tv The Situation Room CNN September 11, 2012 4:00pm-7:00pm EDT
right now where that teachers strike is in its second day. and a large protest taking place on the streets of the windy city right now. all right. we'll continue to follow developments there. hopefully there will not be a day three. the two sides are still talking. in the meantime hand it off to wolf blitzer and "the situation room." wolf. martin, thanks very much. happening now, brand new poll results show president obama's approval rating passing a very important milestone. also, on this an ser vary of 9/11, we'll hear the president strongly defend one of the united states' deadliest and most effective weapons against would-be terrorists. and in a cnn exclusive, the brother of al qaeda's top leader now says there is a way to reconciliation and peace. i'm wolf blitzer.
you're in "the situation room"." all that coming up. we begin with a very public and new escalation of some tension between president obama and prime minister benjamin netanyahu. israeli sources tell me the white house at least for now has rejected prime minister netanyahu's request to meet with him later this month to discuss iran's nuclear program. the israelis were told a meeting isn't possible because of the president's schedule, schedule won't permit it even when they offer to have the prime minister come to washington from new york where he'll be addressing the united nations. the white house is pushing back saying the president and prime minister simply won't be in new york at the same time this month to address the u.n. but this is just the tip of the icebe iceberg. in a much bigger disagreement right now over iran's suspected quest for nuclear weapons. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr is joining us now
with that part of the story. what's the latest on this really sensitive matter, barbara? >> reporter: wolf, the bickering is out in the open. israel two months from election day wants to see action from the united states, the obama administration, the white house has a very different view. israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu is turning up the heat on the obama administration's plans for dealing with iran's program to make a nuclear bomb. >> the world tells israel, wait, there's still time. and i say, wait for what? wait until when? >> reporter: israel wants the u.s. to commit to a so-called redline with iran. if iran steps over it, they face military action against their nuclear sites. >> those international community who refuse to put redlines before iran don't have a moral
right to place a red light before israel. >> reporter: israel wants u.s. support because at some point its own air force won't be able to hit iran's nuclear sites in increasingly hardens underground bunkers. with two months to election day, the u.s. administration isn't anxious to get specific. >> the american people know that the president has said unequivocally he will not allow iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. i'm not going to get into how you unpack exactly what, who, how, when. >> reporter: but not setting a line can also be risky while negotiations go on. >> on the other side of this is if you don't set very clear limits to iran's behavior, you can go on indefinitely. >> reporter: during his recent trip to israel, defense secretary leon panetta was very aware iran has moved ahead with
nuclear fuel enrichment and testing other elements essential to making a bomb. >> the viewpoint of the intelligence community is that if they made the decision to go ahead in order to develop the enriched uranium and develop the kind of weaponization that they would have to do, looking at approximately a year. >> reporter: a year, wolf. once iran made the decision to go for nuclear bomb. panetta doesn't believe they have made that decision yet. that said, he is known to be frustrated with the sanctions process. he believes sanctions are working, that they're biting at the iranian economy, but that the iranian regime simply hasn't changed its calculus, hasn't made the decision to turn away from the path towards a nuclear weapon. and that also is israel's concern. wolf. >> barbara starr at the pentagon, thanks very much. by the way, here's the part of the white house statement just released. statement released by the national security council
spokesman among other things saying "the president arrives in new york for the u.n. on september 24th and departs on tuesday september 25 9. the prime minister doesn't arrive in new york until later in the week. they're simply not in the city at the same time. but the president and prime minister are in frequent contact. and the prime minister will meet with other senior officials including secretary clinton during his visit." much more on this story coming up later. another sign president obama's getting a bounce out of the democratic national convention. just in, results from our brand new cnn/orc poll. they show the president's approval rating is now 51%, 44% disapproving. after spending the last half of 2011 in the mid-40s, the president's approval rating has been hovering near the all-important 50% mark for most of the year. today exactly eight weeks from
election day he's in positive territory. our chief national correspondent john king is over here at the magic wall. he's breaking down the numbers with a closer look. that 50% is significant. >> it is significant. if you're the incumbent, you want to be above 50. you would like to be closer to 60 and then have a better chance of saying i'm going to win election. like we show you yesterday, look deeper into the poll. you'll see some of the reasons why his standings are improve. a critical group in the election, reason i puled it out of florida, how is he doing among those 65 and older? critical in florida and other states as well. tends to vote republican. the president now 50% disapprove, 46% approve. so he's under water, but look at it a year ago. only 37% approve, so significant progress for the president there. he would like to hold that through election day. another group, i know we'll talk about in a minute, independents. again, he's under water.
a critical group in a key election, in a close election, but look at the improvement. last year, 35%, 60 he was way under water. as we watch the race play out, we're looking at the regions of the country. the battlegrounds. we know romney wants to compete in michigan and wisconsin. how does the race shape up in the midwest? the president approval, disapproval, it's a split. that's within the margin of error. that's a statistical tie. he's at 49% and 47% in the midwest. 61% of this region disapproved of the president a year ago. he's on a better track heading into the election. and we also know out west competitive battlegrounds could be colorado and nevada. the president has on his targets as well. how do they shape in the west? how is the president handling his job? he's above here. that's essentially a statistical tie. it was 54% disapproval and 44% now. the president's standing is
improving among seniors, in the midwest, the west and somewhat independents as well. not where he'd love it to be, but he'll like this especially when you look back one year ago. >> shows conventions do matter, at least in the short-term. we'll see how they stack up in the long-term. gloria's with us as well. how about independents? >> right. >> that's critically important. a lot of independents are undecided. >> john was just talking about independents. they're important because they're the swing voters, the voters president or mitt romney wants. i thought we would look at the president's love/hate relationship. >> good way to put it. >> if you go back to when he was elected february 2009, 76% with independent voters. fabulous. january 2010, down to 47%. that was right in the middle of the battle for health care reform. january 2011, goes up a little bit. that was the aftermath of the gabby giffords shootding. he was seen as more of a leader,
seen as more bipartisan. independent voters like that when you talk about bipartisanship. and then you see as john was just pointing out, 44% in 2012. so he's been lower, he's been way lower. but he would like to see that way above 50% if he could. and he's not there yet. >> when it comes to white registered voters though, he's still not doing fabulous. >> if you look at that number i believe the president's approval rating is among 40% -- >> let me put it up. >> 56% disapprove. a democrat doesn't often win the vote. this has been an issue for the president since the very beginning, that's approval rating, that's not the ballot. in the ballot if the president gets 39% or 40% of the white vote on election day, he most likely will win the election. if his african-american and latino turnout is anywhere close to four years ago. again, that's progress for the president. you would like to be a little higher than that. that is a fact of life though in today's politics.
even pre-obama. >> and the president's problem has always been white men. >> white men especially, yes. >> that's why the gender gap is so important to him because he does so well with women of all kinds. so if he can balance out that gap with white men, then he will win. very important. >> that's ohio, michigan, wisconsin. if he does well enough, good enough with white men. >> in our new poll, i was interested in this question, who's more likely to win the debates? there will be three presidential debates in october. >> you tell us. >> look at this. at least according to this cnn/orc poll, 59% think the president will win the debates. 34% romney. so the expectations are that the president will do well. >> i think in part that's because people are more familiar with the president. but that's the exact number from four years ago when they asked john mccain or then senator obama. it was 59%, 34% as well. we have personal experience, governor romney is not a bad di
baiter. >> he's had a lot of practice. how many did they do? >> a dozen. >> 433. >> right. and if there are low expectations, that's just fine as far as the romney campaign is concerned, right? because the lower the expectations, the better people will think he does. >> they're all important. >> getting back to the original number, he's above 50%, 51% approval. >> uh-huh. >> so does he have a clear coast to the -- >> no. >> -- re-election. >> no. here's the issue for the president. people like him more than they approve of him. while that number is good for him, the problem has been that people just sort of like him, but they don't think he's done as good a job as they thought he was going to do. they give him the benefit of the doubt on likability. they would like to see that approval number up. >> if governor romney can convince them the alternative is a smart and safe place to go, give up on somebody you like. if governor romney can't close that sale and you're at the end, if you're torn, you're going to
pick the guy you like. >> it's hard to fire somebody you really like unless you're just sure that he's done a terrible job. but if you like him, you're going to be just a little less reluctant, particularly when you're not convinced that the other guy out there, the other job applicant out there is really what you want. >> guys, thanks, very, very much. we'll continue this later here in "the situation room." mitt romney's toning down his attacks on the president because of today's 9/11 anniversary. but he's also trying to make up for what the democrats say was a major omission in his convention speech. ♪ [ acoustic guitar: upbeat ] [ dog ] we found it together. on a walk, walk, walk. love to walk. yeah, we found that wonderful thing. and you smiled. and threw it. and i decided i would never, ever leave it anywhere. because that wonderful, bouncy, roll-around thing... had made you play. and that... had made you smile.
