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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  May 7, 2012 1:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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any is going to report its earnings. but i think the markets are going to sort of turn for the near term, because there really isn't really to focus on. >> always good to see you, my friend. and that does it for me, i'm in for brooke baldwin, but "the situation room" is going to take it from here with mr. wolf blitzer. >> i don't have an justify date to provide you on the president's position. >> the white house under pressu pressure. >> a dramatic plea from an american man, he tells president obama, quote, my life is in your
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hands. plus, an election of evil and a major change of course by a leading ally, france elected it's first socialist president in two decades, we're looking at what it means for the united states. i'm wolf blitzer, you're still in "the situation room." the vice president joe biden said over the weekend he's fine with gay marriage and arnie duncan says he believes gay and lesbians should be allowed to marry. putting him at odds with the president of the united states.
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jessica yellin is working the story for us. jessica, causing quite an uproar there, what's going on? >> reporter: this is clearly an unwelcome topic for a white house that pronounces to make all decisions based on principle not on politics. it certainly looks as if the vice president supports gay marriage. >> who do you love? the president sets the policy. i am absolutely comfortable that the fact that men marrying wo i and women marrying women, are entitled to all the civil rights and the civil liberties. >> reporter: but the president is vague. >> my feelings about this are constantly evolving. i struggle with this.
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>> reporter: this is a flash point election. to argue biden's comments weren't new. >> i think they were entirely consistent with the president's position which is that couples who are married whether they're gay or heterosexual couples are entitled to the very same rights and very same liberties. >> reporter: the vice president's office even put out a statement to clarify the vice president's meeting. but the message to gay and lesbian is supporters, it's convoluted. >> i have heard efforts from the vice president to say that the president and the vice president have the same position. so one can conclude that therefore the president supports marriage equality. >> all the while, the president has raised millions from gay and lesbian donors and many believe he would support gay marriage in a second term. >> you're fighting for the id
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idea -- everybody deserves to be able to live and love as they see it. >> i heard him today, he strongly opposes efforts to restrict rights to repeal rights for same-sex couples. >> these attendees at the president's ohio rally are there because of his position on the issue. >> my daughter is a gay american and so gay marriage right now is kind of the biggest thing on my -- >> if you can hear me okay, where do we go from here in terms of clarifying, is there
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any indication that the president is going to issue a public statement yay or nay on this issue? >> reporter: if the briefing today was any indication, the president remains in a state of evolution on this issue. one of the things that i was pointing out at the end of that piece is that some of the public polling shows that in this election year, a majority of americans do not support gay marriage. key voters, african-american, older voters, people over 50. in a tight election, this is a campaign that people would not want to risk alienating and perhaps that could be a factor at play in taking such a vague position on this issue right now. wolf. but to your question, absolutely no indication that the president wants to wade into these waters any further at this time.
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a seismic political issue in france. it's a strong rejection of two years of austerity and the kind of uncertainty that usually sparks anxiety among u.s. investors. tell us a little bit about in new president, most of our viewers here in the united states have never even heard of him. >> reporter: right and most viewers probably outside of the united states haven't heard from him. francois is not a man who's been a minister, he's been around
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politics his whole life, he's a leader of the social isz part. he conducted a very safe campaign inspired by the way, in part by the 2008 obama campaign. his campaign manager told me a few days ago that they met with some of the campaign strategists from the obama campaign, we have some advise on how to campaign on the internet. and also door to door campaigning. it worked out for them in the end since he was elected yesterday. he has promised this and his campai campaign is telling us when he goes to the nato summit in a few weeks that that is a discussion he's going to have with
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president obama. that might be an open question, but the intent is there and the campaign of the now president electric say they intend on following through on that, wolf. >> on the economic wolf, the main policy i take it was to get rid of all of the austerity measures and basically go back and raise taxes on rich people, is that right? >> reporter: it's partly right, i think really what the socialists are saying today, isn't that we want to destroy the agreement that was taking place between nicolas sarkozy and the president of germany, an angela merkel. we need to find a way to allow these economies to grow. but where will the money come from? that's where the source -- it
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may be his first overseas trip on may 15. >> we'll be looking forward to seeing him here in the united states as well. thanks very much. >> i want to dig a little bit deeper right now. president bill clinton's white house chief of staff. >> he won the primary to won, he's a pact kl guy, he's not flashy, but probably what france needs right now is more growth and less bling. what's going to be the difference if any in u.s.-french relations if he's succeeding sarkozy. >> his economic plan is more aligned with what president
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obama has tried to do which is invest in infrastructure. he's pledged to balance the budget in five years in france, but he wants to do it by adding to the competitiveness, so he's put off things like infrastructure bond as a way to boost job growth and boost the competitive back in the euro zone. >> the u.s. wants another 2 1/2 years, but he wants him out by the end of this year. >> the president will have a chance to talk to him about that. the president has succeeded in putting the u.s. on a path of reducing and eliminating the combat mission in afghanistan.
