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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  November 16, 2012 1:00pm-4:00pm PST

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all ten will be honored live on december 2nd at our cnn heroes and all-star tribute hosted by our very own anderson cooper. that's it for me. i'm going to hand it over now to my friend wolf blitzer in "the situation room." don, thanks very much. happening now, fighting between israel and hamas militants gets more explosive with an attack that could help turn the conflict into a full fledged ground war. also, david petraeus emerges from the shadow of the scandal to testify before congress. did he clear up confusion about the attack on the u.s. diplomats in benghazi? and another high-profile republican now running away from mitt romney after he tried to blame his loss on so-called gifts from president obama. james carville and ari fleischer, they are here this hour. we're going to talk about the gop's hand wringing and back stabbing. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
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hamas militants -- [ gunfire ] -- there they are. hamas militants in gaza keep unleashing rocket attacks on israel and get alarmingly close to jerusalem. a new provocation as they continue the air assault on what it calls terrorist targets in za. the death toll i rising along wiars of anall-out israeli ground invasion. the israeli cabinet has just approved the call-up of 75,000 army reservists in addition to the troops already positioned along the border with gaza. a visit to gaza by egypt's prime minister failed to stop the bombardment and pull the region from the brink of all-out war. u.s. officials blame hamas for
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starting this conflict. but they are also urging to be measured in its response. the defense secretary leon panetta says israel and the palestinians need to negotiate a more permanent piece -- his words, a more permanent piece in the region. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr's been watching what's going on. barbara, what is the u.s. military most concerned about right now? >> wolf, as they watch that call-up of 75,000 israeli reservists, that is the concern. is this leading to a ground war? we've talked to officials here who say the major concern israel will move in on the ground. and that will be a significant escalation that will reverberate throughout the region. so here's the calculation. how far will hamas go in continuing its rocketed mortar attacks into israel? they know that if they pull back, the israelis presumably will pullback and this dangerous escalation can be avoided.
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if there is a ground war, if israeli troops cross that border, the tanks and troops, and go into gaza, the next concern is what egypt will do. egypt's new government very fragile. will it feel the pressure to move? will it come into sanai, all of this now at the end of a long week in washington. >> diplomats in the region and around the world are working hard behind the scenes to stop this from becoming an all-out war. what are you hearing? >> wolf, you mentioned defense secretary panetta traveling in asia. all that way, made the phone call to ehud barak, the israeli defense minister, to talk about the secretary of state hillary clinton firing up the diplomatic phone lines. look at who she's been talking to in the last few days. she's been talking of course to the israelis, the egyptians, the jordanians, the turks, everyone in the region to see what can be done.
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the state department spokeswoman, victoria nuland today also hitting the message hard, de-escalation. listen to what she had to say. >> in all cases her message has been the same, that we are urging a de-escalation of this conflict. we are urging those countries with influence on hamas and other groups in gaza to use that influence to get a de-escalation. >> wolf, our correspondence as you know across the region, gaza, israel watching this every minute, wolf. >> we're watching it as well. thank you. let's go to gaza right now. palestinians say 27 people have been killed and dozens wounded in the intense bombardment by israeli forces from the air and from the sea. cnn's sarah sidner is in gaza city for us. sarah, update our viewers. what's going on? >> reporter: we've been hearing this place pounded by air strikes. and we have also seen with our
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own eyes just behind me rockets from inside the city of gaza towards israel. so it is still continuing today in a very severe way. another round of air strikes and a few rockets coming out from gaza towards israel. we went around the city today for the first time we sort of got out into the city trying to see and talk to people who have been affected by these air strikes and trying to figure out where these rockets are coming from. i can tell you when i came out of the hotel this morning -- and we only got about a couple hours sleep because all night long there were huge bombardments. we were seeing our windows rattling. we had to crouch down, my photographer and i, had to crouch down in the room trying to get information out to cnn. once we got outside in daylight in the morning and in the afternoon when we looked to the sky you could see tons and tons, dozens of trails from smoke from the rockets that had left gaza city.
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you could also see black smoke from the air strikes. we saw damage to a home in particular. and we also saw the prime minister of egypt visiting. and what we saw there was quite an emotional scene because he went to the hospital where he met the family and saw a young boy who had been killed in an air strike. we went and found that family and we wanted to talk to them about what happened. we talked to the aunt. their home is riddled with shrapnel. it's pockmarked with elements from the bomb. and we also know this young boy 4 years old was outside playing with his friends when the bomb fell. and that is how he died. we did not see any military activity in the area, but we certainly did notice that in the skies in the neighborhood next to the area there appear to be some rockets coming from there. and then of course we heard the sounds of planes and more air strikes. it has been a very devastating day as you might imagine for the civilians living here
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particularly because we do know that there are dozens now of civilians who have been injured and more who have been killed. so far that number nows 29 . h eifth hildsr sf th rockets stop coming into israel from gaza, their air strikes -- their strikes from the sea will stop as well. i know you've had an opportunity to speak with some hamas representatives. is there any indication they are going to stop shelling israel with these rockets or missiles? >> reporter: you know, wolf, it's such a catch-22 because it depends on when you say this all got started. they say as long as the air strikes keep happening, they're going to keep sending rockets over. both sides saying they're both going to defend ourselves. both sides saying we have a right to defend our civilian population. and really the civilians getting caught in the middle. i sat down with the deputy foreign minister last night of
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hamas. and i asked him, why do you keep sending rockets into civilian areas? and he said, we keep having civilians hurt as well. said why are you asking me a question like that. he said, look, as long as we keep getting hit, we are going to hit back. and it is very difficult situation. it's a situation where you're wondering which side is going to say enough is enough. and usually there has to be a mediator between these two places, gaza usually and israel, use egypt as that mediator. but in seeing the prime minister here who we thought would come in and try to broker some kind of a truce or a cease-fire and then seeing the images there and then seeing him leave and hearing all of the rockets leave and then the subsequent air strikes, it just seems like a very difficult situation. and we're just not getting an agreement on either side that they will stop sending rockets from here and stop sending air strikes into gaza. a hard situation, wolf. and we're not going to see the
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end at least today. >> all right. sara, we'll get back to you. i know you're in a difficult situation over there, sara sidner's on the ground for us in gaza city. later here in "the situation room," we're going to hear from the palestinian authority representative here in washington. we're also going to hear from the spokesman for the israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu. lots coming up on this developing story. we're talking more about the danger of the fighting between hamas and israel. will it add instability to an already unstable middle east. fareed zakaria is standing by. [ male announcer ] nature valley sweet & salty nut bars.
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jerusalem went on high alert with sirens wailing, new
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evidence hamas has weapons that can certainly reach farther and farther right into the heart of israel. joining us now from new york, the mayor of jerusalem. mr. mayor, thanks very much for coming in. when was the last time jerusalem or at least the outskirts of jerusalem had rockets or missiles aimed at it? >> well, the threat always exists. and it's ieed coming closer. but i think what the terrorists want to do is get people terrorized. naturally i think it's -- that they're using indiscriminate fire to hit civilians. and when israel says enough is enough and we're going after targeted of the people that are using terror against us, now they're saying that there's an excuse or there are reasons for terror. zero tolerance for terror. zero accomplishments. zero achievements for people
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using terror. >> they're saying this is retaliation for the targeted killing by israel in that air strike of the hamas military commander. >> unlike the rockets and missiles, israel targets the people responsible is a fundamentally different philosophy. we will do everything maximum we cannot to hit civilians and people that are innocent. they do the maximum to hit people that have nothing to do with -- that are totally out of this picture. and i think it shows you the difference between the values of israel targeting people doing everything not to hit civilians and what they are doing. it's 180 degrees one from the other. >> in addition to the air strikes, the strikes from the sea, do you believe israel is now poised to launch an invasion of gaza? >> well, i think the prime minister netanyahu and the israeli government are very
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responsible. enough is enough. they understand that we got to get rid of this whole rocket attacks on israel, on innocent people. and whatever it takes, that's what israel's going to do. when hamas leaders will understand that using terror against israel will get them zero, zero accomplishments and achievements and if anything they will haunt them down wherever they are, hopefully they'll get -- their sense will come back and they will not use terror at any time against israelis. >> is your city, jerusalem, prepared for strikes, rocket or missile attacks? >> indeed i think all israel is prepared. we all understand that the terrorists have tried to terrorize us practically every city in israel in one way, shape or form, could be a target for missiles. i think that israeli public in general and of course the south are acting very responsibly with lots of spying and patience. and we are enabling the government and israeli army to
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take action. we're giving them the backup they need. and i believe in the government and israeli army that will eventually cut these people short and stop the violence against us. >> i want you to listen to what former senator george mitchell who was the u.s. envoy during the obama administration who tried to get israeli/palestinian peace talks off the ground. that didn't happen. what he told us earlier in the day, listen to this. >> what's happened in the past is when the damage gets so great, one side or the other, pulls back and stops. or when the possibility of a much wider conflict emerges, people tend to stop. i think the probleis that you just keep the cycle going unless you address ro causes. anat th is getting the parties into negotiations to try to resolve the underlying conflict. >> all right. what do you think? you agree with him? >> well, there are some palestinians that are willing to talk. but not to hamas.
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the hamas believe in their charters the destruction of israel. and they will use the people that do want to speak from the palestinians to get any accomplishment they can and use their terror and their viciousness to try and wipe us off the map. these are not people you can speak to. unfortunately, they're using force and try to achieve accomplishments through force. and these people have to be very, very clearly addressed. zero tolerance. zero accomplishments to the people terrorizing israel. >> one final question, do you expect a full-scale war in the days ahead? >> i think israel's prepared to do that if necessary. and i recommend the other side to think twice as to how they want to continue this crisis. israel will do whatever it takes and i trust my government and benjamin netanyahu to do the right thing. >> the mayor of jerusalem nir barkat.
