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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  February 23, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm PST

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four years. "birdman," an artistic film about an over the hill actor who fears irrelevance. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. turning you over now to mr. wolf blitzer, who is next door in "the situation room." thanks for watching. happening now, terror at the mall. a heightened alert after an al qaeda ally calls for an attack in the heart of america. homeland security calls for vigilance. how safe are you? growing threat. a brutal new isis video shows prisoners being paraded in cages as america's new defense chief convenes an urgent summit to review antiterror strategy. and ice emergency is affecting millions across the south, knocking out power, making roads treacherous and grounding hundreds of flights. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." breaking now, a chilling new threat from a brutal al qaeda
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ally aimed at america's heartland. a group responsible for the slaughter in a shopping center in kenya is now calling for attacks on shopping malls in the west including minnesota's huge mall of america. that comes as a top u.s. spy chief says there are now blind spots in tracking terrorists and the defense secretary gathers top commanders for an urgent huddle on combatting isis. as the parents ever slain hostage kayla mueller slam the policy i talk with peter king from the homeland security and intelligence committees. he is standing by live along with cnn correspondents and analysts. let's get the very latest from brian todd at the mall of america in minnesota. brian? >> reporter: wolf this latest video from al shabab has prompted officials here to really ramp up security, but it is a huge challenge. this mall the mall of america, has more than 80 acres for officials to patrol to monitor. more than a dozen entrances here at the mall of america. tonight we have new details on the threat and on the heightened
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security here both seen and unseen. the masked al shabab terrorist calls on men with firm determination to strike. his inspiration, this horrific 2013 attack on kenya's westgate mall where his group killed more than 60 people. now he calls on shabab sympathizers to quote, hurry up saying what if such an attack were to occur in the mall of america in minnesota, or the west edmonton mall in canada or in london's oxford street? it prompted the homeland security secretary to say this. >> if anyone is planning to go to the mall of america today, they've got to be particularly careful. >> reporter: jeh johnson has since walked that back. johnson and law enforcement officials now say there's no specific credible threat to the mall of america. but this is a massive so-called soft target with more than a dozen entrances. inside shoppers have different perspectives on the shabab video. >> yeah, i'm scared because i have kids. i have two little ones and i'm frightened. coming here today i was kind of
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like i don't know. >> i'm just like if it happens, it happens. >> reporter: but security inside the mall of america has been stepped up since the al shabab video came out. we got a behind the scenes look at security operations. >> we have protocols in place that as things happen we can ramp up and we have implemented some of those strategies. >> reporter: there are measures unique to this facility according to michael rosa a security consultant to the mall of america. >> they have dedicated, dedicated explosive detection dog teams that patrol the mall of america. they have uniform and plain clothes officers. they have officers trained specifically in behavior detection techniques. >> reporter: the mall has its own intelligence branch. the shabab video is menacing because it's thought about two dozen somalis from the minneapolis area have been recruited to fight with al shabab. some are now being recruited by isis. we asked a somali leader in minneapolis how they will stop potential lone wolf attackers within their community.
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can you prevent even just one of these kids from maybe recruiting one other person two other people to go into that mall with guns and think they are going to become some kind of hero some kind of martyr? >> we believe we think it won't happen because thanks god, we have the best men and women in law enforcement that engage our community, and our communities are working with law enforcement. >> reporter: he says one very important development in recent years is that more somali americans in this community have joined local police departments. they are moving around in the community, they are talking to young people who could be targets for terrorist recruitment, trying to fend that off. but wolf tonight the lone wolf threat is as heightened as ever. it's got officials here very very concerned. >> what are some of the drills that they are doing as part of this ramped-up security? >> reporter: well, today they did a lockdown drill at about 10:00 a.m. eastern -- central time 11:00 a.m. eastern time
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just locking down some businesses moving around doing some drills with law enforcement. that took some customers by surprise. they are apparently going to do another one later on tonight. they do active shooter drills here all the time. they are ramping up some of those activities. they are really kind of fine-tuning their skills just in case. >> brian todd in minnesota for us thank you. america's new defense chief has hit the ground running from war zone to war zone after a visit to afghanistan he is in the middle east today where he convened an urgent summit of key commanders and diplomats to review the strategy against isis. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr is tracking the story for us. what's the latest? >> reporter: wolf ash carter wanted to find out what his commanders were thinking so an urgent meeting, but were there any urgent solutions? just seven days on the job, defense secretary ash carter summoned his top commanders to talk isis war strategy. general lloyd austin, head of
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central command, who is running the war, joined by the head of special operations top commanders from europe and africa ambassadors and intelligence officials. the ground rules, no decision just a discussion. what the world saw is what the pentagon wanted an image of a new defense secretary fully in command. >> lasting defeat of this brutal group can and will be accomplished but i learned some things that will need to guide our effort to do so. >> reporter: but do the generals and the new secretary have any new ideas to offer? can carter make a difference? >> he can put a little bit of energy he can light a fire. he's pulling the leaders together in the field saying how do we do this better. >> reporter: but what carter says he learned isn't really new. >> achieving a lasting defeat of isil will require a combined diplomatic and military effort.
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>> reporter: carter repeating calls that the u.s. has to deal with isis on social media. >> the discussion indicated clearly to me that this group is hardly invincible. >> reporter: carter's biggest test will he recommend u.s. ground troops help iraqis fight for mosul? >> we need to be convinced that any use of our forces is necessary. >> reporter: so a bit more of the same of what everybody's been talking about for the last several months. now, carter on his way back to washington expected to meet with president obama perhaps as soon as tomorrow. we will see when and if this secretary of defense has some new ideas to offer. wolf? >> he convened this meeting of all of his commanders the top diplomats in kuwait. i take it the u.s. still has a lot of troops in kuwait still
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has significant military assets there, is that right? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. the army keeps a brigade there at all times, that's a couple thousand troops just on standby. but kuwait has really emerged as the headquarters for much of the anti-isis operations going on in the region. they have the facilities there, they have the land there, they have the security. they are out of the sort of crosshairs of isis if they are back across the border in kuwait. this was truly the most convenient place for them to go. >> they could have gone to qatar, too. i know the emir will meet with president obama tomorrow at the white house. the u.s. still has 8,000 or 9,000 troops in various bases in qatar as well. you're right about kuwait. there are still a lot of american troops there. thanks very much for that barbara. isis meanwhile, has put out new videos taunting its foes by displaying brutal images of caged prisoners and showing off what it says is a training camp for children even as isis grows bolder, we are learning that u.s. intelligence has run into serious difficulties on keeping
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tabs on terrorists. let's bring in our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto for more on what's going on. >> this is a fairly alarming acknowledgment from the head of the national security agency saying that as the terrorists such as isis change their communications in the age post-snowden that that's making it more difficult for counter terror agencies of the u.s. to track their movements and as a result prevent new terror plots which is of course of grave concern for u.s. counter terror agencies. acknowledging in effect new blind spots in this fight against terror. here's what admiral mike rogers had to say. >> i would say that it has had a material impact on our ability to generate insights as to what counter terrorism -- what terrorist groups around the world are doing. >> reporter: do you have new blind spots that you didn't have prior to the revelation? >> have i lost capability that we had prior to the revelations, yes. >> reporter: how much does that concern you? >> it concerns me a lot.