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with investment information, risks, fees and expenses to read and consider carefully before investing. try the #1 gastroenterologist recommended probiotic. align. align naturally helps maintain digestive balance. ♪ ooh, baby, can i do for you today? ♪ try align today. jack cafferty's here with the cafferty file. jack. >> wolf, it turns out a four--year college degree just might be a lousy investment. news wooek magazine reports in this week's cover story that for a growing number of young people the extra time spent getting a
diploma will make them worst off. many pointing to college tuitions and the housing bubble. rapid tuitions at rates higher. and borrowing huge sums of money and incuring debt in the process. the federal government has increased student aid big time. more people are taking out loans. and people are being told this is good debt, that they're investing in themselves. maybe, maybe not. what kind of investment is it if you can't find a job when you graduate? it's estimated as many as two-thirds of undergraduates come out of college with debt. for many their long balances are in the tens of thousands of dollars. meanwhile, half of all recent college graduates are either unemployed or have jobs that don't require a degree to begin with. and many are in debt up to their ears from student loans. as newsweek writes "these graduates were told a diploma is all they needed to succeed, but
won't get them out of the spare bedroom at mom and dads." there are all kinds of degrees. degrees in engineering. we'll help you find a job and pay off those loans quicker than for example a liberal arts degree. it's past time to think how to invest in higher education. some say we should put more young people to work through apprenticeship style programs that will teach them specific job skills as well as soft skills or how to succeed in the workplace. in the old days they used to have trade schools that did that kind of stuff. the question is this, is college worth it? go to cnn.com/caffertyfile, post a comment on the blog. or go to the post on the "the situation room" facebook page. wolf. >> jack, thank you. today's anniversary of the september 11th terror attacks took the edge off the usual campaign attacks. jim acosta has followed romney
to nevada. >> reporter: wolf, both campaigns did take down negative ads out of respect for this anniversary of 9/11. both sides are still finding ways to draw their contrast. mitt romney came all the way to reno to do that on the subject of foreign policy. on this anniversary of september 11th, mitt romney arrived at his charter to find firefighters at chicago's o'hare airport holding their own remembrance. it was an unexpected moment for a tightly scripted candidate. a reminder that some days are bigger than a campaign. next, it was onto reno in a national guard convention for a speech that appeared to have a dual purpose. burnish romney's foreign policy credentials and address an oversight that the obama campaign has hammered for days. >> our goal should be to complete a successful transition to afghan security forces by the end of 2014. >> reporter: romney's mention of afghanistan came less than two weeks after democrats point out he neglected to mention the war
in his speech at the gop convention. >> it's more than a mission. it reveals a severe lack of understanding about the job as president. doesn't reflect well on what kind of leadership he would bring. and frankly, it's just unbecoming of someone who wants to become commander and chief. >> reporter: in the latest poll voters by a wide margin said voters would handle better by romney. saying this was not a day for contrast, romney slammed looming budget cuts at the pentagon. >> the return of our troops cannot be an excuse and must not be an excuse to hollow out our military. >> reporter: in recent days romney hit democrats for an omission of their own leaving out the word god from their party platform. he has referred to his faith in speeches and online.
on twitter cropped up again in a not-so-veiled jab at the president. >> when and if i become president of the united states, i will not take god out of the platform of my party. he's making a point about the democratic convention. >> right. i think that was an issue that came up. that the democrats had a disagreement on the floor of their convention. everybody's known but i think the governor made very clear where he stands on that. >> reporter: and even though mitt romney said he was not going on the attack today, the obama campaign did take romney's comments on those pentagon defense budget cuts as a contrast. liz smith, an obama campaign spokeswoman sent a statement to us, wolf, a few moments ago. i'll read it for you. she says the president agrees we
should avoid the automatic defense cuts that's why he's called on congressional republicans to prevent them by asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. even though the attacks were toned down, they're still flying back and forth, wolf. >> they won't tone down tomorrow or the rest of this campaign for sure. thanks very much, jim acosta. other news we're following including chicago's public school teachers. they're off the job for a second day. ted rowlands is right in the thick of the protests. we'll go to chicago for a live report of the strike. [ male announcer ] whether it's kevin's smartphone... mom's smartphone... dad's tablet... or lauren's smartphone... at&t has a plan built to help make families' lives easier.
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public schools are empty for a second day in chicago, and the pressure is clearly building for the city and the teachers union to reach an agreement. parents are scrambling to find alternatives for 350,000 idle students. our own ted rowlands is in chicago surrounded by some protesting teachers. ted, what are the main sticking points right now? >> reporter: well, wolf, it depends on who you talk to. according to the school district, there are only a couple that have to do with merit pay scenarios and rehiring teachers after schools are closed. but talked to the union and they say there are a list of things that haven't been ironed out in the excess of 12 or 13 points. bottom line, the way things have gone so far today, it looks though it may be a lot longer
than two or three days. i'm surrounded by thousands of teachers right now in downtown chicago marching through the streets. two things that did happen today, one is the district has come up with a plan to extend the hours of those schools that are open during the strike. that won't start until thursday. and the other thing, wolf, is they are talking about possibly taking off the offer that is currently on the table. if that happens, it's back to square one. but they are negotiating at this hour. and they have continued to negotiate through this process. whether or not that changes, we'll have to wait and see. >> ted rowlands surrounded by a lot of teachers out there on strike. let's hope they resolve this quickly. thank you. in today's strategy session, the presidential debate's only a few weeks away. our last poll shows voters have much lower expectations for one of the candidates. ♪
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want to give you a background on presidential approval ratings and whether they're predictors for the race to come and the outcome. our new cnn poll puts president obama right now as you saw at 51% approval. that's right about where george w. bush was in 2004. he was narrowly re-elected. president clinton had a solid amount of support back in 1996, as did president reagan in 1984.
both were re-elected. approval ratings for presidents george h.w. bush and jimmy carter lagged below 40%, neither was re-elected. joining us now in our strategy session, two cnn contributors. democratic strategist donna brazile, republican strategist alex castellanos. donna, 51% is decent, but no means conclusive at this point within two months. >> absolutely, wolf. but, look, given the state of economy, the polarization in our economy, the fact the president is now above 50%, that should give chicago a little breathing room as they begin to plan for the fall debate and get ready for the ground game. but president obama has an enormous task over the next 45 #54 days. he has to continue to make his case to the american people, he has to of course get ready for the fall debates, but i think he's at really great shape. >> you agree? >> i think so. considering most republicans
think the president's done a terrible job, he's lucky to be over the 50% mark. donna's right. it's a magic number. when you have 50%, that means you've got enough vote to win. and you can really focus on getting the other guy and kind of holding his head under water. >> given the fact the economy is not in good shape, still above 8% unemployment, why is he above 50%? >> you know, this is a race between the movable object and the resistible force. we've got a president who can't possibly get re-elected and a challenger who can't possibly beat him. obama's in terrible shape with the economy. he shouldn't win. mitt romney hasn't yet made the case why he's a better alternative. so this race is really stuck right now. i think that's what you see in these numbers. >> the undecided and the switchables as i like to say, that will be determined by the three presidential debates in october. jen psaki is the traveling press secretary for the obama campaign. listen to what he said to me last night right here in "the situation room." >> mitt romney has a bit more practice than the president.
he's done a lot of them recently. so, you know, we'll wait to see. >> are you nervous? >> well, he's a much better debater. >> you think? >> mitt romney's been doing debates, he's done how many a dozen over the last year. >> you agree with jen that mitt romney's a better debater than president obama? >> you know, i think he is a very effective debater. he's been involved in 20 debates since may 5th of last year, the last was cnn back in february. he is very focused on his opponent. he knows how to deliver his lines. he plays defense and offense well. i believe the president needs to be very careful not to go in this debate thinking that mitt romney's not up to speed on the issues. and he knows -- >> who's a better debater? >> well, we're going to find out. it's going to be hard for obama to change the expectations. when you're president of the united states, when you're supposed to be in the big chair and take on the problems -- the biggest problems in the world, it's hard for voters to look at
you and say, yeah, but he's going to get beaten by a challenger. you're the heavyweight champ until the number one contender beats you. but right now we're in that expectations game, wolf. everybody's trying to manage expectations. >> i remember those debates between then-candidate barack obama and hillary clinton, john edwards when he was in. the expectations that this guy's relatively new, he's probably not going to do that well. they were low. and when he did okay, he managed to win. he won the nomination. >> he won the nomination. but i thought hillary clinton won all the debates. she was a very good, persuadable candidate back then. he won the nomination because he had a lot of grass roots support. >> how do you know who wins a debate? the polls that come out afterwards? or is there some other intangible that you as a political strategist would look at? >> when i'm in a campaign like that, you look at m.o.s., a moment of strength. you want to create that moment that let's people look into your candidate's eyes and say, wow, this guy has the strength to do
the job, to meet the unexpected, i can trust him in that big chair. i know when the time comes he'll do the right thing. and you don't tell stories like that with words. you see them with events and actions. it's gladiator contest. it's that moment and plays on the news for a week and that's how you win the debate. >> you were al gore's campaign manager in 2000. you rehearsed with him. take us behind the scenes. how does that work out? >> well, you bring a candidate to a location where he's not distracted by the day-to-day activity. you allow him to rest up a little bit. i'm sure both candidates right now are extremely exhausted. and you go through rehearse al after rehearsal after rehearsal and eventually have debate prep with someone, we have paul begala. and the candidate builds confidence in himself. and they're ready for the game. >> paul begala played president bush at that time. how did he do? >> he did a great job. paul is a wonderful texan.
>> this time i think the obama folks have senator john kerry playing mitt romney. senator kerry's a very human-like figure. he should do a good job. >> rob portman is playing the president of the united states in the debate preparation for romney. we'll see which one of these guys does a better job, who is better prepared. i've been in debates with both of them. they are both solid debaters, they're both very smart. i think these are going to be excellent substantiative good debates. >> wolf, i like the "the situation room." >> you like the new set? >> this is hot. it feels like this is an oval office. thank you for inviting us. >> as i said yesterday, when the president sees our "the situation room," he will be so jealous. he'll tell his staff in the west wing, we got to fix um e up our own situation room. it goes on and on and on. we have a lot of video screens, a lot of stuff. and we're only scratching the surface right now. we're going to dazzle the folks with some of the technology that's behind those video screens. >> this is going to be the place to see the debates.