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thank you for coming in. >> thank you. later we'll get a representative of the palestinian organization. we'll talk about the danger that fighting between israel and hamas will spread including unrest in syria, concerns about iran. how quickly could things get completely out of control, among other cnn's fareed zakaria will speak with us as well. to help those affected and to cover cleanup costs. today, the beaches and gulf are open, and many areas are reporting their best tourism seasons in years. and bp's also committed to america. we support nearly 250,000 jobs and invest more here than anywhere else. we're working to fuel america for generations to come. our commitment has never been stronger. two. three. my credit card rewards are easy to remember. with the bankamericard cash rewards credit card, i earn 1% cash back everywhere,
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jerusalem and tel aviv targeted by rocket fire, bombs falling in gaza at the same time. george mitchell is the former special envoy for the obama administration for the middle east peace process. take a listen to what he said earlier on cnn about a potential
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all-out war in the region. >> and the danger now is that if it is, it could spread. not just the damage to israelis and palestinians, but if you had a conflict that spreads throughout the region, it could be hugely destabilizing and costly to everyone involved. >> fareed zakaria's joining us now. he's the host of cnn's fareed zakaria gps. fareed, you heard what george mitchell is saying, his experience in the region, do you believe there's a real possibility this could turn out to be an all-out war? >> no. i don't. i think that at the end of the day, keep in mind, israel has the most powerful military in the region by far. this provides enormous deterrent capacity by which the president of egypt might make fiery speeches, the president of turkey might say some emotional things. none of them are going to risk taking on the israeli military. so i think the reality is you'll see a very lopsided contest
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between the most powerful military in the middle east and gaza and hamas who have some few hundred rockets. it's going to raise political tensions. it's going to make it much harder to see how israel ever gets to a comprehensive peace, ever able to negotiate with the palestinians. all those things remain true. but at the end of the day, issues of war and peace these countries like egypt and turkey are very, very careful and they will not foolishly go into something like that. >> but as you heard the israelis, they're mobilizing, they're activating about 75,000 military reservists right now. and they're threatening to actually launch a ground invasion into gaza. do you anticipate that? >> that might well happen because the israeli military, they tend to have a kind of militaryact logicere tha you have paid the price, you might as well clean up this
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infrastructure. the problem is we've literally seen this movie before. the israelis have done this before it. doesn't work in the long run. they tried to embargo hamas and gaza and choke it off. that hasn't worked. israel has to move beyond the kind of tactical military strategy towards gaza to a broader political one which is what are they going to do here? this is one of the true hell holes of the world. is it possible they will just continue unendingly to have this continued di fes to, or is there some possibility of creating an alternate track where gaza is shown the benefits of modern middle class life just the way the west bank has. and you notice in the west bank there's much less extremism, much less terrorism coming out of the west bank. maybe there's some path that they can go on. i agree it's difficult because they're getting rockets fired at them. but we've seen the military approach. it hasn't worked so far. >> let me switch gears but stay
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in the region, iraq right now. senator john mccain he was furious today when he got word that hezbollah terrorist who's been under u.s. arrest now iraqi arrest is about to be freed. i want you to listen to what senator mccain had to say. >> we've received information that the iraqi government has released a guy who has flown to lebanon who is responsible for the deaths of five americans. this is an outrage. families of those who were killed by this terrorist cause to be outraged and appropriate action should be taken as to regards with our relations with the iraqi government. >> he's talking about al ali mussa daqduq. when the u.s. pulled out, fareed, they were assured by the government in baghdad he would not be freed. he has now been freed. it's raising all sorts of
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questions about where the government of baghdad is going right now. what's your assessment? >> my view, wolf, is that we made a mistake right from the start. the bush administration decided the easiest way to deal with iraq was essentially to hand over the central government to hard line shia groups. we made the decision knowing many of these guys spent decades in iran, were receiving funding from iran. that's who we have. we have a hardline shiite government in iraq, in baghdad. the obama administration tried to alter that, they tried to get mr. awlawi who is kind of a moderate in there, now we're seeing the fruits of that initial decision. the government in baghdad is not particularly responsive to the united states. it hasn't been on syria, it hasn't been on these issues.
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i think it would be an exaggeration -- a gross exaggeration to say it's a pawn of iran. but it's certainly true that they do not take america's concerns particularly seriously. and they have their own internal reasons for doing things that are often quite sectarian. and we're stuck with the situation. i don't know that there's much we can do. but i share senator mccain's outrage. >> a lot of people do right now. they're wondering what's going on in iraq. fareed, thanks very much for coming in. we really appreciate it. >> pleasure, wolf. don't forget to tune in to fareed zakaria gps, it airs every sunday here on cnn 10:00 a.m. eastern and 1:00 p.m. eastern as well. david petraeus returns to capitol hill for the first time since his shocking resignation as the cia chief. what he's now telling lawmakers about the attack in libya that killed a u.s. ambassador and three other americans. wç?q9iuó
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exactly one week after a surprise resignation as cia director, david petraeus was on capitol hill this morning. he was testifying behind closed doors. we're now hearing what he told the senate and house intelligence committees about the deadly attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi, libya. our senior congressional correspondent dana bash has been watching what's going on. what are you hearing, dana? what did petraeus have to say? >> reporter: one of the main reasons they wanted him to come here because he took a trip to libya and he hadn't had a chance to come here and brief lawmakers on. but another was to try to clear up -- i emphasize try, some confusion about intelligence especially in the days after the attack. cameras were ready before dawn hoping to catch a glimpse of david petraeus coming to brief lawmakers about the deadly attack in benghazi one week after resigning in disgrace. petraeus came, but tho one saw
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h him. he went behind those doors without anybody seeing him. in fact, the committee for some reason decided to protect him and they really had to go to great lengths to sneak him in. lawmakers admit they protected petraeus because he agreed to come voluntarily with the hope of clearing up confusion about intelligence in the days after september's deadly attack. but petraeus' testimony didn't seem to clear much up, especially whether he downplayed information about terrorist involvement. >> the clear impression we were given was that the overwhelming amount of evidence was that it was rose out of spontaneous demonstration and was not a terrorist attack. >> reporter: that was the republican reaction. democrats insist petraeus has been consistent. >> it's all about your perception and the information you receive. he also said in the group there were extremists and some al qaeda affiliates. and that was said in the beginning. >> reporter: the most
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politically charged controversy is over u.n. ambassador susan rice's comments five days after the attack. why she blamed it on benghazi demonstrations, officials now say didn't even happen. and why she didn't mention terrorist forces? intelligence officials now believe actually targeted the u.s. consulate there. democrats emerge saying the answer was simple, she was using these unclassified cia talking points which omitted mention of extremist elements because it was still classified and could have compromised intelligence sources. >> she used the unclassified talking points that were signed off on by the entire intelligence community, so criticisms of her are completely unwarranted. >> reporter: democrats accuse republicans of unnecessarily assassinating rice's character. >> to select ambassador rice because she used an unclassified talking point, to say that she
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is unqualified to be secretary of state i think is a mistake. >> reporter: but republicans say the problem is rice freelanced. >> she went beyond that. and she even mentioned that under the leadership of barack obama we have decimated al qaeda. well, she knew at that point in time that al qaeda was very likely responsible in part or in whole for the death of ambassador stevens. >> reporter: now, wolf, our intrepid photographers and producers did finally get a picture just of general petraeus' car leaving at the end of the five hours that he was here, the five hours he was here for the house and senate intelligence briefings. during that you might want to know whether or not the whole question of his affair and resignation came up. we're told that it did, particularly at the beginning of the house intelligence briefing. the chairman said point-blank, do you feel that you're comfortable doing this given what happened? and he said, yes.
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and he also made the case that he did not resign because of anything having to do with benghazi. and one last thing i can tell you is i asked peter king the congressman whether it was awkward given the state of play right now with general petraeus. and he said, sure it was awkward particularly because so many people in the room know him well and have long time had respect for him. >> i'm sure it was very, very awkward. dana, thanks very much. let's dig a little deeper right now into the controversy including the controversy flaring around the u.s. ambassador of the u.n. susan rice what she said five days after the attack about the benghazi attack. let's discuss in our strategy session joining us cnn contributors democratic strategist james carville and former bush white house press secretary ari fleischer. ari, is it fair to go after susan rice like this? >> i don't think it's a question go after or don't go after, but she did attribute this to the video, she did working off of intelligence say something that was incomplete. and of course as we learned in that famous second debate, the president apparently did declare
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this specific attack as terrorist the day after the attack took place. so if the president could do it one day after, why was she saying something totally different five days after? >> would it be wise, james, for the president to go ahead and nominate here to be hillary clinton's successor as secretary of state? >> if that's what he wants to do, he should. i mean, she's been a long distinguished career as a diplomat. she's now u.n. ambassador. she's obviously imminently qualified. she was talking off of the talking points. i guess you could criticize the administration to put the u.n. ambassador out on something that really wasn't in her chain of command or line of duty and probably wasn't the most knowledgeable person to be saying that. that would be a fair criticism. but disqualifying her from secretary of state doesn't seem to amount to anything to me. like i say, she can go before congress and testify if she's nominated. i'm sure she'll do a great job.
