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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  November 10, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm PST

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more importantly, for the men and who fight for us. thank you. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. turning you over now to one mr. wolf blitsdzzarder in "the situation room." thanks for wanting. happening now -- explosive mix. u.s. officials suspect an insider planted a military grade explosive with a timer aboard the metrojet airliner which blew up over sinai. now, an egyptian source says state security has investigated anyone who had anything contact with doomed plane before it took off. will egypt let the u.s. see any evidence? i'll ask egypt's foreign minister. isis threat -- the isis affiliate in sinai is known for high-profile attacks using insiders. they're led by a mysterious cleric, violent jihadist. did he direct an attack on the airliner. white supremacist plot. two virginia men arrested for allegedly blowing up black
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churches and synagogues, planning acts of violence against jews. we have details. ben carson's self-described violent past, including a knife attack, playing big in the republican campaign. will it actually help him? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> let's get right to the breaking news. egyptian security has investigated every person involved with the metrojet airliner before it took off on its doomed flight over sinai that word from an egyptian source who says investigators are seized all cameras, sensors and related information at sharm el sheikh airport. egypt has not publicly embraced the idea this was a terror attack but some u.s. officials are piece together what they believe is a likely sequence of events with a catastrophic explosion over sinai.
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killing all 224 on board. working scenarios insider planted a bomb military grade explosives with a timer aboard the plane on in sharm el sheikh. guests have full coverage of the top stories. let's begin with jim sciutto. a number of u.s. officials laying out how the russian airliner may have been brought down. is russia coming around to the idea this was a terror attack? >> remember early on, some russians officials dismissed terror. but today the prime minister saying terror cannot be ruled ow but the government's actions speaking far louder than words. russian authorities announcing extraordinary step of shutting down all russian flights to and from egypt, citing poor security there. tonight, moscow declaring it unsafe to fly to egypt for months. russian officials acknowledging in public for the first time the terrorism could have brought
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down metrojet 9268. >> translator: the likelihood of a terrorist attack still cannot be ruled out, that is why such a decision was made. >> reporter: u.s. officials are now piecing together clues but very v. no forensic evidence shared by russian or egyptian investigators. some u.s. analysts believe the most likely scenario is jihadists planted a bomb with a timer on the plane by someone that had access, rather than a passenger sneaking it through the security system. u.s. officials tell cnn. however, a senior intelligence official cautioned that much of the evidence so far is circumstantial and amounts to hearsay. with no access to debris, bodies or the cockpit voice recorder all normally essential parts of any crash investigation. russian investigators have promised to share any evidence of an explosive if they find it. >> translator: i can say with full confidence, in case there are any traces of explosives, they will definitely be found.
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>> reporter: they have come to no conclusions, u.s. counterterror agencies are already preparing heightened security measures for airports in the region with direct flights to the u.s. u.s. continues to analyze communication intercepts between isis in sinai and isis leadership in syria. detailing elements of the incident after the fact. possible sign that isis or isis affiliate carried out the attack. >> if this doesn't end up being isis, it would represent isis coming of age as international terrorist group. >> reporter: with russian forces on the ground and in the air in syria, one question is how moscow would respond to the deadliest destruction of an aircraft by a bomb since pan am 103. >> i expect the russians will take some action. how? help us in our battle with isil. >> part of the working theory is, if this was indeed a bomb,
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the device may have used military grade explosive, based on the size and signature of the incident that took this plane down as observed by u.s. surveillance assets. this assessment is hampered by the lack, wolf, of any hard, forensic evidence, namely, any other normal investigation of a plane crash, you of course look at wreckage and test for explosive residues. because they don't have at this point and don't have intelligence shared with them by the russian or egyptian authorities they cannot make that determination with confidence. >> egyptians have not invited u.s. experts to go to that site to look for that kind of evidence. >> despite offers. >> u.s. offered to speak to the foreign minister. i'll ask him why that invitation has not come forward. more on breaking news, learning that egyptian security carried out a major sweep of the sharm el sheikh airport immediately after the metrojet airliner exploded. ian lee joining us from sharm el sheikh. what are you learning?
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>> reporter: that's right, wolf. we're learning exactly what happened in the hours between the plane crashing and that information being released to the public. egypt's state security locking all information pertaining to that flight, also locking down the cctv, the scanners, sensors, all information that was obtained prior to that flight. we're also learning that anyone who handled from the baggage to the check-in to the caterer, all individually interviewed by state security before this information could be leaked out. and this is important, wolf, because they didn't want anyone to tamper with this evidence, that's why they locked it down, they could interview everyone before they left for -- left the airport. >> what are they saying how potential bomb might have
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cleared security? >> reporter: my source, wolf, telling me that security is very tight at the airport, that is it tighter for employees of the airport than it is for passengers, and that all vehicles that enter the airport are scanned, not just with dogs sniffing them but metal detectors, bomb detectors, saying it is very tight. but he did also say that a bomb potentially could have made it past if it was sophisticated enough. >> ian lee at sharm el sheikh for us, thank you. isis affiliate in sinai has claimed responsibility for the downing of the metrojet airliner. the americans have been among the targets. cnn's brian todd taking a closer look at this part of the story. >> tonight, new information about the very dangerous group. we've got new details on who their leaders are. their operational capables and some of the deadly attacks they've launched on egyptian and
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western forces. >> reporter: july of this year, a guided missile slams into an egyptian warship in the mediterranean. january 2014, egyptian military helicopter blasted out of the sky with a surface-to-air missile. high profile strikes claimed by isis in sinai, terror group's lethal affiliate. they've launched countless ied attacks, including one which wounded four americans in september. they've killed egyptian security forces with sniper fire, and targeted their commanders. >> they have led assassination attempts against higher-up security figures, some undercover and successfully assassinated them. >> reporter: particularly skilled at operating on the inside. >> isis in sinai have a proven track record of infiltration, recruited number of insiders inside the egyptian military, inside egyptian police forces. >> reporter: ability to pull
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inside jobs explains why u.s. officials say they're a possible suspect behind the downing of the russian passenger plane. they did that, it would represent a dramatic, new tactic using another part of their arsenal. >> a group that's amassed a stockpile of high explosives, including military grade explosives, including c-4. >> reporter: u.s. counterterrorism official tells cnn, it's one of isis' most active and potent affiliates. they pledged allegiance to isis last year and have adopted isis' branding and brutal tactics. most public figure is a mysterious jihadist whose blurred face appears in videos. his voice claimed responsibility for the downing of the russian plane. >> someone that seem to be educated, more educated than they are, well versed in islamic scripture, young, less than 40 years old. obviously a spokesperson but also he is what we call a person
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that they go to for religious justifications on their din attacks. >> reporter: but analysts say may not be an operational leader. two men fill those roles. experts say, isis in sinai did have an amir, who they say drove around in an explosive laden vehicle and was killed in an kay accident last year. but analysts say it's not clear who their overall leader is now. partly because of the group's obsession with secrecy and partly deference to isis' top leader in syria, to whom they have pledged absolute loyalty. >> count very in taken direction from al baghdadty or other top leaders in iraq and syria, for that matter? who ordered them, if anyone did to bring that plane down? >> u.s. officials now say so far there is no evidence that isis leadership ordered the downing
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of the plane but also have a caveat, that could change as the investigation proceeds. analysts point out, there's communication between two groups and the downing of the plane does fit with the agenda of isis' top leaders in iraq and syria to attack the countries targeting them in that region. >> brian, thanks very much. dangerous situation in sinai. remember, 750 american soldiers in sinai, part of the u.s. peacekeeping operation there that's been in business since 1979. joining us now, democratic congresswom congresswoman tulsi gabbard of hawaii. thanks very much for joining us. how confident are you that this was a bomb that brought down this plane? >> aloha, wolf. i think all of the indications that we're seeing, all arrows are pointing in that direction, that this was somehow a bomb that was planted on this plane that caused this unfortunate tragedy. i think this is a true wake-up call, not only to airports in
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egypt but really do all of us. we've got to look at vulnerabilities that exist in our own airports. in two major areas, one, cnn talked about this a few monthsing back, how our tsa screeners missed 96% of fake weapons and bombs that department of homeland security tried to get through their check points. that's an extremely alarming statistic. and i think the sick thing, and this is the biggest vulnerability that we have is lack of serious vetting as well as screening for all of the other employees that have access to our airplanes, baggage handlers, those who are loading the baggage into the plane, working behind the scenes here is something that needs to be addressed. >> certainly does. we'll have more on this part of the story in a moment. but first, how confident are you that it was, in fact, isis who planted this bomb killing all 224 people on that plane?
