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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  November 5, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm PST

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homicide designed to look like murder. today the attention is turning to his family. messages uncovered from gliniewicz wife reveal his wife may have been part of the embezzlement scheme. she's listed as an adviser for which her husband which say was stealing. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. turning it over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." evidence of a bomb, officials say the specific nature of messages among isis members now leading u.s. intelligence to the belief that a bomb brought down a russian plane over egypt's sinai desert killing 224 people. america's response amid concerns that weak security or an airport insider could have allowed a bomb on board. we'll take a closer look at gaps and security abroad and airports right here in this country. could new precautions keep
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americans safe? disputed intelligence, russia and egypt say there's no evidence yet to support claims or theories that the plane was brought down by a bomb. i'll speak with egypt's foreign minister who says the u.s. and britain are not sharing their intelligence. and u.s. troops in sinai, did the growing isis presence in this important region a threat to u.s. peace keepers, are hundreds of american troops at risk right now? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. horrifying new images of smoking wreckage surface, president obama's now weighing in saying there is a possibility a bomb brought down the russian airliner over egypt's sinai peninsula. the u.s. is taking that very seriously. the british prime minister david cameron says it's, quote, more likely than not a bomb is to blame. that echoes u.s. officials who say intelligence suggests isis
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or its affiliates planted a device. they say the specific nature of chatter monitored after the crash drew their scrutiny and that other clues point to the possibility that an airport insider helped get a bomb on that plane. thousands of foreign tourists they're stranded right now in the egyptian resort town of sharm el sheikh. their flights grounded amid these terror concerns. they are set to resume the flights, we're told, but with new strict security measures in place. and as the first funerals for the 224 victims begin in russia, russian and egyptian officials are pushing back. they're pushing back hard on the bombing theory. and they're warning against jumping to conclusions. egypt says the u.s. and britain have not shared their intelligence. i'll speak with egyptian foreign minister this hour. and with house homeland security chairman congressman mike mccaul. our correspondents, analysts and guests have coverage of the day's top stories.
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let's begin with justice correspondent pamela brown. >> wolf, officials i've spoken with briefed on the latest intelligence say that a bomb bringing down the russian airliner remains a possibility that cannot be ignored based on concerning messages between terrorists not long after the crash. tonight u.s. intelligence officials say specific chatter from the isis affiliate in the sinai peninsula following the crash is leading american officials to suspect a bomb may be responsible for bringing down the plane. >> obviously there is a consensus building around the world that there was an explosive. and obviously if there was then isis would certainly be a prime candidate. >> intelligence sources tell cnn terrorists boasted in messages about planting a bomb on the plane. but officials caution the chatter alone is not definitive evidence. >> listen to chatter isn't foolproof. it can be used in ways to throw
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off someone who you know is listening in on your communications. >> isis in the sinai peninsula has shown bomb making capabilities before, but if the terrorists are responsible for smuggling a bomb aboard this flight, it would mark a significant step in their capabilities to launch further attacks. >> at this point we don't have information to make our own determination about what exactly occurred. but we do have enough information at this point to not rule out the possibility of terrorist involvement. >> there was no indication so far that passengers or crew aboard the flight had any connection to terror groups. so investigators are looking at a possible inside job. an unsophisticated bomb planted by an employee at egypt's sharm el sheikh airport. >> other than someone physically being on the plane initiating the device, we're really kind of limited to either a timing situation or a barometric pressure switch bringing down an aircraft. >> tonight egypt and russia are
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still pushing back saying it's too soon to know if terrorism was a play. and no final assessment has been made by u.s. officials about the cause. and that likely won't happen until forensic evidence and results from the black boxes are available. so while there is concern about a bombing, no one is jumping to conclusions, wolf. >> pamela, thank you. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr has been working her sources. barbara, tell us more about the nature of this possible isis communications connection that the u.s. intelligence community has been scrutinizing. >> well, wolf, what we are learning is u.s. intelligence, uk, british intelligence services all scrutinizing every piece of information they have. one of the keys theer thhere th looking at is this chatter that was monitored very soon after the plane fell out of the sky. very soon after this crash. what they were as they picked up chatter involving isis in sinai and isis affiliate operating in sinai communicating in some
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fashion with another element of the terrorist network. they believe that they were boasting, if you will, with very specific information about the bomb, the airplane and the attack. they're not exactly saying why, u.s. government officials that is, that they're not dismissing that as just simply a boast as terrorist groups often claim responsibility for attacks. this message however was not a public claim of responsibility. the u.s. monitored it in classified u.s. channels. not something that the u.s. was meant to hear by isis in sinai. so very much a focus trying to figure out what all of that means. it is one clue. it is one important clue. but as pamela was just saying, it is not the entire solution to this very disturbing puzzle. >> is there pretty much though a consensus what you're hearing in the u.s. intelligence community, barbara? >> no. i don't think that there is at this point actually. you talk to people and i think
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all of us at cnn are talking to our sources across the government and you hear this differing view. and you hear the basic caution. the evidence, the intelligence suggests a bomb as the british have said, potentially in their view more likely than not, but every step of the way it's very important i think to say we still hear the caution until the u.s. can get its hands on the actual physical evidence, if they ever can. the evidence of the wreckage, it will be very difficult to come to a definitive conclusion. and there is a lot of concern behind the scenes that the russians and egyptians provide that evidence to the world that everybody shares what they have. that is a big concern as well of the egyptian and russian governments it should be said. >> i'm going to ask the egyptian foreign minister later this hour if they're going to do so. thanks very much for that, barbara star at the pentagon. joining us now is chairman of the house homeland security
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committee republican congressman mike mccaul of texas. thanks very much for coming in. >> thanks for having me. >> the president says it's certainly possible there was a bomb on board. can you share with us what you're hear? >> well, i agree with him. i think all indicators point towards the fact this is very likely isis related bomb on the airplane. you can't rule out the fact that the tail of the aircraft may have broken off as it had weaknesses prior to that. but it seems to me all the indicators lead to this being an isis related event. this would be the largest terrorist attack on the aviation sector since 9/11. >> it's a huge development if in fact it was a bomb. when you say isis you mean isis in sinai, isis in syria, based in raqqa, an affiliate of isis, a supporter of isis, al qaeda, is there a specific group that the u.s. is focusing in on right now? >> that's the interesting thing. usually al qaeda in the arabian peninsula are the bombmakers.
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that's the crown jewel is the aviation sector. what we're seeing here this is more of an isis related event, it appears to be coming out of egypt. and of course they have communications out of raqqa in syria. but i will say it is too early to conclude anything. i know the investigators are on the ground. the black box, the forensics, so it is a little too early to conclude, but my gut as a former counterterrorism official, my gut's been all along that this is isis related event with a bomb on an airplane. >> so you're taking their boasts, their claims seriously? >> they don't always come out and claim ownership. they did in this case. and the fact they declared war on russia, isis did just recently after russia invaded syria. and the fact it was headed towards st. petersburg, there was virtually no time for the pilot to send a distress signal.