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she's a very, very experienced diplomat. >> you know, the comparison's been made, ari, tell me if you think it's a fair comparison, the senate confirmed condoleezza rice as secretary of state even though she had talking points about so-called weapons of mass destruction in iraq that were really never there. she talked from those talking points, but she was confirmed. is that a fair comparison? >> well, a couple points. one, if the democratic argument today is as they're saying that if you rely on what the cia says, then what you've done is proper. i think they owe a lot of people in the bush administration an apology because that's exactly what we did repeating what the cia said about wmds. as for the confirmation of secretary of state, i think the one difference and this is pending, is the mistake that was made in the bush administration was fully investigated and it was revealed that the cia did get it wrong. we still don't know who's right and who's wrong here in this instance about whether or not there was a video that was blamed or why the administration
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blamed it on the video. we still don't have full information. the investigation's underwap about what happened, what was said, why it was said and who got it right, who got it wrong. so that's the difference, wolf. we did learn from one instance. and people had that information in hand when they voted to confirm. we don't have that yet. >> i think that the administration pick probably the -- to head an investigation. i think general petraeus has already testified, the head of counterterrorism has testified, the secretary of state is going to testify in december, i think the administration has been very, very, very forthcoming. i don't recall, maybe i'm wrong, anybody appointing somebody to look into weapons of mass destruction the day after we discovered that -- but they really appointed a top hand to look into this. and we will find out what it is. i suspect -- and by the way i suspect we can find out we're going to find out people made some mistakes. i don't think there's much doubt about that.
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>> all right. hold on, guys. hold on because we have more to discuss. i want both of you to keep -- stay with us right now because we're going to talk about a member of mitt romney's campaign team who now says romney lost because latinos are scared of republicans. we're learning about a new group being formed to try to solve that problem for the gop. [ male announcer ] it's that time of year again.
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we're watching a new republican to scramble to get
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some distance from mitt romney and reach out to voting groups he alienated. carlos gutierrez was in charge of latino outreach for mitt romney. and he's very disturbed right now about the party's failure to winover hispanic voters. now he wants to do something concrete about it. listen to what he said on cnn's "state of the union" right here after the election. >> i would lay the blame squarely on the far right wing of the republican party. as i talk to latinos, the insight that i got was that latinos were scared. it wasn't the economy and immigration -- they were scared of the republican party. and i think fear is what did us in. >> let's bring in our chief political correspondent candy crowley, the anchor of "state of the union." candy, you've since spoken with carlos gutierrez. and he made an announcement that's going to be on your show.
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>> he did. he's telling us that he's going to form a super pac with a co-founder restore our future, which was a pro-mitt romney pack that was headed by a guy named charlie. the two are putting together a super pac to back republican candidates who support immigration reform with, you know, call it amnesty, call it a pathway to citizenship, whatever, to find a way to legalize undocumented workers who are here now and put them on that pathway to citizenship. so it's a super pac. it's interesting simply because charlie spees in that pac he did for mitt romney during the primary season hit both newt gingrich and rick perry for being soft and promoting amnesty. but this pac will support those republican candidates who want to find a pathway to citizenship. >> it's a way to potentially reach out and bring some hispanic voters into the gop. he also had some sharp words, i take it, about mitt romney and the comment he made after the
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of the so-called gifts he gave to his constituents. >> right. and among those who romney said received these gifts were african-americans and hispanics. and this was something that clearly pained carlos gutierrez. he's interesting to talk to now because he really, you there's sort of this sense of freedom like i'm going to say i think latinos are scared of republicans. but he also doesn't have any problem now criticizing mitt romney and the way he is talking about things and that includes his recent gift statement. i was shocked. and frankly i don't think that's why the republicans lost the elections, why we lost the election. i think we lost the election because the far right of this party has taken the party to a place that it doesn't belong. we are the party of prosperity, of growth, of tolerance.
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these immigrants who come across and what they do wrong is they risk their lives and they come here and work because they want to be part of the american dream. that is what the gop is. >> you know, wolf, gutierrez says he cringes when he hears the word illegal aliens. he says i understand that, but if you're latino -- this isn't just about latinos, everyone who has come into this country for wanting to better themselves that don't have papers. it just hits very hard when you're called an illegal alien. he prefers undocumented workers. as do a number of people. this is clearly somebody who is trying to get in the forefront of reshaping how the party both speaks to minorities including hispanics but the policies. >> he's a very smart guy carlos gutierrez. the full interview at 9:00 a.m. and at noon. you have the ranking member of the house intelligence committee on as well.
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we'll be watching as we always do. >> thanks. >> thank you. mitt romney has certainly sparked a lot of controversy with what he's been saying about the loss to president obama. now one of his major supporters, the new jersey governor chris christie, guess what? he's lashing out at romney as well. anncr: some politicians seem to think medicare and...
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social security are just numbers in a budget. well, we worked hard for those benefits. we earned them. and if washington tries to cram decisions about the future... of these programs into a last minute budget deal... we'll all pay the price. aarp is fighting to protect seniors with responsible... solutions that strengthen medicare and... social security for generations to come. we can do better than a last minute deal... that would hurt all of us.
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let's get back to our strategy session. joining us once again our cnn contributors, democratic strategist james carville and former bush white house press secretary ari fleischer. they've really been weighing in reacting republicans to what mitt romney has said about the so-called gifts the president gave his base in order to win the election. listen to the new jersey governor chris christie.
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>> can't expect to be leader of all the people and be divisive. you have to talk about themes, policies that unite people. and play to their aspirations and their goals and their hopes for their family and their neighbors. i always think this is kind of scapegoating after elections. when you lose, you lost. >> they're sort of piling on mitt romney, ari, right now. you heard from bobby jindal here in "the situation room" yesterday, chris christie, carlos gutierrez, what do you think? >> well look, i think there's an underlying point that mitt romney was trying to make. and that was that the president was going out and trying to give slices of the country different policies that he thought would be effective to help win their support. if he didn't like mitt romney, the fact we put people up to 26 on people's parents health policies, what he should have said by putting people on there every time the government gives out health care for free, it raises the cost of health care
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for everybody and actually hurts people instead of helps people. instead, when he says it's a gift for segments of our society, it makes it sound like there's something wrong with that segment of society that he's looking down or pa jortive to that segment. conservatism is uplifting. it's addition, not subtraction, the problem with his formula sounded like he was subtracting and not adding. >> james, is this an etch-a-sketch moment for the gop to really reorient themselves to win over the base minorities, women for example, hispanics, sort of like when you were working with bill clinton he moved the democrats towards the center in a key way through the dlc, became a new democrat as they called him. >> well, speaking of gifts, if mitt romney wanted to give a gift to the republican party, he'd spend the next four years in the mormon missionary in nepal. man's just got to shut up. but that's his business. look, we lost five out of six elections and then governor clinton decided for a change.
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mike tyson said everybody got a plan. they got hit in the mouth. their plan is end immigration, anti-gay stuff that's all going out the window if they've got any sense. we're going to see if somebody can bring them along that and they have to win the iowa caucuses or do well in them and take that message to south carolina. remember, their base is still sort of agitated out there. somebody's going to have to deal with that. the truth of the matter is they got hit in the mouth and going to have a new plan. >> what about that, ari? do you think it's time for a new republican, new republican orientation? >> no. but i do think there are some changes that have been to be made. first of all, the biggest factor in politics now is people's ideology. america remains right of center country. americans said they were 35% conservative, 25% liberal. we remain a center right country. conservatism is a winning message. but it's also important to include people in the party. you know, every time george bush
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said family values don't stop at the rio grande, hispanic americans knew he understood what they were going through in life. it's not just policy or immigration reform that i'm for, it's also the way you talk about people. my mother's an immigrant. we are one nation, but the pieces of that make that one nation also have important identities. and it's important for republicans to be able to connect with those identities, not push those identities away. >> ari fleischer and james carville, guys, thanks very much as always. we're going to get back to our top story at the top of the hour, new fears of an all-out war in the middle east. will that happen? we're going back live to gaza. we're going to cairo, we're going to israel. all of that right here in "the situation room." nd? ♪ announcing the all-new 2013 malibu from chevrolet. ♪ with a remarkable new interior featuring the available chevrolet mylink infotainment system. this is where sophisticated styling begins.