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>> well, i think if we look at isis' track record of claiming responsibility for other attacks and other things that they've done, usually those are things that have been prove tonight have been true, that they did in fact conduct these terrorist acts. so when you listen to the chatter and hear the information that's being put out about isis taking responsibility for this, the investigation will continue. but i think we've got to operate under the understanding of this is possible and it could happen and we need to take action to address the vulnerabilities within our own airports to make sure we don't allow it to happen here. >> airports abroad that have direct flights to the united states as well. stand by. we have more to discuss, including the russian role in all of this. should there be greater u.s. russian cooperation in the war against isis? stay with us.
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hawaii. an iraq war veteran. congresswoman, reports that the bomb was likely made at least in part by what's described as an easily attainable military grade explosive like c-4. does that give you an indication who might have carried this out, how sophisticated the bomb might
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have been? >> i think this points to the concern that we have here, wolf, with regards to these islamic extremists, isis terrorists in the sinai region but also those operating in other parts of the country and syria and iraq is how they're getting their hands on these sophisticated weapons. you had earlier in your program video showing these terrorists with these surface-to-air type missiles with anti-aircraft missiles. how are they getting weapons, where are they getting them from? this is a serious thing we've got to look into. >> if this was in fact, isis, what was their motive? motive to go after russia, which has become increasingly aggressive in syria, including against isis, or motive to go against egypt everybody government there, the government of president al sisi fighting these terrorists? >> you look at what's happening on the ground, look at the
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president in egypt, he's been one of the most outspoken critics of islamic extremism and taken serious steps within egypt to crack down on islamic extremism. we can look at actions that russia's taken in syria, going after islamic extremist groups like isis, al qaeda, understanding seriousness of the threat that they pose. we forget how close russia is to syria, and their real concern they have thousands of fighters going from russia into syria, over 2 million muslims in moscow alone and so they see that it's a very real concern foreign fighters coming back and attempting to radicalize others in their own country as existential threat. >> vulnerabilities at u.s. airports and international airports that fly directly to the united states, pretty significant. is the dhs, department of homeland security, doing enough to address these apparent holes
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in airport security? >> well, i think everyone is really looking to identify exactly what these holes are. i think we've got to take them very seriously as at the same time we are looking at the holes in our own security system here in our domestic airports. we can't underestimate the threat that we are seeing is possible here and we've got to work with these other countries, work with those who have direct flights coming into the united states to make sure those holes are plugged. >> thanks very much for joining us. >> thanks, wolf. aloha. coming up, u.s. officials suspect insider planted a bomb with a timer aboard the metrojet airliner which blew up over sinai. an egyptian source says state security has investigated anyone who had any direct contact with that doomed plane. i'll speak about that and more. egypt's foreign minister is standing by live. two virginia men arrested for allegedly plotting to blow
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take the free home energy checkup. honey, we need a new refrigerator. visit pge.com/checkup and get started today. top story. top security investigated every person involved with metrojet airliner before it took off over sinai as u.s. officials suggest
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insider planted a bomb on the plane before it took off from sharm el sheikh airport. joinings now on the phone, foreign minister of egypt, sameh shoukry. thanks very much for joining us. how confident are you that it was, in fact, a bomb that brought down this plane, killing all 224 people on board? >> hello, again, wolf. i think something for the investigation to determine. we're taking every precaution and not ruling out any possibility. we've increased security in sharm el sheikh airport, where we are taking serious and the media related to possibility is this is a terrorist ashth egypt has been the forefront of the fight against terrorism and brutality of the organizations. we can't rule everything out. weave n we're not in a position, the independent investigation, if
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concluded and reaches the flight, we can categorically say it was terrorism, despite the fact we are taking precautions and addressing all of the potential possibilities. >> has anyone at the airport been arrested or detained by egyptian authorities so far? >> not to my knowledge. i'm outside of egypt, for latin american arab summit. i have no information any arrests have been made. >> will egypt invite investigators from the u.s., for example the fbi or national transportation safety board, to come to egypt, physically inspect the wreckage in sinai? >> definitely my understanding is that there has been an american application to become part of the investigation, the manufacturing of the engine, which we accepted, investigator
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we accepted immediately. that team can have whatever it needs to understand full investigation and to be part of the investigative team. >> because i know that there are -- there's an impressive fbi delegation that's permanently based at the u.s. embassy in cairo. will you allow fbi agents to go to sinai and investigate, take a look at the area themselves? >> well, this is related to the international regulations that govern the investigation, allow advisers to the investigative team, that would be a decision on the part of the u.s. to create its own team and include the fbi, if that is possible in the international regulations of govern the investigative process. >> let me be precise, minister, are you saying that egypt will allow americans, american investigators, to participate actually physically be there in
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sinai? >> egypt has already accepted the application of american investigators associated with the manufacturing of the engine to become part of the investigative team. they are free to incorporate whatever advisers they deem are necessary for them to undertake the responsibilities. >> including going to sinai? >> of course. they have to be in sharm el sheikh and they have to be given full access to the crash area site and they will undertake the same and have the same access able to all of the international investigators that are currently part of the team, whether french, russian, irish, or german. >> so i just have one more final question on this part, minister. ntsb, national transportation safety board experts, engine experts and fbi agents, all of them, potentially to be part of
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this u.s. team at sharm el sheikh in sinai? >> again, u.s. is part of the team because of the manufacturing of the engine, the team will then be regulations of the international investigative process, are free to have whatever consultantser advisers to undertake the responsibilities. >> has the u.s. and britain shared its intelligence with egypt? >> no, they have not. >> when you asked to see that intelligence, what do they say to you? >> well, we have -- there has been a request by the head of the investigator, the news conference, he encouraged those who have information to facilitate their investigation. i hope there will be a positive response to that request. >> we're told the u.s. shared
