sign of moammar gadhafi or any word about his fate. we'll check in with our own matthew chance, holed up with the other journalists inside that hotel in tripoli. much more on that coming up. so many questions about the
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rebels. they are apparently in control of so much of the city. how much can they be trusted? i'll talk to the transitional council's ambassador of the united states, he's standing by live and much more on the earthquake that shook the east coast of the united states, the lingering fear, the possible danger, our own correspondent brian todd is traveling toward the epicenter in virginia right now, we're about to check in with him. coffee doesn't have vitamins... unless you want it to.
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we're going to libya and check in with sara sidner live in tripoli. stand in for that. right now jack with "the cafferty file." >> this has nothing to do with this but great job this woman is doing at great personal risk to herself. she reminds me of christiane amanpour, march into the teeth of the dragon, where is the story i'm willing to cover it. god bless her, i hope she takes care of herself and gets out of
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there already but god bless her. the national debt is increasing at the rate of $3 million a minute, $3 million a minute. meanwhile the president and congress are on vacation. when the president took office january 2009 national debt $10.6 trillion. three years later, less than three years $14.6 trillion. president obama presided over the fastest, largest increase in the national debt in our nation's history. there's something to be proud of, something you won't see in the re-election campaign promos either. president president george bush it increased $4.9 trillion, but it took eight years to increased that much. mr. obama has the distunks of putting an additional $4 trillion in the hole in less than three years, 900 plus days and still talking about wanting to spend more money. it's just insane. these rates of borrowing are unsustainable. it is far and away the biggest problem we have ever faced,
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ever. and our country's very survival will be at stake if this isn't addressed. whether anyone likes it or not the tea party, those rabble rousers seem to be the only group that grasps the severity of all of this. they became a force during the midterm elections because of the growing national debt and refusal of washington to do anything about it. the recent debt ceiling standoff was driven by a group of only 60 tea party members and the house of representatives. you can bet the tea party is going to continue to ring the alarm bells as we head into the 2012 elections. and they should. because remember this -- in the time you've spent listening to this segment of "the caffert file" 1:30, the national debt has gone up by more than $5 million. what effect will the tea party have on the 2012 elections? go to and post a comment there or go to our post on "the situation room's" facebook page.
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sara sidner is outside of tripoli now in zawiyah. i want to show you pictures from benghazi, the second largest city in libya, where the home of the opposition has been over these many, many months. they are celebrating on the streets of benghazi right now. they think that moammar gadhafi's regime is about to collapse, even though he still controls apparently some small pockets in the capital of tripoli. let's bring in sara sidner right now. sara, all of us were watching your reports today as you went in with the rebels, went in with the opposition to the presidential compound in tripoli. we were scared, i must say, i was frightened, i was worried about you, worried about our producers, our camera crews. >> reporter: yes. >> give us a flavor of what it was like when you went with them and they went in to see where gadhafi was, they thought he was ho holed up in there. >> reporter: yes, i think one of the extraordinary things was
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that you can hear in the neighborhoods people celebrating but you weren't quite sure because we were still hearing blasts and booms from bab al ziziyah, the ga zdhafi compound. we decided we're going to see it for ourselves. all of us agreed we'd go in together as a team, check out the team and if it was safe we'd go further in and ended up going right through the eastern gate, walking right in with rebels first stopping us saying hold on, who are you? we said cnn. they said come on in, we've been watching. we got to see people celebrating. we saw people bringing out ap. in addition, bringing out cars. it was an extraordinary, extraordinary day for all of our crew to watch this happen. it would be watching this happen
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if there was a rebellion in the u.s. and they went to the white house. it is that big a deal here. people see this compound as gadhafi's personal home as gadhafi's personal space. it's something that many people couldn't even access unless you were a close ally or friend of moammar gadhafi and to be able to go in there and to see what he had and some of those buildings, people have never been inside, and then they were taking things apart, looking through files. it was an absolutely historic moment, an amazing place to be, but also a dangerous one, because when they start firing off all of those rounds, wolf, i got to tell you, you know, we were getting sort of hit sometimes with some of the casings of those bullets, and it does give you pause for a second when you're in that kind of situation. >> we did, i do remember at one point some of the guys, the rebels were coming out of that compound and showing you some of those files, including a medical file for one of moammar gadhafi's sons, saif al islam, who is apparently still on the
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loose right now. talk a little bit about that. >> reporter: yes, that was really another one of those moments, where you're not sure that they really have something, and then they come to you, and i was reading through it. some of it was in english, and it was a medical file, clearly, there were even receipts, stamped the file, it said his name, saif al islam on the front and another one that said his wife's name, and we were opening and looking through them, and trying to decipher what exactly we had, but it was clear that someone had put together a file that was pretty comprehensive of the medical state of saif al islam and they were able to go into some building inside of the compound and pull these items out and start looking and leafing through them. it is not something that people in these neighborhoods ever thought that they would be able to do. the celebrations in the
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neighborhood directly people to bab al aziziya, families coming out to celebrate along with the rebels saying libya is free, no more moammar gadhafi, that he no longer has a grip on this country and not on tripoli either, really one of those kinds of days where you can't believe your eyes. >> we're going to check back with you in a few moments if we can, stand by, sara sidner doing amazing reporting for all of us. we'll go back to tripoli and go back to matthew chance, holed up in the hotel as well. the other story on the east coast of the united states, an earthquake, a 5.8 earthquake just a couple hours or so ago, washington certainly knows a lot about political fault lines but real tremors, they are a rarity here, from washington to new york and beyond, the region is reeling right now from the earthquake that forced evacuations in several states, from north carolina up to
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the libyan leader moammar gadhafi remains at large right now, but the transition to a new government is beginning immediately. let's discuss what's going on with the national transitional governments ambassador of the united states, aly suleiman aujali, previously served with moammar gadhafi's ambassador to the united states but he broke with him and represents the new government of libya which the united states and so many other countries represents. mr. ambassador welcome back. >> thank you for having me. >> first of all an update on where gadhafi?
