tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN May 5, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
captive and that have fed them for years. ivan watson, cnn, istanbul. >> there's hope. commonwealth university. the president on his first official day of campaigning. obviously there's going to a lot of this, a whole heck of a lot of this. everybody's campaigning. i'm don lemon at the cnn headquarters in atlanta. "the situation room" with mr. wolf blitzer begins right now. >> you're in "the situation room." we go behind the scenes of president obama's clandestine trip to afghanistan this week and a closer look at the extraordinary precautions and extraordinary risks of taking a president into a war zone. also osama bin laden and documents recovered from the house where he was killed by u.s. forces one year ago this week. plus, mitt romney courting
skeptical social conservatives. i'll talk about that and more with this former rival who just dropped out of the race newt gingrich. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." formally this week, satellites would have been dominated by the race for the white house and the increasingly heating battle between the obama and romney campaigns. but president obama rewrote the script, catching the world by surprise with an unexpected trip to afghanistan where he marked the one-year anniversary of the death of the world's most wanted terrorist. >> one year ago from bases here in afghanistan our troops launched the operation that
killed osama bin laden. the goal that i set to defeat al qaeda and denied a chance to rebuild is now within our reach. >> the trip wasn't without controversy, some critics accusing the president of playing politics with the anniversary of bin laden's death, questioning whether romney's campaign would have done the same thing. romney this week picked up an important endorsement, the endorsement of the formal rival michele bachmann. jim acosta, romney still has an enormous amount of work ahead of him. >> that's right. endorsements do help but it's the candidate who has to win over voters one by one. looking at his schedule this week, it's no secret he's trying to rally social conservatives to
his campaign but for now it's a work in progress, normally something republicans see a contender doing while running for the nomination, not after it's locked up. >> good morning! >> reporter: mitt romney was doing more than just sizesiing a new running partner in jim mcdonald. he's also out to win over social conservative, picking up the endorsement of his one-time rival michele bachmann. just four months ago bachmann predicted romney couldn't win. >> he is the only governor in the history of the united states that has put into place socialized medicine in his state. >> reporter: this week the presumptive gop nominee has taken some hits from evangelical leaders who were outraged over the hiring of romney former policy adviser richard grannel.
one blogger declared victory. >> i will flat out guaranty you he is not going to make this mistake again. there is no way mitt romney is going to put a homosexual activist in any position of importance in his campaign. >> it did send a message. i don't think it was an in your face message. think thi i think it could have been an oversight but a troubling oversight. >> he has basically checked all the conservative boxes on the issues of life and marriage and family, but his past policy positions still, you know, kind of cloud that. >> reporter: romney is trying to mend fences fast, sending his top campaign aides to meet with newt gingrich and having a private session with rick
santorum. they're saying he went behind doors with bloggers, all part of an effort to improve relations with the republicans base. no one is enjoying this more than the democrats. >> some women across virginia are outraged as governor bob mcdonald signs that controversial bill requiring women seeking an abortion to first undergo an ultrasound. >> evangelical leaders say romney's next test comes a little more than a week when he speaks at the christian conservative liberty university but the romney campaign says it's not worried, it is confident the gop is motivated and rallying to beat president obama in the fall. wolf? >> thanks very much. he was one of candidate obama's sharpest critics in the 2008 campaign but what a difference four years has made. now former president clinton is one of the biggest guns in
president obama's reelection arsenal. >> reporter: in 2007 bill clinton took aim at barack obama. then the junior senator from illinois. >> you know, i'm old fashioned. i think a president ought to have done something for other people and for his country when you pick a president. >> reporter: president clinton questioned obama's inexperience. >> when is the last time we elected a president based on one year of service in the senate before he started running? >> reporter: in early 2008 obama won iowa and entered an all-out feud with the former first couple. >> i'm here, he's not. >> i can't tell who i'm running against sometimes. >> reporter: president clinton and president obama have never been close. but appointing hillary clinton secretary of state helped their relationship heal and the president has looked to president clinton for help. >> you're in good hands. and dibs will call last