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it's important to give stability to afghanistan. at the nato summit and when he meets with him in at a dance. do you have any sense of how the political spillover, what happened in france will play out in the u.s. is there any correlation? >> i think it will be direct, but i think the proposals that have been put forth, particularly in the ryan program is not working in europe. it's caused a double dip recession in the uk, it's caused an increase in unemployment. the euro zone has had gain since 2010. so i don't know if the american people will draw that conclusion, but i think the
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distippingation that's been drawn has led to more stagnation angher unemployment. >> to russia now, where vladimir putin was voted out. he won a reported 65% of the vote. but independent monitors reported widespread irregularities. this comes a day after citizens clashed in moscow. several top opposition figures were arrested. kidnapped by al qaeda now seen pleading for his life. an american man appealing directly to president obama. also the president on race relations. and former nba star charles barkley sends a message to president obama, according to
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let's go to jack cafferty here with "the cafferty file." this country still has a long road to travel when it comes to race relations. the "new york times" reports that race remains a power line factor among a small minority of voters, particularly in poor areas, with a lot of white working class people. that would include the battleground state of ohio where just a few votes one way or the other could make a big difference. in one ohio county, five people
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raised race as a reason they will not vote for president obama. that's only 10%. others didn't mention race directly, but indirectly, as suspicions of obama's background and faith. the president recently described race in america as, quote, complicated. he said he never bought into the idea that the country was entering a post race relational area. more than half of americans in 2008 said race relations would improve as a result of obama's election. fast forward to 2012, that view has changed dramatically. a recent "newsweek" poll shows only 32% think race relations have improved under president obama, while 60% say the race relations have either stayed the same or gotten worse. whites are especially critical of president obama.
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some say it's tough times like high unemployment or the war overseas and can then serve as an excuse for social anxiety. here's the question, how much has america's first black president changed race relations. wolf? >> looking forward to the answers, that's an excellent question, jack. the battle ground states are intensifying, with mitt romney focusing in on ohio where the two men are locked in a tight race, according to the polls. jim acosta is in cleveland. what's the latest in ohio? >> reporter: well, wolf, as we saw over the weekend, president obama launched his first official campaign rally here in the state of ohio, today was mitt romney's chance to hit back, and he did on the economy,
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one of his campaign surrogates and a woman in the crowd got off message and personal. >> the next president of the united states, mitt romney. >> not enough people have been finding good jobs and a lot of people have lost their homes, that's a promise he wasn't able to keep. >> romney stayed on message, jobs. >> we need to have a president who understands what it takes to get the economy going again, not with policies of the passes that don't work. >> the unemployment rate 8.1%. romney's new speech follows a key spot that zeros in on the nation's sluggish ecoverry. the economy was in free fall when the president took the oath of office. >> america's economy spiraling down.
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>> the biggest pointop that's ever been seen in a day. >> all before this president took the oath. >> on a conference call, a top strategist revealed plans to spend $25 million on more ads this month, saying it's the only way to respond to political super pacs. >> to rornd to attacks t u expect to continue from not just rm any's campaign. >> neck and neck, not only in national polls, but in swing states, as well. with the race this close, it's no surprise romney is sticking to his focus on the economy. he did not respond to the president's pointed jab at the go gop contenders now well known line. >> i don't care how many ways
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you try to spin it. corporations are not people, people are people. >> reporter: it was ohio state's senator who -- >> glad that he has -- is dead. bin laden, that is. >> yes, he also slammed the first family's vacations to martha's vineyard and hawaii. >> reporter: now we should also -- we should also note that during that town hall, a woman stood up in the crowd and asked mitt romney if he thought that president obama should be tried
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for treason. that prompted a response from the obama re-election campaign, wolf and i'll read it to you, it was pretty strongly worded. it says if he is the leadership on the campaign trail, this is mitt romney, coming from the obama cam pape, what can the american people expect from him at commander in chief. the romney campaign has also responded to this back and forth over this woman who stood up at this town hall meeting. a lot of people say that president obama does deserve credit for taking out osama bin laden and also said that governor romney's statements stand on this woman who said that he should be tried for treason, saying looking at romney's statement, no, he does not believe that the president should be tried for treason.
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>> he doesn't seem to understand that maximizing profits by whatever means necessary. whether it's through layoffs or outsourcing or tax avoidance or union bussing, might not always be good for the ampverage amerin or for the american economy. >> i wonder if romney is responding to those accusations by the president. >> he was not really going tit for tat with the president on what the president had to say over the weekend. it was a pretty striking, sort of nonresponse to the president. what we heard from mitt romney, almost -- was going after, zeroing in on the economy, this record during the sluggish recovery that basically started months after president obama took office, mitt romney is
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saying time and again out here at these campaign events that the recovery would be doing better if president obama were not in office right now. they're looking at those polls right now showing it's very much neck and neck right now and they don't want to get off message. that woman in the crowd, that's not the direction the romney campaign wants to go. >> thanks very much, jim acosta in ohio. he's going to be spending a lot of time there over the next six months. and the white house is scrambling to explain comments from two top officials. we're going to talk about that and more in our strategy session. and the former nba great charles barkley doing some trash talking about mitt romney, we're going to tell you what he had to say. o
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joining us the democratic strategist and cnn political strategist donna brazile and alex stewart. here's one of the sound bites from vice president joe biden yesterday on "meet the press" that has caused this commotion. >> look, i am vice president of the united states of america. the president sets the policy.