>> yes, it will. also the super bowl. thanks, guys, very much. in a rare interview on a very sensitive subject, president obama's opening up to cnn about the use of drones against militants and suspected terrorists. ♪ ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] you've been years in the making. and there are many years ahead. join the millions of members who've chosen an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company. go long.
hospital. since the president took office, the u.s. dramatically increased its use of unmanned aircraft to target and kill militants and terrorists. yet he almost never talks about these drone attacks. for her cnn documentary, obama revealed, our chief white house correspondent jessica yellin asked him about the process of choosing targets. it's a sensitive, sensitive subject, as we all know, jessica. >> it is, wolf. the use of drones have increased four fold since president obama took office. now, published reports say the president personally approves of the so-called kill list, those targeted for death. i asked the president in an interview about this and more. do you personally decide who is targeted? and what are your criteria if you do for the use of lethal force? >> well, i've got to be a little careful here. they're classified issues. my first job, my most sacred
duty as president and commander in chief is keep the american people safe. we bear tools to go after al qaeda and those who would attack americans. drones are one tool that we use. and our criteria for using them is very tight and very strict. it has to be a target that is authorized by our laws. it has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative. it has to be a situation in which we can't capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the united states. and we've got to make sure that in whatever operations we conduct, we are very careful about avoiding civilian casualties. obviously as president
ultimately i'm responsible for decisions that are made by the administration. but i think what the american people need to know is the seriousness with which we take both the responsibility to keep them safe, but also the seriousness with which we take the need for us to abide by our traditions of rule of law and due process. >> sir, do you personally approve the targets? >> i can't get too deeply into how these things work. but as i said, as commander and chief ultimately i'm responsible for the process that we've set up. >> do you struggle with this policy? >> oh, absolutely. that's something that you have to struggle with. our most powerful tool over the long-term to reduce the terrorist threat is to live up to our values. and to be able to shape public
opinion not just here but around the world that senseless violence is not a way to resolve political differences. and so it's very important for the president and to the entire culture of our national security team to continually ask tough questions about, are we doing the right thing? are we abiding by rule of law? are we abiding by due process? and then set up structures and institutional checks so that, you know, you avoid any kind of slippery slope into a place where we're not being true to who we are. >> now, some human rights advocates say this practice amounts to targeted assassination. they especially take issue with the fact that a drone strike killed yemen cleric anwar, he was a u.s. citizen.
the documentary re-airs this saturday night at 9:30 p.m. >> excellent documentary. it wasn't just anwar al lack ki. his son was killed as well. that weighs heavily on the minds of president. >> that's right. two american citizens killed in yemen in two drone strikes. and the president says there is a rationale for it. he did not say he especially struggles with that anymore than with any other drone strike, but he explains why u.s. citizens can be killed. >> because sometimes some of the human rights activists claim they're being killed without due process, if you will. >> that's true of all these people who end up getting targeted. that's the criticism these human rights advocates level. >> good work. >> thanks, wolf. cnn's nic robertson also doing good work. he spoke exclusively with the brother of the top man in al qaeda and he says there is a path to reconciliation and
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here's a look at a special edition of hot shots on this the anniversary of september 11, 2001 attacks. in new york a soldier becomes emotional by the south pool of the world trade center site. in shanksville, pennsylvania, leon panetta bows his head in a memorial service for victims of flight 93. here in washington the president and the first lady pause on the white house lawn for a moment of silence. and in chicago, mitt romney shakes the hands of firefighters and first responders. pictures coming in from around the country. jack's back with the cafferty
file. jack. >> totally different subject courtesy of the cover story in this week's newsweek magazine. the question this hour, is college worth it? 1979 is an uneducated single mother of four, i went to a free two-year college and became a nurse. i supported my family, all my children got university degrees eventually. i make a decent living because registered nurses are always in demand, but my children and their friends struggle because the degrees they got don't necessarily translate to skills they can use in the real world. angel writes, yes and no. some institutions of higher learning will lower their standards in order to accept students knowing that the system will eventually weed them out. those kids end up in debt and without a degree. meanwhile the institutions profit from the unrealized dreams of those students. joe in missouri writes college is worth it if you go at it in a practical way. students have to choose marketable majors, do all possible to hold down costs. college was worth it for my wife
and me and it's been worth it for our son and his wife too. christian on facebook, i've worked since i was 15. i went to college in order to better my chances for a better future. i got a bachelor's degree and a mountain of debt. sure, college is important. but eight months after graduation and still no job, it may not have been worth it. and lou writes the first time i ever spoke to a person from another race was when i left my small town in iowa and headed to iowa state university. i took classes there from professors who had written books, traveled the world and made new discoveries and put more emphasis on thinking than the road memory sags of high school. the experience made me a better perns r person. college is definitely worth it. some degrees are more marktdable than others. if you want to read more on this topic, go to the blog on cnn.com/caffertyfile.
wolf. an important story we're following right now, just developing, warning shots are fired as protesters storm the united states embassy in cairo and pull down and burn the american flag. in our next hour we'll have live coverage, a live report on what sparked the anti-american anger. also, the brother of an al qaeda leader is speaking out exclusively to cnn. what he's now offering to the west. >> announcer: this is the day. the day that we say to the world of identity thieves "enough." we're lifelock, and we believe you have the right to live free from the fear of identity theft. our pledge to you? as long as there are identity thieves, we'll be there. we're lifelock. and we offer the most comprehensive identity theft protection ever created. lifelock: relentlessly protecting your identity. call 1-800-lifelock or go to lifelock.com today. we've all had those moments.
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call now and also ask about our 24/7 support and service. call... and lock in your rate for 12 months today. liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy? on this eleventh anniversary of the september 11th attacks, the brother of al qaeda's top leader is now speaking out. mohamed al zawarhi is out and as
nic robertson reports exclusively, he has a message for the west. >> reporter: if the man next to me looks familiar, it's because he is. he is the brother of al qaeda leader. we're meeting mohammad because he says he has a plan to end al qaeda's jihad against the west. i only speak as a mediator for the islamic movement. i don't represent certain groups. my role is a mediator. our people like death the same way others like life. but we don't wapt want to get into this endless cycle of violence. we like for others and us to live peacefully. he was released from egyptian jail barely five months ago
after serving 14 years on charges including terrorism, charges he denies. before jail he and his brother were fellow jihadists, still share the same ideology he says. there is no difference between my brother's thinking and mine. the portrayal that it's bloodthirsty, barbaric is not true. his six-page proposal offers a truce if u.s. stops interfering in muslim lands chlts u.s. to stop interfering in muslim education, u.s. ends the war on islam. the u.s. to release all islamist prisoners. it also calls on islamists to stop attacks on western and u.s. interests, protect legitimate western and u.s. interests in muslim lands, stop provoking the u.s. and the west. it is similar to a proposal bin
laden made in 2004. then came the attack in london in 2005. is your proposal like this if it isn't accepted then there's more attacks? i am sorry to say those who caused the london attacks was the west because the oppression was continuous. either stop the oppression or accept reconciliation, he says. you have to be logical if you want to live in peace, then you must make others feel that they will live in peace. to make his point, he leads me to a protest outside the u.s. embassy. the so-called blind shake. we meet his son.
and when you call for prisoners to be released as part of your document, you're talking about abdul. >> of course. >> the first one. if he is released, this can help improve the relationship. how does that work? why does it change people's minds? because, he explains, it reduces the impression of u.s. arrogance. he denies he is in contact with his brother but says he could be if the u.s. allows it. do you think it's realistic that the united states would release somebody like the man accused of master minding september 11th? as you see, his hand is stained in blood of the americans, he says. we also see the hands of american leaders and soldiers stained in the blood of the muslims. those imprisoned with the islamic movement would also be released.
we want to turn a page and forget the past. zawarihi has faith his brother wants to turn the page too, but it wouldn't be the first time the terms were unimaginable for western leaders. nic robertson, cnn, cairo, egypt. a $25 million reward is still on the offering table from the state department for the capture or conviction of ayman al-zawahiri. you're in "the situation room." happening now, warning shots are fired at protesters as they storm the united states embassy in cairo, tear down and burn the american flag. and as americans pause to remember the 9/11 attacks, a long-time note from a victim of the world trade center inferno finally reaches his loved ones. and bill clinton energized the crowd at the democratic convention. can he do the same out there on the campaign trail? the former president speaks in
florida in the next hour. we'll bring it to you live. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we begin this hour with violence and chaos at the united states embassy in cairo. warning shots were fired as protesters scaled the walls. they tore down the embassy's american flags, raising a black baber with islamic emblems. egyptian riot police are now on the scene. let's go straight to cairo. ian lee is standing by. ian, these pictures are dramatic. tell us what happened and how this is unfolding. >> reporter: well, wolf, earlier today what happened were protesters angry over a film
that insults islam, went to the u.s. embassy to voice their outrage. the film is said to have american -- people who are american who are in the film, so the protesters went to the u.s. embassy, they went and breached the embassy's perimeter, they went and grabbed the american flag, burnt it, put up a jihadi flag on the wall. but those were a few protesters who were able to make it in. eventually egyptian security forces were able to come in and put up a perimeter to secure the embassy from the protesters, wolf. >> this is a huge u.s. embassy in cairo. security obviously's intense. i've been there. where were the egyptian police, the military? why weren't they protecting the embassy? >> reporter: well, that's a good question, especially since the warning went out earlier today warning americans about this
protest. and there's also reports that the egyptian intelligence said that there was going to be something like this just two days ago. so the question is, why weren't security forces there in the first place to stop that? they did show up later, but the security forces were a bit timid to go out there and confront the protesters. in the past we've seen protests like this escalate even the u.s. embassy officials there said they were showing restraint when the protesters breached the perimeter. they didn't want things to escalate any larger than they already were. and as of now, right now, things have calmed down a bit. and the protesters are still chanting outside the embassy, but they're unable to actually get into the embassy, wolf. >> has the government president, mohamed morsi, muslim brotherhood leader, have they issued a statement, apologized, have they said anything about this? >> reporter: well, the government has definitely
condemned the breaching of the protesters into the embassy. this is something we've actually seen -- this is the third time we've seen protesters breach the embassy since the evolution. earlier in the year we had the israeli embassy, as you may recall, which protesters breached as well. and we also had the syrian embassy breached. this is the first time it's been breached under mohamed morsi's watch. and this is definitely a black eye that shows there isn't the security that these embassies need and the lack of security really in egypt. >> i remember those other incidences well. ian lee on the scene for us in cairo. we'll stay in touch with you. we're also getting word, by the way from a u.s. embassy official in libya that there is an ongoing attack right now at the u.s. consulate in the eastern libyan city once controlled by rebels in last year's revolution. let's talk about what's going on. national security contributor
fran townsend was the homeland security advisor to president bush. she serves on both the cia and homeland security external advisory boards. first of all, on the attack on the u.s. embassy in cairo, fran, what do you make of this? it's pretty extraordinary, if you ask me. >> wolf, it is extraordinary. not only that, let's not forget the day on which americans mourn f event of the eleven years ago. we shouldn't -- the warnings in the days leading up to this protest. and the egyptians were on notice. so i expect there will be some pretty tough conversations between the u.s. state department, the american government and officials in egypt. there really is no excuse having been fairly warned about the protest not to have additional security forces out there to
protect our embassy. >> this is a country, egypt, that receives $1.5 billion a year in military and economic assistance. various forms of economic assistance. there was concerns in recent months the muslim brotherhood, this is going to cause reconsideration in washington. >> absolutely. ambassador patterson who you just said was experienced, her last posting was in islamabad. ann patterson knows how to deliver a tough message and understands well the implications of today's incident. what was astounding to me was sort of a bizarre statement out of the american embassy in cairo after the protest that said it was condemning sort of people using the universal right to free speech in order to make
harm or do harm to another's religion. look, in this country, wolf, as you know there's a broadway play called the book of mormon that absolutely pokes fun at the mormon religion. we believe in the freedom of speech and we don't believe the first amendment if somebody is offended by what you say that that's enough to condemn them for having said it. it certainly is an official government statement. it was an odd statement by the u.s. embassy in cairo. it's inexplicable to me the lack of egyptian security forces. and we ought to expect there will be real consequences to this incident. >> let's hope everyone calms down over there. the stakes clearly are enormous right now, fran. thanks very much. let's go to our white house correspondent, dan lothian. dan, you're getting reaction to this latest flap over a meeting or shall we say a lack thereof. supposed to be a meeting between prime minister netanyahu of israel and president obama. they were both going to be in new york the same week. the israelis sought a meeting with the president of the united
states. president -- the white house now saying scheduling conflicts, is that what they're saying? >> that's right, wolf. as you know, there's been some friction in this relationship of the white house saying in this case it really is a scheduling conflict. national security council spokesman tommy vitor saying the president will be arriving for the u.n. in new york on september 24th leaving the next day and that benjamin netanyahu will not be arriving until later in the week. he points out they will both not be in the city at the same time. however, in a statement he went onto say that the two leaders do stay in frequent contact, that benjamin netanyahu will be meeting with other u.s. officials including secretary of state hillary clinton. but, wolf, this statement may not be enough to silence this entire controversy. >> i am told though by israeli sources, dan, that the prime minister's office made it clear that if there could be a meeting in washington with the president, he would have gone from new york to washington. he's going to be in the united states, i think, for four or five days, maybe longer if obviously necessary.