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>> lost capability. really, an alarming assessment from him. when you ask him what do you do about that lost capability of course he hints they make efforts to close those holes. this is an agency that's constantly changing as the threat has changed. you have to imagine that they are exploring new capabilities. but this is an agency this is a man who doesn't mince words, doesn't use words lightly. it's a concerning effect of the revelations from edward snowden. >> what else is of top concern right now for u.s. intelligence? >> cyber. cyberattacks, no question. he's the head of the nsa, also the head of the u.s. military cybercommand. he says his concern is about an entity a state or nonstate actor that can carry out an attack on the u.s. on critical infrastructure. i asked him which states are capable of doing that today. he identified specifically china and russia but not limited to china and russia. of course another concern in that category a place like north korea. it's also interesting as well because he said he acknowledged that the u.s. ability to deter those attacks remains in his
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words today, immature. long way to go to prevent those attacks, deter those attacks and prevent the cycle of attack and counter attack. that's another major concern. >> doesn't sound very encouraging if he thinks it's immature. thanks very much jim sciutto. let's get some more now from a key member of the house homeland security and intelligence committees republican congressman peter king of new york is joining us. congressman, thanks very much for joining us. have you been briefed on this el shabab terror threat against malls in the united states? >> i have not been officially briefed. i will be tomorrow. i will be back in washington. i will be getting a briefing early tomorrow afternoon. >> when the homeland security secretary, jeh johnson, who is a very smart guy, lot of experience used to work at the pentagon as you know when he says americans need to be in his words particularly careful in malls, what does that say to you? >> well from what i know of these threats generally, i would say first of all, al shabab
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probably does not have the capability of carrying out an attack here by itself. however, they have cooperated over the years with al qaeda in the arabian peninsula which does have the capacity. i would say we should take it seriously. on the other hand i would say americans should continue to do what they have done before if they were going to malls before continue to do so. just be more alert, if you see something, say something. i would say the one area that has the most concern would be in minnesota, because first of all, mall of america is there but secondly, that's where the large somali american population is. they have had well over 20 young men go from minneapolis to somalia to be trained, some for isis -- i mean actually two or three for isis but more than 20 for al shabab. a number have been killed. in fact the gentleman you saw before mr. bihi was actually a main witness of mine when i had hearings on islamic radicalization. for awhile it was almost an assembly line of young men going
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from minneapolis to somalia, including his nephew. for people like him, they have actually tried to turn the community to make sure they cooperate more with the police and law enforcement. but if there's any area that could be vulnerable it would be the mall of america because again, if you just have two or three from that community and there has been over 20 in the past then there is a threat. >> we know that in this latest al shabab video, they also made a specific threat against westfield corporation malls in the u.s. in europe elsewhere, in australia, and we know we did some checking there are two westfield malls in your district out in long island. what do you do about this? what are you telling your constituents, do you think they should start avoiding those westfield malls or should westfield malls start beefing up security there? >> one is actually very close to my district office. no wolf they should continue to do what they have been doing. if they are going to go to the
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mall go. the nassau and suffolk county police work with the nypd the state police the fbi, the joint terrorism task force. they are doing all that can be done. the reality is that the real security yes, we have to have more security at the mall but it's going to be intelligence that stops this. we have to have intelligence whether it's surveillance on the ground whether it's the nsa, doing whatever we can to get the intelligence to stop it. but malls, we have known for a long time that they are prime targets. they are harder to secure. i know for instance police departments have done drills they have gone through this before. they have -- they are doing surveillance. i would -- again, we can't be giving in to these type threats. if something more specific comes, then maybe we have to adapt but right now, i would urge my constituents to continue doing what they have done before. if you are going to go to the mall tomorrow go to the mall tomorrow. i would urge them if they see something, say something. and be fully cooperative with the police and security if they are asked to do something, do
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it. >> would you recommend doing what they do at big malls in israel outside of tel aviv for example, or parts of europe have metal detectors, police at the entrances going through handbags checking to see if there's any metal coming in? is that necessary in the united states? >> wolf it's not now. again, if we pick up intelligence saying that there are operatives in this country who are planning these attacks, we may have to make again, adapt in certain locations, certain cities. but i would say no. we can't just based on one video change what we have been doing. we have known since september 11th 2001 that malls were a prime target department stores anyplace you have americans congregating in a relaxed setting, sporting events. movie houses. playhouses. all of those are targets. what stops it is intelligence having obviously surveillance but also getting that intelligence to see if there's anything unusual happening, whether or not anyone might be
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coming here whether or not there has been any unusual purchases in the area whether or not people who are suspect have been acting in a different way. that's why it's so important to have sources in the communities. that's why it's important to the police on the ground to have again, sources of information so they would be tipped off if something like this. >> congressman, we have a lot more to discuss, including the latest isis videos. what's going on in syria and iraq. stand by. much more with congressman peter king after this. when it comes to good nutrition my daughter's an expert. hi dad. she's a dietitian. and back when i wasn't eating right she got me drinking boost. it's got a great taste, and it helps give me the nutrition i was missing. helping me stay more like me. [ female announcer ] boost complete nutritional drink has 26 essential vitamins
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isis has released shocking new images of prisoners kept in cages and a terror training camp for children. this comes as the top u.s. spy chief warns there are blind spots in tracking terrorists. we are back with republican congressman peter king of new york. what's isis' objective in releasing this kind of video, congressman? >> i think this is part of their overall attempt to again, instill fear. i think it's also to try to scare off the kurds which is a mistake. i think the kurds will react extremely violently if anything happens to those men in the cages. i think it's to convince people in the region they are going to win, they are in charge that they have the upper hand and they can't be stopped, and to get more people to line up on their side those who want to be with the winner and are afraid
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of what's going to happen if they don't end up supporting isis. >> this video of them featuring a sniper featuring children is it simply -- do they think this really generates support, brings in new recruits? >> well so far, they have been successful. we keep saying that when they show people being burned to death or beheaded it's going to turn off people in the region but it must be working for them. again, the type of person that they are trying to recruit, the type of person they are trying to attract, they must feel there's enough of them out there and i guess it's working for them because everything you read is how their numbers are increasing and people are rallying to them which is a very very troubling sign. even under hitler the nazis didn't disclose what they were doing to the jews in the concentration camps. they tried to keep it a secret. even after the war they were trying to destroy, near the end of the war, destroy records of what they have done. in this case you have isis actually bragging about it
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showing the world how horrible and brutal and inhumane they are. this is a whole different breed of enemy, whole different type and apparently it must be working for them at least from their weird, warped perspective. >> we just heard the head of the national security agency tell our own jim sciutto that there are, in his words, blind spots in the u.s. ability to track these terrorists. what are the biggest vulnerabilities out there? what concerns you the most? >> well i can't go into it but i know from being on the intelligence committee, there are blind spots. for those americans, including some in the congress who thought snowden was some kind of hero this is one of the inevitable byproducts inevitable results of what he did. the enemy has tracked what he made public and they have been able now to change their method of communication. so i say he was a traitor to the country and he will cost lives. the fact there are blind spots, not just with isis but with other terrorist organizations who have adapted based on what they learned from snowden, and