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here's a look at this hour's hot shots. in australia a photo of the beginning of the solar eclipse. in nigeria children swim in flooded streets. in india, a camel roams a deserted street after sunrise. and in chilchile, a solared pow car getting ready to compete. hot shots, pictures from around the world. kate bolduan is monitoring some other top stories in "the situation room" right now including a tragic ending to a parade honoring u.s. troops. what happened, kate? >> it's a horrible story, wolf. a freight train slammed into a truck carrying veterans and their spouses in a texas parade. four people died and 17 others were hurt in midland yesterday. federal authorities are investigating. initial reports show the train sounded its horn and the crossing gate and lights were working. but there are conflicting reports about whether or not the crossing arms actually were down. also, the coast guard is
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searching for two missing workers after an oil rig exploded off the coast of louisiana. eleven people were injured, workers were doing maintenance on the rig at the time. we're told it was not producing oil at the time. but 28 gallons of fuel spilled into the water. authorities don't consider it a major environmental threat though. nasa astronomers have discovered what could be the most distant galaxy in the universe. they spotted it using a combination of manmade and natural telescopes. it's only a fraction of the size of our milky way galaxy and more than 13 billion light years from earth. and it could be the end of an era. it's at least the end of the road for the makers of twinkies. hostess is going to close operations blaming a baker strike. that means the company's 18,000 employees will be laid off and assets sold to the highest bidder. popular products could be bought and produced by another company. uh-oh, very sad day for
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twinkies, wolf. >> very sad indeed, kate. thank you. and you're in "the situation room." happening now, violence in the middle east escalates despite plans for a cease-fire. just ahead, we're going live to israel where the roets are falling and tens of thousands of people right now fear for their lives. plus, tens of thousands of reservists in israel being called up as well. will israel invade gaza on the ground? we're going to show you just how deadly that scenario could be. also, could iran be on the verge of having a nuclear weapon? we have details of a disturbing new report. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." right now growing fears and
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frantic runs for cover with rockets now striking dangerously close to israel's two most populated cities. and in gaza city, this. [ gunfire ] a fiery blast at the interior ministry believed to be the work of an israeli air strike. hamas says its field commander was killed today as endless explosions rocked the city. we'll get to sara sidner inside gaza in just a second. first our senior international correspondent ben wedeman is joining us now from israel. what's it like there, ben? >> reporter: well, wolf, it's sort of surreal. we're next to a sushi restaurant that's not in any sense full, but people have been coming all evening and dining. nonetheless, just 15 kilometers south of here is the gaza strip. we've heard steady explosions coming from there as israel
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continues its campaign of air strikes. we also saw just to the north of here three streaks of light going into the sky. that is israel's iron dome system in action once again. now, of course you've heard the israeli security cabinet has authorized the call-up of 75,000 reservists in anticipation of a possible ground incursion. now, speaking to people around here, it's interesting. they are telling us that ironically they are happy that jerusalem and tel aviv came under missile strikes from gaza, happy they say because finally they feel that the rest of the country is beginning to experience what here for instance they say they've experienced for the last three days intensely. but for more than ten years. so they do seem to voice a certain strain in the israeli population that's increasingly
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fed up with this. and what residents here are telling us, wolf, is that they want the government to go in -- the israeli army to go in and finish off hamas. so there does seem to be there is a lot of support on the ground for some sort of military incursion. >> and do you see evidence of that i don't know if you've beeut towards the border with gaza or israeli troops, tanks, armored personnel carriers, are they poised? does it look like they're ready to move in? >> reporter: well, certainly there is armor on the move going towards gaza. as we saw back in 2008, 2009, it takes some time to really get the forces ready to go into gaza in that four years ago what we saw was an intense air campaign against targets in gaza preceding a ground invasion. so certainly the signs are all there. it's just a question of when it's going to happen. >> ben wedeman is on the ground
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for us just north of gaza in ashkelon, israel. let's go to israel right now. sara sidner's been watching what's going on. a constant bombardment by the air and sea by israel in gaza right now. set the scene for our viewers. are they bracing for a ground assault from israel? >> reporter: well, they're certainly worried about one. what we've been hearing is actually a lull for the past 20 minutes. but then just before you came to me, wolf, another huge bang arguably probably an air strike here. we can also hear the sounds oftentimes of the missiles coming out of gaza heading towards israel as well. we have seen the sky littered with the trail of rocket fire and also with the big black smoke from air strikes. we went to one neighborhood where a bomb had fallen and killed a child. we went to the hospital today
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where the staff there is simply overwhelmed with injured people, people coming in with things like shrapnel wounds or worse. there are doctors there who we spoke with who said they just could not believe what they were seeing. they had not seen something this bad in so many years and couldn't believe that war had come to gaza. and a lot of people have talked about this idea that no war has been declared as of yet, but for the people here in gaza they feel like war has already come to their city. >> is there any indication at all, sara -- because i know you've spoken with representatives from hamas, that they're ready to back down and stop launching rockets and missiles into israel? >> reporter: the wording that we keep hearing over and over again from the hamas leadership is that if israel stops bombarding its people, then hamas will consider stop sending rockets into israel. both sides saying that they're protecting their own people from the other. but, you know, they're sort of
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saying, look, we're going to keep bombarding places like tel av aviv, like ashkelon if our people are in danger as well. it's one of those catch-22s, who started what first. at some point someone's going to have to mediate. what we're hearing now, wolf, is an airplane overhead. usually that means within a few minutes we'll hear the sound of an air strike. we've also been hearing throughout the day sounds of drones in the air. sounds so much like a lawn mower, if you will, in the sky. and everyone here knows the difference between a plane and one of the drones. we heard quite a few drones in the area where we were. and then the sound of planes and soon after the sounds of bombs hitting their targets. now, israel has constantly said they're trying to pinpoint targeting. we know they ended up killing a member of hamas' -- commander from hamas' military wing today.
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several civilians have been injured and 29 people have been killed including nine militants. wolf. >> be careful over there, sara sidner's in gaza for us watching what's going on. a tough assignment. israel had planned to cease fire today ahead of the egyptian prime minister's visit to gaza. those calls to end the violence though were ignored. joining us now from cairo, reza sayah, our correspondent there. the egyptian prime minister made a visit and met with the hamas leaders. he's back in cairo now. what if anything was achieved? >> reporter: well, beyond a lot of tough rhetoric against the israeli government and loud support for the palestinian people, this is going to be viewed by many people as an ineffective trip into gaza by this delegation led by egyptian prime minister. remember, the mission, the immediate goal of this delegation was to get into gaza and establish a truce, some sort
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of cease-fire even if it were to be for a short time. that obviously failed. in many parts of the region, israeli territory, palestinian territory, the violence escalated. and certainly doesn't bode well for what egypt says it wants to do in playing the role of peacemaker. and it seems to undermine and weaken this notion that egypt could play an influential role in this conflict. so some say they did score some p.r. points appearing with the hamas leaders. but beyond rhetoric, they didn't achieve much when it comes to ending this conflict, wolf. >> as you know, the egyptians recalled their ambassador from isra israel, the israelis then recalled their ambassador from cairo. how likely is it that the overall egyptian-israel peace treaty that has been in effect since 1979 could collapse? >> i think it's important to point out there's absolutely no indications that that's going to
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happen. egyptian leaders have come out and said that that camp david accords are going to be maintained by the egyptian leadership. there are a lot of factions here that are pressing cairo to back out of that accord, but egyptian leaders have said that's not going to happen. and that could be an early indication that this government led by president mohammad morsi is going to take a measured and diplomatic approach in an effort to maintain the alliances they have with israel, with washington, with western powers. that obviously is going to come as relief to israel and washington. but that could anger the egyptian public, the arab world. that is increasingly frustrated and impatient as the violence escalates in gaza, wolf. >> all right, reza, thanks very much. our correspondent in cairo watching all of this unfold. there are major implications for the united states in all of this. and the white house is certainly closely watching the crisis play out. we're going to tell you what president obama is doing about it right now. plus, a look at the likely
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consequences of an all-out ground war in gaza. they are very disturbing. i don't spend money on gasoline. i am probably going to the gas station about once a month. last time i was at a gas station was about...i would say... two months ago. i very rarely put gas in my chevy volt. i go to the gas station such a small amount that i forget how to put gas in my car. [ male announcer ] and it's not just these owners giving the volt high praise. volt received the j.d. power and associates appeal award two years in a row.
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violence exploding in the middle east right now could have huge implications for the united states. the israeli ambassador to the u.s. is keeping president obama informed of what's taking place. our white house correspondent brianna keilar is at the white house watching all of this unfold. what is the president doing, brianna, about this really dangerous escalation in the region? >> reporter: wolf, officially the white house is condemning the violence. it's urging israel to not have civilian casualties while also walking the line of putting forth its long standing support for israel to defend itself. but behind the scenes there is urgent diplomacy underway. both on the part of president obama and dpoeks here at the white house and also secretary of state hillary clinton. the u.s. obviously doesn't have leverage with hamas, but it does
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have leverage with some countries that have leverage with hamas. turkey of course, egypt, qatar and because of that president obama today for instance called turkish prime minister to talk about this. two days ago he talked to egyptian president morsi in addition to talking to prime minister netanyahu. and egypt key of course because of its peace agreement that it has with israel. so you see secretary clinton has made two calls to the foreign minister of egypt. she's called the foreign minister of turkey. the goal here obviously to stop any escalation into a ground war, into a conflict that would pit israel not only against hamas but other arab nations as well. >> as you know, the egyptian prime minister was in gaza, met with hamas, expressed total support for hamas, recalled their ambassador from tel aviv, the israelis recalled their ambassador from cairo. is the obama administration, brianna, confident that the egyptian president mohamed morsi can deliver right now? >> reporter: i've been told by one senior administration
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official that they are confident. that they feel like egypt has some skin in the game and really does not want to see this escalate. but the thing is looking to for instance to september this official told me they feel like egypt has come through on small tests. when more security w at the embassy in september because of protests there, egypt came through. of course that's on a very small scale, wolf. and the thing is this post-mubarak era, the equation is very different. the u.s. has somewhat of a relationship with the muslim brotherhood ruling egypt, but it is largely untested in a big way at this point. so this is really seen as the big test. there is a bit of a question mark, but yes, i'm told that they are confident that for now egypt can help them. >> let's see if they can. brianna keilar over at the white house. thanks. let's bring in our chief white house correspondent john king. the president's in a tough position right now whachlt can he effectively do? >> not a lot.