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>> no news. >> you still believe he's in tripoli? >> i still believe he's in tripoli. >> you believe he's hiding? >> of course he's hiding. >> but not at the compound? >> he' it's been captured by th, nc forces and a great celebration. >> other bunkers he could be hiding out there? >> i doubt it. maybe in the compound. >> you think he's hiding out as you suggested yesterday maybe in one of the hospitals hoping that would be providing him what's called a human shield? >> nobody can predict what this guy's going to do, maybe sitting somewhere not far away, but the point until now they are not reaching him. >> so he still remains at large. >> still remains at large. >> when you were here mohammad gadhafi had he skapd, you confirmed that to our viewers here in the united states around the world which we thought was amazing but only a few hours later we learned saif al islam, the most powerful son arguably of moammar gadhafi which your
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government said had been captured, he was free. he showed up at the rixos hotel and spoke to journalists. >> this is a war of information. >> what do you mean a war of information. >> gadhafi is using all the forces to discredit the legitimacy of our -- >> the national council said he was under arrest. >> look the main thing for me, wolf, i consider this is behind. what's happening after in a thank? now gadhafi's stronghold is under control. now today the prime minister, the prime minister of libya, he made a credible speech. he said the supreme security council to deal with the security. this is the main issue now. we gain from that incidence more than we lose. what we gain from that incident -- >> you have to understand because you're a diplomat, been a diplomat for 40 years. your credibility has to be the most important thing when a spokesman for the new government
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says that saif al islam has been arrested, we believe you. >> you cannot judge the credibility of the tnc for the last six months by one incident. this was miscommunication, misinformation. it's happening like that. the credibility of the tnc, it is proof to the people not only to the libyan but to the united states government and the international community they lead the libyan people for this fight to get rid of this gadhafi and they succeed. that is our main goal. saif, mohammad, all this is the other issue. >> you're looking for all of the sons in addition to moammar gadhafi, if you find them you'll arrest them. >> of course, of course. >> you'll treat them humanely i assume. >> this is the call from everybody not only me, but the tnc, dr. mahmoud jibril and we have to present to the world we are civilized people. >> did you see the pictures of that presidential compound and we showed our viewers, they just ran in, they did an unbelievable
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job ransacking that place, but coming out with files and all sorts of other stuff. almost looked like they were looting that presidential compound. >> i've been there a few times in the place but never been inside. >> you were never inside there? >> no, just in the offices was gadhafi's compound. >> this is obviously not a highly trained military that you have. these are a lot of people that were engineers, scien tipss and teacher scientists and teachers and all of the sudden taking up arms and going after gadhafi's forces who were highly trained. >> after 42 years of depression, injustice and depression. this is why. they are untrained. some of these first get weapons for the first time but now they make history with the country with hope and future and work with the international community. that's the great thing that's happening to make history. >> how secure are those chemical
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weapons that gadhafi's military stockpiled, the sarin and mustard gas? who has control of the storage facilities? >> i really don't know exactly, this kind of thing is always secretly handled but i am sure that gadhafi has no access for this because he's somewhere desperate. he's hiding somewhere. >> you think it's only a matter of days before he's found? >> the main thing is that tripoli is secure, tnc gets access to the money, try to keep the security of tripoli city as much as we can. that's what we need. we need to be united, to deal with the issues, and the determination of the libyan people is for the future democratic country is going to happen very soon. >> i want to you stand by for a moment, mr. ambassador. matthew chance our courageous journalist, our correspondent is at the rixos hotel in tripoli, stuck there with other
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international journalists, joining us live from the rixos hotel. matthew, we're obviously very worried about you and fellow journalists. what's going on at the hotel now? >> reporter: it's pretty calm here, wolf. there's not much fighting outside, not hearing many gunshots as a few seconds ago. inside the hotel it's tense. we still have gadhafi loyalists in the lobby. one of them shouted out to me because we corralled ourselves in the upper lobby of the hotel, he shouted out to me "hey, you, are you happy now? "obviously referring to the fact now the advance by the rebels in various parts of tripoli. our perspective on the conflict is limited indeed. we're not even looking out at the windows at this point. the situation has been so bad for us here over the course of the past 48 hours or so. a few high points, yesterday, of
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course, we had a surprise visit from saif al islam gadhafi, the oldest son of colonel gadhafi, reported to have been captured by the rebels, but that obviously wasn't the case, he came over, showed his face, that was a high point, for a while, lifted the spirits of the people who essentially have been put here to look after us downstairs, talking about the gadhafi gunmen, but in general we're feeling like, you know, we're in a pretty difficult situation, because we're not permitted to leave the hotel. we're wanting to get out of here but not being permitted to do so. the gadhafi loyalists downstairs say they're keeping us here for our own protection. wolf? >> matthew, i understand and correct me if i'm wrong that a former u.s. district of columbia delegate to kong walter it fontroy is trapped in the hotel
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with you? >> yes, he's trapped with us, sitting right in ex-to me now. if you don't mind, wolf, i'll pass the phone over to him because he's got a message he wants to deliver it, and is it okay if i give him the phone right now? >> of course, please, let me speak to him because i know a lot of our viewers will remember walter fontroy, representative from the district of columbia. walter fontroy, this is wolf blitzer. can you hear me in washington? >> yes, i can hear you. >> congressman why are you at the rixos hotel? what are you doing in tripoli? >> as the reverend congressman fontroy 20 years in congress, i had joined dr. paul here in an effort to work out a non-violent solution. right now we are in a precarious situation with some of our friends from the media, because we fear that unless we are able
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to relocate that we may all be in danger. as a minister who believes in the fervent effectual prayers of the righteous, i am joined with dr. kay, falling on appeal of the people who know the will have the prayer to pray for us, and to pray for deliverance for not only us but the press corps with whom we have been quartered here in the effort to carry out our peace mission. >> congressman, you spent 20 years in the united states congress as the delegate from the district of columbia and i met you on several occasions but i have to ask, how long have you been in libya right now, it's a highly extraordinary situation for to you show up there. i know you wanted to do some good but obviously this is an amazing development. >> yes, it was. i came here over a week ago now,
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and have been working on a long-term effort to rally the genuine spiritual leaders of the world, to become in the tradition of mohatma gandhi, for martin luther king jr., bush odd desmond tutu, spiritual leader and nelson mandela, political leader, to work out a peace agreement. we have colt fr come to a point where we're now in a precarious situation and we ask to pray for us and members of the press corps who need to be actually be relocated i think in the interests of preserving our lives. >> so congressman, how scared are you right now for your life? >> well i'm not scared at all. i'm here on a mission, as i've