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it does put more people at risk. >> that american humanitarian aid worker who was killed in syria, kayla mueller, her family says the swap for sergeant bowe bergdahl in exchange for five taliban prisoners at guantanamo bay, at the prison there, actually made the situation worse for their daughter. you think those comments are fair? >> no. i was obviously opposed to the deal for sergeant bergdahl but again, i don't know enough of the details. i understand why the family would say that. i can't imagine what it must be like to be in that situation. but i don't want to be second-guessing the president as far as this. i was opposed to the deal but that whole arrangement, but as far as this effect coming from it, i'm not going to make that connection. whatever policy difference i would have with the president is a matter of policy. i don't think based on what i know that he would have anticipated this happening to that poor woman. >> i will ask you a question
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that have been asked other republicans who are thinking of running for the presidential presidential nomination. i know you are thinking of running yourself. you visited new hampshire a few times already. what did you think of the former new york city mayor rudy giuliani suggesting his blunt statement that the president of the united states does not love america? >> rudy giuliani is a friend of mine. i would not have said it the way he said it. but i discussed this with rudy i was with him earlier that evening he made the statement. he is so frustrated and angered at what he sees as a policy which is hurting the u.s. and the president's lack of intensity when he describes it. the point he was trying to make i believe, is that the president seems reluctant to show the type of emotion that other presidents have shown and that type of actual dedication. i believe the president does want to get the job done but again, he does show to me a lack of intensity. he almost discusses these things in an academic way and i find that -- it's certainly
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disturbing. i would not have said what rudy said but again, where he was coming from i know what he was trying to say because he's very very concerned that the president's lack of really emotion, failure to show emotion and somehow this desire the president has to show a certain equivalency, rudy saw 9/11 he finds this very disturbing and i would not have used that terminology but i understand where rudy was coming from. he's again, as far as i'm concerned, an outstanding american. >> give me a yes or no. do you believe the president loves america? >> i think he does but he has a different level of intensity than i would or rudy would or others. does he love the country? sure. he's the president of the united states. >> so it was a blunder on his part, giuliani to make an assertion like that. you believe that? >> no i wouldn't say a blunder. i would say rudy expressed it the way i wouldn't have said it. on the other hand i know what rudy was trying to say. i have too much respect for rudy to say it was a blunder.
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i just would have said it differently. >> should he apologize to the president? >> no. i think rudy has explained what he meant. i think that's enough. again, when i think of all the things said about george bush and how bush lied and people died and somehow president bush didn't care or even president obama himself or senator obama then back in 2008 when he said that president bush was unpatriotic. no listen again, rudy has said it, he's explained what he meant. i thought today's op-ed in the "wall street journal" laid it out pretty well. i hope maybe we can use this as a kickoff to a debate about what has to be done and why the president should show more intensity and emotion. >> more on this story coming up later. congressman, as usual, thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you. we will ask our security experts if it's time to put up metal detectors at entrances to shopping malls in the united states. also an update on the massive ice storm hitting texas and the deep south and turning highways and air travel into a slippery mess. stay with us.
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do you explain these photos?! [people gasping] objection your honor. sustained. with the x1 dvr library you could take anywhere, xfinity is perfect for people on the go. back to our top story, a new threat aimed at westerners including the american heartland from al qaeda's ally in africa, the al shabab group behind a siege on a shopping mall in kenya is now calling for attacks on malls here in the united states as well as in canada and britain. in this country, the group singled out the giant mall of america in minnesota. let's go in depth with our national security analyst, fran townsend. she was homeland security advisor to president bush. and our law enforcement analyst tom fuentes, former fbi assistant director.
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fran does al shabab have the ability to actually carry out a coordinated attack on a mall or malls here in the united states? >> you know wolf i think when we talk about do they have the capability we ought to define what we mean. if the question is do they have the ability to launch an attack like the westfield mall in kenya that we saw them execute, i think the answer to that is no. our intelligence our law enforcement, our warning system is just better now in the united states than it ever has been and while nothing is perfect, we have the sort of intelligence capability that that large scale an attack with that large a group to execute it would likely be i think detected both by state, local and federal law enforcement intelligence agencies. on the other hand we also know what a couple of guys with guns can do in terms of chaos and terror and murder that they can visit upon a mall. a mall is an open environment, very difficult to control and so
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in that instance could they carry off a smaller sort of lone wolf type or smaller scale cell attack probably. not just in the mall of america but at any sort of open event here in the united states. but that's again, why you have training you have prevention you have resiliency and you've got intelligence information that's shared between federal authorities and state and locals. >> that mall by the way, in kenya was westgate mall. no connection to westfield. they say they are going to go after westfield malls in the u.s., the uk elsewhere as well. so there's a little confusion on that. but that's the concern, though. by singling out, tom, that they want to go after this mall of america outside minneapolis-st. paul the suggestion is they are trying to inspire let's say somali americans or others to go ahead and do some sort of horrible terror attack. >> something like that can always happen and don't forget we have enough psychopaths in
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this country that don't need any help. we have the aurora, colorado shooting sandy hook elementary. we have had attack after attack conducted by our garden variety people in this country, not even connected to terrorism. the fact that they might inspire somebody as fran mentioned, that is really in my mind the only real worry that they have that that could happen. >> this latest video that al shabab put out, some are suggesting was more a public relations move. they seem to be in some sort of crazy competition with al qaeda in the arabian peninsula or isis. they want to dominate the terror dialogue. they want to get some attraction out there. what do you make of that? >> i have to say, you have heard me say this before isis has got probably the slickest propaganda machine we have seen ever from a terrorist group. these hollywood productions, multiple camera angles and edits, you know professional style graphics it is intended to appeal not just to people in the region but to people around the world.
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you can send these videos around the world as a recruiting tool and you don't ever have to cross a border or pick up a phone where an intelligence service might be able to intercept you and identify you for targeting. so we have to view these for what they are. these are propaganda meant to recruit and inspire people well outside the battlefield to either come to the battlefield or act in the countries where they reside. >> should we expect to see metal detectors or at least security personnel at entrances to malls in the united states as we see at verizon center you go to a sporting event, or madison square garden you go to a sporting event. are we going to see that kind of enhanced security at entrances to malls in the united states? >> i don't think it's anywhere near as practical for a mall as it might be in a more confined area like a stadium or sporting event. also if you are going to do the malls, we see our reporters out in front of this mall in minnesota, the wind chill's ten below zero. are we going to have citizens with their little children lined up out into the parking lot in the middle of winter waiting to go through the security to get
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into the mall? that's one aspect. secondly these malls, when you have an event that's a limited number of hours at verizon center, but these malls, the employees start showing up at 8:00 in the morning and then the malls open until 10:00, 11:00 at night and the employees are still there until midnight. you would have to have that kind of security practically 24 hours. what about the trucks that bring in all of the supplies of goods that get sold in malls, the food for the food courts. it would just be an unbelievable task and if one mall could do it how could we do it across the country. >> we will have much more on this part of the story coming up here in "the situation room." stand by. still ahead, temperatures plunging across the south just as a massive new storm hits. at the top of the hour we will get back to our top story, the nation's top intelligence agencies admit there are now new blind spots preventing them from tracking potential terrorists here in the united states.