question. >> help me. thank you. >> reporter: having president clinton on board might help attract voters in areas where obama struggles, the south and some rust belt states. the obama campaign is featuring clinton in ads and hitting up his network of wealthy donors. obama and clinton appeared at a fund-raiser together sunday at the home of long time clinton supporter terry mcauliffe. obama joked the crowd would be getting two presidents for the price of one. president clinton will be a primary defender of president obama on the topic of the economy. he'll be heading out to multiple swing states targeting moderate democratic voters. his message will be that he knows what it takes to build a good economy and he'll say president obama is on the right path. >> let's dig deeper now into all of this. joining us, our chief political analyst gora borger and cnn political analyst ron
brownstein. the unemployment numbers were disappoints, even they the numbers went down slightly from 8.2 to 8.1%. >> that's disappointing for the white house, not the fact that the number went down but the fact they're not creating the number of jobs they need to be creating to give people a sense of optimism. it may also be a signal that job creation is going to continue to slow down. if that's the case, the one opportunity mitt romney has is really on the economy because if you go and ask that question in some of the battleground states and we did, somebody asked it in florida and ohio and who's better able to handle the economy, i believe it was quinnipiac, the numbers were in florida that mitt romney is better able to handle the economy and in ohio, again, that romney is better able to handle the economy. that is barack obama's real weakness. >> the core reason obama's position is stronger this spring than it was last fall, why his approval rating is better, is because americans are more
optimistic about the forward trajectory of the economy than they were a year ago. one of the principle reasons for that optimism is the job news were getting better over the winner, seeing 200,000 a month. as that rolls back now to a lower level, the big threat to the president is that it will erode that forward looking optimism because i think almost all political strategists and political scientists will agree trajectory matters more than level in presidential politics. the expectations about where we're going. as gloria says, if this is the beginning of a sustained period where job growth will be less robust than it was, the risk to the president is it undermines that sense that we're heading in the right direction. >> and our cnn poll showed over half of the american public is now willing to give mitt romney another look. that's really important. because what he's going to emphasize is his business experience. during the primaries, he got taken off on a track on cultural issues and all the rest. now he's going to talk business experience, that he can fix the economy.
>> i don't think there's any doubt at least in my mind that the romney campaign now is trying to move away from the far right and trying to reposition itself towards the center. >> absolutely. and that is where presidential elections are won, of course, historically. but there is not a complete etch a sketch, to use the analogy -- >> the picture is not complete. >> no. some of the things that happened during the primary are going to be difficult to undo, particularly what happened with hispanics on issues relating to immigration and with women and issues of contraception. he'll try to shift the focus from a choice to a referendum. his goal always every day is to encourage voters to simply look at this as an up-and-down referendum of has president obama delivered what he promised four years ago. >> but when you look at the problems mitt romney will have and it is because of the primaries and newt gingrich called him the most anti-immigrant candidate, don't think the obama campaign won't be using that, battleground
states, arizona, nevada, new mexico, colorado all very large hispanic populations, things that mitt romney is going to have difficulty explaining in a general election complex. >> you wrote this on cnn.com, after this combative primary season, watching mitt romney's former gop rivals struggle with ways to endoes their one time nemesis is painful. >> it been kind of tough for them. you saw michele bachmann do it. rick santorum has not endorsed but they're sort of trying to find a middle ground. rudy giuliani, who called him a flip flopper. they're never going to love each other but they're united in their want to defeat barack obama. >> but they dislike the president a whole lot more. >> that's why at some level, the long they are draws out, i think the risk becomes greater for rick santorum than for mitt
romney. we're in an all hands on deck era of modern politics. motivation is to defeat the other side. if these republicans are doing everything they can to contribute to beating barack obama, it will hurt him. >> it just reminds voters, though, of why they don't trust anything politicians say. because if you can turn on a dime from saying, by the way, as michele bachmann did to abc news that mitt romney could not beat president obama, if you can turn on a dime and suddenly embrace somebody and say, yes, he can -- >> she might still believe that. y -- we don't know. >> people are cynical for a reason. >> al qaeda maplans hidden insi pornography. terror leaders encouraging their followers to attack the united states with wildfires.