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been all of my life, to serve the lord, and i just believe in the word of prayer and make that appeal, and dr. kay joins me in that appeal. he is one of the well-known evangelists from india and has assembled a group of political leaders as well as spiritual leaders from around the world who are working with us in an effort to affect a peaceful situation in the problem that confronts us here and now. >> we're praying for you, walter fauntroy and matthew chance and journalists at the rixos hotel. we'll check in with matthew later. good luck to you and appreciate your joining us here on cnn. let me get quick reaction from the libyan ambassador. you heard the former congressman -- you didn't hear him? >> i was hearing something else. >> he's trapped with the journalists, walter fauntroy. i'll brief you after this
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commercial break. i'll tell you what he said but it's obviously a very, very worrisome situation, mr. ambassador. thanks very much for joining us. ali aujali, libyan ambassador to the united states. he broke with gadhafi months ago. the most impregnable fortess in gadhafi's empire has been broken. the one thing they didn't find was gadhafi himself. where the suspect in this particular case, where he might be holding up. my grandfather was born in this village. [ automated voice speaks foreign language ] [ male announcer ] in here, everyone speaks the same language. ♪ in here, forklifts drive themselves. no, he doesn't have it. yeah, we'll look on that. [ male announcer ] in here, friends leave you messages written in the air. that's it right there. [ male announcer ] it's the at&t network. and what's possible in here is almost impossible to say.
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for our next story we're following here in "the situation room," the 5.8 earthquake, the epicenter near richmond, virginia, but it's been felt all over the area, all the way from north carolina up to new york and michigan and beyond. certainly here in the district of columbia, the washington monument was built to stand the test of time, but guess what?
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is it able to withen stand an east coast earthquake? jim acosta is joining us with more on this part of the story. what are they saying about the washington monument and this 5.8 earthquake, jim? >> wolf, right now the u.s. park police say the washington monument, the lincoln memorial and jefferson memorial are closed as a precaution because of safety concerns following this earthquake and speaking of the washington monument, here is something you don't see every day. this is video we shot in the last hour or so of u.s. park police investigators inside circling the top of the washington monument doing an inspection of the structural integrity of the monument, want to make sure there isn't anything wrong with it. the park police told us on the scene perhaps there might have been some damage to the washington monument, might have been falling mortar that came down after the earthquake occurred and couple of reports,
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wolf, the monument was leaning. at this point the park police say that doesn't appear to be the case but they're checking. >> i heard reports some people thought it was tilting a little bit. could be an optical illusion but authorities are saying there's no evidence of that. is that right? >> reporter: that's right. at this point, we can tell you after talking to a park police spokesman, just in the last hour the washington monument is standing tall and proud in the words of that spokesman and there isn't any damage to the iconic structure at this point. here is a little bit of what he had to teld us earlier today. >> it's standing tall and proud like it has for many years. we had earlier reports mortar o. we're doing a close up assessment of the washington
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monument because of that. >> reporter: the last few moments i've been told, wolf, that the u.s. park police has come out with a statement saying that the washington monument has been inspected and that their preliminary report at this point is that the building is structurally sound so good news about the washington monument, and speaking of national treasures, we were at mt. vernon, another national treasure connected to our first president, shooting a story when the earthquake occurred, our photographer martin dockerty was actually shooting video of the mansion on the estate as the earthquake occurred. you can see some mild shaking of the mansion in the building, and then tourists fleeing out of the house as a precaution. the officials there at the estate had all of the tourists come out of that building at that time to make sure people were safe, so it was quite a dramatic moment out at mt. vernon earlier today. wolf, we could literally feel
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the ground shaking beneath our feet. our legs were buckling. it was very clear at that moment we were experiencing a pretty significant quake. >> more than 100 years in this part of the country. stand by, we're going to get back to you as well, brian todd, our correspondent is heading towards the epicenter of the earthquake, outside of richmond, virginia. we'll be speaking live with him shortly. the president as you know is on vacation, keeping a very close eye on the developments as far as the earthquake in this part of the country is concerned, as well as the situation in libya. he's on the phone, even on the golf course. we'll check in with our correspondents, when we come back. [ dr. ling ] i need to get the results from the m.r.i. see if the blood work is ready. review ms. cooper's history. and i want to see katie before she goes home. [ male announcer ] with integrated healthcare solutions from dell, every patient file is where dr. ling needs it. now she can spend more time with patients
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[♪...] >> male announcer: now, for a limited time, your companion flies free, plus save up to 65%. call 1-800-sandals. conditions apply. president obama was in the midst of his working vacation in martha's vineyard when the earthed quake hit the east coast. a 5.8 quake. dan lothian is with the president up in massachusetts. i know thaw felt that earthquake. can we assume that the president did, even as he was playing golf. >> reporter: we don't know yet if the president felt it. we were on the ground floor with
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reporters. around 2:00 is when we felt the ground swaying, light fixtures sway as well. about half an hour later was when one of our photographers got exclusive video of the president on the golf course take the phone call. the white house will not confirm what exactly was said in that call but right after that the president convened a conference call with his federal emergency response officials. the white house says at the time he was told that their initial reports show no major infrastructure of problems. he was also briefed on hurricane irene. this comes on a day when the president was receiving briefings of the latest developments in libya. wolf. >> so much for a slow august in washington and beyond. dan, thanks very much. nothing disrupts politicians as usual. the delaware senator was preparing to preside over the
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senate when the tremors struck. in the end, the senate session was held in a rather unusual place. our congressional correspondent, kate s. here. a small portion of the u.s. senate. most people thought it was in recess, but what happened? >> a very interesting day for all of us, especially the senate. the building was immediately evacuated and as the earthquake hit, the senate was preparing for a pro forma session. this was a brief meeting during which no real business is conducted. delaware senator chris conns was on his way into the capital to preside over that session when the quake hit and here is what he felt. >> i got off the train commuting station, was walking over to begin my duties presiding in the senate when i felt the earthquake i was actually parked just opposite union station. i was initially concerned that it might be something far more serious than an earthquake. i actually was on the phone in the wind up to an interview by
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telephone in the situation to libya. learned it was an earthquake because the interviewer said we are getting reports, senator, that there's just been an earthquake in washington. i said, thank god, that it was only an earthquake, relieved that it wasn't something more serious. >> he said he was relieved because we're leading up to the anniversary of september 11th. the senate decided to hold the pro forma session, not in the senate but in a building nearby that is ready and prepared for briefings in the event of an emergency, albeit under very unusual circumstances. the senate gavelled in and now as it would only an hour late. according to capital police, structural engineers are working to determine all of the buildings in the capital complex. it was open to staff just a short time ago this afternoon so they could go in quickly to grab their personal items. but they were told to limit their time inside the capitol to an absolute minimum.