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we'll have much more later this hour and next on the new terrorist calls for attacks on shopping malls in the united states and canada but we are also watching a very dangerous ice storm hitting 33 million people in texas and across the deep south. take a look at these live pictures from oklahoma city where traffic has stalled on icy roads. near dallas one driver had some fun sliding across an empty parking lot, but roads, highways and airport runways, they are very very slippery.
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look at that guy slipping and sliding. let's go to cnn's martin savidge, joining us just southwest of dallas with more. what's it like there, martin? >> reporter: wolf this is the second time in a week the south is dealing with weather. they are certainly not accustomed to it. in dallas it wasn't feet of snow they woke up to it was about a quarter of an inch of ice. but that is incredibly treacherous and it made the morning commute downright dangerous for many people. in amarillo texas, there was a large pileup of vehicles this morning and that's just one example of what it was like trying to get around. on top of that if you were flying into say, dallas-ft. worth or into love field, there were hundreds of flights that were canceled in and out of there today. the roads, of course, were very hard to pass on. then there was just the job. many people decided it wasn't worth the risk. there were a lot of businesses closed, government offices in many cases were shut down as were most of the schools in the affected area. here's the problem. it warmed up okay today, got very close to freezing somewhat
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of a thaw now it's getting bone-chilling cold again tonight. that means tomorrow morning, look out. it is going to be another tricky commute and by the way, it even canceled court here in texas, the site of the american sniper trial. it will resume hopefully, weather permitting tomorrow morning. wolf? >> martin savidge, thank you very much. let's get the latest forecast now from our meteorologist, jennifer gray. she's at the cnn severe weather center. jennifer, what is the forecast? >> well the good news is most of that ice has pushed out of the dallas area but like martin said be careful. all of that slush that's on the roadways will freeze overnight so it is going to make a dangerous commute again tomorrow. now all of that sleet and freezing rain is pushing along the i-20 corridor in north louisiana from shreveport monroe and right around jackson, mississippi, that's where we are seeing a mix. we are seeing that freezing rain on the south side of jackson, just straight rain so it is dangerous all along i-20. still getting snow anywhere from oklahoma city to little rock
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memphis even getting a little bit of that as well. we also have those winter storm warnings in effect even for colorado. utah ski resorts very happy about the snow. of course in the south, not the case. dallas dropped their winter weather advisory and reissued a winter storm watch. this is for tomorrow night into wednesday. we have another winter storm right on its heels. they could say one to three inches in the metroplex. in the meantime the storm we are talking about now could bring freezing rain to places like charleston south carolina. as we move forward in time we could get a little bit of a mix for northern alabama and mississippi as well as georgia. we could see some snow north of atlanta, could get a little bit of a mix right around the i-20 corridor as we go through tonight into tomorrow. it will push offshore very quickly. we are also going to be talking about very cold temperatures wolf. we could see temperatures 30 and 40 degrees below average for texas, north louisiana into arkansas oklahoma as well.
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20 to 30 degrees below average for portions of the midwest and that does include the northeast. we are going to see wind chill values very very cold tomorrow. we could see temperatures feeling like five to 15 degrees below normal. that does include boston. your morning temperature will feel like 15 below tomorrow. new york city will feel like five below. so this bitter cold is not going anywhere any time soon. >> too bad. jennifer thanks very much. coming up soft targets. security officials from coast to coast are looking for potential problems after the latest terror threat to shopping malls. plus today's startling admission that the nation's top intelligence agencies have quote, blind spots preventing them from identifying and stopping potential jihadists before they strike. i bring the gift of the name your price tool to help you find a price that fits your budget. uh-oh.
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i'm in the fourth quarter of my presidency. or as some of you might call it the kickoff for your campaign season. >> president obama welcomed the nation's governors to the white house with a jab at republicans in the white house who want to move in after the 2016 election. some of them like the wisconsin governor scott walker, have a problem that apparently won't go away. rudy giuliani's attempts at president control after saying the president doesn't love america. dana bash is here in "the situation room." she has the latest on this story which doesn't seem to be going away. >> the way that candidates reacted turned into a test of
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what kind of campaign they intend to run. it was not a welcome test. now that ghoul leeiuliani is trying to clarify, it's opening up the debate again. my bluntness overshadowed my message. none of those words were i'm sorry. he did try to put out the fire he ignited by questioning the president's love for america saying he was really questioning obama's willingness to talk about american greatness. i hope the intention behind those words can be the basis for a real conversation about national leadership he wrote. he means press obama's leadership but it shined the light on republicans who want to be the next president, exposing an early divide in the gop field. those looking beyond the republican base -- >> i believe the president loves america. i think his ideas are bad. >> and those whose silence appeals to the base. >> i'm not going to dment on what the president thinks or not. he can speak for himself.
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>> for scott walker who cat poelted in the polls after a strong speech last month to iowa conservatives, that non-answer is now part of a pattern. over the weekend, he said i don't know to a question from "the washington post" about whether obama is a christian. i've never asked him that he added. you have asked me to make statements about people that i haven't had a conversation with about that. obama's religion has been part of the national political conversation for years, with some opponents questioning his christianity despite his own talk about his christian faith. >> certainly strengthed me with the power through his spirit as i sought his guidance not just in my own life but in the life of our nation. >> the fact that walker left any lingering doubt about something as politically sensitive as obama's christianity left walker open to criticism he is pand deringder ing ing to a power dl group. i learned from a walker source that the governor intends to hit
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the theme again in his speech tonight in nashville. he plans to say he refuses to engage in what you calls manufactured crises of the media. he is saying that he doesn't want to answer questions about manufactured crises of the day. we're not going to play that game. that and more tonight. >> more on this story coming up in the next hour. thanks very much. coming up also an isis released video, new video. u.s. spy chief says there are blind spots in tracking terrorists. an al qaeda ally calls for an attack on heart of america. "finding jesus" blends science and archaeology to offer insights into ancient artifacts that could be linked to jesus. >> an unprecedented cnn event. he didn't vanish. without leaving a trace. >> for the first time in history, we're able to place
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happening now, malls targeted. a terrorist group that's massacred shoppers calling for new attacks, including right here in the united states. are you at risk at your local mall? terror blind spots. the head of the national security agency reveals troubling new lapses in america's ability to track killers in isis and stop them from launching attacks. kayla mueller's parents are speaking out about the nightmare of her capture and a deal that may have doomed her to die. much of the u.s. getting hit with another dangerous winter hit. welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you are in "the situation room."