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and i think the satellite technology showed there was a heat blast on this airplane. all those indicators seem to point towards a bomb. >> all right. so you oversee the department of homeland security. you oversee the tsa. what should they be doing right now based on if in fact this was a bomb that was planted on this commercial airliner? >> i talked to secretary johnson. he's looking at tsa procedures particularly overseas. and i think it's important to tell the american people that any flight coming outside the united states, a direct flight into the u.s. would go through a more heightened screening procedure than what's in egypt. i think what they are looking at doing is maybe heightening the screening at some of these more hot spots across the world. but you have to have cooperation with the host country to do that. now, having said that you can have the best screening vetting procedures in the world, but if you have an inside job, inside operator who can smuggle something like this onto an
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aircraft, you can't stop that. >> because that's the suspicion in this particular case at sharm el sheikh someone who was an insider smuggled either in the cargo or the catering, something along those lines. >> and that's what we're really worried about is isis connection to the airport. of course you have the firing of the guy in charge of the airport at sharm el sheikh. >> tell me about that. >> well, he was fired because of i think what happened. i mean, obviously if a bomb did get on the airplane, he failed in that test. and so whether it got through the luggage screens we don't know. i think it would have been picked up by a magna tom ter. but if there's an inside job going on that involves corruption, that's a very hard thing to stop. >> and there are a lot of specific enemies not justice is or al qaeda for that matter but remnants of muslim brotherhood in sinai as well opposed to the egyptian government would be more than happy to embarrass the
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egyptian government. >> i think that's why the egyptian government is saying it's not a terrorist event, russians don't want it to be. they don't want a homeland security issue themselves. uk basically calling this an isis event. our officials are waiting until all the evidence comes in. i think that's appropriate. but, you know, this is interesting. if isis is now sort of evolving now into bomb making and blowing up airplanes, that's a major shift. al qaeda was the one that owned that space. if isis is doing this, that is a direct threat i think not only to europe and the middle east but to american flights as well. >> the president of the united states has just spoken out about this. we're going to show our viewers or play for our viewers what he just said. standby. mike mccaul chairman of the house homeland security committee. much more right after this.
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ncht we're back with the chairman of the house homeland security committee, mike mccaul, back to him in a moment. first as funerals begin for the 224 victims of the russian airliner crash, russia is not prepared to embrace the idea it was targeted by isis for its military role in syria. cnn military affairs correspondent elise labott is looking into all of this. elise, if isis did do all this, how would it change the equation
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potentially for russia? >> wolf, you're right. the kremlin continues to dismiss the british conclusion backed by u.s. officials that a bomb brought down the russian jet. but if the suspicions prove true, president vladimir putin's record of dealing with terrorists suggest his response will be tough and is likely to intensify his military intervention in syria. vladimir putin delivering a message of assurance to a grieving and fearful russian public as evidence mounts that isis may have brought down the airliner. >> translator: we will always be protecting your interests, especially in difficult, critical situations like libya, syria or yemen. >> reporter: putin wasn't ready to concede it was a terrorist act, but today the british prime minister left little doubt. >> we cannot be certain that the russian airliner was brought down by a terrorist bomb. but it looks increasingly likely that that was the case. >> reporter: isis threatened
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russia just last week vowing revenge after putin bombed the group's bases and weapons depots in syria. soon after the plane was ripped apart at 30,000 feet, isis claimed responsibility in a subsequent video an isis fighter with a message for putin delivered in russian. >> translator: would like to congratulate our brothers from the sinai peninsula for having hit this plane. >> reporter: if the claims prove true, putin could use the attack to justify his growing presence in syria with 90% of russian air strikes currently targeting rebels battling his ally bashar al assad, the u.s. hopes putin will now turn his full attention to his stated target, isis. >> we know exactly where russian military aircraft are operating. and we know exactly what they're hitting. and they are not spending anywhere near the bulk of their time against isil. >> reporter: putin cemented popularity at home by questioning separatists in shech
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chechnya, after exploding airliners, a siege on a theater and school. if russia is now directly in the firing line, putin may once again come under pressure from his people to forcibly response. >> putin has claimed to be sort of one of the foremost counterterrorism mavens and leaders of the world. for him this would be a blow of prestige. >> now, russia has suggesting the u.s. and its allies have a political motive to push the terror attack theory. demonstrating a high cost of military intervention could dampen russian support for assad and prompt putin to cut a deal for a political settlement. but if this incident was a terrorist attack, kremlin's watchers say the russian people will see the campaign as a way of neutralizing the threat before it reaches the homeland and give support to president putin, wolf. >> all right. elise, thanks very much. elise labott reporting. we're talking with house homeland security committee chairman republican congressman mike mccaul, the itv, british
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news network, just reporting that the british government came to this conclusion it was probably isis that planted a bomb on this plane based on what they say was signals intelligence collection. now, we've been talking about chatter, stuff like that, communications. when you hear the word signals intelligence, what does that say to you? >> it's called a very reliable source. i cannot get into that in this particular matter, but there's a reason why the prime minister i think of britain is coming out so strongly with his theory. and i happen to agree with him on this. i think the analysis is very interesting. i've always said when putin set foot in syria he'll create homeland security issues of his own. he's only 600 miles away from syria. now isis has declared war on russia because of their involvement in syria. and what will be interesting to see is whether if this turns out to be an isis related attack, a
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bombing on an airplane, whether mr. putin will now turn his sights on isis rather than just propping up the assad regime. all the target packages thus far in syria have only been designed to help assad, not to defeat isis. >> it looks like british intelligence is doing their work. the president and his comments that he just made he says we're going to be -- we're going to spend a lot of time just making sure our own investigators and our own intelligence community find out what's going on before we make any definitive pronouncements. but then he said it's certainly possible that there was a bomb onboard. it looks like the british may be a little bit ahead of the u.s. in this conclusion. >> i think the british are more forward leaning in this matter. i think the u.s. officials are being very cautious. they want the forensics team to go in and do their job and the black box recording to be analyzed. that could take awhile. but i think the brits because of the proximity andin filtration
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of isis in the united kingdom are proactive in protecting the british people. i frankly agree with them. i think putin does not want this to be a terrorist event. but if it is, again, the only thing we have in common with russia is the hatred for the jihadist. and i think it will be interesting to see if this was a terrorist related efbt if this will change the course of what russia's doing in syria to turn away from just anti-assad forces to isis. >> congressman, thanks very much for coming in. >> thanks, wolf. >> mike mccaul, chairman of the house homeland security committee. coming up, rising concern about the possibility of an airport security breach in egypt. could it happen in other airports? even right here in the united states. we'll also go live to the airport where thousands of tourists are now stranded. and i'll speak live this hour with a top egyptian official, the foreign minister. our truck? it's touring across america telling people about idaho potatoes. farmer: let's go boy.