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>> and for the political junkies interested, they have these pro forma sessions so the senate is not technically in recess, so that president obama can have recess appointments. that's why they do this. it's about a 20 to 30-second session. >> this was all of 22 seconds, according to the court reporter inside. it has to do with the dispute between the house and the senate. they wouldn't agree to adjourn because republicans were afraid about recess appointments. >> thanks very much for that. we're following these two big stories. the earthquake here on the east coast of the united states. also, what is going on, i think we can call it a political earthquake in libya right now. much more of the breaking news coverage when we come back. confidence. available in color. depend for women is now peach. looks and fits like underwear. same great protection. depend. good morning. great day.
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should. their candidates are there for only one purpose and see the expenditures only without considering other factors. economics is a complicated system and often not as simplistic as the tea party would have you believe. jenny writes, the tea party will split the he can treem off from the established gop and could lead to a third party and chaos will rein. bob writes, we can only pray that more will join the tea party and elect more people who will try to stop obama and get a congress that will work to stop this congress. david writes, the tea party will have a desired effect. they will ensure president obama's election. and the tea party only seems to get an unquote. jack has lost his marvels if jack thinks that the tea party gets anything. insanity indeed. jerry writes, sorry democrats and republicans. the tea party is here to stay the reason our country is in this shape is because of both
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parties. and in the dream sequence, bachmann and palin, once and for all with a serious and win or take all. they should not and will not be taken lightly go to my blog, or go to the facebook page. wolf? >> we will, jack. thank you. and to our viewers here in "the situation room," happening now, breaking news. incredible stories developing on both sides of the globe. first, a moment of fear and disbelief right here in washington, d.c. and up and down the east coast. many of us feeling firsthand a rare, powerful magnitude 5.8 earthquake. we'll have the latest on the massive evacuations, the gridlock, and the damage. and in the libyan capital of
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tripoli, black smoke and treacherous mayhem. teams are risking their lives to take you inside gadhafi's compound as rebel forces desperately fight to seize control. i'm wolf blitzer and you're in "the situation room." let's get to the stunning magnitude 5.8 earthquake sending shock dl shockwaves from the carolinas to the east coast of the united states. in 100 years you can see the damage at one apartment complex in the area. rows of crushed cars literally covered in rubble up and down the coast. it sparked massive evacuations. this was the scene here in our own cnn washington bureau as it
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was happening. the epicenter was outside of richmond, virginia, about 88 miles or so from washington, d.c. lisa sylvester is joining us from northern virginia, indiana, where there has been significant damage. lisa, tell us what you're seeing there. >> reporter: hi there, wolf. we were at an office building and you can see over my shoulder, all of these bricks fell off from the top of the roof there. and they fell down on to the sidewalk and on to some of the cars. there are some repair crews that just arrived on the scene a few minutes ago. to take a really good look at this, come over here. i want to walk over here. they've got the red tape up here. the caution tape. one, two, three, four cars. this car, this is a honda civic.
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the owner of this car now has essentially -- look at this. this looks like a convertible right now. this car here, another car, this toyota corolla, it is smashed and we have the owner with us. this is gee. tell us what you have saw when you walked out. this is your car, right? >> when i walked out, there was a lot of people outside and the whole building, i mean, the roof part, the bricks came down on my car. it was already down. yeah. >> reporter: what did you think when you saw this. >> oh, my god. like how am i going to get home and what is going to happen to my car. >> reporter: have you contacted your insurance company? >> yes. i did. i just said, yeah, they are sending a tow truck. something's wrong with the engine. i can't take it home. >> reporter: how devastating is this for you? >> well, i live in baltimore. it's like two hours away. and i don't have another car so i don't know what to do.
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>> reporter: this has got to be so frustrating and heartbreaking for you. when you came out here and saw your car, what did you say? >> i just tried to call people, my mom, my dad, but the phone wouldn't work. i was just walking around and thinking, oh, my god, what am i going to do. >> reporter: were you in the billing at the time? >> i was in the building across from us. >> reporter: what did it feel like? >> at first it felt like a lot of people were jumping at first and the whole building was shaking and everybody was looking at each other with wide eyes and when i came outside it was like this. >> reporter: kind of sad, isn't it? >> yes. >> reporter: we also have here suzanne smith. you were in this building? >> i was getting my nails done. >> reporter: tell me what happened. >> i was sits there, finishing up and the building started to shake side to side a little bit. i wasn't quite sure, you're
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always like, what is that? is that just me? but things started to shake pretty violently and things knocking off the shelves and walls. at that time, i knew it was -- i had been in one before and when it stopped shaking i told everyone that we needed to come out of the building. we saw what we thought was smoke, it turned out to be all of the dust of the bricks falling out. but it was pretty scary. the ib tense tea of the quake increased. that's when it got scary for me. >> look at the devastation and across this area, there's going to be more stories of this. the brick building, there's going to be a lot of work to repair this. wolf. >> i feel badly for that guy behind there. let me take another picture, if you have get the photographer to take a picture of that car behind you. it's really smashed by the falling bricks over there.