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i am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men and women marrying women and heterosexual men marrying women, are all entitled to the same civil liberties. >> we put together some of the preside president's responses. >> i have no update on the president's personal views. the president said that he was evolving, the president's position is well known, i don't have an update to provide you on the president's position. i just tell you what the president has said in the past. i just don't have an update for you. his views have not change and i have no update to give you on them. the next time the president has a news conference, if you want
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to ask him that, you're certainly welcome to. >> they did not let up, they come barreded him with question after question after question, you heard some offensive answers that went on and on and on. it is it time for the president to come out and say i such port gay marriage or i oppose gay american? >> i think every american needs to come to these positions -- the president has stopped defending section three of doma. >> that's the defense of marriage act? >> he ended don't ask, don't tell. i think every american understands who is a champion for all. >> i'm not sure when it comes to marriage equality. >> i have seen the but, but we need to get to an and.
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others have said that we need to vote with north carolina because it already outlawed same sex maerj. this would be enshrined in the constitution. and what the vice president said is what we have known all along about his basic crews in ral wrights for all americans. >> he says flatly, he opposed gay marriage. >> he's for traditional marriage between a man and a woman. saying that he's evolving on this issue, that's not coming clean on this. is this going to be another issue like he spoke to the russian president, where when he's re-elected people will have for next snbl people who are for gay marriage and who's against gay marriage. this is why the american people certainly should not support a
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president who is not going to come clean on these issues. >> where he's at is moving this country forward on a very important issue, but we should not have any discrimination. >> this is a trial balloon. >> what's a trial balloon? >> they threw this out there yesterday to see how this would stick. >> i disagree with you, i think the vice president was just talking. i'm sure they didn't want this to come out right now as an issue. but the liberals, they support the president, he doesn't have to work aggressively to get their support. he's concerned about the centrists who may be on the fence. >> the real issues that people are concerned with are jobs and the economy.
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>> one thing you've got to learn about vice president biden. but joe biden has been a championship for civil rights quality. and this is a man who's always stood on those principles. i'm not surprised he would come out forcefully and strongly as he did yesterday. he says his life is in president obama's hands, we're taking a look at the emotional video of an american held in pakistan we believe by al qaeda. how bout ya, joe? let's go ahead and bring it online. attention on site, attention on site. now starting unit nine. some of the world's cleanest gas turbines are now powering some of america's biggest cities. siemens. answers.
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♪ ♪ one, two, three, four ♪ you say ♪ flip it over and replay ♪ we'll make everything okay ♪ walk together the right way ♪ do, do, do, do disturbing new video of an american man pleading for his life, directly to president obama to meet the demands of his captorings. he was abducted in august outside of his home in lahore pakistan.
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in this video, he has a specific message to the united states. tell us about it. >> reporter: yeah, wolf, officially when he tells the u.s. government, help me get out of here. he makes a direct plea to president obama. if you don't help me, if you don't meet these demands, it's very likely that i'm going to be killed. at least twice in this video he seems to be eating something. but it looks that's what he's doing. here's a portion of it. >> my name is warren winestein, i would like my wife to know that i'm getting all my
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medications and being treated well. i want to plea to president obama, and asking him if he accepts the demands of the m mujahideen. it's very important that you act likely and i'm now waiting for your response. >> now wolf, in the video he seems to be in good shape, no visible injuries, but it's difficult to know how he's doing today, because we're not quite sure when this video was shot. >> all right, joining us from islamabad, thanks, i apologize for some of these technical problems that we just had. but let's dig a little bit deeper now with the national security analyst peter bergen. let's talk about warren winestein for a moment. the demands that al qaeda wants for his release are?
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>> one of the big demands is the blind sheikh, the guy who's the intellectual author of the 9/11 attack who's in poor health in an american prison. that's when a constant demand for al qaeda for the past year and a half. the president of the united states said that he will not negotiate with al qaeda. it has not been unknown that money changes hands, of course there's sort of some legal issues because the money of course would then be going to an al qaeda terrorist organization. but other hostages have been released, i'm thinking of hostages in iraq who are american citizens, and i can't believe that money didn't change hands at some point. how extraordinary is this video that we saw today? >> i think this is have unusual. i can't think of an al qaeda
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prisoner coming out of pakistan ever. >> what about daniel pearl? >> in terms of a kidnap demand video, this is unusual. of course in iraq, we saw quite a lot of it. >> your bottom line is why did al qaeda do this now? >> i think they haven't gotten anything through for a long time. this is one of the few things they have. one of the interesting things that the documents have recovered in bin laden's come pound. he was very focused on raising money and giving advise to his followers on how to handle the ransom money so it wouldn't be tracked. the only thing they can pull off is kidnapping a guy who's been in pakistan and helping people learn the american language. >> and did you notice, on that video, just a sheet behind him, they have learned over the
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years, al qaeda, that there can be nothing that can be identified. >> this is a really authentic video, wolf. >> peter, don't go too far away, thanks very much for joining us. we're watching what's going on, we'll take a quick break much more coming up after this. boost6 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin d to help keep bones strong and 10 grams of protein to help maintain muscle. and our great taste is guaranteed or your money back. learn more at [ dad ] i choose great taste. i choose boost.
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election upheaval in france and grease. aaron, what are the developments in france and elsewhere in europe mean for the united states? >> we have been talking to economists throughout the day. it matters for the bigger banks, that means there's less money to lend to americans. we have been focusing on not just what might happen in france, but it's important to keep in mind that there's parliamentary elections in the next couple of weeks. it's unclear what will really happen in france. significant, last time there were issues in greece.