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in the sense as the administration saying israel has every right to defend itself. what would the united states do if cuba were launching missiles into florida, you would happened too many times in our past, the question is proportionalty. we understand your right to respond, as wrou respond plea u please don't let the situation spiral more out of control. there's the urgent short-term challenge which is why the president is reaching out to egypt, israel, turkey. and longer term challenges the president starts now moves into a second term, there will be more and more pressure for him to get actively involved in trying to turn down the temperature, try to recreate some sort of a peace process in the middle east at a time when he wants to move onto a second term, he'd like to turn his view of the world away from the middle east to asia and elsewhere and needs a new secretary of state. >> he needs a new secretary of state and since george mitchell left as his special envoy for the israeli/palestinian peace process, they've basically thrown their hands up in the air saying there's not much they can
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do. >> there's really no process. let's be honest. they have to have a process. there's no process for some time and tony blair as the representative of the quartet has been this senior western diplomat who goes in from time to time to take the temperature to try to get things done. not only is there huge mistrust between netanyahu and hamas, other huge distrust between hamas and the palestinian authority up in the west bank. so you have internal palestinian issues as well. this is a tough one for the president. and the question is if you have a full-scale ground war, not just what is the impact right there, what is the impact in the neighborhood? in the past the mubarak government would condemn israel in such things but there was good intelligence cooperation between the united states and the egyptian government. i spoke to somebody in the u.s. government today says it exists but it's not as robust. the longer it goes on, focus on the questions. >> with president mubarak,
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general they are both gone. that working relationship not necessarily very good between the u.s. and egypt right now. >> and one of the questions is these are longer range missiles. and there is no question rockets coming from gaza are longer range. no question they come with the help of the assistance of iran. how are they being smuggled in? egypt shares a border. that's a place where the united states used to have more cooperation than it has now in terms of communication and intelligence from the egyptians. >> all the public statements coming from the white house, the state department, they also say israel has a total right to defend itself, it's unacceptable for rockets and missiles to be launched into israel from gaza. but they also call on israel to exercise restraint and avoid civilian casualties. but you know gaza. it's about twice the size of washington, d.c. 1.8 million people crammed in there. if you go in there, a lot of civilian casualties. >> so there's the israeli government's conundrum too.
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do you go in on the ground where you can hunt down certain targets? when you do that the israeli forces would come under fire and would come under fire not only from hamas militants but maybe from gangs as well. do they respond? the more military escalation, the more risk of what nobody wants which is more civilian casualties. >> what do you do say the israelis do go in there and "clean out" the area, then you have a prolonged occupation, they recreate a situation they try to get out of obviously unsuccessfully. >> history in this part of the world unfortunately repeats itself. >> they went into lebanon a few times, didn't work out well. they've gone into gaza and didn't work out well. a tough one for the israelis. >> it's sad in this region more than anything else the frustrating parts of history tend to repeat themselves. >> thanks very much, john, for that. iran possibly closer to a nuclear weapon than anyone thought. we have details of a disturbing new report that's just been released. but they haven't experienced extra strength bayer advanced aspirin. in fact, in a recent survey, 95% of people who tried it agreed
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an iranian nuclear weapon could be closer to reality than feared. that's one of the findings in a disturbing new report by the international atomic energy agency. cnn's senior international correspondent matthew chance has more. >> wolf, it's another highly critical report of iran's nuclear program from the u.n.'s nuclear watchdog. it's filled of course with stuff about how iran continues to fail to cooperate with u.n. inspectors and refuses to answer questions about the alleged military dimensions of its nuclear activities. iran of course says its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes. but of most concern say western diplomats is the fact that iran has stepped up its capacity to enrich uranium adding more sen
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ri fujs to its highly secured underground bunker at a place built into a mountain to defend it against potential air strikes. the report says iran has effectively doubled its enrichment capacity there theoretically making it able to have material for a bomb much more quickly than it could do previously. to report, not exactly a game changer perhaps. but still a very worrying document for those countries who like the united states iran's nuclear program very suspiciously indeed. wolf. >> matthew, thank you. if israel invades gaza, it won't be easy for troops to avoid hitting innocent civilians. it's all a matter of geography. we're going to show you why. [ clock ticking ] [ male announcer ] there's a better way... v8 v-fusion. vegetable nutrition they need, fruit taste they love. could've had a v8. or...try kids boxes!
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as israel's air assault intensifies, there are growing signs a ground attack by israel could be next. if history is any guide, that could mean hundreds of lives lost if not a whole lot more. our brian todd is joining us now with a closer look at what a ground invasion would look like. you've been speaking with experts. what do you hear? >> we are looking at probably weeks of urban combat, a lot of chaos and civilians caught in the crossfire. signs looking stronger because of a surgical strike this week followed by more pounding from the air hasn't made anyone pull back. a precision strike from the air killing the chief of hamas' military wing. but it appears israel is getting ready to go beyond pinpoint hits like this to contain the hamas threat. an israeli official says the army has already moved nearly a division's worth of troops as many as 2,000 to the border of gaza. israel sealed off the main roads around gaza.
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will israel invade on the ground? >> i think the chances are going up. >> jeffrey white, a former analyst with the defense intelligence agency says an israeli ground invasion of gaza would be a brutal bloody grind. >> there's a pretty high density of population throughout the strip. it's highest in the major areas, gaza city, there are a lot of civilians in other places as well. but the other part of this is that hamas fights from inside the cities. >> cities of narrow streets, bazaars, apartment buildings, translation? a punishing building-to-building slog in a place that's slightly more than twice the size of washington, d.c. we used a google map with cnn contributor general james marks. >> what kind of close combat are we talking about here? >> clearly what we have here in gaza city there are about 500,000 people that live in this city. and you can only imagine the type of combat that's got to take place in this very
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restricted terrain. >> terrain where marks says israeli troops will be exposed to ambush, sniper fire, suicide bombings. if a ground invasion's launched, analysts say it could be eerlly similar to a conflict four years ago after a series of rocket attacks. in late 2008-2009 israel launched a short period of air strikes followed by a longer ground invasion of gaza. these are scenes from it. entire apartment blocks destroyed. up to 1,400 palestinians killed, many of them civilians. about a dozen israelis were killed in that operation. then israelis were able to split up gaza, cut supply lines. this time analysts say hamas could make it tougher. >> they have some better weapons no question about it. they have much better anti-tank capability with the russian apgm. they have a better sam capability. >> white says in 2008-2009 hamas
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units were not good at close combat with the israeli facilities. they broken, ran, didn't coordinate well. they have made an effort to improve that with iran's help. so we'll see what the israelis encounter if they go in, wolf. >> big difference between now and then, 2008-2009 when the israelis went into gaza as egypt there's been a huge shift in the government in egypt. >> that's right. huge difference. in 2008-2009 the egyptians sort of supported the operation, they did not with military op, but they kept gaza isolated and didn't provide hamas with any assistance there. now of course we have a new egyptian government seen as more sympathic to hamas. what the egyptians do here is going to be crucial if the israelis go in on the ground. >> brian todd working this part of the story for us. thank you, brian. very, very ominous. let's dig a bit deeper now. joining us is the middle east scholar senior fellow at the hoover institution knows this region about as well as anyone.
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fuad, spokesman for the prime minister says the israeli cabinet has approved a plan to activate about 75,000 military reservists to get ready for a possible ground invasion of gaza. do you anticipate that's going to happen? or will hamas back down and stop launching some of these rockets into israel? >> you know, never can tell. there are red line for israel. and these red lines will have to be observed. government can't simply ask citizens to endure rockets and missiles being rained on them. i think generally if i were to make a guess, i would guess that israel would come close to a ground invasion but would hesitate. i think israel knows that these wars are easier to begin than end. i think israelis remember both the war in the summer of 2006 against hezbollah which ended badly, i think. and then they also remember operation which was
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inconclusive. i think if you look the the agenda of prime minister netanyahu, he has pledged to structure the economy to check the influence of iran and prides himself rightly so on having been in power for six and a half years without leading israel into a full-scale war. he will hesitate when it comes to gaza and for very good reasons. >> why has this escalated right now to be on the brink of war? >> you know, wolf, i think hamas feels em boldened. i think hamas feels this is the age of the muslim brotherhood and they are a branch of the muslim brotherhood and they look at egypt, really egypt as the mothership of all the muslim movements. and hamas looks at this region and in a way sees that it has support in turkey, it has financial support from qatar, a while ago the put on the table $400 million and left. so with qatar, with turkey, with the big change in egypt, i think
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hamas has grown imboldened. >> i want you to listen to what aaron david miller who worked at the state department for many years served several secretaries of state what he told me yesterday about the situation right here in "the situation room." >> it's going to get a lot worse before it gets worse in large part because the factors for a resolution between israel and hamas simply aren't there. >> there was effectively for the last few years quiet cease-fire between israel and hamas. that's gone away obviously. is he right that it's going to go from -- it's going to get worse before it gets worse? >> well, hamas has always accepted what an arabic -- forgive me for this -- they've accepted cease-fire. they've never really accepted any resolution with israel. when you have a radical movement like hamas and it pulls off coop deta, it's pledged to jihad and we have to think of gaza today almost as a kind of somalia in a
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way because it's a lone esz land. there's no government. there's no responsibility. and i think you can see the trouble i think i can understand why aaron who knows this region very well and who knows this issue very well would make that statement. >> how worried should we be fouad, if this comes out to an all-out war between israel and hamas it could spread from hezbollah to lebanon in the north, syria which has its own problems for the last few days there have been some syrian rockets coming into the heights which israel as you know controls. there's certainly a lot of tension with iran right now. and some see iran as foemting this. what's your analysis? >> the iranians have a beachhead through hamas. and iranians have been sending rockets to hamas, the israelis have tracked down the rockets which hamas has in abundance.
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so there is support for hamas from iran. some of the arab governments i think have doubts about hamas. they're not going to follow hamas into a general war. if you listen to the sounds of silence from saudi arabia, all the king of saudi arabia said called upon reasonable people to do reasonable thing. he has no intention of wrecking the saudi economy or saudi political order to follow hamas into this war. and i think even in egypt when you have morsi says, well, the egypt of today is not like the egypt of yesterday. the arab world of today is not like the arab world of yesterday. but fundamentally the mandate now, the mandate of morsi and the mandate of the muslim brotherhood in egypt is to govern this burdened country 80 million some people and the idea that the egyptians even the egyptians with the closest to hamas that they would give a kind of veto over their own policies to hamas i don't give that much credence. >> do you believe the
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israeli/egyptian peace treaty which was signed in washington in 1979 will survive? >> i believe the egyptian/israeli treaty will survive because it's important for both parties. i think the peace was made and kept by mubarak. i think now the morsi people will not pay homage to this piece, they will not praise it in full daylight but they will abide by it because they know it's essential for their relationship with the united states and for their ability to floetd loans from the international monetary fund and to keep this economy and this society afloat. >> fouad ajami, thanks as usual for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. i want to show you now some videotape of a dramatic interview that happened right here on cnn. our isha sesay was speaking when suddenly blasts started going off in the background. watch this. >> muhammad, when you hear him say that, when you hear him describe the situation where he is, what goes through your mind?