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tand that's what we're doings to chat xfinity.rself, we are challenging ourselves to improve every aspect of your experience. and this includes our commitment to being on time.
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every time. that's why if we're ever late for an appointment, we'll credit your account $20. it's our promise to you. we're doing everything we can to give you the best experience possible. because we should fit into your life. not the other way around. our breaking news president obama now commenting on the crash of that russian airliner in egypt's sinai desert saying it's, quote, certainly possible that there was a bomb onboard. his specific words, certainly possible that there was a bomb onboard. let's go to our senior white house correspondent jim acosta. so, jim, what does it mean that the president is now directly weighing in? >> well, wolf, the president is
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going much farther than what the white house has said, what the administration has said so far about this russian airliner. he said in an interview -- he did a series of radio interviews earlier today but with cbs station kiro, the president said as you mentioned a few moments ago it is possible that there was a bomb onboard that plane. here's more of what the president had to say. >> i think there is a possibility that there is a bomb onboard. and we're taking that very seriously. you know, we know that the procedures we have here in the united states are different than some of the procedures that existed for outbound and inbound flights there. and we're going to spend a lot of time just making sure that our own investigators, our own intelligence community figures out exactly what's going on before we make any definitive
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pronouncements. but it is certainly possible that there was a bomb onboard. >> and it sounds like there, wolf, according to what the president is saying that the u.s. may be stepping up its role in terms of what its investigators, what the intelligence community might be doing to get to the bottom of what happened to that plane. up until this point white house officials have been saying that u.s. investigators would not really be that involved, that they would be essentially keeping in touch with their counterparts in egypt and in russia. but, wolf, one other thing we should point out here at the white house press briefing earlier today, the white house press secretary josh earnest was very doubtful as to whether or not russia could really carry out a credible investigation referring to what happened to that malaysian airliner that was shot down over ukraine. josh earnest, the press secretary, said, you know, russia does not have a great track record when it comes to these things. sounds like from what the president is saying there we don't know definitively yet what happened to that plane. he wants to get to the bottom of it.
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but at this point he's really signaling that the u.s. might take on a greater role in this investigation and really saying there in that interview which i think is really important that there was possible bomb onboard. that is much farther than anybody in this administration has gone at this point, wolf. >> yes, it certainly has. and specifically publicly at least. thanks very much, jim acosta, for that. let's get more now joining us here in "the situation room" the former tsa administrator john pistol, now the president of anderson university. also joining us our law enforcement analyst, the former fbi assistant director tom fuentes. our cnn national security analyst peter bergen, and former ntsb managing director, cnn aviation analyst peter goelz. john, take us inside the tsa right now. they got to be learning some lessons, taking steps. what are they doing? >> so tsa is working with the entire intelligence, homeland security, to assess information, intelligence, evidence that is available from all sources and then trying to make informed
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decisions as to what should happen both domestically at the 450 airports here and at the 275 airports that serve as last points of departure to the u.s. >> because the specific concern isn't necessarily that a passenger brought a bomb onboard but a worker there at the airport who had access to the cargo, the catering may have put a bomb on that plane. >> right. that is a concern because if it's an insider either witting or unwitting, for example if somebody was being paid simply to smuggle guns or drugs or money, contraband onboard and they were unwitting that it was a bomb, that makes it more complicated. so really raises the question what type of vetting were the egyptian authorities doing at sharm el sheikh airport of the airport employees. >> how vulnerable are u.s. aircraft right now? >> u.s. aircraft are in a different light because of the security protocols we have in place here in the u.s. and for any airplane that comes to the u.s. from those 275 airports. different levels of security, multiple layers of security vice what may be happening there.
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>> having said that do u.s. airliners at the tsa, other law enforcement authorities, peter, do they need right now to rethink their security measures? >> they certainly need to watch this investigation very carefully. if it proves out it was a terrorist attack, they'll do an assessment and adjust where necessary. >> they're talking about the chatter, signals, intelligence, itv, the british intelligence network saying they picked up some communications, eavesdropping on these terrorists and that's what's leading them to conclusion. is that kind of evidence good enough usually, tom fuentes? >> no, i don't think it's enough. it could be a lead material, if they're talking in the chatter of specific information that only insider would know, that's one thing. the rest of it to me is nothing more than a digital form of gossip of people chatting with each other, did they do this, how did they do that, oh, it's exciting. >> the british are going a bit
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further out there speculating it was a bomb by an isis affiliated group or isis itself. peter, you spent years studying these terrorist groups. does this have the isis fingerprints on it? >> well, we don't know. but i think it's pretty unusual for the british prime minister to come out publicly with such a strong statement if they didn't feel very strongly this was very likely the case. the british by the way have gone to sharm el sheikh airport and found the security there to be very lacking. i talked to a british official last night who said that the security was inconsistent, poorly supervised. and that's, you know, one of the key reasons they suspended flights. whatever the outcome is with the investigation they don't think sharm el sheikh is a safe airport. >> tsa can control security at u.s. airports. and they can only have a role in security at international airports whether in europe or asia or south america if the host country lets them play a role. >> well, yes and no, wolf. because if it's at one of the 275 airports that have nonstop
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passenger service or cargo service to the u.s., the u.s. government through tsa acts as a regulatory agency and can insist on certain security protocols. sharm el sheikh to st. peterberg obviously that's not covered by u.s. jurisdiction. so for any airport and any airplane that flies directly to the u.s., cargo or passenger, the u.s. sets the standards for what that security is. they can fine them or even ban travel if it's not up to the standards. >> gentlemen, standby. we have much more to assess. we're getting more information coming into "the situation room." we're about to go live to sharm el sheikh. the airport there right now thousands and thousands of tourists are stranded. and they want to know will there be new measures allowing them to get out of there because they want to leave. they want to leave as quickly as possible. stay with us. vo: know you have a dedicated advisor and team who understand where you come from. we didn't really have anything, you know. but, we made do. vo: know you can craft an investment plan as strong as your values. al, how you doing. hey, mr. hamilton.