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american household developed $1.2 trillion. this showings us how significant this could possibly be. obviously we have seen stocks drop around the world and this could continue. it really is going to come in the form of u.s. banks, europe spends and if that's not the right thing to do. then banks could take a hit. you could see more gauge rates rise in the u.s. there are some economists who think that spending more, borrowing more is going to be what we need to. which ever way we go will be very important for u.s. networks. >> we'll have a lot more coming up at 7:00 p.m. eastern. erin, thanks very much. an intense man hunt is underway in tennessee as police say they now have a suspect in
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the case of a woman and her three daughters that have gone missing. jack cafferty wants to know how much has america's black president changed race relations. your answers and a lot more coming up. ♪ or this! or, how about this! wow, that was really impressive. it was... uh, i think we'll go with the $600. yes, we will. [ male announcer ] combine auto and renters with state farm, and save an average of $600. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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our state department reporter has got some information for us. i know a whole team of producers and reporters have been working on this. tell our viewers precisely what we know. >> the information is coming in fast and furious. a senior u.s. counter terrorism official telling our pam benson that basically the united states has acquired a terrorist device, international allies and security partners working together have found an explosives device, that's kind of a little bit of similar to you remember that underwear bomb in 2009. they think this is in connection
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with the al qaeda on the arab peninsula, as we go, information coming in -- >> they found something that could have potentially been used to attack an airline. >> the u.s. was not in any danger at any point. what a yemeni official just told us a while ago, that the yemeni department did have a warning at the united states. that there could be a bomb, they didn't have a very specific target, but there was some information that there could be a bomb attack, there was a lot of talk about a possible bomb or an airline bomb. but they think inns in connection with the arab peninsula bombmaker. >> i want to go to chris lawrence at the pentagon. what are you hearing, chris? >> reporter: wolf, defense secretary leon panetta is about
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to start a press conference -- we hope to get a question to him about what the u.s. intelligence might have known. we reported on a bulletin that went out from the department of homeland security, as well as the fbi. but this bullet included u.s. northern command which struck as somewhat unusual. they're usually not included on warning bulletins like this, and it specifically mentions that there was an aviation threat. >> some sort of new explosive device that may have been potentially used to try to knock out an airliner on the anniversary of bin laden's death. what do you make of this? >> the man has tried to blow up american planes, but also two
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cargo planes f s flying to chic in october of 2010. he's also tried to kill the prince, the senior minister of interior official in saudi arabia with a similar kind of advice. obviously he's the most dangerous person in this group which poses some threat to the united states. what's interesting about hiss story now is that it's not really clear where this device was covered. but just reading between the lines, it might have been recovered in yemen. clearly it wasn't in holland or in the uk, it hadn't got out of the country, it looks like. >> u.s. intelligence believe there are a lot more al qaeda operatives in yemen and somalia than there are right now in afghanistan. what do you make of this?
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>> i think one, the fact that u.s. officials have the device itself, they are going through this, they're analyzing it now they ought to being able to tell, bombmakers have signatures, so certain ways they construct and advice. as peter mentions, the saudis really have worked very closely with u.s. officials against the al qaeda arabian peninsula threat. >> have you heard anything over the past few weeks about this kind of suspected plot in the works? >> no, going back to what chris was saying, they did make references to an aviation threat around the anniversary. there was nothing specific, we were reassured there was no credible threat to the united states, so we really hadn't heard anything other than that. >> another one of our
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contributors is joining us, a former assistant fbi director. what are you hearing, tom, what do you make of this? >> what i'm hearing is these are two separate forms -- the information about this specific incident that the cia had interru interrupted. it's two separate streams of communication that the information came from. >> two separate plots, is that what you're hearingsome. >> not necessarily separate plots, but two separate streams of -- >> we had the reports in saudi arabia a while back where someone had allegedly put an explosive device inside their body and tried to fly to france and killing himself in the process.
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so the plot that unfolded last week or that was talked about came from another source, regarding the possibility that they would attempt to do another similar attack using either secreted explosives, or something very close to his body. i'm not saying this isn't the same threat, it's just that the information came through two separate channels. >> when we heard some releases that were out by homeland security, there were no credible threats from anybody along those lines, but just out of an abundance of caution, they -- if there was in fact a specific threat out there, those earlier suggestions, no credible threat, those six statements would have been incorrect? >> well, wolf, it may be, if at that point in the plot, with that statement was issued, they may have had it under control.
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they may have recovered the plot. they put the warning out there because they knew that al qaeda was attempting to target aviation. we don't know the timing of when one plot was disrupted versus when the statement was put out. it is possible that they were accurate when they put it out and we just need more information to be able to assess that. >> peter how significant are these anniversaries for al qaeda to do something explosive, forgive the pun, right around an anniversary. >> you know, they have also attacked, you know, christmas day, i think wasn't a complete accident. it was a christian holiday. it's also a time when security might be a bit more lax. but it's a certain amount of opportunism on that day.