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[ gunfire ] >> sorry. carry on with your question. [ gunfire ] >> yeah, you can hear everything. i'm not going to comment on anything that is going on outside. >> muhammad, what was that? muhammad, what was that noise we just heard? >> sorry? >> what was that noise we just heard? was that coming from outside? >> these are israeli warplanes. listen, let's just carry on our conversation. we need to have a decent -- yeah. you can hear all that by yourself. i'm not going to comment on it. i'm not going to even to allow these bombs to interrupt me from having this with you and your guest. >> dramatic moment indeed. we're going to get back to that
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story at the top of the hour. meanwhile, other important news including urgent talks to keep the united states from going over a fiscal cliff. who will cave first, democrats, republicans? we have details of today's white house meeting. one.
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severe spending cuts, huge tax hikes for everyone are now just only six weeks away. and with pressure mounting, president obama sat down at the white house today with congressional leaders from both parties to begin negotiations on a debt reduction deal that would keep the united states from going over the so-called fiscal cliff. >> i think we're all aware that we have some urgent business to
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do. we've got to make sure that taxes don't go up on middle class families, that our economy remains strong, that we're creating jobs. and that's an agenda that democrats and republicans and independents, people all across the country share. >> let's bring in our senior political analyst gloria borger. there were some pretty upbeat statements coming from both sides after this meeting. are we seeing real momentum? or is this sort of an illusion? >> well, i think you'd have to say, wolf, that the tone is really good on both sides. we haven't seen this in a long time. they came out on the driveway there at the white house, they were standing together, they were talking to each other. they didn't look like they were on a bad date. they looked like, okay, we're actually going to try and get something done. what we have heard all week from both sides is kind of the opening gambit. the president saying he's got to raise taxes on the wealthy, the republicans saying we have a little flexibility, but we need serious long-term entitlement
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changes. and that would mean of course medicare and social security. everybody seems to know what's going -- what needs to be done. it's just a question of how they're going to get there. but look at them together in this picture. when was the last time you saw harry reid standing next to john boehner? >> and mitch mcconnell -- >> and mitch mcconnell by the way. right. >> the president is in a different position now. re-elected by a pretty impressive margin than he was the last time he tried to forge a deal that collapsed. >> right. that was the debt ceiling. he had a real problem with that with the grand bargain. he also had after the 2010 midterms when he had a lame duck session of congress and he had to give on keeping the tax cuts for the wealthy. this is a president right now who believes he's got some leverage. he got re-elected. and these are republicans who are trying to figure out just who they are andy ds sun the president's press conference earlier this week, he's somebody who studied the flaws of a
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e d i make some progress without overreaching. it's very clear they're worried at the white house about doing some overreach here. if he can get a fiscal deal done, that will be very, very important for his legacy in the long-term. and he knows it. >> are the republicans operating from the same game plan? >> no. i think they're not. i mean, the republicans are on the couch right now in the therapist's office. they're trying to figure out what went wrong, how can we attract more voters. and if you were ever -- if you ever question whether mitt romney was a transitional figure in the republican party, look at how quickly he's disappeared or they've disowned him, right? so they don't have a single leader like the democrats do. and here's one other thing, wolf. if you look at the exit polls from this election, very, very clear where the american public stands on the tax question. about 60% of the american public believes that taxes should be increased for all or some of the people. look at that. and for the middle class for
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above $250,000 -- excuse me, for the wealthy, 47%. so it's hard to argue with that if you're a republican you look at those numbers and you say, you know what, this is where the public is. we need to be flexible on tax increases. >> you hear voices now, increasing voices from some republican corners saying, you know what, maybe a slight increase for really, really rich people, people making a quarter million or $500,000 or $1 million a year. >> some saying a lot of those folks on wall street voted for the democrats anyway. so why are we protecting them? >> gloria, thanks so much. they have six weeks to fix this. otherwise we could all see taxes going up. hundreds of thousands of people increasingly desperate weeks after superstorm sandy. now one man is in charge of helping them. ♪
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>> he is now the man in charge of helping the areas hit by super storm sandy recover, here is mary snow. >> reporter: sean donovan and janet napolitano came here. to date, some 32,000 people in new jersey with depending on the federal government to live in shelter website hotels, and temporary apartments. what normally is a busy thorough fair is now a feignful reminder of what was.
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sandy's storm surge devoured home after home. >> where are you living now? >> i'm at a friends house. i have been like a nomad, here, there, whoever has room, cousins, stuff like that. >> best case scenario, he will be without a home for a year. and he's not alone. >> we have families out for a long rebuilding process, where homes have been completely destroyed. and our experience is that a small group, but some families, it will take years. >> overseeing the rebuilding is part of a new roll for shawn donovan. the president tapped him to work with officials to oversee recovery efforts. >> the president made absolutely clear that our job, first and foremost, is to make sure that we cut every piece of red tape, slash every regulation that we
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need to to make sure that help is on the way as quickly as possible. >> donovan's new roll will look at long term plans to rebuild. that includes a massive transportation system with lessons learned from the devastating storm that crippled new york and new jersey. new york's governor alone requested $30 billion in aide. >> how massive is the job ahead? >> well, the key here, for me, it's a mess. you're rebuilding from scratch. >> reporter: for the long-term secretary donovan says he expects to be meeting with communities on what their vision is to move forward. >> thank you, as president obama prepares for his next four years, our guest has a tip for him.
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here is a look at this hour's hot shots. in india, the sunsets over the skyline, and volunteers gather to make a traditional korean dish. hot shots, pictures coming in from around the world. president obama's inauguration is still a couple months away, but with all of the talk of scandal dom naughting washington right now, it's starting to feel like his second term has already begun. here is john berman.
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>> it took like 76 hours for his reelection to get the petraeus, broad we'll, allen, kelley mess. it seems like the tough way to start a second term, but it may be a perfect introduction. it really is enough to give you second thoughts about that second term. president obama, you were just elected to a second term, what are you going to do next? go to disney world? doubtful. embark on immigration reform? possible. avoid the fiscal cliff? maybe. if fis tire taught us anything, perhaps the first thing he should do is lawyer up. we're not suggesting the president is in any kind of legal jeopardy, it's just that second terms have become synonymous with scandal. richard nixon's second term. ronald reagan's second term.
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my heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not. >> the iran contra affair. bill clinton. >> i did not have sexual relations with that woman. impeached after the lewinsky mess. . that's trouble for roughly 100% of reelected presidents since 1972. enough to give you second thoughts about that second term. so, is there anything the obama team can do to prevent this? now, as bill clinton might say -- >> it depends upon what the meaning of the word is. >> the fact is, if there is going to be a second term scandal, it's seeds were probably sewn in the first term. the watergate break in, nixon's
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first term -- >> if the obama team was going to mess up, history suggests they already did. maybe it's something that has made headlines already, but maybe not, the lewinsky scandal didn't surface in 1998, maybe the obama administration will make it's own history and avoid a second term scandal. if not, disney world will seem very appealing. >> in the president's news conference, he said he was well aware of the history of presidential overreach in second terms. you get the sense of anyone that much aware of presidential history knows that second-term skand scandals, and will most likely be really, really careful. >> happening now, israel on the attack in gaza, taking steps to
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mobilize tens of thousands of troops for a possible ground war. rockets land near jerusalem. we'll hear from officials on both sides of the conflict. and candle takes a backseat as david petraeus testifies before congress. i'm wolf blitzer, and you're in "the situation room." >> the skies over israel and gaza keep lighting up. they are accusing them of escalating the fighting by sending rockets. they're taking stepping for a
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ground war if it comes to that. we have correspondents in israel and gaza, let's go fred in gaza. what's the latest there? >> reporter: what's going on is there are isreali war planes in the sky. we have heard several impacts coming from gaza. there is also rocket fire coming out of gaza and landing here. i was at the sight of two of those landing sites. they grad rockets, among the largest ones they're able to fire over here, and we spoke with residents that say basically what they're trying to do right now is stay inside as much as possible. of course, you have air sirens going off all the time, for the children, it's very traumatizing at this point in time, and the people here tell us they hope all of this is over as fast as
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possible. they also say they have taken so much rocket fire, that they felt a strike was very necessary from their point of view. >> are the civilians where you are, are they living in fear? are they trying to go on with their lives? give us a little flavor? >> no, i was quite surprised. people are trying to go on with their lives, but it's more difficult than you would think. i was on the road here with the mayor of the town. we went to various places, and literally every shop in this town is closed or totally empty. there's a marina here that on a friday night is a popular place for people to hang out, there was three or four, and they said normally there are thousands here. this is a town that generally does take rockets every once in awhile from gaza, they have
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something of a routine, but right now all they can do is stay inside. i spoke to one family that they said they went from their house to their parent's house, and they really said they had to plan their route to see that there was always a hardenned shelter incase rockets landed. >> and they're united by strikes on gaza. the president is calling the ooisz rally offensive, and i'm quoting, an aggression against all of the palestinian people. medical sources in gaza say that 30 people have been killed. three israelis have died in the fighting as well. let's bring in our senior k,
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sarah. the ground was rattling here, we saw for ourselves, dozens of rackets that trail from the rockets in the rare. we also felt the rattling in our teeth, literally. this building rattling from the air strikes that followed. what we also saw were neighborhoods where some buildings have been bombed out. you can see marks from shrapnel. we know nine militants are dead. they're trying to do targeted strikes, but some of the civilians are say saying their hitting in their neighborhoods, killing their women and
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children, so people here upset and scared. the roads here are quiet, and this is a place, we have to remember, that is extremely densely populated. one of the most densely populated citied in the world. it has been eerily quiet. most of the cars are the journalist trying to see what the city looks like, trying to get to people to talk to them. it's a very difficult situation, and the civilians feel like war has already come to town. >> that's what i was going to ask you. you've been there on the ground, watching this unfold, i'm sure, from the outside looking in, it seems like things are getting worse, is that what it feels like for residents and you're there as well? >> ye, compared to last night, even, we were seeing bombings ov over and over again. we stayed up for 24 hours, and
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until about 7:00 a.m., there was a massive air strike. we were in a hotel, we had to lay down on the floor because it got so close to us. then there was a lull, and it started up again, we went outside, looked in the air, and you could see the trail of rocket fire and it was criss crossed all over the sky. we talked to a family who lost a child, we went to a hospital where we saw, every 15 minutes or so, ambulances pulling up, people coming without a ambulance to the hospital, and that place was certainly overwhelmed, the doctors saying they just want peace, they can't believe how many people have been coming in. we're talking about now more than 120 people injured and 30 people dead. >> sarah sidner in gaza for us, 30 people have now been killed according to sources there.