but that was a scheduling possibility as well, is that what you're hearing? >> you know, anything can come up now. obviously this is something that's gaining steam. and it's not going away, or doesn't appear to be going away based on this statement solely. the word though that we're getting from the white house is that the initial meeting that could have taken place in new york will not be happening just because the two leaders will not be in the city at the same time. >> right, the president will be there monday and tuesday, the prime minister will be there thursday and friday. we'll see if this meeting takes place. i suspect eventually they'll work out their respective schedules. we'll see them together. that's just my suspicion. the president also spent today, dan, remembering the events of eleven years ago when terrorists struck u.s. soil. on this 9/11 anniversary, americans across the country stopped to remember, dan. show us what was going on here in washington. because there was some rare bipartisan spirit.
>> well, it really was. the president -- >> reporter: the heated presidential campaign was put on pause for a moment of silence. the day began with a somber ceremony on the white house south lawn. ♪ then president obama laid a wreath at the pentagon memorial and stopped at arlington national cemetery section 60 where the men and women who died in iraq and afghanistan were laid to rest. terrorists may have struck at the country's heart, but the country is still on its feet. >> this day as painful and always will be, it leaves us with a lesson, no single event can destroy who we are.
no act of terrorism can ever change what we stand for. >> reporter: mr. obama praised u.s. troops for dealing a crippling blow to terrorist organizations. and insisted fear and hate would not be the legacy of 9/11. >> scripture tells us do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. there's no better way to honor the best in those who died than by discovering the best in ourselves. >> reporter: but at the site of another attack in shanksville, pennsylvania, vice president biden had acknowledged time had not erased many deep emotional wounds. >> you feel like you're being sucked into the black hole in the middle of your chest, my hope my hope for you all is that as every year passes, the depth of your pain recedes. >> reporter: on this one day, everyone seemed to come together. congress sang with one voice.
gop nominee mitt romney later in nevada avoided partisan attacks during remarks to members of the national guard. >> i would normally speak to a gathering like this about the differences between my and my opponent's plans for military and for our national security. there is a time and place for that. but this day is not that. >> reporter: president obama ended this day of remembrance by visiting 36 wounded warriors out at walter reed. he spent two and a half hours with them. and awarded two purple hearts. wolf. >> dan lothian at the white house. thank you. long lost note from inside the world trade center inferno lets a victim's loved ones learn how he died. and another 9/11 event, vice president joe biden uses salty language to invite firefighters to the white house for a beer. mi can't stop eating 'em! what's...that... on your head? can curlers!
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jack cafferty's here with the cafferty file. jack. >> wolf, 9/11 changed our world forever. but a lot more has changed in the eleven years since those scary moments immediately following the terror attacks. think back to the days of duct tape, homeland security's color coded terror alerts and anthrax scares. going through airport security can still be a hassle, it is a lot of the times, it's even invasive. but for most of us that's where the inconvenience stops. with osama bin laden and many of his lieutenants dead, terrorism is no longer a major source of worry for most americans. it's been replaced by fears of an economy gone south and high unemployment. but the threat of terrorism is far from over. in a piece called a stubborn terror, newsweek magazine reports on how al qaeda keeps fighting back with bin laden's successor calling the shots for the global terror network. al qaeda continues to grow in places like pakistan.
the group on the arabian peninsula staged three attacks on the united states including that infamous christmas underwear bomber. in iraq, al qaeda carries out bombings there every month. in north africa they've joined forces with other islamist extremists and are training terrorists from algeria, morocco and nigeria. in egypt, sanai peninsula trying to start a war between egypt and israel. great. and the fastest growing al chi dad operation is in syria thriving on the civil war and chaos there. they carried out more than 60 attacks in june alone. but their top priority remains attacking the united states and europe. and as newsweek writes "in fighting terror, our team has to stay lucky 100% of the time. al qaeda only has to be lucky once." here's the question, how much safer do you feel 11 years after 9/11? go to cnn.com slash caffertyfile
or go to our post on the "the situation room" facebook page. >> jack, thank you. many of the families of the loved ones that died on that day, for one family the whole image has dramatically changed all because of one chilling note that only just surfaced recently. brian todd is here in "the situation room." he's got the details. brian, it's a chilling story. >> chilling is a very good description, wolf. this note has changed this family's entire perception of how and when their loved one died on september 11th. randy scott was so close to this, the point of impact of the second plane hitting the world trade center, that his family was certain. >> i was just believing that because the plane had impacted on his floor that -- that he had died instantly. >> reporter: scott worked at a firm on the 84th floor of the
south tower. his wife, denise, and their three daughters spent years trying to come to terms with his death. they're now coming to terms with something else. >> we all just wrote the same ending. and it wasn't correct. >> reporter: in recent months denise scott has broken the news to her daughters that she learned only last year, near the tenth anniversary of 9/11, randy scott didn't die instantly. this is a note he wrote and somehow tossed out an opening in the tower. five words, two numbers. 84th floor, west office, 12 people trapped. according to a family friend and published reports, after the note floated down to the street, it was recovered immediately then handed to a guard at the nearby federal reserve bank. the federal reserve according to those accounts kept the note safe for years then turned it over to the national september 11th memorial and museum. the museum then started working with the new york medical examiner's office. it was this smudge on the paper,
randy scott's blood, that enabled the medical examiner to use dna technology to trace this note back to randy and tell his wife about it a decade after 9/11. randy's best friend, steve earnst, believes randy got cut by breaking a window so he could get his note out. he went to the medical examiner's office to identify his handwriting. >> you can't mistake his handwriting. that's his writing. so we knew right away that he went down fighting as hard as he could. it was just hard. it's hard to hold back your tears. it's another part of him that just comes back. >> reporter: hard for the family to realize their husband and father may have suffered at least briefly. but there's also this. >> that's how he wrote. he wasn't trembling. he wasn't nervous. it just looked like, this is what i got to do. i got to get some help to these 12 people. >> he says randy scott's note
will be kept on display at the museum as part of an exhibit documenting the final moments inside the world trade center. the chief cue rater says they've seen other pieces of paper that came out of the tower but nothing as extraordinary and touching. >> the widow found out more than a year ago but only decided to tell her daughters earlier this year. >> that's right. and steve told us he and denise scott both felt it would be too tough to let them know right away that their father had suffered. they wanted to wait until the youngest daughter was out of college. she is now. they broke the news to them earlier this year. >> what a chilling story. >> really is. >> are they doing all right? >> they seem to be doing fine. we corresponded with them by e-mail today. they're doing very well. courageous people. >> thanks for bringing us that story. very important. a mysterious absence fueling speculation about the future of china's ultrasecret communist
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in the absence of china's vice president for the public eye is fueling speculation about his whereabouts. our own lisa sylvester's monitoring that and some other top stories in "the situation room" right now. so what's going on here? >> hi, wolf. china's vice president widely expected to succeed president hu jintao as head of the ruling communist party in weeks and as president next year has apparently been off the radar for ten days. his absence was first noticed when he abruptly canceled the meeting with secretary of state hillary clinton last week. chinese officials declined to
provide an explanation. and florida a&m university says it is not responsible for last year's hazing death of drum major robert champion contending that he broke the law and school policies by willingly participating in the school ritual. the school filed papers asking for the suit to be dropped. the school is denying responsibility. and vice president biden wants a group of shanksville, pennsylvania, firefighters to come to the white house for a beer. no bs about it. and he said, pointing to the aide who would arrange it. >> where's your car? [ bleep ]. >> please forgive your friend. >> okay. i didn't know you guys were here. you come to the white house -- >> yeah, you see it there. okay. so the vice president issued the casual invitation using that very expletive marking the
september 11th attacks, once he realized reporters were in the vicinity he altered the term slightly replacing with mularkey. leave it to joe biden -- >> not the first time he's been caught saying a bad word. i haven't heard the word mularkey for a long time. >> you see that moment where he turns around and says, oh, wait a minute, you're right there behind me. >> i think the firefighters have heard that word once or twice before. >> absolutely. >> thanks, lisa. the former president of the united states, bill clinton, wowed the crowd at the democratic convention. now he's on the road. we're going to take a closer look at how he can help the obama campaign. ♪ [ male announcer ] how could a luminous protein in jellyfish, impact life expectancy in the u.s., real estate in hong kong, and the optics industry in germany? at t. rowe price, we understand the connections of a complex, global economy.