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certainly that bin laden died, and that would be something they would want to mark. but at the end of the day, this, you know, this is the best they can do, something that doesn't even threaten really an airline, is the device is recovered, it goes again to the kind of weakness that these groups have. >> i want everybody to stand by, we'll stay on top of the breaking news. we'll go to london, nic robertson is standing by. stay with us, you're on "the situation room." let's raise the bar and elevate our academic standards. let's do what's best for our students-by investing in our teachers. let's solve this. you'd use carbon fiber and machined aluminum, to make it more beautiful, and more durable. you'd use edge-to-edge gorilla glass for a stunning display in a more compact form. and you'd choose an intel® core i7™ processor
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cnn confirms that the united states and it's allied thwarted an attempt to blow up with u.s. airliner. an explosive device was recovered. it was a similar bomb attack linked the al qaeda we're told. a yemeni official says it's
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government was made aware of the possible bombing attack and alerted the united states. the official says the would be bomber had not, had not picked a specific target. we have corporates and analysts working on the breaking news digging deeper into the story. chris lawrence is getting new information. >> we have got some new information just coming in now at the top of the hour. a u.s. counter terrorism official is confirming to cnn that this was a nonmetallic device and that it was specifically designed for use by a suicide bomber on an airline. this official says it was very similar and in the same category as the bomb that was used, the so-call so-call ed underwear bomb that was used on christmas day in 2009.
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it really underscores what why is -- al qaeda and the arabian peninsula very, very dangerous. >> nic robertson is standing by in london as well. nic, what are you picking up? >> reporter: we can see there are certain similarities here, we have learned that the bomb is a similar type as used by the underwear bomb. we know that it was made similar to the underwear bomb. he also made to the bombs that were destined to put on an aircraft flying to the united states that were intercepted because of intelligence tip-offs. it does appear that there was another intelligence tip-off, that led to these bombs being caught. these are inferences we are drawing with the information we
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have at the moment. to the fact that these bombs were out there, we do know that they played a role last time. it was 400 grams of petn. this is a highly explosive white powder, can be made into a paste as it was for the underpants bomb, and sort of sealed afternoon the body so it's hard to detect. these are the details that we v we don't know if it's the same bombmaker werks haven't been told the type of explosives, we're told it's similar to the last one, if it's similar, that means it's probably petn. and what we know from the underwear bomber failed to go
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off because he didn't detonate it correctly. >> the deputy spokesperson, k e katelynn hayden hoe has received regular updates and briefings as needed from his national security team. while the president was assured that the device did not pose a threat to the public, he directed to the -- to take whatever steps necessary to guard against this type of attack. the statement goes on to say, the disruption of this ied, improvised explosive device plot underscores the need to remain vigilant against terrorism here and abroad. the president thanks all these involved for their extraordinary skill and commitment that their enormous responsibility demands. that statement from the national
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security council over at the white house. peter bergen, now that we haven official statement from the whourks it gives us a little context, perspective about what's going on. >> it's interesting that it was in april that the president was briefed. i think we should put this in a little bit of perspective. this was a plot that was -- i think obviously this guy, of all the people in the united states government would like to try to find it, it was surely him. he keeps trying to create these devices, i think as fran and nic indicated. my money is on the saudis, they have had a huge campaign against this group al qaeda in yemen. if they can get the way bill numbers, the cartridges that were put on the plane from united states to chicago.
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they have someone in the arabian peninsula who is giving them very good information. >> john brennan, the man you know, the counter terrorism specialist over there at the white house saying the president was initially informed about this plot that was thwarted bark in april. >> now that we know that this device was recovered, putting that together with what peter was explaining to you about this saudi intelligence penetration of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. based on my experience, you've got to believe it was this penetration that would permitted intelligence initials to actually get their hands on the
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device. that's an intelligence coup for any service, but it requires one with a deep penetration into the organization. we're hearing initial reports that this plot went back to the 9/11 anniversary back in september. if the president was hearing about this and briefed in april, clearly this is much more recent than the 9/11 anniversary. this was a plot that was developing, but this is a 2012 plot, not a 2011 plot. >> i thought this may have been in coordination with bin laden's death which was may 1, and if the president had been briefed, it could have been connected to the anniversary of bin laden's death. >> i'm always skeptical of these notions of tying things to anniversaries. while we have always worried about that in the counter terrorism communities, we have not found that to be the case. this one was different, i think people did worry that it's not
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to recognize an anniversary, but to -- >> what are you hearing from your sources here in washington. >> information is coming in right now, but it's an initial, obviously the u.s. is trying to as fran said, launch it as a success. >> it clearly is a success. >> obviously. but at the same time i think they want to double down and continue this cooperation with the saudis, but with the yemenis, who just left office recently, he was a key terrorism -- that cooperation with the enemy wouldn't be as great. right now al qaeda in the arab peninsula in myemen and they hae been making a lot of inroads, so they're actively fighting it too. i think the u.s. wants to take this and move further to enhance their operation. >> i assume that the u.s. or the
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yemenis have rounded up those who were involved in this plot. >> if indeed the hiypothesihypo there's nothing in this reporting so far, that al qaeda is actually building these devices is either dead or captured. >> so your sense it was a combination of saudi assistance, yemeni assistance in effect helping the united states avoid this plot? >> you've studied this for 15, 20 years, how big of a deal is this plot, if in fact it is as bill. >> let's take the report of? group, they failed to kill the top saudi counter terrorism official, they almost succeeded. they failed to get the cargo planes to blow up with the most
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recent set of bombings and these things seem to be kind of a disaster. if you look from that perspective, they're not getting anything through with any success. >> jessica yellin is standing by our chief white house correspondent, we got the statement from the nfc, the national security council. >> reporter: i heard you raise with fran townsend that this could have been timed to coincide with osama bin laden's death. i was informed by a counter terrorism official that that is not the case, they're confident that this was not timed to coincide with osama bin laden's death. in this statement, i was assured that there was never a threat to the public. so the statement actually says that the president was assured by brennan that the device did not pose a threat to the public, but he still asked the department of homeland security to take whatever steps necessary
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to guard against this type of attack. they are hailing it, counter terrorism officials, as lisa say, as a great compliment and american capabilities have improved enormously since september 11. i asked if al qaeda has i roded since september 11. but they said it's how far america has come in the prevention of terrorism. >> it seems to be a contradiction of sorts that the statement says while the president was assured that the device did not pose a threat to the public, he direct the department of hometown security agencies to do whatever it can do guard against these kind of attacks. is that just an abundance of caution that that west out? >> to reassure that there's
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nothing else out there, but that this ied was not a threat to the public at any time. i'm curious what your reaction, paul, is to this? >> i think this shows al qaeda with a serious intent to target american aviation. they tried this several times before and this is a great -- expanding its presence in -- that expansion had given them access to chemicals, access to more money and had made them more capable of attacking the united states. this probably would appear as the strongest group and the working hypothesis is that a bombmaker who's very well versed in making explosiveses was the mastermind of this group.