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intelligence with russia, so it's curious and they haven't shared it with egypt. but you don't have a good explanation for that, do you? >> i suggest you ask them. >> we'll ask them, indeed, we will certainly ask them. finally, minister, do you believe isis in sinai that terrorist group, which has caused so many violent terror attacks over the past couple of years already, do you believe they have the capability to pull off an attack like this? >> well from what we've seen in terms of their sophistication and planting explosives in the sinai and targeting our security forces in the equipment that's provided to them, it's a surprising sophistication of that sort of weaponry which usually available, they are certainly a force to be reckoned with and we are undertaking
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everything that we can to eradicate this threat because it is harming egyptians, harming foreigners and we've seen the brutality of these organizations with their skills, americans, egyptians everybody brits, and croatians, most recently. >> good luck, minister. thanks for joining us. the egyptian foreign minister, sameh shoukry, joining us from saudi arabia tonight. let's bring in our experts, national security analysts, peter bergen and counterterrorism analyst, phil muddy. your reaction to what we heard from the egyptian foreign minister saying, yes, americans will be allowed to go in and investigate but the u.s. still hasn't provided egypt with the intelligence available that could help in this investigation. >> well, wolf i did not hear him say the americans can investigate. he was careful. he said the americans have an interest in american built
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engines. if you parse that i can see him saying you can participate in the team that looks at engines and where they might have fallen in the desert but you can't have access to the entire area where the plane went down. he was careful about using language linked to one specific part of the aircraft. on the intelligence, intelligence professional, there's a problem here. you might say to the egyptians we have information from isis that indicates culpability for this event but the specifics on how you're collecting that intelligence come from the same sources in isis you want to keep collecting on so you can take down those individuals in the future. if your not careful with this stuff, isis is going to realize how you're intercepting them, switch communication channels and your ability to take down the cell that does this is going to decline. it's not just about the investigation. it's about protecting the intelligence for the future. >> if they say that u.s. investigators will be able to participate in investigating the
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engines, those engines on that airbus are pratt and withny u.s.-made engines haven't the engines been dispersed? the wreckage is all over sinai. if they say secretainvestigate engines they've got to go to the scene, right. >> that's not clear to me. i could hear, behind whoo he's saying once we acquire engines and bring them to a safe site where we're reassembling aircraft, you have access. another immediate question, can i have access to other pieces that you're collecting. for example, the interviews of the people in the airport in sharm el sheikh. my interpretation of what he said was, you will not get access to that. the word access, to me, means you can participate with russians and egyptians and the entirety of the investigative effort, and he certainly did not say that. >> good point. peter bergen, what's your reaction? 0 do you have the same analysis
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we heard from phil? >> largely, although he did say that the investigators could go to sinai. i mean he said that fairly definitively when you asked him. this does seem to be moving the needle from the previous egyptian position, saying fbi could come in and tsb could come in. also saying at the end when you asked him about the strength of isis in sinai, this i a very violent effective organization that has access to the same materials that states have. therefore, conceding, yes, a bomb, you know, certainly not out of the question. >> clearly, the u.s. and egypt are the two governments they've got to work orr out cooperation, intelligence and physical cooperation as well. much more on breaking news coming up. also getting some other breaking news here in "the situation room." we have details what the fbi is calling white supremacist plot to bomb black churches, jewish synagogues and start a race war in the united states. dr. ben carson's stories
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breaking now. word of arrest in what the fbi is calling white supremacist plot, among other things, to bomb black churches and provoke a race war here in the united states. the affidavit says, the suspects
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also plotted attacks on jewish synagogues and attacks against jews. pamela brown working her sources. you've gone through the documents, u.s. district court documents. what are you learning? >> disturbing allegations in the documents. the fbi arrested two alleged white supremacist in chester field, virginia, who the fbi says plotted to kill black people and people of jewish faith in furtherance of extremist beliefs. they planned on, quote, shooting or bombing occupants of black churches and jewish synagogues, conducting acts of violence against persons of the jewish faith and doing harm to gun store owner in oklahoma. the men allegedly met with other associates in their white supremacy group to discuss this plot. according to the fbi they later met with an undercov agent acting as illegal arms dealer. the men placed orders for automatic rifles. one of the men was reported
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saying he was suspicious about the undercover agent acting as the deal somewhere suspected it was a federal operation but that did not stop them from moving foof forward with plan. week when they attempted to his- purchase the weapons. >> one of the two men said all in preparation for a race war in the united states. what do we know? >> that's right. the fbi says it was given information through confidential sources and surveillance the men were concocting a plan to kill a jeweler and use that money to, quote, purchase land, stockpile weapons and train for the coming race war. another man was arrested for conspiracy to commit a robbery as part of that. the details in the criminal complaint, of course everybody alarming in the wake of the killings of nine black church members in charleston, south carolina by the white supremacist, dylann roof, recall he wanted to launch a race war. there are white supremacy groups, extremists that the fbi
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keeps tabs on and it's concerning after what we saw in charleston and elsewhere. >> certainly is. did they identify the jeweler they wanted to rob to get money if you will, to buy weapons? >> not in the criminal complaint. it just said it was a jeweler who they identiied and had thousands and thousands of dlarz worth of jewels they were targeting and wanted to use those proceeds to carry out their plot, according to the fbi, and start the race war. >> i read the criminal complaint. it's pretty chilling. thanks very much. the republican presidential candidates getting ready for a debate supposed to focus on the economy. donald trump is focusing in on dr. ben carson's claims about being a violent teenager. >> this is the only election in history where you are better off if you stabbed somebody. what are we coming to? what makes this simple salad the best simple salad ever? heart healthy california walnuts.
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and help stop joint damage. enbrel, the number one rheumatologist-prescribed biologic. we're following the last-minute jockeying as the republican presidential candidates prepare for tonight's debate. it's supposed to focus in on jobs and the economy, but dr. ben carson's campaign just released a video ridiculing the news media for questioning dr. carson's life story, especially what he's written about his violence and his temper as a young boy, as a teenager. even donald trump is sounding surprised about the campaign's twists and turns. >> this is a strange election, isn't it? man! you stab somebody, and the newspapers say you didn't do it! and you said, yes, i did, i did it! no, you didn't! yes, i did!