plus the obama campaign using newt gingrich's own word to attack mitt romney. i'll talk about that and more with the former house speaker. and some difficult ones. but, through it all, we've persevered, supporting some of the biggest ideas in modern history. so why should our anniversary matter to you? because for 200 years, we've been helping ideas move from ambition to achievement. and the next great idea could be yours. ♪ the teacher that comes to mind for me is my high school math teacher, dr. gilmore. i mean he could teach.
we turn to stunning revelations about secret al qaeda attack plans hidden inside a porn video. it gives a plot and chilling revelations of future threats. they're tied to a pair of al qaeda suspects on trial. here's nic robertson. >> reporter: as u.s. navy seals were preparing to storm bin laden's now infamous compound in pakistan a year ago, two of his european trained recruits were sneaking out of the country on a mission to call carnage. they were headed for vienna and berlin. but not long after they returned to europe, one of them was being questioned at this police station. he was arrested and searched and hidden in his underwear, police found memory recording devices
like these. buried deep in the devices of a pornographic video and hidden in files inside that were what police believe were more than a hundred secret al qaeda documents. documents that included detail accounts of the planning for some of al qaeda's biggest attacks and ideas for future operations, apparently drawn up by some of the terror group's most senior operatives from years ago. >> according to the german federal prison police, must have been written up by the inner core of al qaeda. >> reporter: investigator journalist works for the "zeit" newspaper and was the first to report on the documents. among al qaeda's plans, attacks like the one in mumbai, indian,
where they stormed three hole tells killing more than 160 people. >> deal be with -- okay. >> reporter: and another plan, the most chilling yet -- >> he says that we could hijack a passenger ship on the sea and then use it to pressure pressurize the public. what he most likely means is that they would then start executing passengers on those ships and demand the release of particular prisoners. >> reporter: they would dress passengers in orange jump suits, mimicking al qaeda prisoners in gitmo. executions would be quickly uploaded to an al qaeda web site. also in the plan's document titled "future works" to flood europe with trained terrorists and overwhelm counterterrorism agencies. >> but the author seems to be
convinced that al qaeda should be pursuing a two-track strategy of low cost, low damage attacks and large scale attacks. >> reporter: like the 9/11 attack sp. >> yes. the reason being if al qaeda were to pursue only large scale attacks and those are foiled, then they have nothing. >> reporter: that's where these two men sent back to europe fit into al qaeda's planning. yusef, seen here in a militant video threatening germany. and 22-year-old maxoud, the man found with the memory sticks. german prosecutors allege their job was to recruit a network of suicide attackers. >> we do not know what these two month were actually up to but there are certain information if
those files that make it plausible to assume it was a mahmoud-style attack. >> reporter: they have denied being part of a terrorist objection. other files show not only al qaeda thinking about the future but also shed light on the planning of past attacks and elaborate efforts to foil intelligence services. u.s. intelligence sources tell cnn this information is pure gold and it includes details of some of al qaeda's most dangerous attacks, including the attack on the london subway seven years ago. 52 were killed. several hundred injured. the mastermind of that attack, a
british member of al qaeda. in one of the documents found in berlin, he spells out his role in that attack, as this bomber recorded his martyrdom statement, he writes he was in the roo room off camera, he set up a camera with the scripted statement. he also reveals there was a shortless of three targets, the bank of england, the g-8 summit taking place in scotland and the london subway. they picked the subway because it required less explosives. his big takeaway of the success from this team was the time he spent memorizing codes to teach them countersurveillance techniques to switch their phones, use e-mail accounts on internet chats. he revealed two of the bombers were sure they were being watched by british intelligence because some of their associate himself been arrested in
connection with another plot. they acted out that life was normal, going to the movies, joking out loud a lot. a subsequent inquiry in britain found that the intelligence services, mi-5, were aware of the two men and their connections but didn't think they posed a threat. even as london was recovering from that terrible day, he was planning the devastating follow up. >> nic robertson reporting for us. he also reports al qaeda is setting up new training camps in yemen and libya right now. >> into a war zone and back. how president obama pulled off the dangerous trip to afghanistan. and newt gingrich drops out of the race for the white house saying he might be backing mitt montana but does newt gingrich still think romney's a liar? i'll ask him. ct, i'm already seg your best friend, justin. ♪
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he's officially out of the republican race for the white house but some of gingrich's sharpest attacks of mitt romney are living on thanks to the obama campaign. i sat down this week with the former house speaker. you shouldn't be surprised because you've been in politics for a long time. the obama-biden campaign using your words in a new commercial hammering away at mitt romney. i'll play a clip. >> the romney machine can drive down turnout, run over opponents with negative ads. it doesn't seem capable of inspiring turnout. the result is i think very, very worrisome if you're thinking about the fall campaign. >> is he still the most
anti-immigrant candidate? >> i think of the four of us, yes. >> are you calling mitt romney a liar? >> yes. >> the truth team they call it. how do you feel when you see your words used in a campaign commercial like that to hammer away at mitt romney? >> you have a rough and tumble primary season. you're going to get word like that. i think when mccain tried to use hillary clinton's words against obama, it didn't work all that well. the fact is you have a president with the worst unemployment record of any president since the great depression. you have a president with the highest price of gasoline of any president in american history on average. you have a president who is running up huge deficits to crush our children and grandchildren with the level of debt we've never dreamed of before. this president will say and do anything in order to try to make sure we don't pay attention to his record.