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we're following the breaking news just a little while ago the british government announced plans to resume flights from the sharm el sheikh airport in egypt but with drastic new security measures in place. thousands and thousands of tourists have been stranded because flights were canceled after a russian airliner went down after taking off from sharm el sheikh. cnn's ian lee is over at the airport in sinai for us right now. ian, so what extra security measures are they taking? >> reporter: well, wolf, we've seen a noticeable increase in security here at the airport before you even get into the airport area you go through a
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checkpoint. they go through your luggage, they have a bomb sniffing dog that goes around the vehicle. then once you come here and you go into the terminal building behind me, there are other layers of security where they scan your bags, you go through metal detectors. most of the time you will get a patdown as well. and there's extra police officers we're seeing out here in front as well. and this is still very much a working airport. just because those other airlines stopped their flights, we do have a bunch of other ones just about five hours ago hundreds of people were here. i asked them if they felt safe, if they felt the measures were necessary that were in place. and everyone i talked to said they didn't have any security concerns. and we're seeing also now from the uk they must be at least right now happy with the way security is if they're allowing these flights to resume back to the uk, wolf. >> they want to try to get a lot of these tourists out of there i
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assume as well. ian lee, thanks very much. a top egyptian official says the united states and britain are not sharing any of the specific intelligence giving rise to their suspicion that a bomb may have brought down the russian jetliner. joining us now on the phone is the egyptian foreign minister. thanks very much for joining us. i know you're incredibly busy right now, but can you share with us any new information the egyptian government has about the downing of this plane or who could have been responsible for bringing this plane down? >> not at all, wolf. this is an ongoing investigation. it's a multinational investigation with egypt, russia, ireland, france and germany. the technical assessment of the black boxes and recorders. we have no information of that investigation completed. >> have you invited u.s. investigators to participate?
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>> no. the investigation is being conducted by the nations that re directly involved in the incident. i'm not so certain there's been an offer and i don't have any information pertaining to this issue. but as i've said previously we don't rule anything in and don't rule anything out. and we will take the necessary precautions. in any event i think whenever there's too much security, security can only be beneficial if it raises the level of confidence and assurance with the tourists and the tourist industry. but we are also working under very severe conditions where a lot of tourists being effected by this rush . >> i know you've had a chance to speak with british officials. i don't know if you've had a chance to speak with u.s.
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officials, but the president of the united states just a little while ago said it's very possible that there was a bomb placed onboard and other u.s. officials, british officials are pointing their fingers directly at isis. do you reject that conclusion? >> no, i don't reject any conclusion. but i will only be able to assess that information is to be shared. this information has a direct bearing on both the investigation and on our status as this incident having happened on our territory. and i would have expected that there is information that it would be shared with those need to be concerned. >> steve overmyer far the u.s. or the uk neither has share e d their specific information leading them to this assessment that it's a possibility there was a bomb placed onboard?
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>> no, we have not received any information from either party. i was speaking to secretary kerry yesterday. he made no reference to any information that was provided. we did discuss the issue of the public and egypt attributed to the state department and indicated to me that that was not an official position. >> as you know there are about 700 american soldiers in sinai, part of the multinational peace keeping force. we know that sinai has become increasingly violent and dangerous in recent years. >> no, i would not generalize, wolf. there's only a very limited area which is 5% of the sinai that has witnessed the military activity of daesh or isis or counter efforts to quell this terrorist organization. so it is not the sinai, this is
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5% of the sinai. >> it's only a small percent. so you're saying there's no dangerous to those american troops because as you know in september four american soldiers were injured in a roadside bomb. >> the -- located in very close proximity with possibility of monitoring the egyptian-israeli peace agreement have done so with great professionalty. and definitely there are dangers and we have provided additional security in cooperation with the command of the multinational forces. i believe at this stage both parties and both navy and force are satisfied with the current arrangement. >> the foreign minister of egypt. mr. foreign minister, thank you so much for joining us. good luck to you. good luck in your investigation. we'll stay in close touch. >> thank you. >> our cnn correspondents are
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continuing to work their sources. coming up we'll have the latest from the pentagon about terrorist so-called chatter that drew the attention of the u.s. intelligence community. also, the airline crash puts new focus on the safety of hundreds of u.s. troops as we were just talking about that are based in sinai right now. stay with us. u think aarp, then you don't know "aarp." life reimagined gives you tools and support to get the career you'll love. find more real possibilities at aarp.org/possibilities. theand to help you accelerate,.. we've created a new company... one totally focused on what's next for your business. the true partnership where people,technology and ideas push everyone forward. accelerating innovation. accelerating transformation. accelerating next. hewlett packard enterprise.
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our breaking news, president obama now says it's certainly possible that an isis bomb brought down the russian airliner over sinai. an isis apiffiliate is on the re and may pose a threat to peace keepers stationed in sinai.
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brian todd has been looking into this story. what are you learning? >> we have growing information on the growing lethal cablebilities of the isis affiliate and the vulnerable of u.s. troops who have a key base in the northern part of the peninsula. they brought down an egyptian helicopter with a shoulder-fired missile. they claimed they hit this egyptian warship. and right near their stronghold in north sinai is where these u.s. troops are stationed in early september, four american soldiers from that base were wounded in an ied attack believed carried out by isis' lethal affiliate in sinai, an attack that prompted the united states to send reinforcements to boot security. >> when you heard about that attack, what was going through your mind? >> it was like i was back there. i could remember the base where i was, how i lived and all that and there is concern for the
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people that are there. >> reporter: in 2011 and 2012 rich green was an army sergeant major deployed with task force sinai, about 700 american troops on that peninsula. their mission along with others in a multi national forest, to observe and report what forces are doing and sometimes report militant activities but these american troops are peace keepers. they are lightly armed. >> they are out gunned by the terrorists and it's a dangerous mission. >> reporter: the american's heaviest weapons when there, machine guns mounted on tripods. >> the infantry units there have squad weapons but not anything that would take on a large, you know, coordinated attack. >> reporter: and that's exactly what they may be up against. the isis affiliate which u.s. officials siting intelligence may have been among isis groups that could have planted a bomb is a terror cell growing in
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capability. they pledged alliance to isis. a counterterrorism official tells cnn they are one of the most active and powe tabltent e affiliat affiliates. they killed an american oil worker and beheaded a croatian man and assassinated top security officials. american troops are a prize target. >> does the group want to make more property began did for itself by attacking with almost 700 u.s. soldiers on the ground there? yes, they would like to do that, of course. this is one of their main goals. >> will those u.s. troops get more manpower and weapons? the associated press reported in august the obama administration was considering whether to bolster the american force or possibly withdraw it completely from sinai. u.s. officials we spoke to will not comment on that but one defense official told us they are always adapting force
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protection measures. >> what else are you picking up on the isis affiliate's reach, ability to infiltrate rival security forces, acquire weapons? >> it's scary tough. terrorism analysts says this isis affiliate has a proven ability to infiltrate egyptian military forces and almost killed egypt's interior minister and assassinated a top egyptian prosecutors and he was working undercover. a u.s. counterterrorism official says weapon smuggling is ramped in sinai and this isis group acquired and used a range of weapons, wolf, they are a direct and immediate threat to american troops. >> a serious, serious matter. brian, thanks for the report. coming up, much more on the breaking news and clues leading u.s. intelligence to the belief a bomb brought down a russian plane killing 224 people.