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i stabbed him, and it hit the belt! and they said, you didn't do it! if they said i didn't do it, i'd be so happy. this is the only election in history where you're better off if you stabbed somebody. what are we coming to? >> all right, joining us in "the situation room," our cnn political commentators, s.e. cupp and ryan lizzo along with senior political reporter nia-malika henderson. nia, the donald trump attacks on dr. ben carson. we know what donald trump did, he effectively -- he hurt jeb bush early on when he was going after him with his low energy and all of that. can he do the same thing to ben carson? >> you know, he's been trying to do this since mid-september. he once called ben carson an okay doctor who hired a nurse. that didn't really work. he criticized his religion. he's talked about his abortion views. he hasn't, i think, yet found a criticism that sticks to dr. ben
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carson, and i think in some ways, it's partly because they have different audiences. carson appeals to evangelicals and women, white women, and donald trump appeals to a different subset of the republican party. so, i think that's in many ways why it hasn't really worked. we'll see if he tries this at the debate tonight. going into that last debate, he was getting rough with ben carson, but in that debate, they were kind of -- they kept kind of a bromance, i think, in that last debate. so, we'll see what he does tonight. >> you know, the weird position that trump is in is that the obvious area to go after ben carson is that he's not very substantive. >> right. >> on serious issues. >> not even for comedy -- >> which would be easy for trump to do. so, the one sort of weakness that carson has, trump really isn't able to exploit because he faces the same criticism. >> he always says he's such a nice man, donald trump referring to ben carson -- >> but. >> i hope he's not in any trouble, but then he ridicules him. >> classic because he knows carson is the one in the race
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with the highest favorables. republicans really like this guy. so, trump has to take him down a little bit more subtly. i think this stuff works. trump gets attention no matter what he says, right? so, if trump is raising an issue about a candidate, it is guaranteed to get coverage. when he raised immigration or the low-energy stuff with jeb, it gets covered because trump is the candidate that the media is more obsessed with than anyone else. >> i love that he says this is a weird election, as if he's removed, has nothing to do with the fact that this has been a weird election. >> yeah, thanks to trump, it's weird, right? >> it is a very weird election. and the focus in on going after the news media now, which is a staple that a lot of people do that among republicans, if you will, the mainstream, the liberal news media. tonight, if the moderators, fox business moderators, if they ask tough questions, it's difficult to go after them. >> well, i guess, but we've seen donald trump do that pretty effectively after that first debate. he certainly went after fox, specifically megyn kelly and
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just fox more broadly. so, it always works, and maybe it will work this time. >> yeah. >> you've seen carson's campaign say, oh, they're going to move on, and these questions are fair, but it's just such a guaranteed applause line. >> this is the first debate like this where i feel like the story going in is as much about the media as it is about the candidates. >> explain what you mean by that. >> well, ever since the cnbc debate, which was widely panned by republicans, the republican candidates have been criticizing the press, saying that they're not fair, and a lot of the republican candidates have been trying to change the rules of the debates to make them what they think would be more fair. so, i think there's a lot on the line for the fox business reporters. they have to -- i hope that they don't cave, you know. in this business, you're always what they call working the refs, right? the candidates are always working the refs, working us in the media -- >> going into the debate. >> going into the debate to try and soften us up. i think they're trying to get the moderators to ask easier questions, frankly. >> well, both moderators, maria bartiro bartiromo, neil, they want to
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ask substantive, economic-related questions, they say. the economy, obviously, is issue number one. >> i expect them to. look, i think if you're chris christie or ted cruz, right, who really exploited those moments in the cnbc debate to go after the moderators for their really dumb, dumb questions, that's actually not their go-to move. chris christie is the first to say i'm not going to talk about process, i'm not going to whine and complain, i'm just going to go in and get the job done. even being demoted to the undercard debate. it is the go-to move for trump and carson, though, to criticize the media, to talk about gotcha questions. they've done it since they got in the race, no matter what they're asked, it seems. so, i expect no matter what cavuto and bartiromo ask, i expect it to be an attack on the media. >> thanks. guys, we'll be watching, of course. after tonight's debate, tune in to cnn for highlights and complete analysis. watch a special edition of "anderson cooper 360" tonight at
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11:00 p.m. eastern right here on cnn. coming up, u.s. officials put together what they say is a likely scenario for the downing of that metrojet airliner over sinai, suggesting an airport insider helped plant military explosives with a timing device. and a major security scare at a busy u.s. airport. why armed officers boarded a flight in miami and ordered passengers to put their hands up. how much protein does your dog food have? 18%? 20? nutrient-dense purina one true instinct with real salmon and tuna has 30% protein. support your active dog's whole body health with purina one.
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happening now, explosive theory. we're getting new information from u.s. officials about what kind of bomb may have ripped apart a russian airliner and who may have planted it.
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i'll ask the chairman of the senate intelligence committee what he's learning and whether the u.s. is keeping any information from egypt as the country's foreign minister just told me in an exclusive interview. security shocker. armed officers board a flight in miami, scaring passengers as they search for a man with a suspicious bag. how did the tsa lose track of someone who might have posed a threat? race war plot. the fbi now says it's arrested two white sprem cysts who were planning to ignite racial tensions by bombing black churches and jewish synagogues. stand by for details. and christmas crusader. donald trump is on the attack again. this time, he's targeting starbucks and its new holiday cup. will the controversy energize voters? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
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this is cnn breaking news -- >> breaking news this hour. cnn has learned that egyptian security officials have interviewed and investigated each person who serviced the russian plane before it took off from the sharm el sheik airport and then broke apart in flight. the source says all airport cameras, sensors and related information were confiscated, even before the crash was public. here in the united states, intelligence sources are telling us that they are sharing more detailed scenarios about this disaster and theories that an airport insider planted a bomb on board. some officials tell cnn the bomb was likely made from a powerful, military-grade plastic explosive that's easy to obtain. also tonight, a dramatic, new security scare is adding concerns that america's airports are vulnerable to terrorists. armed officers stormed a flight preparing for takeoff from miami to search for a man with a suspicious bag who had gotten through security. i'll ask the chairman of the
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senate intelligence committee about all of that. richard burr, there you see him, standing by live along with our correspondents and analysts that are covering all the news that's breaking right now. up first, our pentagon correspondent, barbara starr. barbara, you're getting new information from your intelligence sources. tell us what you're learning. >> reporter: good evening, wolf. based on the limited, highly classified intelligence that the u.s. does have, some fresh ideas are developing about what may have happened. as the u.s. tries to connect the dots on what happened to the russian airliner, a working theory is emerging inside the u.s. government about the possible makeup of the plot. more than half a dozen u.s. officials in various parts of the administration now believe it likely was a bomb. officials stress, understanding what happened is critical for ensuring airline security. >> given the ongoing investigation, we are
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particularly focused on what happened, understanding what happened and what more we could do in that region. >> reporter: but without direct access to evidence, bomb residue, wreckage, the data recorders, or the bodies, the u.s. cannot come to a firm conclusion. but the u.s. does have intercepted communications, radar readings, vaz and photos of the wreckage to assess. based on that, u.s. officials tell cnn a likely scenario is emerging. they believe it is likely jih jihadists planted a bomb with a timer on the plane using someone with access on the ground. it was set for enough time to initiate explosion after takeoff. the heat flash of the explosion picked up by a u.s. satellite along with reports of an intense explosion picked up on a flight recorder add to the u.s. view a highly dynamic bomb exploded, one official told cnn.