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bill clinton's powerful speech at the democratic convention was widely praised even by republicans. now, can the former president light a fire under regular voters? cnn's john zarrella is joining us. you're in a room where the former president is getting ready to speak. he has a receptive crowd i assume. >> reporter: yeah, wolf, he's supposed to be here in about an hour. we've got a good 2,000 people here on the campus of florida international university in miami-dade county. and they were determined to get here. it was torrential rain for a couple of hours here this
afternoon. many people stood out there under the umbrellas. the umbrellas not doing them any good. but they are expecting that the former president when he gets here is going to talk about the economy. we talked to some of the students when they were outside standing in the weather. and they said the things that are important to them and this crowd is primarily students, is as you might expect, immigration, the economy and jobs. >> jobs for me is something very crucial. studying right now to be a communication major. and to have jobs right now is really important. because a lot of majors right now don't have a lot of guaranteed jobs. and that's something important. if i'm paying for college, i want to know i'm also paying a guaranteed job when i graduate. >> i would like them to find more ways to get my education paid and also a job. i don't want to get degree and not have a job and still work at mcdonald's and not get the job i wanted. >> reporter: now, president obama when he was candidate
obama carried miami-dade county, broward county and palm beach county. and you know, wolf, those were hugely critical counties, big counties. well over a million votes cast for him that helped him carry the state of florida four years ago. wolf. >> i remember that well. the former president very popular obviously in florida especially where you are. so where is he heading next? >> reporter: you know, he's going to head up to palm beach county tomorrow. and over the weekend the president made the remarks in palm beach county that if he could carry palm beach county, he would win the state of florida. so clearly pivotal is palm beach county. and then he will go up, the former president, heading up to orlando and that area as we know, wolf, the i-4 corridor, a lot of swing voters there. another group that they need to win over. wolf. >> once the president gets to the microphone, we'll have live coverage here in "the situation room." john zarrella on the scene for us. thank you. how exactly can former president clinton help the obama re-election effort? our chief national correspondent
john king is over there at the magic wall. john, tell our viewers what he's uniquely qualified to do certain things. >> he is very popular. john zarrella just mentioned the student audience. that's critical to the president in many other states as well. you mentioned in the last hour the tensions between prime minister netanyahu and israel was a big theme. if you look at the counties where he is, john just mentioned the three southeastern counties and you know them well, this is where you have those students, but you also have a large jewish population, transplants from the north, if you will. this is where the president has to do well as he did four years ago. go back in time, bill clinton did not carry florida in 1992. george h.w. bush carried with ross perot in the case. george bush carried the reliable counties in 1996 when he did carry. and look at the difference in 1996. john zarrella just mentioned the
i-4 cordon from tampa over. clinton did well there. in '08 he did better in some places than barack obama did four years ago. the state of florida a key battleground, students, the jewish vote, independents among constituenci constituencies. think about him campaigning in ohio, white workers. this is the democratic primaries from 2008. the dark states, barack obama, the lighter states hillary clinton. we know among wliet working class voters, hillary clinton carried ohio, her husband pop yu la where the president has been traditionally weak. remember, it was very, very close. but hillary clinton also carried the state of new hampshire. the clinton brand from 1992 to 1996. the clinton brand is good in the state of new hampshire. at the moment, if you look at our electoral college projections, we have ohio, florida, new hampshire, toss up
states where the former president might be able to help. >> and if the current president does carry florida and ohio, john, you studied this, is there a realistic road for mitt romney to win 270 electoral votes? >> in a word, no. let me show you real quick. if the current president keeps florida blue, turns ohio blue. that would put him over the top based on current projections. if he wins those, governor romney would have to take something away, take away pennsylvania, take away michigan. hard to say if the president of the united states, if the democratic incumbent is winning ohio, hard to see him not winning michigan and pennsylvania. those two states alone would put him over the top. if governor romney won everything else, wouldn't be enough. >> what does it say to you that the romney campaign isn't spending money in pennsylvania or michigan. >> very interesting. republican super pacs, not the romney campaign, but republican super pacs were advertising in pennsylvania and michigan some in the spring and summer essentially trying to see if they can move the numbers.
the question, does it go back in? when you have the conventions, they let the dust settle and poll again and see if they can move the numbers. michigan especially. mitt romney was born there. pennsylvania's a very tough state for republicans. michigan, some states show it close. the fact no republicans are advertising right there tells you quite a bit that at the moment it's not as competitive. i would expect to see one more attempt at michigan. >> thanks very much. in the next hour we'll hear from the former president bill clinton speaking in miami. we'll have live coverage in "the situation room." is there a spoiler lurking in this presidential race? at least in a few state sns we're taking a closer look at the role that the libertarian presidential candidate, gary johnson, just might play. ♪
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we're with president obama and governor romney in such a tight race, could a third party candidate play the spoiler at least in some states? the libertarian party's gary johnson might pose that kind of a threat. cnn's joe johns has been looking into this story. he's here in "the situation room." what are you finding out, john? >> wolf, it's the kind of thing we've seen before in national politics. the latest iteration gary johnson started out as a republican could still shake up the presidential race as the standard bearer for a third party. >> he's fiscally conservative and socially cool. >> reporter: in a new web video, gary johnson's campaign is marketing the libertarian presidential candidate to independent voters across the country. and depending on the amount of support he takes away from the major candidates in key states, johnson is starting to look like a potential spoiler.
he could help decide which party wins the white house though he doesn't see himself that way. >> if it were reported tomorrow that i was at 5% of the national vote, the overwhelming reaction to that would be, well, who is gary johnson? and that would be a good thing. >> he will be on the ballot in all 50 states come november as an alternative to mitt romney and barack obama. >> reporter: or as johnson bluntly puts it himself. >> it's a vote between tweedle dee and tweedle dumb. >> reporter: he's still not eligible in three states where there are legal challenges. one state that's safe for republicans, oklahoma. and two states that are hotly contested, michigan and pennsylvania. and it's those two states that pose the toughest legal challenges. pennsylvania and michigan. the obama campaign is already leading in both of those states. the mitt romney campaign is hoping to make some gains. here in pennsylvania the republican party has already challenged 40,000 plus
signatures that were submitted to get the libertarian party on the ballot. but gary johnson's campaign has its suspicions as to why. >> they just don't want a third party candidate on the ballot. they don't want to give voters a choice. >> reporter: here's one reason why republicans could be concerned. in a new cnn/orc national poll, president obama holds a six-point advantage over mitt romney when likely voters are just asked about the two candidates. but if you add gary johnson and green party candidate jill stein, the obama lead increases to eight points. romney drops three points with johnson in the race. though on cnn johnson said he'll poach from both sides. >> put this to the question in four different states and in two states i take more votes away from obama. two states i take more away from romney. >> reporter: president obama has to watch johnson in states out west like colorado. and johnson's home state of new mexico. a recent poll in new mexico showed the obama advantage down to five points with johnson getting 7% of the vote.
in the case of the pennsylvania legal battle, the state republican party offers its reasons for fighting the johnson candidacy. they think democrats may be behind it. they gave cnn this statement "not only are the libertarian party's papers riddled wither rors, duplicate signatures and blatant fraud, they raise concerns president obama and the democratic party are trying to add more candidates to the ballot because they know the vast majority of voters are looking for a new direction." that's the third party take. >> ross perot did well, probably helped bill clinton in those contests. and ralph nader, he won in florida when george w. bush beat al gore. >> that's right. >> so these third party candidates can have an impact. >> old-timers remember john anderson too. that was before your time. >> of course i remember. thanks very much. she calls it a roller coaster of emotions.
just ahead hillary clinton reveals the nail biting moments inside the white house situation room moments before osama bin laden was killed. i was on maternity leave. i have retired from doing this one thing that i loved. now, i'm going to be able to have the time to explore something different. it's like another chapter.
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on this eleventh anniversary of 9/11, we wanted to show you something you didn't see in the cnn white house correspondent jessica yellin's excellent documentary on president obama. secretary of state -- listen to this, talking about waiting out the osama bin laden raid in the white house situation room. >> would you take us into that room? we've all seen that picture. what did it feel like? >> so it was a roller coaster of emotions that we were living through. the worst moment was when one of
the helicopters nicked the wall going into the compound and was disabled. which meant that we had to send in the backup helicopter that, again, had been prepared for by the team. and yet we knew that we could be discovered, our guys might be confronted, the backup helicopter had to get from where it was based to where it was needed. it was a absolutely nail-biting time in the situation room as i think we all reflected. >> they said at one point je jer on moe. >> there was a moment. what that meant was we got him, we saw him, it is bin laden. but then we had to get not only his body out to be able to prove it 100% to everyone's
satisfaction, but we had to get our guys out. and to the great credit of the navy seals, they made special efforts to protect the women and children who were in the compound. so i'm not sure any of us breathed until we got word that they had crossed back into afghanistan. >> were you ever scared? >> i was never scared. i wasscared? >> i was never scared. i was apprehensive when that helicopter got clipped. remember, this was taking place very close to a pakistani military contonement area, a base. there was even a military academy. there could have been an alert sounded, people could have been streaming out nearby houses. there could have been a confrontation. s so, we had all the confidence in the world, in what our team, the american team, had prepared for. but you can't imagine every
potential contingency that could happen. >> it's a remarkable series of events, this experience. did you learn anything new about the president through this series of decisions? >> well, it was not a foregone conclusion. i mean, it wasn't 100%. we didn't have a picture of bin laden sitting, you know, on the balcony. there had to be a very thoughtful assessment of all of the pieces of evidence that had been compiled and an assessment of the military action that was being proposed. so i saw the president, you know, very carefully go through this, methodical, asking a lot of hard questions, and at the end, facing split advisers, you know, making the decisions that presidents have to make. >> and jessica's joining us now. jessica, you also spoke with secretary clinton about how the president makes these decisions. and she gave you some insight. >> she did. one of the things that she said was that the president reads a lot. she called him a -- i want to quote her, a discriminating and
focused reader, and points out that he's really one of the first presidents who can truly read online, because president bush had a lot of internet access, but prior to president bush, that didn't really exist. and i covered the bush presidency. he told me, he didn't go online that much, because he was fearful of what could happen in terms of records acts. but president obama does go online a lot, and reads an enormous amount, is what she said. >> and i'm told he reads a lot on his ipad as well. >> right. >> let's go to jack. he's got the cafferty file. >> the question this hour, wolf, is how much safer do you feel 11 years after 9/11. ron writes from texas, "i don't feel a single iota safer than i did before 9/11. the homeland security agency and the tsa are a bad joke and a who rent discuss waste of money. the only way we'll ever be safe is when the countries that harbor and support terrorists are more afraid of us than they
are of the terrorists." dt in minnesota says, "i never felt unsafe. believe it or not, i don't let the media think for me. you can waste a good deal of your life being scared if you listen to the news." tom in switzerland writes, "i fly a lot, not just within the u.s., but abroad as well. practically no place is as bad of the united states in terms of being hassled and even threatened by security, aka, tsa. i've had several suitcases ruined, the contents mangled, and then the whole thing just taped up. was the worst is the lack of respect given to some elderly people, even well into their 80s, including pat-downs and the whole works. it makes me feel nothing but anger. america has gone totally overboard in its pursuit of security. i feel more threatened by that than by terrorists." gary in california, "i feel very safe. our warrior recently ended his active service and is now home preparing for college. we're delighted to be able to hug our body guard every day."