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>> the belief is he's in yemen? >> he's still at large, he's still there and we have heard from some regional security sources that he's been training other people in the group to learn how to build these sorts of explosives. they used a white powdery explosion called petn. and this is an explosive that they can get through security scans at airports. >> let's stay on top of the breaking news a plot thwarted by the united states, maybe with help from yemen and saudi arabia as well to blow up an american bound airliner in yemen with some soft fest indicated equipment. we'll take a quick break, we'll return to the breaking news right after this. last season was the gulf's best tourism season in years.
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the following breaking news, the dramatic news indeed of a plot to blow up an airliner, bound for the united states, a plot thwarted by the u.s. in cooperation we believe by yemeni authorities and perhaps saudi authorities as well. the president was informed by a plot by his counter terrorism advisor last month. i'll ahead a statement just coming in. an improvised explosive decide designed to carry out a terrorist attack has been seized abroad. the fbi currently has poh selssn of the ied and it's conducted technical and forensics analysis
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on it. initial exploitation says the device is very similar to devices used previously al qaeda in the arabian peninsula against aircraft and for targeted assassinations, the device never presented a threat to public safety and the u.s. government is working closely with international partners to address associated concerns with the device. the state index referred, this is the -- homeland security including the transportation security administration regarding ongoing security measures to safe yard the midwestern people, th midwestern -- american people. just coming into the station room, a statement from the department of homeland security. we have no specific credible information regarding an active terrorist plot against the united states at this time,
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although, we continue to monitor al qaeda. since this ied demonstrates our enemy's desire to target the aviation sector, these layers include threat and vulnerability analysis, prescreening and screening of passengers, using the best technology, random screening at airports and additional security members both seen and unseen. the dhs statements ask, dhs will continue to work with our local, international and private sector partners to identify pro-techive threats, as always we encourage security officials as well as the general public to maintain vigilance as well as specific
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activity to the appropriate authorities. we now have three official statements from the u.s. government, statements are the white house and a statement from the homeland security and a statement from the fbi as well. nic robertson has spent a long time studying these terrorist operations including explosive devices, what do you make of all these devices unfolding right now? >> i think it seems very clear, without using the words petn, that white powder based highly explosive, that the fbi is indirectly or almost directly making reference to when they talking about targeted assassination. i think we are dealing with petn here. it takes, wolf, just tend of this pen, that is enough
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explosive you could put in there to blow a hole in this wooden table top in front of me. so you get an idea that it takes only a tiny amount of this explosive, which is why this is so troublesome to protect. we are able to detect this substance. but it is very, very difficult. sniffer dogs aren't able to detect it. a tiny amount that can cause devastating damage to the fuselage of -- it seems to be the fact that ibrahim al qaeda bombmaker still thinks he's got the right model to continue to pursue. what i find interesting here in this analysis, is that president obama heard about it in late april, that this plot was disrupted we understand sometime last week. which gives an indication that counter terrorism officials,
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operatives on the ground maybe have be able to take greater advantage of chains of information and connection and personalities on the ground than they were able to with that printer bomb tip-off. the printer bomb accept off came when those printer bombs were already on board aircrafts leaving yemen. so here, this is not only a strike against catching a bomb and learning about the materials, but it's also a great strike against the whole network that was putting the bomb together, wolf. >> and you remember that video, and which showed it to our viewers, many times that, so-called underwear bomber would have been able to do, and there it is right there, potentially if it had worked if he was trying to destroy that plane. this is obviously a very, very worrisome development. let me bring frank townsend back into this discussion.