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the bomb was likely made in part by an easily obtainable military-grade explosive, like c-4, according to two american officials. >> the groups that operate in that region from isis to al qaeda to even hamas, yes, they would have access to military-grade type of explosives. that's not a problem. >> reporter: now, all of this, of course, still very preliminary. if the u.s. gets more intelligence, the assessment, the very informal assessment they have right now could change. wolf? >> all right, barbara. thank you. if isis is proven to be responsible for this russian jet crash that killed all 224 people on board, it would be another huge advance for the terror group and its ability to commit mass murder and mayhem around the globe. we have a chilling, new look at the expansion of isis right now. our chief national security correspondent, jim sciutto, is joining us. jim, map all of this out for us. >> it's an alarming expansion. just over the course of the last year, remember, this is their home base, where they were created, isis, iraq and syria. but over the course of the last
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12 months, both were expanding but also some terror groups pledging allegiance, in effect, to isis. look at how far they've gone. you have a group in sinai, where this attack is alleged to have taken place, all across north africa, tunisia, where you'll remember a beach attack killed many british tourists earlier this year, expanding down here into nigeria, but also into yemen, for instance, normally home base of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. some changing of colors there by terror groups into afghanistan, across the border into pakistan, even into russia. but this, of course, of greatest concern for americans. because look here in the u.s. how many states have had active investigations under way? 50 states, and a full 18 states have had arrests for people attempting to join isis or attempting to provide military support for isis. demand texas, you'll remember the shooting in garland, texas, two men believed to be inspired, possibly directed by isis to their target, which was a fair, a convention showing portraits, cartoons of the muslim prophet
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muhammad. so, over the course of that time, a group that started just in iraq and syria, expanding to africa, europe, the middle east, south asia and the u.s. as well. remarkable expansion in a short amount of time. >> very chilling information. all right, jim sciutto, thanks very much. now to the rising fears about airport security right here in the united states after an apparent blunder in miami that ended with armed officers searching an american airlines flight. aviation correspondent rene marsh has more on what happened and the fallout. rene, the timing of this incident seems especially bad for the tsa. >> reporter: well, wolf, we know that the ts weinke fora was for in the fbi to search for a man authorities believed may have brought a suspicious package on to a flight. it caused delays for hundreds of passengers. officers were walking through one of the nation's busiest airports with guns in hand. and now tonight, officials with the tsa are left having to explain themselves about what went wrong.
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>> everybody out. everybody out. to the front. >> reporter: police rushed on board this american airlines flight monday in search of a man with a suspicious package. passengers were ordered to place their hands on their head. >> some very large officers in s.w.a.t. gear entered the plane. they proceeded down the aisle looking at each passenger in the eye as if they were looking for someone. >> reporter: tsa at miami international airport initially allowed the man through a security checkpoint with a bag containing dental equipment. tsa later determined the bag was suspicious. authorities spent the next several hours trying to find him. >> they came in and told everybody to get out, the airport was being evacuated. >> reporter: 73 flights were delayed. nine were diverted to other passengers. darren doty filmed this video,
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seated just one row from where the man was finally detained. >> this is the guy. and they just kind of jumped on him and said, sir, you know, let me see your hands. when they started yelling, get your hands out of the bag, let me see your hands, that's when things began to get a little hairy. >> reporter: the passenger was questioned and released, the bag deemed safe. >> the way that the procedures are written at the checkpoint, this shouldn't happen. so, this is obviously a fault. tsa missed it in this case. >> reporter: as u.s. and british officials suggest someone may have smuggled a bomb on board the doomed russian passenger plane, scrutiny continues over vetting of airport workers with secure access to airplanes here in the united states. >> this is a trusted population, or should be a trusted population. i think there's work to be done there. >> reporter: there are close to a million workers at the more than 450 airports the tsa runs nationwide, often with direct access to an aircraft.
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a government audit recently revealed tsa's vetting process for those workers was not effective for finding some basic criminal history. the report says thousands of records had incomplete or inaccurate biographical information. >> it becomes a reputation issue for the agency and it becomes a public perception issue. >> reporter: the tsa just sent a statement acknowledging the error at miami international airport, but tsa does not specify how it happened, only saying that they stopped the x-ray machine to conduct further screening on a carry-on bag, and in the process of transitioning other passengers to a different screening lane, wolf, they lost track of the passenger and that suspicious bag. >> rene, thanks very much for that. underscores how worried people are right now. let's get back to the investigation of the russian airline disaster. i'm joined by the chairman of the senate intelligence committee, republican senator richard burr of north carolina. mr. chairman, thanks very much
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for coming in. >> good to be with you, wolf. >> i spoke with the foreign minister of egypt just in the last hour. he said that any u.s. involvement in this investigation would be strictly limited to the engines of that plane, the u.s.-made engines. it was an airbus, but that was basically it. is that okay with you? >> listen, i'd love to see the united states play a much bigger role in the investigation, especially the forensics, because we've got the best team at doing it, but right now we're going to be relying on the russians and the egyptians. and we have extended to them any, any help that the u.s. can provide in law enforcement and investigatory tools, and we continue to supply to all countries any intelligence that we think might lead to any clues as to what happened. >> well, he says flatly, shukri, the foreign minister of egypt, the u.s. has not supplied that intelligence it has collected about what happened over sinai. they're still waiting to receive that information.
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>> wolf, i think we've supplied to everybody everything that we have. it may not be everything they want, but everything that can be provided to a partner has been provided, and i think it has eliminated missiles, but it -- >> surface-to-air missiles. >> surface-to-air missiles. but certainly, we had a catastrophic explosion at altitude. and you would understand that if isil within hours of an explosion like that takes credit that you've got to seriously look at what involvement they may or may not have had. >> so, the u.s. assessment right now and the uk assessment, i know the israeli assessment, they've studied it, is that this was almost certainly a bomb that someone planted on that plane. >> well, certainly, we had a catastrophic explosion, and one would believe since you've got people that took credit, therefore, it must be an explosion. but to look at intelligence before an event, we use intelligence to make our best guess. after an event, we use intelligence to try to establish a line of facts. and until we get the forensics
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from that aircraft, from individuals who were on the plane, from luggage, and it shows an explosive residue, then we can't with any certainty say this was the cause. >> so, you seem to be frustrated. and you're the chairman of the intelligence committee. i assume u.s. intelligence officials are frustrated that the egyptians are not letting the u.s. get direct access to the site of that crash. >> well, i certainly think that we could lend to the investigation in a supplemental way. and so far, we have not been able to do that, even with the offer of the fbi involvement. >> we're hearing that it was a military-grade explosive, like c-4. is that what you're hearing as well? >> well, i think, wolf, today i wouldn't rule out anything, because you're in a war zone. but what we've seen from isil is that they will go to whatever lengths possible to try to create an explosive that can be used. so, i think that the options are unlimited as to what this might have been. but clearly in a combat zone
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there is the opportunity for weapons-grade explosives. >> and the assumption was it was isis in sinai or some affiliate group? is that the working assumption? >> well, i think that isis in the sinai has taken the credit for them, and i don't want to second guess the credit that they're taking. the reality is that isis is probably found in 14 or 15 countries in a significant, threatening way today, and their reach is far outside of just those 14 countries. >> the mass murderer or mass murderers in this particular case, are still at large. the egyptians, egyptian security sources say they've interviewed everybody at that airport that had access to that russian jetliner. the foreign minister didn't know if anyone had been detained or arrested at this point. what are you hearing about who these people might have been and if anyone -- if there are specific names of individuals who may have committed this act? >> well, i think it's safe to say we don't have names today or we would share those with our partners. we've got a great partnership with egypt. we want to see tourism flourish there.