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nobody was in the car, right? >> reporter: no one was in the car. that's very fortunate because you can imagine, wolf, if somebody had been. these are bricks that just fell and collapsed the entire front part of the car. no other injuries at this time. but you can see a lot of damage here, wolf. >> lisa sylvester in northern virginia. the epicenter of this quake was down in mineral, virginia. that's not far from the capital. brian is live. what are you hearing and seeing from your vantage point? >> reporter: wolf, we're just outside the nuclear power plant which is near the epicenter that we got here. we have information from the power plant. again, a cause of real concern because it's close to the
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epicenter of the earthquake. it's in mineral virginia and it's over this ridge here. we've got some aerial shots of the plant to show you. what we're told now about the nuclear power plant, two reactors there, they are shut down, that they're going through the call shut down process. the reactors are shut down. they have to be cooled. that's what they are doing right now. they are doing that on backup generator power. the owner and operator of this facility has said that there's been no release of radioactive material into the atmosphere and no significant damage or injuries here at the plant. one official, said that there was minor damage and they are not aware of any damage to the reactors. not anything under consideration for safety issues. the nuke regular regulatory commission is monitoring several others along the east coast.
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it was felt all over the mid-atlantic region and several nuke power plants in that region. the nrc is monitoring this. they are classifying it what they call an unusual event. that's the lowest emergency classification that they can give. the nrc is monitoring it. the local area here in mineral, there were two residential buildings that experienced complete collapse. no major injuries but we're getting an assessment of some of the damage right near the epicenter here, wolf. >> in mineral, a lot of our viewers will remember when you were in japan for that earthquake, the tsunami that followed the fukushima earthquake, that was destroyed not just by the earthquake but by the sun naum ma that devastated that nuclear power plant. theseth one the mineral s. it similar in design to the foouk
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reactor that caused so much destruction and damage in japan? >> wolf, i'm not sure what the similarities are just yet. with all of the nuclear power plants, you've got to take into an immediate consideration the spent fuel rods. of course, they have this on backup emergency pou we ever in order to cool those fuel rods down but that's the concern as it was at fukushima. the fuel rods melt down and then you have a real problem on your hands. you can have leakage and radioactive activity. that's something that they will look at closely in the hours ahead, wolf. >> we'll check back with you, brian todd, in mineral, virginia, about 80 or 90 miles outside of washington, d.c. this quake has been felt all over.
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our national kor spocorresponde susan candiotti, you're in a high-profile news conference when the earth moved, susan. tell our viewers what happened. >> reporter: well, a lot of new yorkers also thrown off balance. i was attending the news conference held by the district attorney from manhattan about the dominique strauss-kahn case and he got two sentences into it when all of a sudden everything came to a screeching halt. you'll see me wearing this red jacket. take a look. >> for generations, this standard has protected. >> calm down.
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calm down. >> so clearly, everyone was alarmed. so was i. i thought quite frankly, it might have been a bomb and quickly there was an earthquake and we were taken down a starewell, about eight floors. he said, i've been through a lot of these and i, too, was trying to figure out what was going on. wolf. >> and generally in new york, is it relatively calm, now, or are people still rattled by this? >> well, i'm sure a lot of people will never forget going tluf something like this. a lot of people were thrown off balance when this happened, but the good news is, according to the governor and mayor, no damage at all. things are indeed getting back to normal. a lot of people went back to work inside those buildings and have been evacuated for a time.
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>> and our phone service was disrupted, cell phone service in particular. that's coming back to normal. susan in new york for us, thank you. let's check in with our meteorologist chad myers. he's got the bigger picture on this quake. chad, it was a significant quake for this part of the country? >> it certainly was. and it was shallow. you don't have to 60 to 80 miles of rock and soil to pad the shake. it was only four miles deep. people told me that they felt two shakes. that would make sense. there are two types of waves that come out of earthquakes. think of a slinky. when you pull it back and push it forward, it's called a surface. it's a p-wave. it's the primary wave. it's the first one you think, it's like rear ending another car, the car in front of you feels it. and then take that slinky and shake it up and down. that's the big wave that you felt right there. some people felt it for a minute t was a very strong shake. and because it was in the region
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where the land is not broken up, in the east coast, buffalo, ontario, all the way down to alabama. well, technically, what happened is that the east coast rang like a bell today when the violent shake happened, the entire crust, the entire plate that's here shook. in california, the plate is broken up into a million pieces and so when this piece shakes this piece doesn't feel it. the quake it happen at any time you feel it in many, many more spots. there were a couple of after shocks in the 2.5, 2.8 range. >> this is the worst one in this part of the country in 100 years or so? >> no question about it. this is the worst earthquake that they felt in virginia ever by, i understand we didn't have
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seismographs. but other than the 7.3 that hit charleston, this was the biggest quake. now, it didn't do a lot of monetary damage so far. and this is out of the usgs. we'll talk about that for just a second. they estimate the number of fatalities. 78% chance that less than one percent died. that's great. go over here to the estimated losses and damage. there's about a 35% chance that the damage here was somewhere between 100 million and about $1 billion. that's a 35% chance of that. less chance of that being only 25 million and chances of it being more than that go down rapidly. >> chad, thank you. much more coming up later this hour. also, the other huge story that we're following right now, the breaking news in libya. and a cnn team puts its lives on the line.