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security is ramped up at one of the largest malls in the united states in response to a terrorist threat against shopping centers in the u.s. canada and britain. the homeland security secretary warning visitors to the mall of america to be particularly careful after the complex was targeted by the taer group al shabab. as the u.s. battles terror on multiple fronts shgz the head of the nsa is delivering a new warning. there are serious new blind spots in america's ability to track terrorists and prevent attacks. the top state department spokeswoman, she is standing by along with our correspondents and analysts covering all the news that's breaking right now. first let's go to our justice correspondent pamela brown with more on the threat to malls in the united states and around the world. what are you learning? >> reporter: tonight, we have learned that the fbi in minneapolis as well as other law
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enforcement there have stepped up security in the wake of all this including put are more personnel he at the mall of america and boosting information sharing. of course the big concern here is that the latest propaganda video could encourage lone wolf attacks, particularly by those who live near mall the america. the new video, which cnn is not showing, calls for attacks against specific malls in the u.s. canada and great britain. it appears to be designed to inspire local wolves to launch strikes similar to the one on the westgate mall in kenya. it was attacked nearly two years ago. 60 people died during the four-day standoff. today, in an effort to keep shoppers coming the owner released a statement saying there is no threat. but less than 24 hours earlier, homeland security chief jeh johnson suggested something
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different when asked on cnn about the mall of america, one of the shopping centers mentioned in the video threat. >> if anyone is planning to go to the mall of america today, they have to be particularly careful. >> reporter: tonight u.s. law enforcement officials suggest johnson was suggesting caution, saying it's unlikely the terrorist group has the capability to launch an attack. what's more concerning with those who still might be inspired especially those living near the mall of america. >> you have a launch somalyi community there. a lot turning to islam. they are hoping that someone will pick up the flag and attack the mall of america. >> reporter: cnn has learned the fbi and department of homeland security have sent a warning asking law enforcement agencies to stay vigilant. today the mall of america tested its readiness. the fbi has long conducted mock
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attacks at u.s. shopping centers. a series of mall shootings in the past few years, including a deadly shooting at this mall in nebraska in 2007 show how shopping centers could be easy targets. >> any place americans congregate is vulnerable to attack. there's nothing we can do. we're an open society. you can't arrest somebody for having a bad thought. with the availability of chemicals and automatic weapons in this country, we are at risk. >> reporter: national security experts say it's difficult to protect the soft targets in the u.s. like training movie theaters and sporting events. many national security analysts who have been speaking with today say the video is a sign they may be trying to compete with isis. they have been using these videos to recruit. perhaps al shabab is trying to do the same. >> pamela blounrown thanks very
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much. let's go to the mall of america, mentioned in the video that was put out. what's the latest there, brian? >> reporter: wolf, a considerable ramping up of security here at the mall of america. it's a massive challenge to do that. this mall has over 80 acres to patrol and monitor. it has over a dozen entrances. we have been inside today. we got a behind the scenes tour of the security protocols that are being put in place. listen as in addition to what they are saying about ramping up security here they are counting on the public who is coming to the mall to help them out if they see something wrong. listen to bloomington police chief. >> as people come to the mall or other malls, be aware of your surroundings. if you see something that doesn't fit in call law enforcement. we will check it out. >> reporter: of course the concern here is twofold.
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you have somalis who have been recruited to fight from this community. al shabab has launched a major attack on a mall before the westgate mall in kenya. those two factors, wolf have ramped up concern for a possible lone wolf attack on this mall here in minneapolis. >> i know there have been drills there as this ramped up security goes on. explain that. tell us if you are seeing a lot more police officers, vehicles, around the mall. >> reporter: actually not seeing a lot more police officers around the mall patrolling. there is a little bit of an increased presence but they're not making it overwhelming as far as the visible eye. what they are doing is ramping up security in other ways. hundreds of surveillance cameras. they have a social media station here where they are monitoring social media chatter that's coming in. they do have k-9 dog teams going around trying to find possible explosive devices.
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and they have people who are behavioral specialists trained to profile people who are acting suspiciously pull them aside and question them. all of that being ramped up tonight. >> brian todd at the mall of america in minnesota, thank you. u.s. intelligence agencies are scrambling to respond to the threats. they are dealing with a new disadvantage. the head of the nsa is going public with a specific problem. let's go to jim sciutto for details. >> reporter: wolf this was a frank assessment from the head of the nsa and the military cyber command acknowledging that one of the most formidable intelligence agencies in the world has new blind spots in tracking terrorists such as isis which is impacting the u.s. capability to prevent new terror attacks. here is what he had to say this morning. isis advertising its brutality
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once again. parading captured kurdish soldiers in cages, like the one where the captured jordanian pilot met his death. despite distributing propaganda on social media, the head of the nsa acknowledged new blied spots in tracking terrorists like isis as they have altered and conceal concealed their communication in the wake of revelations by edward snowden. >> it has an impact on our ability to figure out what terrorist groups are doing. >> do you have blind spots that you didn't have prior to the revelation? >> have i lost capability that we had prior to the revelation? yes. >> how much of that concerns you? >> it concerns me a lot. >> reporter: still, isis has not pulled back its messages on the web. releasing videos like this one showing an isis training camp
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for children. wearing camouflage and isis bandannas, the group calls these kids their cubs. they identified another danger to the u.s. cyberattacks with the capability to inflict significant damage on the homeland. >> it's only a matter of time before we see destructive offensive actions taken against critical u.s. infrastructure. >> which states are capable of carrying out an attack like that. >> we have talked about concerns with china and what they are doing in cyber. clearly, the russians and others have capabilities. we're mindful of that. >> reporter: theed ed admiral admits the u.s. capability to deter such a cyberattack and prevent further escalation remains "immature" despite the growing threat. >> we clearly are not where we need to be where i think we want to be. this is still the early stages of cyber in many ways.
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we're going to have to work our way through this. >> reporter: he was asked an interesting question if foreign intelligence agencies are monitoring u.s. cell networks. he made clear that that is very likely as well. >> very likely? >> reporter: very likely. >> the isis threat is escalating. now there's a new call for a united arab military force to join the fight. tell us about that. >> reporter: this is coming from egypt's president. he said the need for a unified air force is growing and becoming more pressing everybody day. egypt is facing the threat from isis now on two fronts. in the east and the west. in libya, this is a direct operational tie to isis not just rebranding islam is rebanning themselves. jordan and the uae have offered help. last week during the president's countering violence conconference
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i met with arabs who want a unified response a strategy to confront isis outside of iraq and syria as they spread more and more in places such as egypt and yemen and further afield. >> it would be encouraging if they could do that. thanks very much. let's get more now. >> great to be here. >> thank you for coming in. what do you think of the recommendation that there be some sort of joint combined arab military force to go out there and crush isis? >> well there's a lot more we need to learn. we have seen proposeals like this put out there in the past. there's no question that with the recent events with the death of the jordanian pilot, with the events in libya, many arab countries have redoubled their commitment to this. we have seen a pickup in military action and a number of the other areas. the question is what does that mean? how will it be different? we will have discussions and we will see what they proposing. >> are you talking to the
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president about his proposal? on the surface, it sounds exactly what the united states wants, let those countries in the region get their ground forces involved to destroy isis so that the u.s. doesn't have to send in boots on the ground. >> we will be. egypt is an important partner. we will continue to talk with a number of the other arab countries as well. they are all taking military action right now in iraq and syria. we're not going to be limited by where isil poses a threat. we will have discussions. we will go after isil wherever it poses us a threat. >> do you support the egyptian air strikes that have been going on against isis targets in neighboring libya after they murdered 21 egyptian christians in libya? >> i think everybody in the world watched what happened to the 21 christians and were horrified on behalf of egypt. we saw them take action. the issue is here as you are familiar with is is that libya has had a lot of internal strife. they have had a lot of battles
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going on. there's a u.n. process working very hard to work that through. we think a political process is the best way to address the strife going on on the ground. we will have continued discussions about how to address isil. we see that as a separate issue. >> you don't support the air strikes against -- >> we support egypt's decision and the steps they took to defend themselves. we need to continue to have a discussion about where isil poses a threat moving forward. and also respect the fact that outside intervention has not proven to be productive as it relates to the ongoing political strife in libya. >> for all practical purposes libya, which the u.s. helped liberate it's a failed state. it's a basket case. >> it's volatile. libya is a place we wish we had a diplomatic presence. there's a lot of work that needs to be done. there's a process being done by the u.n. we're supporting that.