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happening now, breaking news, obama's theory, the president is talking openly about the russian plane disaster and whether he believes there say bomb on board. this as we learn more about the isis communications that grab the attention of agents. inside threat, security is up at the egyptian airport where the russian plane originated. what, if anything, is the u.s. doing to respond to were cans that isis may be targeting american airplanes? putin pushes back. russia says theories about a bomb on board are merely speculation but the white house says it doesn't trust officials to tell the truth. and owning the air waves, the
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two republican presidential front runners release unconventional tv and radio spots including a controversial tease by donald trump and a rap song promoting ben carson's record. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're "the situation room." >> this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking tonight, the russian plane disaster, president obama now publicly acknowledging the possibility that a bomb brought down the jet. the british prime minister david cameron is going farther, saying it's more likely than not that a bomb was on board although the investigation that very specific terror chatter led u.s. intelligence agents to believe that isis may have planted explosive devices on the aircraft. tighter security in place where the russian flight originated.
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so britain says it will resume flights from sham el sheikh tomorrow. isis may be capable of pulling off attack airports here in the united states and i'll ask tom cotton. our correspondents, analysts and guests are standing by to cover all the news breaking. up first, let's go to our pentagon, barbara starr. why u.s. intelligence now believes this was a bomb plot. what are you learning. >> the intelligence says it is a possibility it was some kind of mechanical or structural failure. the u.s. intelligence community did monitor chatter from an isis
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affiliate to some other, not telling us who and that chatter discussed the attack on the russian airliner, discussed it in terms of a bomb, the airplane crushing, details about it. that is what got the attention of both u.s. and british intelligence services so quickly after this plane crashed. that is a key piece of intelligence they are looking at. why can't they say definitively? why are we still having maybe a structural failure. the access to the airliner, the egyptians and russians especially still control the wreckage until everybody shares what they know and everybody gets a good look at the evidence it may be very difficult for any of the governments involved to come to a firm conclusion, a growing worry inside the obama
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administration that the russians may not, this is a feeling, the russians may not tell what they know. >> russia has been carrying out a string of attacks against isis. what are you finding out? >> earlier today, the russian defense ministry announcing some 80 missions against isis in syria. one of course, caught our eye. russian war planes and you see some of the video there they released. russian war planes striking the city in syria. that is the stronghold. the self-declared capital of isis. people will look to see if this is the beginning of the russian answer back to isis for the airplane attack. >> an important new develop the, barbara, thank you. now that president obama is publicly acknowledging that a bomb brought down the plane, should the united states tighten airport security? tonight we're learning more
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about the measures in place in egypt. let's bring in rene marsh. what changes have been made at the sham el sheikh airport? >> wolf, we know that before entering sham el sheikh airpl e airplane, before getting on the ground they have to stop at a vehicle check point and armed officers are checking inside of the vehicles and checking for proof of travel as well as id and once they are inside of the airport, before even checking in for their flight, their luggage is screened and we know the passengers go through metal detecto detectors. once they are checked in on the flight, passengers go through a second set of metal detectors and luggage screened again. did someone surpass them. tsa is paying close attention to the investigation. if there is a bomb on board, it's critical for aviation security in the united states and overseas that they find out how it got there.
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>> certain that the russian airliner was brought down by a terrorist bomb but because it's a strong possibility, it's right to act. >> reporter: following a stunning assessment by the british prime minister, activity at egypt's sham el sheikh airport slowed significantly as experts are on scene assessing security. >> you're talking about a system which is highly vulnerable to those who wish to corrupt it by money and again, you have a natural system of these folks, of these expediters on a daily basis skating in and out of the system trying to push people through. >> reporter: with u.s. intelligence pointing to a bomb on board, many are asking if it could happen on american soil. just this week congressional testimony detailed an undercover operation where tsa failed 95% of the time detecting fake explosives at u.s. airports.
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>> the failures included technology, tsa procedures and human errors. >> reporter: but the larger threat may be beyond the security check point. >> you may have someone who has gone through all the security checks, has passed all the background checks but is successful in hiding their true loyalty to al qaeda, muslim brotherhood or isis and this is the ultimate threat, insider threat. >> reporter: chad wolf, the former head of tsa security policy agrees. >> here domestically in the u.s., airport or others where you see guns being smuggled on board passenger aircraft. >> reporter: if you can smuggle a gun, you can smuggle a bomb. >> that is what is still alarming to a lot of folks that so far, you know, so much time passed after 9/11 that we would have sured this up. >> reporter: another concern, while airports that fly into the united states are supposed to abide by tsa policy, wolf says
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there is little oversight to make sure the rules are followed. >> the tsa will be driven by intelligence that comes out of the investigation. how if it is an explosive device, how was it put on board the aircraft? it smuggled? it an insider threat? it a passenger? >> reporter: if this was a bomb on board how and when it happened will inform tsa's decision how to enhance security if need be. conversations are on going behind the scenes with tsa at this point. so what else is happening behind the scenes is that tsa is talking with many embassies in different regions to find out what the security structure is at the worldwide airports to determine if there are soft spots there, as well. >> if they get the cooperation of the host governments isn't all that easy. thanks very much. while the united states is leaving the door wide open to
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bomb possibilities, vladimir putin says mechanical failure is a real possibility. it's not confident putin will be truthful. we are live from moscow, russians are knocking down claims of a bomb. have russian investigators provided any explanations for their doubts? >> reporter: well, to be clear, they are not ruling out the possibility that this was a terrorist attack, that it was a bomb. they are saying at the moment the investigation has not given us the evidence, given them the evidence that sustains that theory and what the russians are saying is we want the evidence to come from the investigation and then we can start to draw conclusions. the problem is with that is that the russian federal aviation agency says that look, it could be several months before the investigation is complete and the conclusions have been drawn. meanwhile, you know, the united states and the u.k. have come up
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with their assessment of the situation. the russians have been quite indignant at that. the foreign ministry saying look, we're shocked if there is intelligence information at the uk, referring this would refer to the u.s., as well, we're shocked any information you've got has not been shared with the russians and so look, it's politically said the russians heightened idea this could be a bomb because it would imply this is blow back for their campaign in syria and that's something that feels very, very uncomfortable about but it is an international investigation, wolf. they are not going to be able to hide the truth. >> as you know, russia announced they were grounding metro jet a-321st but why didn't they do this immediately? >> reporter: i don't know is the short answer to that why it didn't -- perhaps it is some kind of a problem in the system here. the russians have always been really bad at, you know, at solving the problem, making sure
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that these kinds of air crashes don't happen in the future. there is something like 20 complete whole losses in russia over the course of the past 20 years that's got one of the worst records for aviation safety in the entire world and one of the reasons for that is the very good portion and blame but not very good at addressing the root causes. hopefully, on this occasion, whatever the outcome, they will take adequate steps to stop so many planes from russia crashing. >> keyword hopefully. matthew, thanks very much. joining us, senator tom cotton the arkansas republican, a key member of the armed services and intelligence committee and a combat veteran that serve in iraq and afghanistan. thanks for coming in. >> thanks, wolf. >> what are you hearing? what's the latest specific information you're hearing why that russian airliner went down with 224 people on board? >> wolf, i received several briefings this week about the russian airliner going down. much of that is classified information. let's look at what is said.