>> do you still believe mitt romney is a liar? >> i still believe the romney campaign said things that aren't true. >> forget about the romney campaign. is mitt romney a liar? >> he said things at times that are untrue. >> so your answer is yes. >> i also believe in relation to president obama, i would trust mitt romney a hundred times over. >> it wasn't exactly an endorsement for mitt romney. >> i said i wanted to come pain for him, he would be appoint better judges, do far more to balance the budget than the president. i went down a long list as to why mitt romney would be better than president obama. >> would you consider what you said yesterday an endorsement? >> the only distinction people draw is at some point in the next couple of weeks mitt and i will be together and there will be some kind of endorsement.
i tried to send every single that if you were a conservative and you do not want to reelect barack obama, you have one choice and that's mitt romney. >> so from your opinion, you endorsed him? have you been speaking with him? >> we don't have a specific date that we're going to do that. i talked with the governor, i met with his campaign manager, we're coordinating with his policy team. they've been generous on pointing out on the issue of energy independence i was way ahead of them, they're eager to work with us on those kind of platforms. >> will we see mitt romney and newt gingrich to the out there on the campaign trail? >> absolutely. >> will you go out independently, go to areas where you're well liked? >> i will do everything i can to help defeat barack obama and help elect a republican house and a republican senate. >> newt gingrich speaking with me earlier in the week. meanwhile president obama, he's now back from a dangerous trip to the afghanistan war zone.
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plans. what did you learn? >> even as osama bin laden is providing compelling insights from the grave, so is another well known terrorist and this one is american. an war al, a leader in yemen is featured in two magazines, despite the fact he was killed in a drone attack. >> radical followers need to
take jihad into their own hands. >> paul crookshank says there are pictures of him we haven't seen before, like this one of him with the top leader of al qaeda. the two of them key players in the christmas day underwear bomb plot and the cargo printer bomb plot against the u.s. in these editions, one of which was finished before his death, he writes that women and children shouldn't be deliberately targeted but if they're among combatants, it's allowed for muslims to attack them. he advocates using poisons, chemical and biological weapons. and one section suggests that followers set wildfires in the united states to do damage and it even instructs people on how to make so-called ember bombs. the threats of wildfires is
something that's been known about for years. >> you can see where stuff is eating into it. it's a huge, you know, fire problem. >> greg cade, once the u.s. government's top official in charge of dealing with wildfires, says terrorists can easily target areas where urban sprawl meets the wilderness. >> they would have to make sure to look at the weather conditions and see what's going on. but when the weather conditions are right, when it's dry, the wind is starting pick up, it going to be sunny, no rain, they certainly could use something like that in a major metropolitan area to start a wildfire and it wouldn't take more than maybe one, two people at the most to kind of get it going. >> and cade says other than local citizens keeping watch on their wilderness areas, it's very tough to foil a wildfire attack before it happens. he says do have better trained personnel and equipment to prevent them from doing major damage. that may steer potential
terrorists away. to date there's no evidence that al qaeda or other terror groups have set wild wildfires in the united states but he was planting a dangerous thought in their mind. >> we're learning more about what bin laden thought about this american born terrorist. >> the combatting terrorism center at west point made a comment about the tapes saying that bin laden did not hold the terrorist in high esteem, didn't think much of the magazine. paul crookshank says it may be because he didn't think he had enough experience as a jihadist leader but also he may have been jealous of all the attention he was getting. >> he was got getting a ton of attention. thanks for that. those letters made public on the anniversary of his death, revealing he was plotting destruction until the very end but also that he was worried.