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much more on the earthquake and libya in a moment. let's go to jack for the cafferty file. >> in libya, as in many parts of the middle east, getting rid of the dictator is only the first step. we've talking about people who, for the most part, have no idea what freedom is really about. now that governing will be in their own hands, it's a good chance that government will be and change is not going to happen overnight. eight years after suddam hussein was toppled, iraq was trying to figure out what it was going to be, although massive progress has been made there. not so in afghanistan. ten years after the u.s. knocked out the taliban, that country is the same disorganized
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poverty-stricken sand box forever, ruled by various tribes and you could make money predicting that 1,000 years from now, afghanistan will be that way. president obama and president karzai are not going to change things no matter what they think. egypt is a work in progress and a work in and the friend of the united states for a long time and managed to keep the camp david accords peace with israel in place. since his ousting, the relationship has become a lot more fragile. still weighing on the interim government, libya finds itself on the threshold of a whole new way of life. in some ways, i suppose it's not unlike an inmate searching a long sentence in prison. the world has changed a lot. life without the structure behind the prison walls is frightening and challenging and a lot of them don't make it. so here's the question. after gadhafi, what is next for
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libya libya? go to after libya, at some point we'll be ask if things go right about syria. wolf? >> thank you very much. to that bitter battle in libya right now where there have been reports of gadhafi forces firing shots into gadhafi compound. amidst brutal fighting, sarah was inside the compound for much of the day where, at times it got very, very intense. >> reporter: there is a heavy, heavy fire fight. very different from yesterday. intense here. residents fleeing the city. on a constant basis, the trips of tripoli not safe at this point in time. the rebels saying that they control 85 to 95% of the neighborhood. >> this neighborhood is
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definitely where the center of the fight is. this is where we're hearing all of the artillery and gunfire. we are very, very concerned, also, about the potential of snipers being in some of these homes. i even see a 7-year-old boy that was holding a gun that was larger than he was. we are hearing that they have gotten inside the compound and into the building and gadhafi's building, that they could even swim in the swimming pool. are they in full control? >> yes, they are in full control and they even bushrned gadhafi' historic building. >> reporter: we are still seeing smoke from that area. why is this day important to you? what does it mean to you? >> that i can get back to my normal life. >> reporter: what we're hearing is that the fight is over but we are still hearing blasts. they say those are celebrations, they are not fighting.
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they are not gadhafi forces. >> i'm literally walking inside the compound we are walking through the area. i'm looking at what appears to be damage right now inside of the compound i see a lot of smoke coming from one of the buildings and people with lots of ammunition. now you're hearing a large blast. what we've been hearing ever since that they said they have taken this compound is gunfire everywhere and celebratory gunfire is becoming more dangerous. it looks like they've left things behind and ran away as soon as you came to the gate. >> you can see on the fire. >> reporter: so you were told that gadhafi and his close special forces, the people that protect him, were inside this compound but you did not ever see him? >> they might be in tunnels. >> reporter: you think they might be in tunnels under the ground?
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can i look? some of the weapons inside of the gadhafi compound. if anything, this is definitely a psychological win. of courts, we still don't know at this point where moammar gadhafi and his family, where they are. if you look over here to the right, you are seeing the fire inside gadhafi's compound. we're trying to go in to see we are told that the whole place has been secured by the rebels. and there are cars driving in and out but there is still gunfire. you can see another large fire burning right now inside of the compound. but this is an historic day. >> sarah sidner reporting from inside -- what was the compound
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of moammar gadhafi. meanwhile, fears are rising over libya's chemical weapons. as the regime is now falling apart, could the arsenal fall into the hands of a vital link terrorist? there's one man very concerned about it. the chairman of the house intelligence committee mike rogers. he's standing by live right here in "the situation room." hi there!
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senior u.s. officials tell me one of their biggest concerns in libya right now involves the stockpiling of chemical weapons of moammar gadhafi's regime.
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our correspondent, barbara starr, has been investigating. >> reporter: as moammar gadhafi tripoli's compound is looted for weapons, there is still the old inventory of artillery, rockets, missiles, that could make a terrorist's head spin. >> al qaeda could be looking at this knowing that there's an opportunity to do open market shopping, if you will. >> reporter: the chairman of the house intelligence committee is warning, quote, we must ensure that gadhafi stockpiles of advance weapons, chemical weapons, and explosives don't fall into the wrong hands u.s. officials tell cnn they hope the transitional council can transcend the stockpiles. >> i would hope that the new government would be interested in doing that. >> reporter: but military officials say that shouldn't be too comforting. >> where is it located and who
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knows what is supposed to be in there and what are they doing about it to make sure that it doesn't grow legs and disappear. >> reporter: what weapons are there? the number one concern, the ten tons of the deadly blister mustarg gas stored south of tripoli and other agents used to make deadly saran gas. in addition to the thousand of hand held weapons, there are perhaps as many as 300 scud surface to surface missiles, surface to air missiles, rockets, and artillery. the check cal material could not quickly be put into weapons form. what if they can't be trusted with gadhafi's one-time arsenal. >> it's the final collapse of gadhafi. that's important. but there has to be someone paying attention. >> even know, nato and the u.s. are using drones, aircrafts, and satellites to keep watch 24/7 on libya's weapon sites to make sure that security is
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maintained. barbara starr, cnn, the pentagon. >> and joining us now, the chairman of the house and intelligence committee, mike rogers. thank you for coming in. >> thank you for having me, wolf. >> you saw barbara starr's report. anything you can quibble with? >> no, i thought it was probably the best report of their wmd and other systems that libya has. it's very concerning if you see the chaos, even as victory as just is about to take hold there. it doesn't give you a warm and fuzzy that these troops, who are very undisciplined, will be able to secure the weapons site. we know that al qaeda is interested in some of these weapon systems and we know that the black market is alive and well and would love to get their hands on some of this. >> has al qaeda tricked the rebel forces? >> we know through other intelligent sources that al qaeda is presence in libya and is interested in maintaining certain types of weapons systems. we don't have a very good acuity