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jerusalem went on high alert with sirens whaling. it's new evidence that hamas now has weapons that can reach right into the heart of israel. tom foreman is showing us the fire power on both sides of the conflict. >> here is israel alongside the mediterranean ocean. about the size of new jersey, the economy good, unemployment below 7% right now. gaza, quite small, it is predominantly palestinian, the economy is quite bad. glob called them the 10th strongest military in
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the world. they have 176,000 active troops, a half million for the reserves if need be. ground forces very strong, 3,000 tanks, you get up to about 12,000 units on the ground they can call up, and their military is very formidable, they have many aircraft, and that's what they use. in h in hamas, have very different picture, about 12,500 troops. but palestinian militants do have a lot of rockets. you hear about them all the time, and that's what's making the news. let me bring in a model of one. these are popular because they're cheap and easy to make. they weigh about 70 to 100
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pounds. they're fuelled by fertilizer essentially, they're not very accurate, but if you fire enough, they don't have to be. and if you go to more advanced missil missiles, you start talking about range. some of these have reached out to -- >> o fishes say they can't take this any more, and they're talking about a possible ground invasion of gaza. >> thank you, well have more on the krietsz in the middle east, i'll speak with a spokesman for benjamin netanyahu, and ask if a ground invasion is in the work. ly also talk about iran's possible role in this conflict. and we're go in today's testimony by david petraeus. i'll talk to a lawmaker who was
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. former cia director, david petraeus, on capitol hill today testifying about the deadly attack on the u.s. kons late had in benghazi libya. partisan differences remain over the obama's administration's characterization specially their remarks by ambassador to the united nations susan rice. >> it goes to show that when you try to get information out very quickly, and because of congress wanting to hear about it, the administration, and media, that information with respect to intelligence evolves and changes, and when they received additional information, they clarified it. >> what is very clear, is that
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ambassador rice used the talking points that the intelligence committee all signed off on. >> the key is that they were unclassified talking points, at a very early stage. and i don't think she should be p attacked for this. >> i think there is confusion in the administration for what they said, think, or know. >> clearly differing opinions there, let's get more with lewis gutierrez. thank you for your time. has anything in the last two days changed your mind about what happened in benghazi? >> a couple of things, maybe we should put a warning sign when the first information comes out. a warning sign. and let me just say that general petraeus, when he first gave us
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information on the 13th and the 14th of september, for those of us able to see it, there was a warning there. this is information that is developing and can change. it is based on the best sources that we have. remember, there is a conflict, a war going on here, rockets, bullets, and we're gathering nsk the best we can, and a mistake was made. the mistake that was made, but it's been clarified already, this is not new. the mistake is that there was a protest that developed into an escalation and taking over the
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concentra consulates facility there, and it escalated in three deaths. >> what you're saying now is there was no protests at all, it was just strikely an assault on that diplomatic mission? >> here is what the best intelligence gives us, and these were part of the talking points that ambassador rice had, right? there was an attack on our embassy in egypt, that escalated, and they scaled the walls. that inspired people to take actions. terrorists, enemies of the united states to take action and attack the benghazi facility. they came there to do that. but, it wasn't something that was preplanned. and there weren't only terrorists, but many opportunists, thieves, simply
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there to take what they could, and take it back home with them. that's the difference. and look, i just want to say that general petraeus gave us this information. he told us, with the caveat that this was information, we did not get, as we say, the video information until about two weeks later. that really clarified a lot of things for everyone in the intelligence community. >> i want do you listen to your colleague and the chairman of the committee, he came out of the briefing and talked about the talking points and what susan rice said, listen to how he characterized what he learned. >> the original talking points were much more specific about al qaeda involve. and the final ones just said indications of extremists, and no one knows exactly who came up with the final version of the talking points, other than to say they were prepared by the
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cia were different from the one that's were finally put out. >> is he right? >> here is what happens. you know, you can always make something right by leaving something out. here is what happens -- in order to get the talking points, i hope america understands this, the cia is only part of our intelligence community. they're only part of the intelligence community. they gather information to keep us informed and warn us of possible attacks. all of that intelligence community, including the doj, and other state departments, together, compared the talking points. so everybody contributes, and there is a synthesis of all of that information that turns into the talking points. i just want to make it clear to thaerch those ta
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everyone those talking points were -- let me be clear, i have been there two years. this is the first time i can remember that we asked them for this kind of information. it isn't something new. and in the cloud of war, things get left out, but, he did say they were extremist, and in the negligence community, extremist and terrorist are almost interchangeable terms. we're trying to gather information from people talking on phones, from people in our field, and sometimes you lose stuff in translation, which when the fog clears, you clear it up. that's what happened here. >> we have to leave it right there, certainly more question that's will be asked and answered we hope in the weeks and months to come, appreciate it very much. >> i absolutely agree, and i think we will get to the bottom and clear it up even further. >> yes, and we'll see what the ambassador can come up with.
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. we have more of the top stories with kate. >> thank you, two people are missing after an explosion and fire ripped through a oil rig. it started from a torch they were using to cut a pipeline. it was not producing oil or gas, but 28 gallons fell into the water. incredible new video shows how massive flood water came into a
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subway. you see the water gushing out of an elevator and down on to the tracks. that station and several others are still shut down two and a half weeks later as crew pump the water out. >> hostess is shutting down, blaming a baker's strike for crippling business. 18,000 employees will be laid off, and twinkies and ding dongs will likely live on if bought and produced by another company. >> some people, i haven't had one in a long, long time. >> we can change that. israel is on the verge of a ground war against gaza. up next,ly ask benjamin netanyahu, who will join us from jerusalem. to here?
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u.s. officials blame hamas for starting the conflict, but are urging israel to be measured in it's response. >> leon pinetta says israel and the palestinians need to negotiate a more permanent peace in the region. barbara starr has been working for hard on this story, what is the u.s. military most concerned about? >> first, escalation, and escalation in the way of israeli ground troops going into gaza. this is the number one concern. if they send ground troops and tanks across the border into gaza, this will be an escalation that will be very difficult to pull back from. once you do that, will hamas top the rocket attacks? that's what israel wants, and the u.s. to see. so leon pinetta made phone calls
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to the i'sraelis. hillary clinton firing up the diplomatic phone lines, she's talked to israel, egypt, jordan, turkey, all of the areas trying to get calmness put into the situation. it is hamas, the u.s. believes and israel believes that need to stop the rocket attacks. the deescalation message came right from the state department, have a listen. >> in all cases, her message has been the same, that we are urging a deescalation of this conflict. were urging those countries with influence on hamas and other groups in gaza to use that influence. >> and of course, throughout the weekend, kate and wolf, we'll be
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watching all of our cnn colleagues in gaza and israel, keeping an eye on that border and on this situation around the clock. >> developing as we speak. barbara starr. >> u.s. officials have a reason to be deeply worried. ground officials are making it clear they're ready to go into gaza if they feel they have no other choice. joining us now from jerusalem. mark, how close are you to a full scale ground invasion of gaza? >> good to be with you, wolf. we're taking august of the necessary preparations. i can't tell you a final decision is being made. obviously we'll keep our options close to our chests, talking about operational matter, but we're ready to escalate if need be. >> there are reports that tens
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of thousands of shoulders are being readied to mobilize, is that true? >> yes, tonight the israeli cabinet voted to enlist reservists. that's to give the leadership options. we have the option to escalation or deescalate. our goal is, of course, to bring piece to our frontier, to end those on going bombardments into israel, that's our goal. >> is there any indication they're slowing down or getting ready to stop? >> i'm afraid we had another bad day in israel though. i'm glad to say we didn't have fatalities. we had missiles shot throughout the south, and they were in j
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jerusalem and tel aviv, but what they're shooting at us now are their leftovers. we think we're getting the upper hand, and as is continues, we'll neutralize the threat that we have been living under for too long. >> the isreali president say that's what they're doing is an aggression against all palestinian people, have you communicated with him? >> i'm not aware that we've had direct communications with him, i can say the following. if anyone wants to talk about aggression, it's aggression from gaza to israel. we're on the offensive. we had a situation where our border, our communities, we had missile after missiling isreali cities, not for days or weeks, but for months now. and our civilian population was living in bomb shelters and it
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could not go on. we had to act to defend our civilian population. >> they say in gaza, that you, israel, started this by i canning their military commander in the air strike the over dthe. what do you say? >> i would say it's not like it was quiet before we took out that individual. we had three cycles of escalation in the last month or so. when they said we've had enough, they quieted down, but that gave them the initiative. that gave them a green light to open fire when ever they wanted to. earlier this week, i went to an isreali city of about 150,000 people, close to the border with gaza, and we met a schoolgirl, and she said something to me
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that moved me and the prime minister as well. she said that when school children across the planet here the bell, they think a lesson is starting, when schoolboys and schoolgirls here hear a bell, it's usually a siren, it means they have 15 to 20 seconds to get to a bomb shelter. >> i know the prime minister spoke with president obama the other day, have there been any more recent conversations? >> we're having on going contacts with the american administration, and of course with other leaders around the world. ultimately, we're being warmed and welcomed with what we heard from leaders across the planet that says israel has the right to defend itself, that hamas is responsible for this escalation. we welcomed those comments and
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we're acting now, ultimately what any country would do in our situation. wolf, if you look around the plan planet, there's not a lot of countries that they're governments would sit quiet while they're citizens would be rocketed. we're doing what i think any country would do in our situation. >> mark, thank you very much for joining us. >> my pleasure, sir. >> we'll get reaction from the other side of the conflict ahead. a top official is in the situation room, stand by for that. [ female announcer ] introducing yoplait greek 100.