why you can now see some of these bin laden documents on line. terrorism professionals have been studying them for some time now and finding some stunning revelations. our national security analyst is joining us. he's the author of a new best seller out "man hunt, the ten-year search from 9/11." what surprised you the most in going through these documents. unlike other journalists, you had access to these documents long ago and part of them became the basis for your book. what jumped out of you the most? >> i think the biggest thing that jumped out of me was the realization how damages american drone strikes have been. bin laden was advising his team to leave the region where the drone strikes were happening and to go to a mountainous area of
kunar, the place where it would be difficult for u.s. drones and satellites to find his guys. so they were very much aware, wolf, about the problems that they were suffering as a result of these strikes. >> he even wanted his own son to get out of there, to get to some secure area in qatar, right? >> right. it doesn't get any safer than qatar, which is like the switzerland of the middle east. he's advocating his own son to go there. bin laden knew this was a big problem for them. he wrote a letter, bin laden. he said i plan to release a statement announcing we are starting a new phase to correct the mistakes we made. in doing so we shall reclaim good willing the trust of a large segment of those who lost their trust in the jihadis. give us a perspective on this. >> i think bin laden, a lot of
these documents reveal bin laden saying you have to stop killing civilians, it's killing our brand. he said stop having big battles in the central battles in the marketplace of mogadishu. each said don't make the same mistakes al qaeda made in iraq, don't kill local tribes members. some wrote to the pakistanis saying you have to suspend operations killing pakistanis in mosques and markets. he was aware this was his achilles heel. >> you go into the specifics of media propaganda in coordination with the tenth anniversary of 9/11. it demonstrated he and some of his aids were pretty sophisticated in the american television. >> he wrote cbs was the least
bias of all of the networks. his media member mentioned brian ross of abc news as somebody they might try and reach out to, mentioned journalists in britain, journalists in pakistan and did a media analysis. fox was not a network they liked. they had some mildless -- mildly disparaging messages. a fairly sophisticated look at the media scene, the whole point was how are we going to celebrate the anniversary of 9/11, what media outlets will we do? >> thanks so much for writing "man hunt." appreciate it very much. >> thank you very much.
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under extremely tight security in a cloak of secrecy, president obama this week paid a surprise visit to afghanistan. it came on the first anniversary of the u.s. raid that killed osama bin laden. the visit was a reminder that afghanistan remains full of dangers. our pentagon reporter barbara star has more. >> reporter: it doesn't get more riskier than sending the president of the united states into a war zone.
president obama arrived at bagram air base, afghanistan under cover of darkness with extraordinary security measures. reporters traveling with the president with sworn to secrecy. the secret service is prepared for anything that could happen. it starts with getting in. u.s. planes landing in afghanistan perform a cork screw-type landing making sharp banks and turns to avoid heat seeking missiles. colonel mark tillman knows first hand how dangerous it can be. now retired he told wolf blitzer about secretly taking president george w. bush to baghdad in 2003 while combat raged. >> the challenge wasn't so much to get him in there because we easily fooled everybody and got him in there. the challenge was once he was on the ground and everybody knew he was there to get him back out again. so we worked very hard to make sure he had minimum time on the ground. >> any longer and terrorists might be able to set up an attack. and over the years bagram, right where the president landed, has
come under repeated rocket and mortar attacks. so the president quickly boarded a heavily armed helicopter for a half hour ride to kabul with apache gun ships providing excourt. even the heavily protected area where the president headed to meet with president hamid karzai is not totally secure. just last month the taliban pulled off multiple attacks in the green zone where the presidential palace, nate yof headquarters and u.s. embassy are located. the secret service of course works to make sure there are no attacks. only a handful of u.s. officials and top military commanders even knew the president was coming. less information, more security is the way the president's men make it happen. the president of course is running for reelection as commander in chief. so like all things white house in this election year, there is also a political dimension to
this trip. barbara starr, cnn, the pentagon. >> and if you've ever dated someone you think could eventually become president of the united states, here's some advice -- save the love letters! we have fascinating details about an ex-boyfriend named barack obama. and a piece of glass is all that's keeping this lion from getting its teeth on a child. of. in high school, i had a physics teacher by the name of mr. davies. he made physics more than theoretical, he made it real for me. we built a guitar, we did things with electronics and mother boards. that's where the interest in engineering came from. so now, as an engineer, i have a career that speaks to that passion. thank you, mr. davies.