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a number of countries are supporting that. we want to see that work its way through. >> on a mill tear require to military relationship, how is the relationship with egypt right now? i know you have had concerns about the president's policies domestic policies going after the muslim brotherhood, going after journalists, freedom of speech issues. on a military to military intelligence to intelligence relationship how would you describe the u.s./egyptian connection? >> we have a strong security relationship. we have taken steps, including providing assistance releasing helicopters over the past several months because we believe the threats that pose -- that egypt is dealing with in the sinai and other areas are something that we want to help them deal with. we understand their security concerns. it doesn't mean we don't speak out when we have concerns about other issues whether human rights or media freedoms. that's our responsibility and consistent with our values. >> stand by. the state department spokeswoman. we have more to discuss, including the al shabab threat
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back with the state department spokeswoman. we're watching the latest al shabab al qaeda affiliate video making direct threats against shopping malls in the u.s. canada u.k. how big of a threat is al shabab to the u.s. >> let's call this what it is. it's a propaganda video to instill fear. we take every threat seriously. the dhs and the fbi looked into this. there's no credible threat against the mall of america, against malls around the
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country. do we need to remain vigilant? absolutely. but there's no credible threat. >> what if these videos inspire a lone wolf some kid in minneapolis to go out and do something? that's the great fear, isn't it in ? >> we need to remain vigilant. al shabab mass never coordinated an attack outside of africa. if we separate from that one of the things we're talking about around the world is things like copycat attacks and people being inspired which is a sick way of describing it by some of the terrorist organizations. that's why we're talking about this. that's why we need to continue to raise attention to these issues. >> why is isis so good in the social media, the videos high-quality videos they put out? the u.s. the u.k. europeans, everybody else who is fighting isis including in the middle east arab -- friendly arab countries so bad in social media? >> that's quite a way of
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describing it. there's no question what we're combating with isil's propaganda machine is something we have seen before. we are seeing 90,000 tweets a day that we're combating. this is one of the reasons why the coalition is very focused on the propaganda piece. who is the right voice? it's not necessarily the american people. it's not necessarily western earns. it's probably people in the region. that's something that was a big topic of discussion last week at the conference. >> you have a little office now, you are creating at the state department you are expanding it to try to fight them in the area of social media, whether tweets or facebook or whatever. >> we are. we're seeing their approach evolve. we need to make sure ours are evolving and we're combating it. using every resource. >> you have a lot of work to do in this area. >> we do. >> it's crazy when you think about it since we invented the social media and they are better
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after it and going after targets. >> thesy use it in many different ways. it's something that we have had many people from different parts of the federal government looking at thinking about how we can go after. we're going to pick it up now. we have new people in charge of the office. we will see what happens over the coming months. >> you heard jim sciutto's report. he spoke with the head of the nsa, mike rogers not the former chairman of the house intelligence committee. he says there are blind spots. the u.s. is having trouble monitoring some of the terrorists. how big of a problem is this? >> one of the issues i saw in the report he talked about was cyber security. there's no question that this is a relatively newer issue that the united states is dealing with. it's also an issue where the approaches and the way that those who plan to do us harm continue to take different approaches. we need to evolve. we deal with thousands of cyber security threats a day in the
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federal government even in the state department. he is talking about an issue that we're very cognizant of and we need to continue to determine the right way to combat it. >> he is suggesting the snowden -- he is responsible for causing the gap. do you agree sdm? >> i won't disagree with a well-known and well-spektrrespected leader from the nsa. there's no question that the information put out there has raised this issue. we're dealing with cyber security threats from a range of sources. that's something that we grapple with every day. >> there was heart wrenching sound we heard from the parents of kayla mueller, the american humanitarian aide worker who went into syria, taken by isis and obviously is now dead. the parents, the relatives, they are very upset that you, the u.s. government would not allow some sort of ransom to be paid for her freedom, even though you
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did allow a swap for sergeant bergdahl, releasing five taliban prisoners. you were willing to negotiate on that to get his freedom but you weren't willing to negotiate to get her freedom. >> well i think one thing to be very clear about is we take a number of steps to bring american citizens including kayla mueller, home. nobody can understand the pain her family is going through aside from them. that's something that we respect and our hearts go out to them. the fact is that ransom payments we have seen that they put more american citizens at risk they make them a higher value target. there's a reason we have that policy. it's painful. it's something that people don't always understand. but the policy is in place for a reason. the president said a week or two ago that this is one of the most difficult issues that he has to communicate with families about. >> did the release of the five taliban prisoners encourage
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isis these other terror groups to take other americans, military or civilian for that matter, knowing they would get something in return? >> look i think there's nothing more i can outline for you in terms of what their motivations were. some of the issues are speculation. i just don't have anything more for you on it. i do think that if you look at ransom payments and what we have seen around the world, this is a risk. we have a policy for a reason because we want to protect american citizens. we don't want to put them at greater risk. the issue is we don't leave men and women behind either servicemen and women. that's why we did the trade for bergdahl. that was a situation that was very different from american hostages being held overseas. >> thanks very much for coming in. we know you are leaving state department to work for the president at the white house. good luck over there. >> thank you. >> appreciate it very much. just ahead, we will talk about the ways that other terror groups are trying to outdo isis with flashy videos and murderous threats. dangerous snow ice and cold
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we're following the new threat against shopping malls, including the mall of america in minnesota. the homeland security secretary jeh johnson warning visitors to
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be particularly careful after al shabab singled out that mall. let's get more with james reese, tom fuentes, philip mudd and peter bergen. tom, you are a former assistant director of the fbi. how concerned should americans be about going to the local mall? >> i think they should go ahead and go. the security measures that are ramped up are going to be adequate. al shabab is putting out threats that they can't carry out long distance. they might be able to inspire a lone wolf. but that could happen anywhere. >> could they commit a massive attack on a mall along the scale of what they clearly did in kenya? >> no. they border the country of kenya. they were able to sneak shooters to conduct the attack. it was four that conducted the attack. it should not have resulted in
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as many deaths except the kenyan authorities stood around for ten hours deciding what to do before they entered the mall. many victims bled to death. they that would never happen here. the training practice preparation, discipline and the leadership at all levels federal, state and local, it would not be duplicated here. >> more than 60 people were killed at that mall in kenya. philip mudd tell us about the intention behind al shabab's latest threat. how does this fit into the terror prop ganaganda machine? >> the simple is straightforward. i don't think al shabab has a strategic capability in the united states. our first suicide bomber was a somali who went to al shabab from minnesota. there will be sympathizers in the country. al shabab is trying to get an echo affect among them. the more subtle point is al shabab is watching isis
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watching al qaeda. in the past couple years, they have been on their heels because african forces have moved them out of the capital and continue to constrain the geographic space within which they operate. some of this is an attempt at aggressive operations or inspiring aggressive operations in the united states. some of it in my view is a reflection of al shabab's weakness in their intent to remain relevant. >> will it resonate this latest video, if they're trying to inspire a lone wolf or a group of individuals to go out there and commit a terror attack whether here in the united states in canada the u.k. or elsewhere? will it work? >> it could resonate. i mean i'm in total agreement with tom and phil. al shabab is under huge pressure. they used to control somalia and the capital. they don't. the mall attack was a sign of weakness. if the idea was to attack kenya, they ended up attacking the
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military. they ended up attacking an undefended mall. this is a group that is not doing well. its ability to -- it doesn't have a support network in the united states. >> there's some that believe al shabab is in some sort of competition with isis or aqap. they are looking for publicity because they don't watt the other groups to get all the attention. do you buy that? >> wolf no i don't. the bottom line is there's an economy that comes about this. a lot of the fighters for all the elements they are mercenaries. they are men that have been trained throughout the years around the world. they are looking to get paid. right now, isis is the one that has the money. aqap has a funding source. i see this as everyone else said. this is a ploy to try to raise their profile, possibly get funding, help their people. i think they are fluttering right now.