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do you have any sense when the actual plot was thwarted? >> we don't really, wolf, what we're hearing is that it was in the last week and that was the reason that as this information began to seep out, people were asked by the white house and the intelligence community not to talk about it. so my sense is that they're trying to keep a lid on it until they could complete the investigations. >> the u.s. now is in possession of this ied, and it's conducting technical or forensics analysis on it. this improvised explosive device. >> our country's bomb i they keep a lot of information about past bombs that they have
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ammized. so the cartaridge bomb, the underwear bomb, they'll look for signatures, they'll look for hallmarks, is it pten, is sit the same construction? what are the technical sort of forensics of the bomb 507bd how it would have worked and can you trace it back to a single bombmaker like a theory in yemen. >> we're expecting leon panetta to take questions in a few minutes, presumably he'll be asked about it, we'll go to the pentagon live, we'll take a quick break, continuing the breaking news right after this. all energy development comes with some risk,
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all right, we're following the news, breaking news this hour for our viewers just tuning into "the situation room," cnn has learned that the homeland security was able to thwart a terrorism plot. we're told the plot involved an al qaeda affiliate in yemen. it included an explosive device that was recovered, a device similar to past bomb attempts, linked to al qaeda. including the failed attack by the so-called underwear bomber back on christmas day 2009. the yemeni official says that it's government was made aware the would be bomber had not pick
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ed the airliner plot, the christmas day underwear bombing plot, though it was described as being in the same category, clearly showing al qaeda in the arabian prince.
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the underwear bomber was wearing the bomb for two weeks, until he got on the flight from amsterdam. is this bombmaker becoming better 59 making these devices? >> because as you know. paul, the fbi put on a statement saying the fbi currently has possession of the ied, the improvised explosive device. but it was clearly designed, this ied to go with the suicide bomber, on an airliner, and
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we're told an air liner headed for the united states, but the entire plot was thwarted. give me your sense. >> it does and it will be interesting to find out whether again this is saudi arabia and counter terrorism fought back in october 2010. it was saudi arabia to provided the key information which allowed western authorities to intercept two explosive packages that were heading eventually towards the united states in cargo jets. so the saudis in 2010 played a very ki role. they have an inspeformant netwo. we'll obviously find out a lot more in the hours to come, wolf. >> our own brian todd, over these years has done extensive reporting. i know you're looking into what's going on right now. give us some context of what you
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have learned over the years. >> wolfe, can you hear me okay? >> we hear you, brian, go ahead and give us some context, you're live on tv right now, brian, i know you have done a lot of work on these suicide bombers over the years. >> reporter: right, wolf, which have taken a look at how they get these bombs implanted in their bodies and we have talked to doctors and terrorism experts about how they might do that. we did some background research on that. u.s. security officials tell cnn of a chilling tactic terrorists might try next. targeting commercial aircraft by implanting bombs inside attackers. >> we are seeing the evolution of what terrorists are starting to do to circumvent our security
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layers and perhaps defeat societal norms. >> terrorists have a renewed interest in planting bombs in bodies. one man suspected of having involvement in this plot is ibrahims a syria. i asked israel's former security official about surgically implanted bombs. what does this tell you about where the security -- >> we have exhausted the technology available to us. because there's no way we can take the next step off the body scanners, to figure out when a person carries a device inside his body. >> those full body scanners
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which we once tested out, can see through clothing, can find prosthesis, but cannot detect bombs inside the body. do you need a hospital to do this? >> the fundamental question is going to be how well you want to do it. if you want to do it to 20 people and have one success, that would be easier, you can do that sloppy, but if you wanted to do it well and expect them all to maintain sterile and not cause infections. >> explosives, he says, could be placed in the abdomen or elsewhere. the doctor said an explosive could be planted in a prosthetic device, like a fake hip. he says a nonsophisticated bomb could stay inside the body for
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three or four days before complications set n experts disagree whether a bomb inside a 3w0ed would need an external detonator to -- brian todd, cnn, washington. and once again we're following the breaking news, the breaking news coming in, we're getting statements from fbi, the department of homeland security, the white house announcing that the u.s. together with allies have thwarted an attack, a plot that could have potentially blown up an airliner bound for the united states. much more coming up. we're also monitoring what defense secretary leon panetta is saying in a press conference. to understand why, we journeyed to africa, where their wild ancestor was born. there we discovered that cats,
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the following breaking news coming from from the arabian peninsula. an fbi says they have actually retrieved the improvised explosive device designed to, in their words, carry out a terrorist attack. the white house says that president obama was informed by his counter terrorism -- there's a statement coming in from the department of homeland security saying that the ied, our adversaries interest in targeting the aviation sector. let's go to our pentagon correspondent chris lawrence, i know you're actually monitoring a news conference that leon
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panetta is having. chris, what else are you learning? >> reporter: we are getting some information from a counter terrorism official who said after taking a look at the device, it is clearly nonmetallic, but was clearly designed for a suicide bomber to use in an aviation attack. this person who has taken a look or who has knowledge of this device says it is different than the one that was used in that attempted underwear bombing on christmas day in 2009. but it's in the same category, and what it shows to him is that al qaeda in the arraiabian peninsula -- we'll have to see as more information comes out about this device, but clearly it underscores what counter terrorism advisor john brennan said just last month when he called out the very, very
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dangerous. he put al qaeda in yemen to 1,000. compared to the al qaeda in afghanistan, which is only 100. that gives you an idea why almost everyone we speak to here at the pentagon ch. >> does the u.s. military, as far as you know, have any u.s. military personnel on the ground in yes, ma'am man? we know there are 19,000 al qaeda troops in afghanistan, but what about in yemen? >> there is -- counter terrorism training, things like that, nowhere near, near the amount that obviously that would be in afghanistan. so a very limited number. but there was a big development in that relationship between theist and yemen, just within the last month, wolf, because u.s. officials tell us that both
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the cia and the u.s. military have been granted the authority to use drone strikes in yemen -- when they are going after these suspected al qaeda fighters. >> there are many bases in northern africa, and around the region, where those drone strikes are operated. a lot of it depends on whether you're talking about the u.s. military or the cia. >> very sensitive stuff indeed. chris, thanks very much. we'll go to london, nic robertson is working his sources as well. we'll take a quick break and check in with nic on the other side. everyone in america depends on the postal service. i get my cancer medications through the mail. now washington, they're looking at shutting down post offices
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a plan to blow up an airliner has been thwarted. the u.s. has been able to cover the improvised explosive device.