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we want to bring an end to what happened in this tragedy. but the type of detail that's needed only can come with time, and i think that both the egyptians and the russians have to understand that we've got to finish this investigation and use the facts that we find to be able to search for the individuals who might have committed this act. >> we're going to take a quick break, mr. chairman. we have a lot more to discuss, including potential u.s./russian cooperation in this war against isis. much more with the chairman of the senate intelligence committee when we come back. ♪ prepare for challenges specific to your business by working with trusted advisors who help turn obstacles into opportunities. experience the power of being understood.
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we're following the breaking news in the investigation of that russian airline disaster. we're learning that egyptian officials have interviewed everyone who serviced the jet as they investigate whether an airport insider planted a bomb board, possibly at the direction of isis. we're back with the senate intelligence committee chairman richard burr, the republican from north carolina. the status of u.s. airports, tsa, there are almost 900,000 people who work at u.s. airports, 450 airports across the country. is enough being done to make sure there's no similar kind of event here in the united states that occurred at sharm el sheik?
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>> well, wolf, certainly, we go through a very extensive process of screening the luggage, the luggage underneath as well as the handheld. and i think we've taken the prudent steps abroad to target a number of airports. we haven't named all of them. we're doing an enhanced security review. we want to make sure that the american public as well as others who fly to this country feel 100% secure. and i think that tsa and the department of homeland security has certainly done the prudent things. >> should they be reassessing, though, taking some additional steps at foreign airports that have direct flight service to the united states and at u.s. airports themselves? >> oh, i would tell you that they're doing that. and the thought process on aviation security will change frequently now because we've had an incident. and that requires us to think just like the individuals do that want to carry out these acts. >> the u.s. and russia, they have serious differences right now. there's almost like a new cold
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war, if you will. but at the same time, the russians hate isis, the u.s. hates isis, there's a war against isis. should there be greater collaboration, cooperation, between the u.s. and russia right now, including intelligence-sharing, in going after isis? >> well, that's certainly something that's going to be discussed in the future, but included in that is not just the united states and russia, it's our coalition partners in the gulf states, it's individuals who surround the battle space today. turkey is a great example, jordan. and i think we will come to something that we think is a workable agreement, or we'll continue to prosecute the terrorism that we find and the barbaric acts of isil separately. but at the end of the day, isil has to be eliminated. >> and if the russians take the lead in that, that's okay with you? >> well, i think that's okay. i'm not sure that any of us can do it by ourselves. and the reality is that this is probably one where a joint
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effort would be more productive and would shorten the timeline greatly. >> it's a good point. the whole notion of the motive for this destruction of this russian plane, if it were isis, were they going after russia, which is increasingly aggressive in syria right now against isis, among others, or was it against egypt, the government of president assisi. the terrorists in sinai hate the egyptian government right now. what was the target? >> let me just say, i haven't seen an attack in the region where isis hadn't taken credit for it. so, this is consistent. even the things they didn't do they've taken credit for. at the end of the day, i think this probably, if it was an act that was carried out that was not mechanical, it's probably an act that was directed to russia, and i would expect that in the next 24 to 48 hours, if the russians come to the same conclusion that many have publicly, then they will take some actions. >> last time we spoke here in "the situation room," you were concerned that the u.s. right
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now doesn't seem to have an overall strategy in dealing with this threat in the region. are you still concerned about that? >> i'm probably more concerned today that we don't have a strategy. so, it's difficult to understand right now how we dove-tail that into a russian effort. when russia entered the space in syria, it eliminated, really, the option of a no-fly zone where we can stop this massive fleeing of refugees. wolf, over 240,000 people killed in syria, over 4 million refugees on their way either to border countries or to europe. this is unsustainable. it's got to be stopped. >> 4 million refugees, external ref these, another 7 million internally. they've been forced to flee their homes. this is the worst refugee crisis since world war ii. >> without question. and i think had this happened at any other time, there would have been an international coalition that would have removed the individuals that did it. yet, we're still sitting here talking about assad and -- >> so, what do you expect this
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russian response to be? and you expect it soon, right? >> well, certainly, russia has a tremendous amount of resources in the syrian battlefield. if they feel isil has committed an act against russia, then i wouldn't even try to guess what they might do. >> but it could be pretty aggressive? >> i think it could be pretty aggressive. >> and within what, 24 to 48 hours? >> oh, i think that that's a time frame. they're the ones that are carrying out the investigation. they can certainly tell whether there's explosive residue. if they don't take action, then we may be back talking about structural challenges to the plane and that maybe it wasn't an explosive device. >> they've canceled all flights to egypt, not just sharm el sheik, but cairo as well. so, i assume they think this was a terrorist attack. >> well, sometimes when you look at a road map it becomes very clear where you're headed, but you've still got to question the details. >> so, what i'm hearing from you is we should brace for a very aggressive russian response. >> based upon what their action has been in syria, i would expect that they would have a response. >> mr. chairman, thanks very much. >> thanks, wolf.
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>> for joining us, richard burr, chairman of the intelligence committee. just ahead, the fbi's case against two men now accused of trying to ignite a race war here in the united states. stand by for details on this alleged plot. and tensions are still running high at the university of missouri right now after protests against racism forced two top officials to resign. how much will it change in leadership really know? ♪ ♪ it's the final countdown! ♪ ♪ the final countdown! if you're the band europe, you love a final countdown. it's what you do. if you want to save fifteen percent or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. it's what you do.
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breaking news. two virginia men, alleged white supremacists arrested by the fbi and accused of plotting to bomb black churches and jewish synagogues as part of a plan to start what they wanted, supposedly, a race war in the united states. our justice correspondent, pamela brown, with details right now. pamela, tell us what you're learning about this alleged plot. >> i've been speaking to officials about this case, wolf, and we've learned that these with two alleged white sprem visits in chesterfield, virginia, who the fbi says plotted to kill black people and people of screw yirk faith in furtherance of extremist beliefs. the complaint says they planned on shooting or bombing the occupants of black churches and jewish synagogues, conducting acts of violence against persons of the jewish faith and doing harm to a gun store owner in the state of oklahoma. the fbi says that the men, ronald chaney and robert doyle, planned to kill businessmen, a jeweler as well as the owner of
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a gun shop, in order to steal money, acquire weapons and then take over land from there. and they actually, the fbi says, met with an undercover agent who was acting as an illegal arms dealer in order to buy weapons as part of this scheme. and they actually were suspicious about this undercover agent. according to taped conversations, one of the men was suspicious that the agent was part of the atf, but despite those suspicions, the men allegedly went forward with their plans to buy these weapons, and that is when they were arrested earlier this week. the fbi says they were trying to buy automatic weapons, explosives and a pistol with a silencer. wolf? >> in this criminal complaint, which i've read, the district court for the district of virginia, one of the two men says they were doing this in preparation of what was described as a race war. what do we know about that? >> similar to what we heard by dylann roof, the charleston shooter who killed nine members of a church there. these men had the same mentality, we're told, that
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essentially, sources say, the fbi says that they wanted to acquire money by killing a jeweler, killing a businessman and then purchase land, according to this criminal complaint, stockpile weapons and train for, as you say, the coming race war, that they essentially wanted to begin paramilitary training on a compound by all this money they acquired from killing these businessmen. but as one of the sources i spoke with said, these men were far off from actually accomplishing this goal, wolf. >> but they do have a plot, allegedly, if you read -- >> very concerning. >> -- the u.s. district court criminal complaint. very disturbing, indeed. pamela, thanks. let's get more. joining us, cnn anchor don lemon and former federal prosecutor, our cnn legal analyst, sunny hostin. sunny, what's your reaction when you hear about these alleged white supremacists wanting to kill blacks, wanting to kill jews? we all remember that dylann roof, horrible situation, murdering nine people as they attended a bible study class in
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that south carolina church. >> well, i think it's horrifying that these kinds of plots are still in existence. we know in law enforcement that they really took place oftentimes in the '60s and early '70s, during the civil rights movement. and so, i think the kudos goes to the federal bureau of investigation, the fbi, for, you know, stopping this type of plot. and i think that we have seen, at least with the department of justice civil rights division, that certainly, the fbi has been very proactive in making sure that these kinds of assassins, really, are stopped before their plots are hatched. >> don, you know, it's interesting that these alleged white supremacists, they obviously hate blacks, they hate jews. that's sort of a common feature over the years, the fbi going after so-called white supremacist groups. >> yeah, it certainly is, and it speaks to just how insidious and how awful and how engrained race and racism is in our society.