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just getting a statement from the white house, the prime minister of israel, benjamin netanyahu spoke to the president today. he expressed his thanks for the iron dome rocket system. he said it's helping thousands. and he reiterated his right for israel to protect itself. the two leaders discussed options for deescalating the situation, but didn't go into details on what those options are. >> and joining us now is the representativie in washington. thank you for coming in, let's talk about hamas, why are they
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doing this? >> i think you have to look at the situation, wolf. this all started october 23rd when the israelis killed palestinians on the border, and hamas and other factions. you have to remember there are other factions in gaza. and it's not necessarily under the control of hamas. they fired missiles, and israel attacked again, killed five more palestinians, and five days ago, they took out the military command, the military wing -- >> there have been rockets coming in all year though. >> it is true, there has been a cycle of violence back and forth between the two sides, but i think the recent escalation, you have to look at the progress of events. it does indicate an intentional part on the side of israel.
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>> why would they do that, and areas in tel aviv and up in into jerusalem. >> this is true, and i think the israelis were not anticipating that hamas would have such long-range missiles to be able to reach the outskirts. this escalation of violence not serve anybody's interests. 24 deaths, 200 wounded, i don't think will serve anybody's interests, but israel must understand -- >> what is iran's role in all of this? there is suspicious that some of these were from iran, they want to divert attention from their
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own nuclear program from syria, and has allowed this situation to escalate, palestinian rockets coming in and israeli retaliation. >> i can't confirm that they're providing weapons to the gaza strip. i heard reports that some of it came from libya. there are no confirmation of the source of these weapons, but you have to also remember that hamas does have some capabilities to develop their own rockets within the gaza strip, and they have been doing that for quite some time. >> they're very unreliable. aren't you concerned if they're going after targets, the west bank is right there. palestinian arabs could be killed in this process as well. >> i think the issue here is to try to remind the israelis that the military solution is not it,
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palestinians were wounded, and what happened? nothing. today, we're repeating the same episode once again. the longer they delay the political solution with the palestinians, to try to deal and address the root causes of this conflict, which is the occupation of the people, the more we will witness -- >> they withdrew from gaza and handed it over, they're not occupies gaza. >> true, but it has been under siege since they left. 1.8 million palestinians are under siege. israel controls the gaza strip. israel turned it into a big jail, a big prison. >> what about the u.s., are you satisfied with the role that the obama administration is playing in trying to ease this crisis?
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>> i think the u.s. should play a stronger, more active role. it's not enough to say that we understand israel's right to defend itself, and it's not fair to compare the situation as two equal parties fighting, israel has a very strong military and they can really cause a lot of destruction in the gaza strip. the portrayal that these are two equal parties is not fair. >> are you telling hamas, telling them to stop it? don't launch any more rockets into israel. >> i think it takes two to ta tango -- >> if you -- >> you understand the political situation between them and hamas -- >> they're rivals. >> in our -- in the case of this israeli onslaught, the people are losing their lives are innocent palestinians that we care about.
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>> some military commanders are losing their lives as well. >> one of them was, but the majority is civilians, and it does cause us a lot of pain. >> but i assume president abbas wants the shelling to stop? >> yes, what did the israelis expect in return? did they expect them to send them a thank you letter? they knew hamas would retaliate. i think israel is also to blame. >> thank you very much for joining us, we'll have to continue this conversation. up next, the first face to face in an urgent effort to keep the u.s. from going over the fiscal cliff, is bipartisan on
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president obama sat down at the white house with congressional leaders to confront the so called fiscal cliff. spending cuts and huge tax hikes for everyone will kick in in six weeks unless they can reach a deal. the president spoke before the meeting. i think we're all aware that we having some urgent business to do. we have to make sure that taxes don't go up on middle class families welcome that our economy remains strong, and creating jobs, and that's an
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agenda that democrats, republicans, and house today. >> it was a very important meeting. this was really the first face to face, and the first is very important even though it's just the beginning as top leaders kick off negotiations of how to avoid the looming economic crisis that we have dubbed the fiscal cliff that we're facing at the beginning of the new year. they didn't strike a deal in the meeting, they didn't talk numbers, so to speak, but they did emerge optimistic, confident they would get there, and all saying the same word. it was constructive. >> to show our seriousness, we've put revenue on the table as long as it's accompanied by significant spending cuts. and while we're going to continue that revenue on the table, it's going to be incumbent for my colleagues to show the american people that we're serious about cutting spending and solving our fiscal dilemma. >> we have the cornerstones of being able to work something
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out. we're both going to have to give up some of the things that we know are a problem. we feel very comfortable with each other, and this isn't something we're going to wait until the last day of december to get it done. we have a plan, we're going to move forward on it. >> that was noteworthy. not everything that they were saying, but that unusual show of force after the closed door meeting. all the top congressional leaders of both parties standing together before cameras and reporters. i'm told by both sides of the aisle that actually wasn't planned before, but it clearly shows a positive signal. make no mistake, despite the positive outlook, there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done. according to speaker boehner's office, he offered the framework he talked about publicly, setting targets for tax and target reform now, hash out the details later. but democratic aides tell me any
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framework would need a down payment on both tax reform and entitlement reform. the major sticking point? you probably know this already. the bush era tax cuts. i'm also told by democratic aides that senator reid in the meeting made clear that they are standing firm against extending the tax cut for high income earners. that's the major sticking point that was before, it remains the same now. >> let's hope they can get it resolved. there was a lighthearted hoemom at the meeting as well. >> there actually was. he wished speaker boehner an early happy birthday. listen to what he said. >> wait, excuse me, there is actually one other point that i wanted to make, and that is that my understanding is tomorrow is speaker boehner's birthday. so for those of you who want to wish him a happy birthday, we will -- we're not going to embarrass him with a cake because we didn't know how many candles were needed, but -- >> yeah, right.
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>> but we do want to wish him a happy birthday. >> thank you. thank you. >> so he is right, the speaker is turning 63 tomorrow, so happy birthday. >> did he get emotional? >> he didn't get emotional, but i believe you can see mike so summers, he gave him a gift from the president, which is a bottle of wine. he actually tweeted a picture there of the bottle of wine. >> thank you. nice moment. new york city's silence is going viral in the days and weeks since sandy. the popular signer is telling cnn what she thinks of all the attention. i'm getting married. planning a life. there are risks, sure. but, there's no reward without it. i want to be prepared for the long haul. i see a world bursting with opportunities. india, china, brazil, ishares, small-caps, large-caps, ishares.
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you might call her new york city's silent star. the signer who rose to fame standing by the mayor michael bloomberg's side in sandy's weak. here's cnnie elaine cho. >> reporter: in the hours before, during and after hurricane sandy, things were critical. yet often it was someone else who caught everyone's high. lady acala, the mayor's mesmerizing sign language interpreter. >> she turned it into a sign language recital. >> reporter: her signs were set to music. ♪ >> gangnam style ♪ >> and this on "saturday night live." >> lydia challis who brought some pizazz to what would
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otherwise have been a dour occasion. >> i did want to bring -- did you see "saturday night live"? thought so. >> callie showed up with her own interpreter. >> were you surprised? >> i actually was surprised and a bit overwhelmed. at the same time i thought, this is great. if this will bring it to the limelight in the deaf community, then i'm all for it. >> 2.14 million americans are deaf. what was all that? >> this is the sign for a storm. so when you have wind. >> reporter: alice's mom and three siblings were deaf. sign language was her first language. >> if you watched any of the news reports, you could see that i was signing but i was also mouthing the words as well because you have people that are completely deaf cannot lipread, cannot speak and rely solely on
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sign language. then you have people on the other end of the spectrum who are oral, can speak themselves, or are hard of hearing and can't understand when people talk. my tone was strong and i had to convey that through my facial expressions because it was important for people to know if they were in zone a, they were in danger and they need teed ed evacuate their homes as soon as possible. >> reporter: then there were times that the message for the deaf and the hearing are one and the same. >> one of the pictures that was taken of me and the mayor, we are looking at one of the reporters. we both have our hands in the air looking at the reporter like, are you kidding me? >> reporter: callie says it's all about interpreting the mayor's message as faithfully as possible. her fans say --


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