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u.k. officials said that it's a possibility. islamic state and the sinai say they took the plane down, they have a history of making exaggerated claims and russian officials have been denying. for the time being we should wait for the investigation and work with egyptian partners before we jump to conclusions but it does raise a couple points. one, vladimir put seasin is a f spy. he wants his control at home to continue to get more support for his policies abroad. there is no doubt about that. two, the islamic state is present in the sinai of egypt. america has hundreds of troops there as part of the observer team and egypt is a critical country in the middle east. 80 million people live in egypt and the presence of the islamic state there, tourism whether in
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sham el sheikh or at the p pyramids. policy for countering islamic state. >> north africa throughout the middle east into south asia. you said about this attack whatever it was on this russian airliner. >> i think there is a possibility that there was a bomb on board and we're taking that very seriously. you know, we know that the procedures we have here in the united states are different than some of the procedures that existed for inbound flights there and we're going to spend a lot of time just making sure that our own investigators and our own intelligence community figures out exactly what is going on before we make any definitive pronouncements, but it is certainly possible that there was a bomb on board.
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>> certainly possible there is a bomb. >> possible but we have let them reach their conclusions. >> as far as you know is the british government and u.s. government on the same page as far as the downing of this plane. >> the united kingdom part of the partnership where we share a lot of intelligence. i wouldn't say elected officials and always work. very closely. >> senator stand by, much more to talk about. much more information when we come back.
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we're back with senator tom cot cotton. president obama acknowledging it is a possibility a bomb downed a russian airliner killing 224 people. senator, as we look at this going on, the concern is if it could happen there, could it
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happen here? do you know if the department of homeland security, the tsa, the faa, are they taking steps to tighten security right now whether involving planes in the united states or planes coming into the united states? >> well, wolf, i don't want to come on specific procedures because those are obvious licensetive but obviously, the tsa works closely with the law enforcement professionals and intelligence and take lessons learned and apply them here at home. if it could happen at sham el sheikh it could happen in a lot of places. it could happen in cairo and one of the largest countries in the middle east that sits across the waterway, the canal and the fact the islamic state is even present in the country and can claim something like this, whether that claim is true or not goes to show that our strategy to counter the islamic state is not making process. >> if isis did in fact blow up this plane, vieweris watching i
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the united states and around the world are worried traveling. >> that's a reasonable worry if it turns out there was in fact a bomb aboard this aircraft especially when air craft are going from the united states into those countries. the islamic claims to have weapons and goes to show that we can't let a group like this continue across the middle east and american citizens and allies. >> at a minimum shoulder weapons and surface air missiles that could be launched from a truck for example? >> wolf, i don't think we have any reporting that shows they have that yet but heavy machine guns in the back of a vehicle -- >> if the aircraft is flowing low but at 30,000 feet. >> you have to have advanced aircraft weaponry. >> they don't necessary have that specific information. >> hopefully not. >> what should the u.s. be doing
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to deal with this new threat? >> i think we have to be more aggressive in taking the fight to the islamic state. the acronym isis stands for islamic state for iraq and syria. we see it in egypt, libya, afghanistan and until we get back on offense, until we increase the pace of our bomb income iraq and syria and actually address the crisis in syria that's giving fuel to the islamic state because of the sectarian warfare, we can only kill them at a certain rate but they will continue to track until we show the world they are losing. >> the u.s., you served in iraq and afghanistan. i'm really worried, tell me if i'm overly worried about the 700 american soldiers in sinai. >> any time we have american troops abroad i'm concerned about their safety. several hundred americans maybe particularly vulnerable because of the islamic state's presence
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on sinai. i consulted with sen dwrior officials in our government and i can tell you i'm confident they both have the security measures in place. they need to protect themselves and contingency plans in place in case there was a major pitch battle. >> these guys there, 700 million american haves machine guns basically, that's about it. >> they have two very good partners in the government of egypt and israel who want them there because it's part of a peace treaty between egypt and israel which is an important corner stone and between the united states government and israel and egypt, i'm confident. >> senator cotton, thanks for joining us. >> thanks, wolf. >> tom cotton from the u.s. senate. just ahead, more on the fears an airport insider may have played a role in the russian jet disaster. are airport workers undergoing new strcrutiny now. the presidential race, a new
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more on breaking news, president obama weighing in tonight on the russian airliner disaster in egypt acknowledging the possibility a bomb was on board. sources are telling cnn specific chatter led u.s. officials to conclude the crash was likely the result of a bomb. u.s. intelligence detected people asoesociated with an isi affiliate. ian lee is joining us live from sham el sheikh in the sinai peninsula. tell us about airport security there. what is the vetting process, specifically for airport workers? >> reporter: wolf, when you look at the surface, egypt appears to have tighter security than what the united states has. here when you check in at the airport, you go through many layers starting before you get inside the terminal here in sham
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el sheikh, you have a bomb-sniffing dog. they are searching bags and get inside. you're going through at least a couple metal detectors. they are going to x-ray your bags and will eventually pat you down but the real question is behind the scenes. are the people there being trained to the level that they need to be detect the bomb or sneak in. the british have been here working with egyptians and things have been going well and they are seeing those flights resume tomorrow. but mind you, also, wolf, this is an airplane that sees the city that also hosts international functions where you have world leaders coming here, too. we've had secretary of state john kerry come here recentl, as well. so they do know how to put on enough security to bring in those caliber of people, those