and lou writes, "i remember all my family and neighbors stack py stockpiling cash and food after 9/11. at my son's soccer game, right after they lifted the ban on flying, all three fields of screaming kids and parents went deadly silent when a small plane innocently flew overhead. we all avoided malls and stadiums and large amusement parks. and though these things seem silly now, i confess, i still check out the folks around me on an airplane flight." if you would like to read more about this, go to cnn.com/caffer cnn.com/caffer cnn.com/caffertyfile or through our post on "the situation room's" facebook page. the actress angelina jolie pays an emotional visit to the youngest victims of the syrian refugee crisis. [ male announcer ] how can power consumption in china,
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the actress and u.n. goodwill ambassador angelina jolie is in jordan, witnessing the horror firsthand, spilling over from the conflict in syria. here's cnn's sara sidner. >> reporter: that's right. hollywood a-lister angelina jolie came to the camp here in jordan. this is jordan's largest camp. 30,000 plus people inside the camp now living in tents, who have come over from syria. syrian refugees. and we're talking about full families and lots of children. angelina jolie particularly talking about one of the experiences she had when she went with the jordanian military to the border with syria. she said it was quite an extraordinary experience, seeing people come over the border and becoming refugees for the very first time. but what touched her the most were the children and the zra t
devastating stories she heard from the children. >> as a mother, certainly, the amount of innocent children that are reported dead, the amount of innocent children i've met here who are wounded and unaccompanied, with their parents being killed and now they're on their own, it's impossible to imagine any mother standing by and not stepping up and doing something to prevent this. >> reporter: we were able to talk to several of the families living in the camp. they say that they simply don't have an enough cold water to drink. they just left, literally, with the clothes on their back. there are children there wlorp born just days ago, brought over the border. they all have lived in such a terrible fear. there are certainly psychological issues going on inside the camp as well. people very happy, though, they're not having to worry about their lives being lost, but certainly dealing with very difficult conditions. it's a very dusty, dry, flat area. the tents that were once white are now covered in dust. they look more red than they do white. there are serious problems, people saying they're having
issues with diarrhea. and so these refugees really do need help. they really do need more. jordan is saying, look, we're at capacity. we need the international community to come forth and help out in this crisis. sara sidner, cnn, jordan. happening now, mitt romney tackles one of his weak spots in the polls, foreign policy. on this 9/11 anniversary, new reports the bush white house received multiple warnings of an imminent attack. and bill clinton campaigning for president obama. we expect to hear him live this hour. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." the battle for the white house largely suspended on this, the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. president obama had no campaign events. mitt romney had only one and the republican nominee used it to beef up his credentials on a subject where he's particularly
vulnerable. cnn's national political correspondent jim acosta's joining us now. he's covering the romney campaign in reno, nevada. so what's the latest there, jim? >> reporter: wolf, as you know, in recent days, mitt romney has come under criticism, not just by democrats, but also members of his own party, for neglecting to mention the war in afghanistan in his speech to the republican convention. well, today there was no such oversight. on this anniversary of september 11th, mitt romney arrived at his charter to find firefighters at chicago's o'hare airport holding their own remembrance. it was an unexpected moment for a tightly scripted candidate, a reminder that some days are bigger than a campaign. next, it was on to reno, and a national guard convention, for a speech that appeared to have a dual purpose, both burnish romney's foreign policy credentials and address an oversight that the obama administration has hammered for days. >> our goal should be to
complete a successful transition to afghan security forces by the end of 2014. >> romney's mention of afghanistan came less than two weeks after democrats point out he neglected to mention the war in his speech at the gop convention. >> it's more than an omission. it reveals a severe lack of understanding about the job as president. it doesn't reflect well on what kind of leadership he would bring, and frankly, it's just unbecoming of someone who wants to become commander in chief. >> reporter: in the latest orc/cnn poll, voters said by a wide margin that obama would better handle foreign policy. romney slammed looming budget cuts at the pentagon. >> the return of our troops cannot and must not be used as an excuse to hollow out our military through devastating defense budget cuts. >> reporter: in recent days, romney has hit democrats for an omission of their own, temporarily leaving out the word
"god" from their party platform in charlotte. romney has repeatedly referred to his faith in speeches and online. on twitter, he marked 9/11 by tweeting that america is united under god in its quest for peace and freedom. in ohio, the same theme krocrop up again in a not-so-veiled job at the president. >> when i become president of the united states, i will not take god out of my heart, out of the public square, or out of the platform of my party. >> he's making a point about the democratic convention, about the platform, not having god in the platform. >> that was an issue that came up that the democrats had a disagreement on the floor of their convention. that's -- everybody knows, but i think the governor's made very clear where he stands on that. >> now, both campaigns did take down their negative ads out of respect for this 11th anniversary of the september 11th attacks, but mitt romney made it clear in his speech here in reno today, wolf, that this pause is for one day only.
>> and then tomorrow, full speed ahead, i am sure. less than two months to go. jim acosta, thanks very much. let's go to miami right now. the former president of the united states, bill clinton, he's speaking to a largely student audience there on behalf of president obama. >> -- daughter was a 21-year-old young woman, working in new york city in lower manhattan and was one of the tens of thousands of people that were just told to walk north, and we could not find her. on that day, father michael judge, the chaplain of the new york city fire department and a friend of hillary's and mine, was killed along with a number of other people we knew. i decided to come here on this day because i think if you look around at how this day is being honored today, it's being
honored by service projects all over america. by people trying to be good citizens. and the most important thing that i can say today, before i get into my remarks on behalf of the president is, you just have 27 days to register to vote in florida. and there are volunteers here today who will register you to vote. where are they? raise your hand! and you can go online at gottaregister.com. i like that, slang online. gottaregister.com. this is really, really important. you want to honor the people who have worn the country's uniform, who have come them bearing the wounds of war, who need help finding jobs and education and housing? who may need years of help because of the staggering number
of people with posttraumatic stress syndrome or brain injuries? be a good citizen. the least we can do is show up and vote. and people try to discourage you from voting, which is happening in a lot of these voter changes, all over america. it should redouble your determination to vote. i'll never forget when i was in cleveland running for president 20 years ago, and a magnificent minister named otis moss, who became a very good friend of mine, and was very active in the civil rights movement, described the first day his father was legally eligible to vote.
and the equivalent of all these new barricades was basically just jacking african-americans around and sending them different places to vote. and he said his daddy had waited all his life for this day. first went to one place and he said, i'm sorry, mr. moss, you're at the wrong place. and he didn't have a car. he had to walk to the next place. so he walked, even though it took him two hours, to the next place. and they said, i'm sorry, mr. moss, you're at the wrong place. and he had to walk another two hours. and then he had to stand in a long line. and when he finally got there, they said, well, you're at the right place, but we're closing the polls at 7:00. and otis moss looked out at that crowd of young people and he said, the happiest day of my life was when i took my daughter to vote with me, when she was first eligible, and we walked into these voting booths together, and i pulled the curtains on mine, and i pulled
the -- i heard her pull the curtain on hers, and before i voted, i put my ear to the edge, until i could hear her pull the voting levers. and he said, he said, in my family, we do not miss voting. we are there every time the polls are open. so i say to all of you who are here, you need to talk to your friends about this. i keep reading that young people are not quite as sure as they were four years ago they're going to vote. i tried to argue down in charlotte last week that that's a bad mistake. we've got a lot of reasons to vote. and we've got a good candidate to vote for. and we need to get out here and do that. and besides, if you sit on the
sidelines, you are responsible for the consequences. and the next time somebody says, oh, i wish that or the other thing hadn't have happened, if you sat on the sidelines, you contributed to it happening. the whole purpose of a university is to empower people to live their dreams. your president was telling me before we came in about the magnificent progress of fiu and what you were going to do in the next ten years and how important the pell grants were and how important the loans are and how important -- if it matters, you should be heard on election day. you know, a lot of what is said in politics today bothers me,
because we all long for the unity we felt on 9/11 and for months afterward, and we know that to some extent, that level of unity can't be maintained, because we do have honest disagreements. and we need to have honest debates. benjamin franklin once said, our adversaries are our friends, because they show us our faults. but if you believe in honest debate, you believe in it because you think nobody's right all the time, not because you think it's my way or the highway. there is a big difference. and if you believe in honest debate, after the debate's over, you want everybody to vote, not to make it harder for the young, the minorities at this table, the elderly and the poor to vote. so i will say again, in much
less time, what i tried to say last week. this is a pivotal election. i believe we should be working in pan interdependent world for an america of shared responsibility, shared opportunities, shared prosperity, and shared membership in one american community. that's what i believe in if. if you look around the world today, no country making progress on creating a society where people share the future, not a single one, got there with a militant, bitter, anti-government strategy. one, because what works in the modern world is partnership. the president was telling me about how you work closely with miami-dade, about how you are going to create a whole new set
of jobs and businesses here, just for the people you're graduating. if you look at the investments that have been made in florida, by the administration in the space program, there are going to be all these new businesses and new jobs created along the space coast that are part of the 21st century economy. >> all right, we're going to take a quick break, but we'll have much more of the former president bill clinton on the other side. stay with us. tap... pinch... and zoom... in your car. introducing the all-new cadillac xts with cue. ♪ don't worry. we haven't forgotten, you still like things to push. [ engine revs ] the all-new cadillac xts has arrived, and it's bringing the future forward. olaf's pizza palace gets the most rewards of any small business credit card! pizza!!!!!