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before michelle obama entered the picture, barack obama had some other serious relationships. now two of his ex-girlfriends are opening up, they're revealing a fascinating side of him. we're getting a chance to see for the first time. let's bring in mary snow. she's got the details. mary? >> these are two women whose
names haven't surfaced until now. one shares letters a young barack obama sent her, mostly focusing on philosophy and literature. another opens up her diary in the year she dated him. both are featured in a new book, and "vanity fair" printed an excerpt. a new glimpse of a young barack obama. two ex-girlfriends during the 1980s are sharing their stories for the first time in a new book "barack obama: the story." australian-born genevieve cooke was his more serious relationship. she's shown in this yearbook photo with another man and not barack obama. they met at a christmas party in the months after obama graduated from columbia and was living in new york. the couple eventually lived together for a short time in this brooklyn brown stone. and throughout their nearly 18-month romance, cooke kept a journal. how is he so old already at the age of 22, she wrote early on in their relationship. there is one theme, though, that continues to come up in her writings about obama, distance.
she writes, but i feel that you carefully filter everything in your mind and heart, legitimate, admirable, really a strength, a necessity in terms of some kind of interestingtism but there's something there in smooth ver near, guardedness, but i'm left with a bit of a wall, a veil. joey cantor says that period of obama's life was a search for identity. >> during the new york years, not a lot actually happened. there's not a lot of drama. there aren't a lot of big scenes. a lot of what's happening with barack obama in this period is taking place inside his own head. >> obama and cook eventually grew apart with cook writing in the journal at one point, i can't help thinking that what he would really want, be powerfully drawn to was a woman, very strong, very up right, a fighter, a lafr, well experienced, a black i keep seeing her as. with a slice of obama's past coming to light, it's also
brought until now an unknown history to this brooklyn neighborhood where obama used to live, surprising the owners of obama's former home. >> i was amazed and just kind of amused. it's just one of those things where you never know. and i just thought it was funny. >> well, barack obama left new york in 1985 for chicago and a job as a community organizer. he met michelle obama in 1989. wolf, i guess it goes to show that nothing really is off-limits. >> when you become president of the united states that is certainly true. thank you very much, mary, for that. here's another story we're watching. it's why they keep the animals behind glass. take a look at what happens when this hungry lion sees a toddler in a zebra-striped sweatshirt. so many tough decisions i felt lost. unitedhealthcare offered us a specially trained rn who helped us weigh and understand all our options.
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>> it's just like if you had your house cat looking at birds outside the window. >> does that kid's hoodie outfit remind you of anything? jack's mom says -- >> looked like a tasty baby z-bo rasm. >> kiddies and kids make for popular viral videos. whether it be fearless sofia or an understandably freaked out boy named harper. >> it's okay. he can't get you through the glass. it's okay. >> kids are dangled like bait. >> go towards the glass. >> parents give instructions. they put paddy cake with paws to music. and it's not just lions. it's black leopards. it's grizzly bears. it's polar bears. japanese tv show even dressed up a girl as a baby seal to tempt a
polar bear. and while an orangutan might spit, a gorilla might really give you a scare. but maybe you'd like to see things from a gorilla's point of view. those silly humans mocking, beating their chests, and often mom and dad argue. >> how is this not funny? >> it's terrifying. >> like in "the family guy" as he drew a face on the octopus. >> it's so sucky and squeezy! >> it's not going to happen with a lion. the glass is designed to standards, and even if it did, it would crack, not break, sort of like what happened when taz the gorilla charged the class two years at the atlanta zoo. >> the glass held. it's three panes of glass that held together and the interior