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high-lev hig high-level dig tarries but worried with tourists coming here, are they well trained enough to prevent something from happening. >> what's the egyptian reaction to u.s. suspensions that a bomb took down the plane? >> reporter: from the beginning egyptian officials are down playing saying it's likely a mechanical issue but the united states and more are pointing more to a bomb doing this. we heard from egypt's foreign minister just on your show and he said he would like to see this intelligence that the uk and united states has that they would use that in their investigation, but so far, he says and the egyptian government has said that they believe this is a mechanical issue and it
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does serve in their favor to be a mechanical issue as sham el sheikh is a hub of tourism and brings in the money for egypt and the last thing they need is a terrorist attack originating from here. >> ian lee, from sham el sheikh airport. joining us the former fbi assistant director, tom and robert and the former cia operative, the cnn intelligence and security analyst bob bear and aviation correspondent richard quest. paul, what are you hearing about the confidence level this was a bomb? >> david cameron today said more likely than not, i don't think he would have said that unless they have very strong intelligence pointers towards the idea of a bomb and this intelligence coming into the united states and into the united kingdom is separate from that investigation, that forensic investigation on the
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ground in equipment and there suggesting an insider at sham el sheikh airport who placed the device on a plane and also that chatter that barbara starr has been reporting about suggesting that isis and sinai may have had responsibility for this attack, if they did get a conventional bomb inside the plane, it would be a possibility. this is a track record inside the egyptian police and military. there was an attack in cairo in january 2014 where a senior in the police force helped the group, wolf. >> it's chilling when you think about it. richard, what are you hearing from your sources? >> well, the long and short, british american authorities are saying they believe it's a bomb but even the president seems to
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be rowing back but the egyptians and russians are not budging and they are saying and everybody i've spoken to says that is simply not the evidence yet. so you're left with the americans and the british basically falling back on their very close intelligence relationship. now we've got to remember, wolf, the u.k. and u.s. when it comes to signals intelligence pretty much operate as one and to the u.k., u.s. agreement. an agreement so secret it wasn't even admitted until about ten years ago and then if you add in the various different countries, what you're left with, wolf, is a situation where the brits and the americans are pretty sure that this is the way it happened. everybody else remains to be convinced. >> tom, we heard the egyptian foreign minister, i spoke with him the last hour say that he would like to see that intelligence from the u.s. and the u.k. but i asked him specifically, you know, invite the u.s., u.s. investigators to
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go into sinai and do some checking themselves. he said there is no role for the u.s. because it was a russian plane and this is egypt territory. is that a source of frustration for the fbi specifically? >> no, i mean, that's a legitimate excuse on their part. they have five countries involved and besides russia and egypt, he said ireland, france and germany and they have excellent capabilities of investigation. it's going to be hard, if this was actually a bomb that brought this plane down, they aren't going to be able to hide it. they have countries with forensic experts, explosive residue will be on a number of the pieces of that plane and they will be able to pinpoint what type of bomb and where it was sitting on that aircraft when it exploded. they aren't going to be able to hide this for the long run if that's what happened and they don't -- >> let's not forget the engines of that airliner, airbus are u.s.-made and the black boxes, as they are called, flight data recorder, honey well makes those.
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there is an excuse they could give to bring in the american investigators because there was u.s. technology part of this, as well. >> they are not looking for an execution. >> they don't want the u.s. to get involved. bob bear, is there a legitimate reason they wouldn't share intelligence with the egyptian government? >> no, absolutely, wolf. we don't know how sensitive it is. we don't know if it involves extraditi extradition. we don't trust them and we could give them leads and say it's too sensitive to give it to russia or egypt. >> what steps should the u.s. be taking presumably to beef up security if in fact, this was a bomb that got on the plane. >> a couple things. the first thing is trying to get information out of the egyptians to understand what happened because that may dictate different types of tactics.
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without knowing that, the tsa stepped up their inside tactics. there is -- or operations internally to the airport operations. the check point operations where passengers go through are relatively secure and i say because you always have to work to ensure you do the right thing. you don't want to take that for granted. if it looks like an insider threat that had legitimate access to the airline that could have sec creted a device, there is an operation to ensure they are constantly vetting and checking people who are having access. >> what about foreign airports? >> with the u.s. airlines going in there, they have significant influence to be sure the right security procedures are there. there are conventions existing between the united states and foreign partners to ensure we have the equal level. it's a network.
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if there is a hole in one port it provides vulnerability. >> richard quest, has this always been a soft spot, the security background checks? >> yes and in the united states, as well, if you remember the case of the gun-running in this country, you've also that was where guns were being transferred from one person who had gone through security to another person. it is the weak spot. it is the soft under belly, whatever phrase you want to use and the problem of course, is how you deal with it. i mean, you can put more resources in. you can clamp down but never forget, wolf, an airport has to function and that by definition means large numbers of people going in one area and going out the other so it's not as simple as just sort of clamping down and making it more difficult. we've seen what happens when you ramp up security, things grind to a halt. it happened after 9/11,
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obviously. it happened after the shoe bomber. it happened with liquids and gels. it's getting that balance and that's going to be the really hard part. >> if this was a bomb that brought down the plane, it's a game changer no doubt about that. guys, stand by. much more on the latest information coming in and other news we're following, donald trump, he's poised to host "saturday night live" so why are the steaks so high for this republican presidential candidate? plus, his rival dr. ben coarson is rolling out get this, a campaign rap. >> freedom is not free and we must fight for it every day. every one of us must fight for it because we're fighting for our children and the next generation. ♪ if we want to get america back on track, we got to vote ben carson matter of fact. go out and vote ♪ .