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>> colonel reese, this otheraganda video is designed to teach cubs or young kids islamic principles so they will grow up and become isis militants or fighters if you will. what do you make of this video? >> you know i look at it and this has been out for a couple weeks. it looks like it's one of our jujitsu places that we have that we're training our young soldiers bottom levels to raise it up. i think -- >> why are these terror groups better at social media than the united states? >> it's clear to me you have never worked in the u.s. government. to coordinate among u.s.
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agencies something as cutting edge as participating in twitter to my mind is asking too much. there's a couple of things seriously, going on here. i think trying to influence from washington, d.c. what the islamic world thinks about thousands of miles away is almost fekless. we will never be effective at it. that's not who we are. going back to my earlier point, i don't think a centralized government burreaucracy trying to respond minute by minute to a public relations campaign from an organization that does not have the same constraints is going to work that well. governments can't move that quickly. >> do you agree, peter, that government-sponsored twitter campaign or social media campaign to convince young people in the muslim world or elsewhere in europe or here in the united states no the to join the terror groups is doomed to failure? >> i'm not saying doomed to failure. i agree with phil.
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the state department is doing. the french are doing something. isis doesn't do irony. but there's irony here which these are aern tools. >> we created these. >> they are using them all the time. the fact is the state department is trying to get out there and. there's an easy message, these groups claim to defend islam but most victims are muslim. that's a message that resonates. >> al shabab is not al qaeda. we call them an al qaeda affiliate. they authorize franchises to call yourself al qaeda. he has since bin laden. he doesn't allow it if your goals are nationalistic. that's what al shabab has been from the beginning. they want to take over sewomalia. that was always a requirement to
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say, now you are al qaeda. if you kill westerners going after the u.s. and western europeans, fine. if you are worried about your own internal politics in your country, don't call us. don't use our name. >> don't go too far away. unfortunately, the story is staying with us. just ahead, another story we're following here in the united states millions of americans shivering as a new arctic blast moves in creating treacherous conditions from much of texas. we will go there live. giuliani stepping back from his claim the president does not love america. he is not saying he is sorry about what he said. we will get some analysis of what's going on. stay with us. you get sick you can't breathe through your nose suddenly, you're a mouth breather. a mouth breather! well, put on a breathe right strip and shut your mouth. cold medicines open your nose over time, but add a breathe right strip and pow, it opens your nose up to 38% more. so you can breathe and do the one thing you want to do
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insurance in a whole new light. liberty mutual insurance. large portions of the united states are gripped by life-threatening cold right now thanks to a new arctic blast. millions of americans are shivering in wind shilchills as cold as 20 below zero. texas is seeing snow and ice, making travel difficult and potentially deadly. martin savidge is joining us from outside dallas. what are the conditions like? >> reporter: this is what a winter storm looks like in texas. it's not so much the snow. it's the ice. in this parking lot, it's a
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quarter of enan inch thick. that's the way the roads look when it came to the morning commute. it was treacherous. whether you were driving on the highway, whether you took on the regular commute or whether you decided to maybe try and get out via the airport. there were 1,000 flights coming and going that were canceled out of dallas and lovefield. if you were driving the highways you found many businesses were closed. a lot of government buildings were shut down. most of the schools in this part of texas were closed down as well. amarillo texas, the traffic nightmare there that unfolded was actually duplicated in a number of places across the state as multiple pileups were reported. it's only expected to be worse tomorrow because what thaws during the heat of the day will re-freeze. they say the morning commute is really going to be dangerous. we should point out, this wasn't the only tough place in the nation. it was snowing in las vegas. you are seeing the west and in
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particular the south is suffering for the second time in a week taking on weather they are definitely not accustom to. >> snowing in vegas. let's bring in jennifer gray. what does it look like in the next day or two? >> two winter storms in the south. we are looking at a third in a couple of days. one right on the heels of this one. we are starting to see the ice, freezing rain sleet tapered off in the dallas area for now. shreveport getting a tail end. i-20 corridor a rough go as we go through the evening. jackson, mississippi, right on that line getting rain on the south end and then freezing rain and sleet on the north end. little rock still in the snow. even memphis getting a little bit of snow as we go throughout the evening hours. the wintry mix will continue. we do have another winter storm watch in effect for dallas. they dropped it and then reissued it for tomorrow night into wednesday.