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beyond that. we know that they are interested which i think turns up the temperature on the u.s. interests when it comes to national security but b secur g national security about accounting. >> they have mustard gas. how much of this chemical weaponry do they have that is in operation? >> well, they have tons of mustard gas that we know of. they had seran gas experiments. we just don't know how much they had. they've had tons of mustard gas. they also have shoulder pad anti-missile. >> how many? >> thousands and if they fell into the wrong hands, you can imagine what that might mean for u.s. national interest. our allies, really anyplace around the world. so i argue that we must be and
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the chemical is very concerning, sarin gas is also very concerning. >> the shoulder fired missiles, also. >> and the only folks that can really do that, secure these facilities and account for these weapon systems has to have the assistance of the united states. >> nato allies -- >> they can help. they can do it. >> what i hear you say, mr. chairman s. that the israel would have to send experts in to secure those facilities, presumably at the request of this new libyan government? >> i would work with them right now about gaining that assistance and start heading out to these particular places that we know of and where we find new sites. we need to be all over it. that means that we have a surge of diplomatic efforts. our nato friends can be incredibly helpful. we offer certain capabilities that i think need to be applied
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to this problem in our own u.s. national security interests. >> well, assume if you're that concerned as chairman of the house intelligence committee,ly john panetta, secretary of defense, general petraeus, they must be equally as concerned. >> lots of working with the national security council. they know my concerns and we are working issues in the very near tempt. this is not a time for hammering what should the footprint look like. we are not talking about boots on the ground but we need a surge of diplomatic and experts that can handle this particular problem and we should do it now. two weeks from now, three weeks from now, four weeks from now, we may regret that we didn't act quickly. >> i see these rag tag soldiers, some that were accountants or vendors a few months ago and now they have the weaponry but they are not a disciplined force that can go in there and know how to
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secure a technically very dangerous situation like that. >> and think of it, you have ethnic differences. right now the only thing keeping all of these rebels together is that moammar gadhafi is still alive and has some regime elements. when he's gone, all of those tensions, from the ethnic clee speaking, tribal pressures, other political pressures, the black market folks, all of that rubs against each other and you do that in an element of which you have seen is not a disciplined fighting force. it's not what gives you a warm and fuzzy at night that these are the folks that are going to secure these facilities in the way that we would do it. the tfc needs to be involved in it, absolutely. it's in their interest to secure these sites. you don't want proliferation of these weapon systems across libya, across africa, and other places. >> and that black market element is something that i've been told is very -- these are valuable commodities. mustard gas, canisters, along those lines, there is money that
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can go in and all of a sudden they could disappear. >> these could be very good people sent to do that mission in a time that we know after any kind of an event where there is power like this. there is economic tough times ahead. we know that that is coming. and when somebody shows up with a little bit of cash, that's how this stuff walks off in a hurry and that's what we've got to prevent. we really must secure some of these facilities upfront. >> mr. chairman, ti fhank you f coming in. >> we felt today's earthquake right here in our cnn bureau in washington. we're going to show what you it was like. our video, the cameras, the security cameras were rolling. we've got some pictures when we come back. nothing helped me beat arthritis pain.
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the earthquake struck. let's watch and listen. wow that was from a web cam. the tremors shook all parts of this area from washington to virginia. the epicenter outside of richmond, virginia, from new york down to the carolinas, the cathedral sustained some damage and what happened at the washington national cathedral? >> well, as you know, the monument was all of a concern after the earthquake occurred and the national cathedral is one of them. this is a site that is of major significance to the country when national tragedies happened. we remember these services after 9/11 that happened. you can see three of the four fires at the top of the cathedral sustained some damage.
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you can see the top of the fires actually came off of the building. cathedral officials are calling this significant damage, not just because of the fires but because of the flying top of the cathedral, they sort of come together and because they were constructed, stone on stone, that any weakness in that construction could cause major damage and keep the cathedral closed for some time. i will tell you, we were down in virginia at another national tresh treasurer, mt. vernon. as the video played, you can actually hear it happening. and one thing that you can also see there is the tourists.
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the tourists are rushing out of the buildings at that time. the folks on the mansion at the estate rushed those tourists out. they were concerned about their safety, obviously. no injury or damage reported at george washington's mt. vernon and we were down in the mall earlier today, wolf, keeping an eye on the washington monument. there were concerns about that as well as the other big monday u meant, the lincoln memorial, jefferson memorial. we understand that all of those structures are fine and they should be opened as soon as possible, according to park officials. >> the washington monument, a suggestion that it was leaning a bit, but park police says that is not happening? >> they flew a helicopter, something that you never see in washington, d.c., circling close to the monument. they were testing the integrity of that structure. according to the park police, it's indicating that there isn't any major damage, no damage to
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the washington monument. and they are taking precautions. at this point, they are keeping the tourists out of it until they are absolutely sure it's safe to go back inside. >> we have video from the security cameras here at the washington bureau. i was on the fifth floor. i ran out of my office. you can see people all of a sudden realizing that this is an earthquake and they start running out. we heard the announcements from the personnel here in the building evacuate, evacuate, evacuate the building and people start running out. here you can see the courtyard outside of our building. and you can see that statue on the right. it starts to sway over there. and people, you know, just start running out. all of these buildings here on capitol hill, the train station here in washington, within a matter of a few moments, i was out there thousands of people standing in the streets. they were worried, they didn't appreciate what was going on. it was an earthquake and we obviously know that now. >> and you have been in this
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area for a long time, wolf. i was born and raised in this area. nobody in this area, i'm sure people have said the same thing, has ever experienced anything like this in the nation's capital. when we saw our knees buckling and the earth moving under our feet, we were experiencing something in that area for a long time, in modern times. >> i've been here since 1970. i've never experienced it in washington, d.c. i have experienced an earthquake in california, which is more common out there. >> that's right. californians will tell you. >> they are getting a lot of tweets. 5.8. they don't think it's a big deal. believe me t. was a big deal. >> when it happened to us z snoo some homes in the washington, d.c. area sustained serious damage in the earthquake, including one belonging to the mother of one of our producers. she will join us when we come back. confidence, with depend in color. now available in gray. looks and fits like underwear. same great protection. depend. good morning. great day.