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someone who grew up in louisiana, where the kkk -- this was back in the '80s -- would pass out literature on the corner of my high school. i'm not surprised that this happened. but this is just how insidious it is. these men apparently were turning racism into a science. they were part of a sect, a neopagan analogy yum of race and science. to them, this was a science, and they wanted to go off on land and create their own white culture or own white society. it's insidious. i'm glad the fbi got them. and it just shows, again, just how engrained it is in our society. >> i've spoken with some fbi agents who focus in on these threats, sunny, and they say that potentially, there are more white supremacist terrorist threats out there that let's say al qaeda or isis threats right here in the united states. what have you heard about that? >> i heard the same thing. i mean, i have, certainly, a lot of friends in the department of justice, certainly people that are in the civil rights division just working on cases like this.
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and so, certainly, this isn't just a blip on the screen. this isn't sort of fringe activity that doesn't happen very often. you have people in the department of justice that are dedicating all of their time and careers to combat this kind of action. so, you know, i think we all need to be aware that, as president obama says, that you know, in order to perfect our union, we have to address this deep-rooted issue of racism that we have in our society. >> and wolf, we spend a lot of time talking about, you know, jihadists and muslim terrorists or what have you, but this is, according to the new american foundation, that more people have been killed on american soil by white extremists than muslim jihadists in the 14 years since 9/11. >> yeah. >> this is a huge terrorist problem as well that we don't focus on enough. >> you're absolutely right. all right, let's move on, don. let's talk a little bit about what's been going on at the university of missouri. the naacp president cornell william brooks told me yesterday here in "the situation room" that the problem on that campus
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is not just on that campus, but it extends beyond that one campus, and you can go all over the country and find similar problems. what's your reaction when you hear that? >> well, i think he's right. i mean, listen, we're talking about the story of these guys who were neo-nazis or whatever sect they belong to down in south carolina. so, what makes us think that it's not going to exist on college campuses? these kids come from homes where they grow up and people have certain beliefs about certain types of people. so, yeah, i think it definitely exists on college campuses. i think it's great that the students there are standing up, i think the young people there did a great, great service to america, really, not only to the campus there, but to america, really, by pointing this, you know, what they believe is happening there, by pointing out what's going on on campus. >> and sunny, cornell william brooks also told me that the football team there at the university of missouri threatening not to play this coming saturday. that was pivotal in the
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president's resignation, the chancellor's resignation as well. i assume you agree. >> yeah, i think it was pivotal, because we now know that had they not played and forfeited that game, it could have cost the university up to $1 million. and athletes and athletics, there's real power there. i mean, i went to the university of notre dame. i know how powerful a message is coming from the athletic department, coming from the football team. and let's face it, we sort of hold these kids up as role models. and so, to have them, i think, take a stand, not just the black players, but really, almost the entire team, black and white, you know, sort of joining forces and making sure that their voices are heard in an act of student activism i think is very, very important. and we have seen, i think, many athletes sort of take up these important social justice issues that are going on right now. we remember many of the athletes wearing the "i can't breathe" t-shirts, just to name that one
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instance. so, i think that there's real power in athletics and real power in money. >> i'm sure you're right. sunny -- >> that was a part, though, that had to make the change, because you know, the student was on a hunger strike for days. and after the football team, 36 hours lateer later, oh, the mon we've got to do something. >> sunny hostin, don lemon, thank you very much. important note, don will be back later today, much more on this, all the day's important news, 10:00 p.m. eastern on his program, "cnn tonight." just ahead, donald trump's take on the race to the white house. why is he calling it a strange election? >> if you try and hit your mother over the head with a hammer, your poll numbers go up! i never saw anything like it. lilly baker is preparing for college. she'll use that education to get a job. she'll use that job to buy a home.
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republican presidential hopefuls are preparing to face off tonight in milwaukee in their latest debate. and for the leading candidates, the pressure, the attacks, the scrutiny have all ramped up significantly since their last contest almost two weeks ago. chief political correspondent dana bash is in milwaukee for us. dana, it's a big night for donald trump, for ben carson, for marco rubio, and especially, shall i say, for jeb bush. >> reporter: absolutely, for all of them, but ben carson in particular. you know, he is notoriously
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mellow at these debates, but a source close to him tells me that he's actually been pretty fired up behind the scenes, mostly because of all of the scrutiny of his past statements, and we may see a different side of him tonight. >> people are getting away with murder. i never saw anything like this. >> reporter: without a hint of irony, the billionaire reality tv star who rewrites political rules every day is calling out ben carson for an unconventional campaign. >> you stab somebody, and the newspapers say, you didn't do it! this is the only election in history where you're better off if you stab somebody. >> reporter: for carson, anecdotes about overcoming a pathological temper as a child, like attempting to hit his mother with a hammer, is a selling point for many gop voters enthralled with his story of redemption, but trump is trying to reframe it as just plain crazy. >> if you try and hit your mother over the head with a
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hammer, you poll numbers go up! i never saw anything like it. >> reporter: the carson campaign is now trying to diffuse that situation with some humor, releasing this new top ten spoof video of carson's youthful indiscretions. >> ben carson checked out a library book and returned it two days late. >> reporter: while carson and trump battle for front-runner status, another drama will be playing out tonight -- jeb bush versus his former protege, marco rubio. >> or just resign and let someone else take the job. >> reporter: bush's direct hit on rubio in the last debate two weeks ago back-fired, big time. >> someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you. >> reporter: ahead of tonight's debate, team rubio released a video called "before the phony attacks," bush in his own words praising rubio. >> i'm a huge marco fan. >> reporter: the bush campaign released its own game-day video featuring their candidate the way they wish voters would see hem, an energetic, conservative leader. >> affirmative action, pro-life -- >> we're always different,
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everyone's different. everyone's different. >> reporter: team bush says they're being bombarded by often conflicting advice about how to resurrect his candidacy. "the new york times" reports the bush super pac, legally forbidden from talking to the campaign, is testing an attack on rubio as unelectable, in part because he opposes any abortion exceptions. >> when there is conception, that is a human life in the early stages of its total development, and it is worthy of the protection of our laws. >> reporter: now, going after rubio as unelectable because he is too extreme on abortion may be a good line of attack for a democrat in a general election, but wolf, when you're talking about republican primary voters, the idea that he is conservative and maybe sticks to principle on that is only potentially helpful, not hurtful. >> all right, dana, i want you to stand by. i want to bring in our senior political reporter, nia-malika henderson, our chief political analyst, gloria borger and our cnn national political report mae restin.