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thinner. even curvier. but what's next? for all binge watchers. movie geeks. sports freaks. x1 from xfinity will change the way you experience tv. we're continuing to follow the investigation into the downing of that airliner over the sinai peninsula. there is a real possibility that there was a bomb on the plane. much more on that coming up. there is other news we're following, as well. donald trump and ben carson lead the republican presidential pack in the latest polls which gives trump the latest poll gives trump a slight lead but now both candidates will be getting secret service protection. their request approved by the department of homeland security. our cnn political reporter sarah
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murray has the latest from the race. sarah is with us. they are working hard to become number one, sarah. >> that's right, wolf. both of them are vying for the top slot and not taking chances, both coming up with new adds to solidify. >> in a crowded and chaotic field, the top tier is finally coming into focus. a post debate fox news poll puts donald trump ahead of the pact by a hair, leading dr. ben carson 26% to 23% nationwide. >> i don't pay a great deal of attention to polls to be honest with you. i would rather be near the top than near the bottom though, that's for sure. >> senators marco rubio and ted cruz tie for third. each at 11%. while the rest of the field stalls in the low single digits. >> our country is in deep trouble because let's face it, politicians are all talk, no action. >> reporter: looking to poll to
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a wider lead, trump released his first round of radio ads in iowa, new hampshire and south carolina. >> if the people vote for me, you'll never be disappointed. i don't disappoint. i produce. >> reporter: the ads ignore trump's toughest rivals, even as the candidate takes a hasher tone in interviews and a mistakenly released promo for "saturday night live." >> let me say this, ben carson is a complete and total loser. >> reporter: as carson claims, he has no interest in appearing on snl. >> i think the presidency is a very serious thing and i don't like making light of it. >> reporter: carson is up with his own ad promoting his record remix to rap music. ♪ vote and support ben carson for our next president and be awesome ♪ >> reporter: for rubio, he's weathering criticism about using a republican party charge card
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for personal expenses in florida. >> for years i've heard about marco and credit cards and i'll be honest with you, i think that he's got a problem there. >> reporter: rubio today brushing aside the attacks with a swipe at his billionaire rivals' business record. >> i find it ironic the only person running for president that's ever declared bankruptcy four times in 25 years is attacking finances. >> reporter: donald trump coming out with that very conventional radio ad while ben carson's ad is anything but conventional, wolf? >> sarah, thanks. let's get more right now joining us our cnn national political reporter and our cnn senior washington correspondent jeff zelenny. trump will host "saturday night live", how important could this be for his campaign? >> it's important. any time he's in front of an audience that's unusual, it's very important. this is something he's excelled
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in before. but i think the pressure is definitely higher because anything you say as a presidential candidate is slightly different. he was on hue huet this afternoon and said the cold open will be wild. i can tell you the cold open of the skit soon afterwards is going to make you laugh. so, you know, teasing this. donald trump loves this. he's so good at television here. it's important but look. people want to know that he's a serious candidate, not necessarily a funny candidate so it is a fine line. >> he's very good at self-promotion, right. [ laughter ] >> and the good thing from his prospective from snl, most of it is scripted. let's talk about ben carson. you've written an extensve piece on cnn.com. going back to his assertions when he was a young kid, teenager, he was a violent kid and it was only when he became religious that he changed his life. talk a little bit about what you discovered. >> we set out to find the people that dr. carson talked about on
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the trail. a kid that he struck over the head with a lock. a kid that he stabbed and he said the knife went into the belt buckle. so we went out there to try to find these people, talk to them about their recollections, talk to them about dr. carson's temper and whether or not this moment of religious conversion really did cure him of outbursts. we were unable to find anyone, eye witnesses to any of these incidents or anyone who even heard about them at the time except for one person who said perhaps a vague recollection of this. but nobody could identify the victims in this. so we're still looking for these people to corroborate the stories that dr. carson has told. >> it's such a compelling story he has growing up in detroit in michigan and as a young kid being violent and then all of a sudden, becoming one of the world's greatest neuro pediatric surgeons if you will, neurosurgeons. it is an incredible story.
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>> it is incredible but he uses it as a reason to show his faith. he uses it as a way to say he was touched by god and that's a central part of his campaign. this . >> this isn't something that you all went out of the blue. he talks about it all the time. that's why it's relevant. he uses it as an example of how he was saved by god, if you will. it certainly raises questions about some of these stories. >> you've written an important article at cnn.com. readers are going to learn more about dr. ben carson. guys, thanks very much. more breaking news we're following. president obama speaking about the russian airliner in egypt and the possibility of a bomb on board. there's more than one route to the top.
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stand by for more on the breaking news. president obama now speaking out about the russian plane disaster, acknowledging the possibility there was a bomb on board. more on that coming up. first, senator marco rubio's financial history now under attack. the gop presidential candidate is accused of misusing a charge card years ago. there's now a new demand for senator rubio to answer questions about his finances as he rises in the polls and he has been rising. our senior investigative correspondent drew griffin is digging on this story. drew, rubio trying to downplay all of these questions. >> he's trying to portray it as a bunch of old news, recycled political attacks. the problem is, even after years of questions, the senator hasn't come entirely clean about his
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records. but that may be about to change. marco rubio insists he's just an average american trying to make ends meet. >> i know for a fact how difficult it is to raise children, how expensive it's become for working families. >> reporter: but there is intense pressure for him to come clean about the financial issues which have been doinging him for years. he came under fire for using a state republican american express card for personal expenses. there were complaints he charged $4,000 to repair a minivan and replace it with a rental car and used the card for a $130 haircut. after the spending was made public, rubio says he repaid it. $16,052, covering his personal expenses charged to the card. rubio is still answering questions about it today. >> it wasn't a credit card. it was an american express card
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secured under my credit in conjunction with the party. if there was a personal expense, i paid it. if it was a party expense, the party paid it. >> reporter: the problem is, not all of the statements from that time period have been made public. there's a two-year gap though rubio's campaign says those records will be released. his critics believe he's hiding something. >> we still don't know what's on those statements of the american express card prior to him becoming speaker when he had complete control of all of the campaign dollars, florida house campaign dollars. and if he wanted to make it very clear that he had reimbursed the party, then show us. >> reporter: mike fusano, a fellow republican, worked with rubio for years in the florida house and rubio even called him his mentor but not anymore. he now supports jeb bush. >> he has no appreciation for the dollars that are being
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donated to the party or the campaigns. >> those are pretty strong statements coming from a fellow republican. >> if you're going to run for the highest office of the land and the voters not only in florida but throughout the united states need to know the rest of the story. the whole story. the true story. and how you do deal with finances and how you do spend other people's money. >> reporter: fusano says there's only one reason marco rubio has failed so far to release all of the records of his republican party american express charge card. it's because the true story of how this presidential contender spent the money has yet to be told. >> it is about the future. >> marco rubio's campaign says mike fusano, the man you just heard from, wolf, is a bush supporter and a republican-paid for audit cleared any wrongdoing with use of the credit card. fusano does like jeb bush but says he has nothing to do with the bush campaign and that audit
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did clear rubio of wrongdoing in relation to his state party credit card but it only covered half of the expenses and years under question. and donald trump is really going after rubio on all of these issues, stepping up his attacks pretty regularly, right? >> that's absolutely true. questioning not just his use of charge cards but questioning his personal finances, which even marco rubio says aren't the best. he had some questionable spending in his days. had he to sell a house that was under water. so there's a lot of finance issues relating to how marco rubio manages not only his money but especially in this case other people's donated dollars given to him for political use. >> do we know when he'll release all of the relevant documents? >> it's a moving target. his campaign said it's coming out in the next few weeks. we heard it could be in the next few days.
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we just don't know. keep in mind, reporters have been asking for these documents, wolf, since 2010. >> drew griffin, thanks very much for that report. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, breaking news. president obama breaking his silence talking about a bomb taking down flight 9268. plus, our special report inside a bomb lab. what kind of bomb could isis have used? and ben carson says he led a violent past, attacking people with knives and a bat. cnn tracked down his friends. is it true? let's go "outfront." ♪ good evening. i'm erin burnett. "outfront," the breaking news, president obama weighing in for the first time on how terrorists may have taken down metrojet 9268. the plane blew up in

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