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let's get back to the stunning 5.8 earthquake felt along the east coast. in fairfax, virginia, northern virginia, there is the mother of one of our producers in "the situation room." peter, jackie, tell us where you were and what happened. >> well, when the earthquake
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occurred, i was in the kitchen and the cabinets came opened and several of the spice bottles came out and crashed on the floor. so then after -- but that was about it and i didn't think much about it. a few minutes later i went upstairs, you know, just to go to the bathroom, actually, and you will all of a sudden when i turned the corner, there was a big hole in the ceiling. so apparently some bricks had fallen off the firewall inside the wall of my townhouse and had fallen through the ceiling and there was all of the debris on the vanity in the barmt. >> it looks like serious destruction over there. when the fire department came over there, what did they find? >> caller: yes, fairfax county fire marshal were great. they really cannot assure me of the structural integrity of the wall at this point. so tomorrow i have to get a
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structural engineer out to confirm that it is safe. can i not go to that part of the house at all. >> but you don't have to go to a hotel or anything. >> caller: well, unless cnn is footing the bill, not really. >> we just want you to be safe. >> thank you so much. i'm fine. it was quite a surprise and, of course, as you might have guessed, no, i don't have the earthquake rider on my insurance. i had no idea but it turns out i don't. >> so the insurance won't pay for it. how long will it take to fix it and how much is it going to cost? do you have any idea? >> i have no idea. we'll have to start with the structural engineer and go from there. if i'm lucky t. was rank don't bricks on top afor some reasons they were jarred off. if i'm not lucky, maybe the whole may be a problem. it's gb to be step by step tomorrow. >> i guess we'll multiply your case up and down the east coast and some people are in the
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shoes. jackie lanier, thank you for sharing your story. >> you're welcome, bye-bye. fema is warning that the entire east coast could be getting ready for a monster storm. we're talking about hurricane irene. we'll tell you where it is expected to hit. when we design any well, the groundwater's protected by multiple layers of steel and cement. most wells are over a mile and a half deep so there's a tremendous amount of protective rock between the fracking operation and the groundwater. natural gas is critical to our future. at exxonmobil we recognize the challenges and how important it is to do this right. sure, but let me get a little information first. for broccoli, say one. for toys, say two. toys ! the system can't process your response at this time. what ? please call back between 8 and 5 central standard time. he's in control.
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as the northeast recovers from today's strong earthquake, the southeast is bracing for what could be a very dangerous hurricane in the coming days. i want to bring back cnn's chad myers at the cnn weather center. what's the latest forecast, chad? >> all indications, wolf, all models, taking this to a category 3 or higher hurricane as it moves through the bahamas. right over nassau. missing miami. missing florida, really, proper. although there's a chance it goes left. florida, you are out of the cone for now. the big story is the potential landfall at 115 to 125 miles per hour on the eastern coast of either north carolina, possibly if it's on the left side of this line all the way to about charleston. charleston, less chance there. to the east here, less chance there. somewhere in the middle the highest chance. the scariest thing we've seen
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all day is that the models are turning this a little bit more to the left at the end. and what does the left mean? the left means a new england or a northeast landfall. maybe a secondary landfall as it moves away from north carolina, takes a slight turn to the left and then gets up into long island, massachusetts, into new england as a 75 or 85-mile-per-hour storm. that would be devastating to the northeast. i'm more worried about what this could do to the northeast than 125 over ocracoke island. i know there's a beautiful seashore, i know there are homes there. but today the north carolina state from heid and darren counties, they said you have to get out of those outer banks areas if you are a visitor. it's mandatory tomorrow, 5:00 aisle a. a.m., you must leave. it's getting much more purple, that means it's getting stronger tonight by the time we get on with anderson cooper i bet this
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is back up to a category 2, and by tomorrow, wolf, with all this warm water, we're at a major hurricane territory at a category 3. >> and to be precise, chad, even if it hits and makes landfall in south carolina, people in florida and south florida, they could feel the effects and it could be serious. >> it could be serious because the waves generated by a category 3 hurricane, 125-mile-an-hour spin offshore in florida will make significant rip currents. will make huge waves. the waves may be 15 feet. now, think of a 15-foot wave coming onshore at ft. lauderdale. think about what that would do as a1-a is right there and that water would just pour right into the coastal areas of florida, even towards the st. johns river, into jacksonville, maybe into coastal georgia and south carolina. this will make a large wave pattern through here and that could be just as big a problem for some people. >> all right, people should be very careful and watch us for all the latest information. chad, thanks very much. the earthquake that rattled
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nerves up and down the east coast of the united states and libya's revolution. we'll have much more of the breaking developments on the top of the hour on "john king, usa." and what's next for libya if -- if -- moammar gadhafi really does fall from power? your e-mail. and jack cafferty coming up. vrrooom...vrrroooomm vroom vrrooom vrrroooomm vrrroooomm vrroom vrrrooomm vrrroooooooommmmmm mmmm mm.
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let's check back with jack for "the cafferty file." jack? >> the question this hour is after gadhafi what's next for libya? brian in san diego writes, the process of building a government from scratch, never easy. at the very least, though, the libyans will be able to determine the structure of their new government themselves rather than having someone else do it for them. the responsibility clearly and utterly in their own hands, so the libyans will have a much better chance of creating a system that their whole country can accept, and they don't get to pin all the blame on us if it doesn't work. ed writes, civil war, jack, civil wars. i'm afraid these rebels have little understanding of or will to move towards democracy. the warring mullahs will have their militias and tribes and they'll fight for supremacy, and the strongest and most brutal will win and it will be back to repression of one group over the others. what makes us think democracy's on the tribe.
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it's not enlightenment. because libya's much like much of north africa and the middle east, while they have no history of democracy, i fear we could end up trading one dictator for another. people thought the shah of iran was a despot. look what happened when they replaced him. carol writes on facebook, the arab spring will not produce democracies. libya will likely become a tribal, chaotic, hodgepodge. michael in virginia, with libya being the supplier of a lot of the world's oil, i'm confident the politicians in washington will extend the olive branch and come up with a get-well plan. dan on long island, halliburton is working on the answer and will get back to you shortly. if you want to read more, go to my blog at or a post on our "situation room" facebook page, i think, wolf? >> did you feel the earthquake in new york city, jack? >> i didn't. but i was coming into the building i think at the time it happened. and i wasn't aware of it at all, but when i was walki