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donald trump calling this a strange election. it is a strange election. >> i was going to say, he's one of the reasons it's a strange election. we're not used to somebody calling an opponent a lightweight, as he called marco rubio today, but i must say, i agree with donald trump, and dana played part of that clip, where he said, this is the only election in history where you're better off if you stabbed somebody, referring to dr. ben carson. and that is true, because it's part of his narrative about his personal salvation. and i must say, he's right, it is strange. >> it's very strange what's going on right now. >> there is, and we'll see how that plays out tonight in the undercard debate and the main stage debate. do they mix it up, carson and trump, or do they have a kind of bromance like they did in the last debate? >> i don't think they're going to have that this time. >> we'll see what happens, because i think before, trump went after him, but then couldn't really pull it off in a debate, but we'll see. >> do you think any of this, mabe, is going to come up tonight, for example, the questions about dr. ben carson's
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personal history, if you will, the autobiography, some of the questions that have been raised about the accuracy of some of those assertions in his story? >> well, i think that this is something, certainly, that donald trump has been talking about over the last couple of days. and ben carson's campaign, which has refused to cooperate with us since the beginning -- we've asked them to connect us to some of the victims and eyewitnesses in these incidents -- has said that, you know, the public has moved on. but donald trump, apparently, doesn't see it that way. we know that dr. carson has raised a lot of money off of this, and you know, we're just still waiting and hoping that more of these people who were involved in these violent incidents will come forward and talk to us. we have not been able to find any eyewitnesses thus far in our own reporting, and it's just sort of a weird twist to the campaign. >> the campaign, as you know, is pointing to that "parade"
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magazine article back in 1997, including an interview with dr. ben carson's mother in which she confirmed his violent past. what have you discovered about that? >> well, that was a very interesting story. i mean, we know that dr. carson has told a lot of people this story over the years. he has talked about it openly on the campaign trail. and i mean, what the "parade" story told us is that it's something that he also discussed with his mother. but as i said, we have not been able to find any classmates who can recall these kinds of repeated, violent outbursts that he's described, hitting other kids with bricks and bats and rocks. and so, we're continuing to do that reporting, and maybe some people will come forward and confirm those accounts. >> gloria, do you think the candidat candidates, the republican candidates, the eight candidates on the main stage tonight, are really going to clash, or are they going to stick to the substance? we know that the moderators want to talk about the economy and
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other significant jobs-related issues. >> you know, i think it depends very much on the questions they're asked, wolf. if they're asked about the federal reserve and they're asked about the debt ceiling and they're asked about the budget deficit and their health care they may clash on substance. if they're prodded to say and it the moderators say you said this about this one, they will clash. i was just communicating with somebody who works for marco rubio who said, look, he's going to answer substantive questions and project calm, confidence and control. so that's what they all want to do. >> dana bash is there in the lobby covering this debate for us tonight. this is a huge moment for jeb bush tonight, as well. he's got a media coach. he's been gearing up for it. this is significant, right, dana? >> reporter: of course. having said that, i think at this point after watching him so
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many times on the debate stage, nobody is expecting him to hit a home run and completely change the course of his campaign. it's not going to happen in a debate unless something really, really dramatic changes. so i think just in talking to bush sources, the goal is to do no harm and to try to be as much as who he is as possible. he has really been getting so many conflicting pieces of advice over the past 13 days or so since he had, he admits, a terrible debate performance in boulder, colorado. talking to his campaign, talking to the sources who i'm talking to, my question has been is he going to go back to rubio stunt, frankly, again? the answer is we'll see how the debate goes. they are not ruling it out. it's hard to imagine trying that again when it didn't go well last time.
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>> it was awkward last time. >> it was awful. rubio got the best of him and was prepared for it. bush wasn't prepared to follow through and wasn't prepared for a comeback. i think that's one of the reasons yes finally decided he needs that debate coach. i think it is dangerous to go into a debate with all these competing voices in your head. then of course your own sense how you need to do. >> he has to be comfortable. the truth of the matter is jeb bush is not an attack dog. it's not where he comes or what he does. he wouldth rahher discuss the debt ceiling and budge deficit and health care. if he sticks to that tonight, maybe he would show himself to be substantive. >> let's see how it goes. thanks very, very much. an important note, join anderson cooper for a special "ac 360" post debate wrap-up looking at the issues that dominated the did it cushions, fact checking of the candidates. that airs tonight live at 11:00
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p.m. eastern. just ahead, donald trump weighing a starbucks boycott as he joins the fight against the so-called war on christmas. ♪ while you're watching this, i'm hacking your company. grabbing your data. stealing your customers' secrets. there's an army of us. relentlessly unpicking your patchwork of security.
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>>. >> conservative christians who think there is a so-called war on christmas here in the united states are getting high-profile backing. donald trump is supporting their cause, possibly picking up critical support for his campaign in return. tom foreman is with us in "the situation room." trump is jumping into this battle right now. >> absolutely. he is embracing the war on
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christmas meme, talking about starbucks, christian values and trying to talk himself into good graces o es of christian voters. >> if you can call this anything you want, but if i become president, we are all going to be saying merry christmas again. that i can tell you. that i can tell you. >> there is more than coffee at stake. religious voters are a corner stone of the gop base. in 2012, evangelicals counted for a majority of votes in the early states of iowa and south carolina. and 42% of all mitt romney support in the general election. no wonder this year's candidates are eager to talk faith. >> we're a nation that has enjoyed god's blessing. >> knowledge can be googled, but
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wisdom comes from above. >> and i don't in any way deny my faith in god. >> reporter: still trump is in a unique spot. >> i have one of the most successful starbucks in trump tower. maybe we should boycott starbucks. seriously. i don't care. that's the end of that lease, but who cares. >> reporter: look at this 2010 card from his hotel chain with "happy holidays" looming large. the same is true with many of his tweets. even as late as last year he was routinely using the phrase he now wants to toss out like day-old coffee. >> happy holiday, you can leave that in the corner. enjoy it. i'm saying merry christmas who whoever the hell wants to hear it. >> in fairness, we don't have all of trump's tweets or corporate messages. maybe he's used merry christmas a lot, too. clearly, not as exclusively as he's using it now with a big debate looming and a big
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election at stake. >> tom foreman, thanks very much. that's all the time we have today. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." erin burnett "out front" starts right now. "out front" the bomb. major new details saying a bomb loaded with military-grade explosives rigged to a timer likely brought down metro jet 9268. how can a bomb get onboard? what airport screeners see and how hard it is to spot a hidden bomb. >> breaking news, a plane crashing into a brick building in ohio. the details are just coming in on this crash. we've got that for you as we are following it. let's go "out front." good evening, i'm erin burnett. out front tonight on a bomb on a

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