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it looks like they're getting potentially more sophisticated. these bombmakers, of al qaeda and the arabian peninsula. it seems like they're getting more -- to potentially thwart screeners or whatever. >> last summer i sat down with the then vice president al hadi who's now the president of yemen. last summer he told me of al qaeda, because of the sort of verging on civil war in mem -- they have been able to take control of the capital, we were down in the south and at this stage we were seeing tens of thousands of people forced out of that town by al qaeda. so al qaeda isn't a group there that is just hiding away in the mountains, yes some of them are, but they're also out in the open, living life larger than
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they are elsewhere, and they're claiming to have access to more chemicals, what they describe s as -- the reality is that al qaeda and yemen's problem is that they may have the space and they may have the no how, but it's getting the bombs out of the yemen. we saw the attempted underwear bomb, the printer bombs 2010. nothing we're aware of in 2011. the country was in chaos, maybe it's now an indication that the country is beginning to settle down a little bit again. they're taking advantage of the situation being able to build this other bomb, so it's not highly productive, but they're a challenge, their challenge is to get their bombs out of the country somewhere else. the concern is that ultimately
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they may put them in boats, send them across the sea, the gulf of aiden to the east coast of africa. this is a concern and that is a focus as well. this is perhaps the ace in our pocket that they can make the bombs, they're just having trouble getting them out of there right now. >> how good is the cooperation between the new yemeni government to provide solace to the united states? >> i think the fact that they have expanded the sort of drone strike capability, what can and can't be targeted. >> hold on a second, because leon panetta is now asking a question on these developments. >> person in custody and what kind of a threat is this?
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>> it's been translated into chinese because the chinese defense minister was there, but the secretary was asked about this latest development, this ied that's now been recovered by the united states in yemen, an ied, an improvised explosive device that was supposed to be carrying to the united states by a suicide bomber. as soon as the translation ends, panetta will answer the question posed by an american journalist.
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>> translator: i'll responsibility to the first question. i would like to do that.break. on the other side we'll hear what the defense secretary has to say about the thwarted plot to try to blow up a u.s. bound air liner. schools flourish and students blossom. that's why programs like... ...the mickelson exxonmobil teachers academy... ...and astronaut sally ride's science academy are helping our educators improve student success in math and science. let's shoot for the stars. let's invest in our teachers and inspire our students. let's solve this.
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we're opinioning to monitor leon panetta, the defense secretary and waiting for him to answer by question and we expect it to happen shortly on this thwarted plot to blow up a u.s. bound air liner, thwarted in yemen allegedly by al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. it was a new type of improvise the explosive device that did not contain any metal. we'll go to the pent go an and hear from leon panetta in a moment. mary snow is monitoring the other top stories including vladimir putin returning. >> he was sworn in two months after winning back the job amid allegations of widespread election fraud and he was
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president for eight years before stepping down due to term limits in 2008 and then became prime minister under his hand-picked success successor. with the newly constitution he could remain in power until 2024, apparently the longest of any russian leader since stal lin. the medical examiner completed the autopsy of a body of a stable worker found in the back of a barn at churchill downs one day after they hosted the legendary kentucky derby. the results won't be made public until after the investigation is complete. they say several altercations occurred at the track this weekend and it is unclear if they're related. spirit airlineses is doing an about face after coming under pressure for refusing to re tuned a plane ticket to a dying vietnam vet. the airline's ceo apologized to jerry and says he will refund the $197 particularet and donate $5,000 to wounded warriors. the charity that he supports. >> mary, thanks very much.
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we're waiting for the defense secretary to answer by ae about this thwarted plot to blow up a u.s. bound air liner and as soon as he does we'll go there live.
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much more on the thwarted bomb plot to try to destroy an air liner bound for the united states coming up at the top of the hour. britain's prince harry is now in washington and our own brian todd is at the british embassy watching what's going on. update the viewers. >> reporter: we're getting ready for prince harry to did he part the embassy here for the ritz-carlton hotel where he will accept an important award later tonight and he may depart through the gates there. there is security personnel at the gates behind me. this is a very short visit for prince harry to washington, just a few hours in duration, but it is a very important visit for him as the royal palace tries to enhance the image as one of an evolving young man. >> brian, we're going to interrupt because lee object pa net is aspeaking about the thwart the bomb attack. >> what this incident makes clear is that this country has to continue to remain vigilant
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against those that would seek to attack this country and we will do everything necessary to keep america safe. so there you have a brief statement from leon panetta responding to a question leon panetta, the defense secretary confirming what we have now known and following for the last couple hours, there has been a thwarted plot, a plot to go ahead and try to take down a u.s. bound air liner, a plot that included annum proceed vised explosive device. we have been following the breaking news. much more coming up here on cnn. that's it for me. thanks for watching. i am wolf blitz inner "the situation room." the breaking news continues next on cnn. >> good evening. i am