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let's get back to the former president, bill clinton. he's speaking in miami shortly, but there's something else, another story i want to get to right now. not just one, but multiple warnings of an imminent terror attack dismissed by the bush white house. that's the charge by the journalists and author kurt ikenwald, who says he's seen excerpts from classified briefings, sounding an alarm as early as the spring of 2001. he writes all about it in a "new york times" opinion piece, among other things, writing, "could the 9/11 attack been stopped had
the bush team reacted with urgency to the warnings contained in all those daily briefings? we can't ever know. and that may be the most agonizing reality of all." kurt eichenwald is joining us in "the situation room." his book is entitled "500 days: secrets and lies in the terror weres." kurt, thanks for coming in. you've come up with powerful, powerful stuff. let me read a couple of mines. "during the spring and summer of 2001, president bush had on several occasions asked his briefers whether any of the threats pointed to the united states." was there any specific threat to the united states that you came upon that should have immediately raised alarm bells, directly by the president? >> the may 1st, 2001, briefing where it specifically states
there is -- there are a group of people in the united states, al qaeda terrorists, who are preparing to strike. and you had -- you know, when you take the compilation of everything that was there, you had briefings that said this is going to be mass casualties. you had briefings that said, you know, this is on track. it's going to happen. you know, they have a flexible time frame. and there was an enormous amount of detail that was going on. so, you know, at the end, what you have here, and i think the most important -- to me, one of the more important things is there's been this whole story line going that the cia fell down on the job, and you know, if only they'd told more to the white house, something could have happened. well, the cia, based on what i read, did a spectacular job. and just they weren't able to persuade the white house that they were right. >> and you used the word negligence to describe the bush administration's reaction to
some of these reports. who specifically was negligent? >> well, that's a hard question to answer. i mean, one of the things that really happened here is you ended up with a dispute between different divisions of the government. you had the near-conservatives in the pentagon who were shooting down the cia, saying, you know, they're being fooled. bin laden is actually working with saddam hussein and he's pretending there's going to be an attack, so that we won't pay attention to what saddam is doing. you know, and when you have that kind of silliness going on and you had the cia having to spend time refuting theories, essentially, you had people taking their eye off the ball. so when i say negligence, it's fairly widespread. you can't just point at a single individual and say, well, that person is responsible. >> well, when you say neoconservatives s s at the pentagon, i assume -- are you
referring to wolfowitz? who are you referring to? >> wolfowitz was a very strong advocate of this idea, what people told me was the false flag argument. that bin laden was, you know, operating as a false flag to divert attention from saddam. >> here's what the former secretary of state, she was the national security adviser back in 2004, condoleezza rice, what she said during her testimony about some of the stuff you write about. i'm going to play it for you, because i want you to tell me if what she said you believe to be accurate. listen to condoleezza rice. >> i was concerned about possible threats inside the united states and on july 5th, chief of staff andy kard and i met with dick clark and i asked dick to make sure that domestic agencies were aware of the heightened threat period and were taking appropriate steps to respond, even though we did not have specific threats to the homeland. throughout the period of heightened threat information, we worked hard on multiple fronts to detect, protect
against, and disrupt any terrorist plans or operations that might lead to an attack. >> all right. is she accurate in what she says, based on all the research you've done? >> well, i would counter that with one fact. on july 9th, members of the counterterrorism center in the cia had a meeting where one of the people there said, we're not convincing these people of how serious this is. we should all transfer out of here, before the strike happens, before -- because we're going to be the ones left holding the bag. and the response by one of the people in charge was, you know, there aren't people who can take our place. we're going to have to ride this thing down. so, you know, yes, they had responses. in 19 -- in december of 1999, it was the only other time you had, you know, intelligence coming in that was as horrific as what was coming in in the summer of 2001, and what happened was, the government went on major high
alert. actually, the people in the counterterrorist center were told, blow through your budget. and they spent the money they had for budget from january through september in the first 15 days of january. and so, you know, that was the kind of we believe this is going to happen, the entire government apparatus is on alert, and they stopped things. this time, the alert wasn't on that scale. the alert was not something that was being dealt with on that level. and that's, you know -- you wouldn't have people talking about getting out if they believed that this was being handled correctly. and that's four days after secretary rice was talking about, they had these meetings. >> yeah, i just want to leave. we're out of time, but i quickly want to leave our viewers with this other comment that she made during her testimony. this is back on april 8th, 2004, when she testified before the 9/11 commission.
i'll play this, kurt. listen to this. >> there was no silver bullet that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks. in hindsight, if anything might have helped stop 9/11, it would have been better information about threats inside the united states. something made very difficult by structural and legal impediments that prevented the collection and sharing of information by our law enforcement and intelligence agencies. >> let's wrap it up with your reaction to that. go ahead, kurt. >> i think that's exactly what i was talking about. it's blaming the messenger. you know, they had sufficient information to put the government on high alert, just like happened in december of '99, and they did not do so. and you end up -- you know, it's very convenient to stand there and say the people who are responsible are the people who aren't sitting in this room, and by the way, many of them can't even talk to you. and i think the intelligence that i lay out, both in my book,
in "500 days" and in "the new york times" op-ed piece today, makes it very clear that there were people banging the drum very, very loudly. >> the book is "500 days: secrets and lies in the terror war," kurt eichenwald is the author. thanks for being here. >> thanks for having me. when we come back, we'll go back to miami. the former president bill clinton, he's only just beginning. we'll hear what he has to say. he's out there campaigning for president obama. [ male announcer ] the perfect photo... [ man ] nice!
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kate, not a surprise, the former president still speaking in miami. let's listen in a little bit more. >> -- preventative care under the health care reform bill, it's all going to be gone if they repeal it. all to save medicare advantage. you tell me if it needs saving. under the current law, the profit margin is now down to 14%. okay? here's what happened last year, 2011, after obama care went in. more providers than ever before asked to participate. they weren't run off. they said, let us in. we want to give this health care, one. two, 17% more seniors got into the medicare advantage program.
three, the price of being in it dropped 16%. so, if president obama's goal was to destroy medicare advantage, he did a poor job. he didn't weaken medicare, he strengthened it. he didn't weaken medicare advantage, he strengthened it. but if you repeal the health care law and you repeal these savings, you are going to weaken medicare advantage, you are going to weaken medicare. it is going to run out of money quicker. you are going to really weaken the senior drug program. those are the facts. that is the arithmetic. and it is -- now, they got away with running this old dog through the chute in 2010. and countless thousands of seniors voted because they were getting misinformation, against people who supported a plan that
strengthened medicare and strengthened medicare advantage. so i'm talking about it everywhere, because the first time they did that, it was their fault. if we let it happen again, it is our fault. and we should not do it. so now, let me just say one other thing, because we're on a campus. they also want to repeal the student loan bill. now, let me explain it to all of you. the student loan program, the federal student loan program used to basically involve you qualify for a student loan, you go down to the local bank, you get your loan, it's a certain interest rate. the government gives a 90% guarantee to the bank. so if you don't repay it back, they'll cover 90% of the loss. the new student loan program, which is a national version of something i did on an
experimental basis that works like this, the government sets aside its own loan reserve and makes the loans directly, which means it can make them for lower interest rates. but more -- so it will be cheaper for you to repay. but far more important, far more important, starting in 2013, every student who borrows money under the federal student loan law, however much you borrow, will be able to pay that loan back for up to 20 years at a small, fixed percentage of your income. >> all right, so we get the point, he's making a strong pitch for the current president of the united states. that's the former president. kate, we've got a good panel. let's assess what we've just heard. joining us now, our senior political analyst, ron brownstein, the editorial director of the national journal, our chief national correspondent, john king, and our chief political analyst,
gloria borger. he's got a unique role to play for the president, and so far he seems to be doing a pretty remarkable job. >> back in 2008 in a famous interview, barack obama said that bill clinton had not changed america the way ronald reagan did and ronald reagan was more the model for his presidency, wanted to be a more transformational president. and now he's the witness for the defense. what you saw at the democratic convention, above all from president clinton, was a defense of barack obama's first-term record, and they are deploying him now in swing states, even more than michelle obama, he's probably the biggest asset they have. but life is long. you never know when you're going to end up, that these two men are now embracing to this extent. >> life is really long. >> you know, the president got a bounce at the convention, and it's arguable that clinton played a big part in that. we have this new pew research center poll that i found real estate interesting. it showed, when they were asking, what was the highlight of the democratic convention, 29% bill clinton's speech, 16%
said the president's speech, and michelle obama's speech was at 15%. so does that also mean that there is a downside to having president clinton -- >> oh, you mean overshadowing -- you know, he -- everybody knows hays not the candidate. i think he's a great character witness for the candidate. i think there was a dangerous dangeat the convention of that kind of a result, because you want your candidate to shine, not the person who is testifying on your behalf to shine. but i think right now, it's every vote you can get. and bill clinton appeals to disaffected democrats who remember what the economy was like when bill clinton was president. so it's very important for him to say things like we just heard, which is, you know, back in the day, when i was president, or this president's in a bigger ditch than i was in, give him a little more time so if you have to weigh this, i'd deploy bill clinton anywhere i could. >> and to that previous obama criticism, aren't we in a transitional tactical election right now? >> maybe we are. so maybe he's putting his best skills at play.