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could pick up another one to three inches of snow as we go through tuesday night into wednesday. of course this winter system is still making its way through the south. we could see a wintry mix even snow as we go through mississippi, alabama, even into north georgia by tonight into tomorrow. timing this out, it will all end for texas and louisiana as we go through the overnight hours. then we will see it pop up again as we go through northern alabama, north georgia by tomorrow morning and pushing offshore. even south carolina possibly getting freezing rain by tomorrow around midday. here is the next system already making its way through wednesday morning commute. we could see more snow and ice in dallas texas, all of east texas and then southern arkansas and then wednesday afternoon, pushing into mississippi, alabama, even into north georgia. atlanta forecasting snow and possible winter mix wednesday. pushing out into the carolinas,
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virginia d.c. getting snow thursday afternoon. temperatures are also going to stay well below normal. we have 30 and 40 degree below average temperatures expected for tonight into tomorrow morning. 20 to 30 degree below average temperatures as you head into the midwest. the south and the deep freeze could get another round of this winter weather in the next 48 hours. >> jennifer gray with that. it's going to be cold for several more days. thank you. just ahead, giuliani trying to explain his controversial remarks about president obama. he stopped short of apologizing to the president. one likely republican presidential candidate is now feeling the fallout. ♪♪ nineteen years ago, we thought "wow, how is there no way to tell the good from the bad?" so we gave people the power of the review. and now angie's list is revolutionizing local service again. you can easily buy and schedule services from top-rated providers. conveniently stay up to date on progress.
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article in "the wall street journal" is not quelling the controversy he started when he said that president obama loves america. he didn't apologize but did say that he didn't intend to question the president's motives. and now a likely presidential candidate scott walker the wisconsin governor, is feeling a lot of the heat. he's refused to comment on rudy giuliani's remarks and whether he believes president obama is a christian. walker accuses the news media of playing what he calls a gotcha game. let's dig deeper with dana bash senior political analyst ron brownstein and cnn political correspondent brianna keilar. he's hunted scott walker on a lot of these issues which is i
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guess generating a lot of criticism of him suggesting maybe he's not ready for the national spotlight. >> certainly he talked privately to a lot of republicans, as i've done all day about this and they say, look, it's not difficult to answer this question without answering it. you just need a little more finesse, probably a little bit more experience on the national stage. but from the perspective of scott walker and his aides that i have spoken to today believe that is what is wrong with washington and he's giving a speech tonight in nashville. i'm told he's going to hit hard and talk about the fact that he's not going to talk about the manufacturing crisis of the media and people are trying to get him with gotcha questions. he's going to talk about the issues that he wants to talk about. the problem is what are we talking about? this as opposed to the issues that he doesn't want to talk about. >> this is clearly not a manufacturing cry says. this is what rudy giuliani america's mayor, if you will
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after 9/11 when he says the president of the united states doesn't love america, that becomes a big story. now, scott walker when he was in london a few weeks ago, refused to say whether or not he believes in evolution. what's going on here? is he trying to appeal to a very conservative base? >> i think this is the fascinating part of this. the promise of scott walker's candidacy, what many people in the republican party see, is that he probably has a better opportunity than anybody in the field to potentially bridge the more establishment part of the party and the more populous grassroots part of the party. he may be able to cross that divide in the party but what you're seeing -- and you're seeing this remarkable ascent in the polls. he's ahead in two polls in new hampshire or in second. what these suggest is that he may not be as ready as some people have thought to speak to the big, broad audience. they are mostly tilted towards the conservative base of the party and it indicates that
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maybe there is a need to grow if he's going to fulfill this role that his supporters think is possible. >> this is basic stuff. if you're a potential candidate, especially if you're sitting in the room when rudy giuliani says this you should be ready to answer this question. certainly have a much better answer than the one he had. >> if a reporter like dan asks you, do you believe the president is a christian, he says well i have never talked to him about it. i mean that's a pretty ridiculous answer. >> yeah. it is. >> i will tell you that the walker people say that he was surprised by the question that he went into the interview with "the washington post" thinking it was going to be about something very specific and completely different about what is going on in the state of wisconsin and that's why he ended the interview. >> has he now said he does believe the president of the united states is a christian? >> they clarified it pretty quickly with his office that of
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course he believes he's a christian. >> has he personally made a statement saying i believe the president of the united states is a christian? >> no. he did it through his office, though. >> it's not that complicated. >> i think what you're dealing with here is something that does not go away. there's a portion of the republican base and we've seen even in the twitter responses that you've mentioned since we've been talking about this today, a, po of the base that views the president as fundamentally illegitimate and really wants to see the most confrontational approach of him possible. and this is going to come back up in different ways in different manifestations and candidates have to figure out how to deal with it. john mccain was forceful in 2008 saying he was not going to question barack obama's patriotism. scott walker is making it tougher on himself than it needs to be but something that he's going to have to figure out how to deal with. >> he's not going to be on the ballot. it's the person you're going to be covering hillary clinton. so this is an early test of how they are going to approach their
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campaigns but when you look at the fundamental basics of it why waste it on this? >> the issue for scott walker is is he someone who can truly speak to the broad range of the public? that's the potential of his campaign. >> or can he answer a question is the other thing. he's been asked various times different questions. some hot button divisive topics but you have to answer a question. that is a pretty basic requirement of a potential candidate. >> has the op-ed that rudy giuliani wrote in today's "wall street journal" ended this issue for him or is he going to be dogged by it in the days and weeks to come? >> well i think rudy giuliani -- considering it's rudy giuliani who does not back up very often, i think he went a long way toward not quite apologizing but certainly clarifying his remarks. and i think he probably went as far as he's going to go towards answering this. i don't think this stays an issue in the republican primary as it is developing but i do think, as i said there's an
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impulse reflected here that is not going to go away and i think the candidates are going to deal with it in different manifestations through the primaries. >> you said dana the president shouldn't -- they shouldn't be talking about president obama. i don't think republicans should be talking about this when it comes to president obama but maybe they could talk about his policies which they could connect to hillary clinton who teams to be the candidate -- >> while i have you here dana -- >> yes. >> -- the department of homeland security if there's no funding approved by friday they are going to shut down in a dangerous moment right there. is there going to be a deal? >> right now there's no deal in sight. the senate majority leader made a move to try to get a vote for conservatives on what they have been wanting in the senate which is to do away with the president's executive action on immigration. that will now be later in the week. then how they are going to deal with the funding issue, to be determined. we don't know. >> this is where these two things intersect. to not give an inch to president
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obama on anything, to fight him as much as possible on everything that puts him in a difficult position. >> that versus governing. >> they are going to have to win the white house in 2016. >> hillary clinton is going to deliver a speech tomorrow. she's been in the background right? >> she has. she came out on some issues like the vaccines a few weeks ago but she hasn't touched this with a ten-foot pole. and when you talk to some people who are close to her, they are thrilled by what is going on with republicans. there's a story about the clinton foundation and donations coming from foreign governments and individuals. it's competing for oxygen with this story, with scott walker and rudy giuliani and they are quite happy on some of these to sit back and let republicans just take up some of the -- >> who would have thought it would be a dramatic political statement to come out for vaccines? >> all right, guys, thanks very much. that's it for me.
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thanks very much for watching. you can always follow us on twitter. tweet me @wolfblitzer. be sure to join us again tomorrow right here in "the situation room." erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next a new terror threat aimed at malls in the united states. security across the nation tightened as the homeland security secretary warns shoppers. how serious is the threat? plus college overdoses. police pointing to the popular drug molly. a report coming up on the surge of synthetic drug use. and the so-called road rage murder the suspect's lawyer speaks "outfront." we have disturbing information about the relationship between the suspect and the victim. let's go "outfront." good evening. i'm e

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