look, he's the last president anyone can look at, democrat, republican, or independent and remember a booming economy. >> right. >> and he's not a politician now. he's still a politician. but anyone who has an actual title now a current, automatically hurts your trust factor. and look, the guy has a gift. >> what states, john? would he be most effective -- which battleground states in helping the president? >> i think he helps most of all in the blue-collar states, where he did very well and his wife did very well running against then senator obama. senator obama, president obama, same guy, same problem. white working class voters have always been a weakness. they're coming up a little bit, that's probably the sugar high, the romney campaign says, but that's something you want to watch after the campaign. working cloesz voters, guys who get their hands dirty, clinton not only had policies that worked for them and got them jobs, he talks in a way that's more familiar to them. clinton's language is very approachable, even when's talking about complex things, he does nit a very approachable way, where the president,
president obama, sometimes sounds like a professor. >> it's interesting, some republican were e-mailing me or tweeting me, asking, why are we taking this speech from the former president live, because we think we're doing the work of the obama campaign. i said, simple answer. if the former president on the republican side, george w. bush out there were campaigning for mitt romney, we'd take that live as well. >> and look, it is kind of unusual for him to have a role to this extent. ronald reagan did in 1988 give a speech and said, we are the change on behalf of george h.w. bush. i don't remember him being quite as much of an attack dog. and bill clinton does his global initiative, which is this tremendous civic center convocation that he convenes in new york. and both mitt romney and brom rom are going to be speaking at that in two weeks. >> only bill clinton can do that, by the way. >> and the two hats are very different. >> george w. bush is still viewed too negatively. >> is there any scenario he would be helpful? >> number one, he doesn't want to. it's in his personal dna to say, you have one president at a
time, i'm done. >> if he went out there on the campaign trail for mitt romney. >> he believes very strongly, that especially his immediate successor, he should stay out of the way. now president obama took a couple shots at him at the republican convention. maybe he'll change his mind. but president bush, a lot of conservatives say he spent too much money, they're mad at him, a lot of independents because of the iraq war, the competence question after katrina -- >> do you think, gloria, that mitt romney wants george w. bush to campaign for him? >> no, i don't think so. it was interesting, because at the convention, his brother, jeb bush said, you know, it's about time to stop -- to stop blaming my brother, but i think he was talking to people in the republican party also at that point, because they blame george w. bush for loss of the deficit spending that we have, for the prescription drug benefit that they say wasn't paid for, et cetera, et cetera. so i think he's not as much as a sure bet, and he certainly would not cross party lines the way bill clinton does. bill clinton appeals to both. >> how much do you think that bill clinton speaking out so
forcefully for barack obama right now has to do more possibly with president clinton in 2016? >> no, i don't think so. >> i would vote less possible. i don't mean not at all, but i vote less possible. clinton's a democrat. he wants this democratic president to succeed. and if that also potentially helps his wife down the line, if she decides -- she says she's not interested, but if she changes her mind, so be it. >> if the economy starts to recover in obama's second term, you're better off with a democrat in the white house than mitt romney running for re-election. by the way, bill clinton, elizabeth warren, very different messages. a reminder that bill clinton is still -- barack obama and bill clinton are still not exactly on the same page about how you build a majority coalition and how inclusive you are versus how confrontational. >> and clinton is the great conciliator, and that is not president obama. he's never been known as a great conciliator. so different agendas. >> thanks very much. good discussion, as usual. he calls it the biggest disappointment of his career as house speaker and mitt romney calls it a big mistake. john boehner speaking out about the debt battle, that's coming up next.
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mistake. i thought it was a mistake on the part of the white house, to propose it. i think it was a mistake for the public to go along with it. >> let's get some more now from our senior congressional correspondent, dana bash. dana, republican leaders were asked about romney throwing them under the bus. so what happened here? >> reporter: i actually asked the senator republican leader, mitch mcconnell, about that. it was really mitt romney dissing him and other republicans here for going along with this deal known as sequestration, automatic spending cuts. i want you to listen to the exchange that i had with him, but i also want you to look at the forced smile on mitch mcconnell's face. >> look, i don't have any interest in getting into a debate with the nominee of our party. i know -- i know you'd like me to do that, but i don't have any interest in doing that. you'll have to ask him why he said what he said. >> so he clearly didn't want to engage there. as for house speaker, john boehner, he was, of course, the one who was having the direct
negotiations, ill-fated negotiations, with president obama, on the whole idea of cutting the budget, wicutting t deficit. that did not work and led to this whole sequestration. he responded to mitt romney's criticism by defending his own role. listen to that. >> listen, it was certainly a difficult -- a difficult time. i still look at my failure to come to an agreement with the president as the biggest disappointment of my speakership. mr. woodward's bookhat came out this morning, page 326. and i'll make it perfectly clear, where the sequester came from. we've had a discussion over a trigger, but the president didn't want his re-election inconvenienced by another fight over a $1.2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling. >> now, mitt romney, wolf, is clearly trying to take a page from bill clinton's playbook by
trying to triangulate between democrats and m arepublicans he on capitol hill. the problem, both kate and wolf, is that the problem, paul ryan, his running mate, voted for those automatic cuts. >> that's a problem he's going to have to face, especially if he heads back to capitol hill at some point this week, which we do expect. it's so interesting that boehner had that page number, right on hand when he needed to use it. but another big issue that came up today, dana, is s&p down -- the potential downgrade. s&p last year downgraded the u.s. credit rating when congress failed to reach a deal. now moody's is threatening another downgrade if there's no deal. boehner as well as senate leaders were asked about it and it seems again, shockingly, they are not on the same page. >> reporter: they're not on the same page, and the house speaker said that he's, yoet, not confident at all. he said that to our deidra walsh, that congress will come up with a deal. and the window we're talking about here is about seven to eight weeks between the election and the end of the year. well, democrats jumped on that today, saying that they see the glass as half full. i asked the senate democratic
leader why he's so optimistic. he said that he thinks that in the elections, it will show that the tea party strength is significantly weak and the translation is, democrats insist that they feel that they'll have leverage after the election. that's what this is all about, who's going of the most leverage. >> dana bash up on the hill, watching all of this, and it's really important. a lot of important stuff at stake. it's one of the biggest hassles airline passengers face, but imagine if airport security looked like this. it might just happen in the not-too-distant future. stick around. we'll explain. you're in "the situation room." ♪ (train horn) vo: wherever our trains go, the economy comes to life. norfolk southern. one line, infinite possibilities.
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>> and we're all familiar with the hassles of airport security checkpoints, born in the wake of 9/11, but can security actually return to being hassle-free? >> wouldn't that be good? cnn's sandra endo is over at reagan international airport here in washington. sandy, what's going on with airport security? >> reporter: el, kate and wolf, the goal is to make airport security safe but efficient. and the federal aviation administration is projecting the number of air travelers will grow from 800 million u.s. travelers today to 1.2 billion in 20 years. the challenge really for airports is to handle the load of passengers and find a better way to get them through security. this is what air travelers are used to now. shoes off, laptops and liquids out, and hands up for the body scan. in roughly seven years, the international air transport association says airport security checkpoints could almost be hassle free.
>> working to make travel more convenient for passengers. >> reporter: with the help of fingerprint or retinal scans, passengers could get their boarding passes and then breeze through the checkpoint. so is this going to be the future of airport checkpoints? as easy as walking down a hall like this? >> in seven to ten years, we think it can be, yes. >> reporter: it sounds too good to be true. how do you make sure that people are safe, then? >> well, by moving to a risk-based system, which we have to move to, because we can't accommodate the volume of passengers that are going to grow over the next few years with the current one-size-fits-all system. >> reporter: before 9/11, 350 people passed through a checkpoint in an hour. that's down now to 150 passengers an hour. new technology is constantly being tested, like these machines used at three airports, which match the information on your boarding pass with encoded information on your i.d. and security experts say the strategy is not only to identify dangerous objects, but also
dangerous people. >> if you use a risk-based system, then you're basically focusing your energy and resources where it's most required. >> reporter: the tsa's pre-check program aims to do that. the goal is to reduce the so-called haystack of travelers who may pose a threat. pre-approved very frequent flyers at a growing number of airports can keep their shoes, belt, and jacket on,travel-size liquids and laptop computers could stay inside carry-on bags. so far, 2.5 million passengers are a part of the program which launched last year. and instead of these travel-size containers, full-size liquid bottles could be safe to travel with in a couple of years. according to one company that develops airport screening technology. but the tsa says don't expect that policy to roll out any time soon. they say they're testing a wide range of different technologies. wolf and kate? >> changing quickly, as it should. by the way, i'm going to be filling in for piers morgan
later tonight. got a special interview with rudy guiliani, the mayor of new york on 9/11. 11 years ago today. we're going to have a clip of that interview when we come back. excellent. we're sitting on a bunch of shale gas. there's natural gas under my town. it's a game changer. ♪ it means cleaner, cheaper american-made energy. but we've got to be careful how we get it. design the wells to be safe. thousands of jobs. use the most advanced technology to protect our water. billions in the economy. at chevron, if we can't do it right, we won't do it at all.
tax increases and massive across the board budget cuts are coming soon unless congress and the white house can make a deal. tonight erin burnett is talking with one of the insiders who knows the numbers. erin, tell us more. >> that's right. certainly looks like there could be no deal from what we heard today. but senator rob portman, adviser to mitt romney, was considered for the vp ticket and playing barack obama in the practice debates with mitt romney. we'll talk with him about the debt crisis is and what exactly mitt romney would do about it.
is he fiscally conservative or not. and breaking news out of the middle east. we'll have the very latest from libya and from cairo where they were attacks on america today. we'll have the latest on what's going on in the consulates and embassies there, the people trying to scale the walls, rip down flags, we'll tell exactly what is happening and why. back to you. >> shocking stuff. thanks, erin, very much. he was known as america's mayor in the days immediately after 9/11. just ahead, you're going to hear from rudy guiliani. my interview with him on piers morgan tonight is later, but we'll have an excerpt next. pinch... and zoom... in your car. introducing the all-new cadillac xts with cue. ♪ don't worry. we haven't forgotten, you still like things to push. [ engine revs ] the all-new cadillac xts has arrived, and it's bringing the future forward.
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informed the state department that an american consulate official has been killed in an attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi, libya. we're just getting this information coming in. we know there was also an attack on the u.s. embassy today. this, the 11th anniversary of 9/11 on the u.s. embassy and cairo, as well. erin burnett "outfront" will have moch much more at the top of the hour. few politicians are more closely associated with 9/11 than rudy guiliani. after the attacks, the former new york city mayor became known as america's mayor as he helped lead the nation forward. you've described 9/11 as both the worst day and the best day. explain why you said that. >> the worst day, because it was the worst attack, domestic attack in the history of my c country, or you have to go back to the revolution and the war of 1812 and civil war to look for similar kinds of things. certainly, new york city. and at the same time, it was a day of more heroism, more