tv The Situation Room CNN February 11, 2014 2:00pm-3:29pm PST
much. happening right now, a catastrophic storm. the south is in the bullseye right now and the east is coming up next millions of people are at risk of paralyzing snow and power outages. and chris christie answers questions about bridgegate and a slew of brand new subpoenas. and should ex convicts get to vote? the obama administration take as new stand coming down on the side of former inmates and tea party conservatives. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." it could be the most dangerous ice storm in the south in at least a decade and it's pushing deep right now into the south and by the end of the week a huge chunk of the country may be reeling, including here in the northeast. forecasters are warning of a
treacherous mix of rain and sleet and ice and snow. at least seven states already have declared emergencies from mississippi and alabama into georgia, the carolinas and virginia. at this hour, the focus of our attention is on atlanta where snow and ice shut down the city two weeks ago. this storm, though, could be even worse with massive power outages on top of paralyzing conditions. cnn's ed lavandera is standing by in atlanta but let's go to chad myers for the very latest. chad? >> wolf, how this storm is different, the last storm was snow. not much. but two inches made slick roads. we're not going to have people skidding all over the roads because they are not going to get any people on the roads. they know an ice storm is coming and it means something to texas, it means something to louisiana, and also, of course to, georgia. when you hear the word ice, we already realize we can't drive on it. by tomorrow morning, there will be half an inch everywhere.
people will not go anywhere like last time. tomorrow, d.c., 11:00. new york city, 7:00 a.m. by the time thursday morning rolls around. this makes the left-hand turn and that's the storm that is going to make the ice. here's the treatchery. all the power line, all of the trees, all of the houses, everything that's in the sky is going to have three-quarters of an inch to an inch of ice on it and all of those things are going to come crashing down. all of the trees around augusta, columbia, south carolina, wilmington, all of those tree also come down and so will the power lines. when that happens, we're going to have millions of people without power. it's going to be a long power outage. this isn't going to be a one or two-day. there's going to be so many power lines to take up that it's going to take a long time. and there is d.c. and new york
city all expected between wednesday and thursday night. so it doesn't matter where you go up and down i-95. you're going to see a lot of snow down there. down here along 85 and 75, it's all ice, wolf. >> hard to believe. they are already canceling flights. this is going to be a massive flight setback for a lot of folks planning on traveling. >> i don't think -- and this is my opinion, i don't think we'll get 10% of the flights through atlanta that we should on a given day. there is just no chance. we don't have the equipment for deicing, for one thing. we have some, not a lot. you're not going to want to put planes on the tarmac have and them sit there and get coated in inch of an ice. they don't want their planes sitting there. planes aren't even coming in tonight. we're already getting cancellations on the way in and they are getting completely encased. >> let's go to the streets of atlanta where officials say they are more prepared for this storm
than the winter debacle two weeks ago. ed lavandera is on the scene. >> reporter: the scene behind me may not look like much but it tells the story. this is rush hour traffic essentially here in atlanta. this is an interstate shooting out the north side of downtown atlanta. on any given day, this would be packed with cars at this time of day. but look how freely rolling everything is right now. you can see a light mist and drizzle throughout the day that hasn't frozen over just yet. temperatures haven't dropped that low. this is an indication of how seriously people across the region are taking the threat of this storm and getting ready in advance. many schools throughout the region shut down today, businesses as well. a lot of advanced closures already announced for tomorrow as well. the governor says they brought in about 180 tons of extra sand and salt to help clear off the roadways or at least make the roadways more drivable and state officials and city officials insist that people need to take
precautions. >> i would simply say to them, we're not kidding. we're not just crying wolf. it is serious business and it is something that the greatest cooperation that we can receive from the public will be our best asset. >> and wolf, as chad mentioned, the brunt of this storm, really the most severe parts start hitting in the overnight hours into early tomorrow. so when people wake up tomorrow, we'll have a much better sense of how severe and how much ice we'll be dealing with throughout the day tomorrow. wolf? >> as you know, people in the atlanta area, they went through hell a couple of weeks ago. how are they reacting to the current forecast? >> you know, this interstate that you see behind me is one of the places with the notorious images of people stranded along the highways. highways have been turned into parking lots. people expected to be trapped in their homes for the next couple of days are making runs at grocery stores for bread, milk,
essentials, pictures of empty store shelves, pictures of parking lots at these grocery stores packed with cars. people really heeding the warnings making sure that they are prepared in case they have to deal with very treacherous and dangerous situations over the next couple of days. >> ed lavandera, thank you. we'll check back with you as well before the bad weather hits here in the washington, d.c. area, a glamorous event at the white house tonight. the obamas are hosting a state dinner for the visiting state president, guest star arriving soon. the gala party coming after a joint news conference by the two leaders. details on that from our senior white house correspondent brianna keilar. >> reporter: during a press conference with visiting french president francois hollande, president obama was anything but subtle, warning companies around the globe against doing business with iran. >> i can tell you that they do
so at their own peril right now because we will come down on them like a ton of bricks. you know, with respect to the sanctions that we control. >> reporter: the snap down was prompted by french leaders who visited iran last week as the u.s., france, and other countries try to broker a long-term deal to try to keep iran from getting a nuclear weapon. with a civil war raging in syria for almost three years now, obama and hollande offered frustration but no way forward. >> right now, we don't think that there is a military solution per se to the problem. but the situation is fluid and we're exploring every avenue. >> reporter: obama invited hollande in november, a few months after the french leader backed u.s. plans to launch inner strikes on syria when great britain did not. ultimately, obama decided not to strike but the move cost
hollande political capital at home. one french reporter asked obama if he now considers france a better friend than britain. >> i have two daughters. and they are both gorgeous and wonderful and i would never choose between them. and that's how i feel about my outstanding european partners. >> reporter: many in france were outraged when a newspaper revealed the nsa had swept up 70 million records of french phone calls. last month obama assured allies of protection from nonu.s. citizens and both obama and hollande tried to put the issue to rest. >> translator: following the revelations that appeared due to mr. snowden, we clarified things. president obama and myself clarified things. then, this was in the past.
>> but perhaps a sign that things weren't entirely in the past, wolf, a french reporter asked president obama if perhaps a no spying agreement that the u.s. has with the uk might be extended to france. this was shorthand for an intel sharing agreement that the u.s. has with canada, with the uk, new zealand, and australia. president obama said, quote, wolf, it's not actually correct to say that we have a quote/unquote no spy agreement. that's not actually what happens, making it clear that there really is no commitment on the part of the u.s. to not spy on other governormentments, inc allies. >> there's no doubt that france is not in that elite category of the english-speaking countries that you discussed? >> no, that's right. they are not. one of the things that we heard from president hollande today that -- we heard a couple of times that he was talking about cooperation in intelligence.
in a way, you sort of see following this fallout from the u.s. gathering of french phone records, you see france trying to pivot now to say we would like to do more cooperation and the u.s. and france trying to frame their relationship when it comes to intelligence. >> the president made a point of announcing that he will be in france in june for the 70th anniversary of the d-day invasion during world war ii. it will be off to france for that. brianna, thanks very much for that. a critical vote is under way for the house of representatives to raise the nation's debt ceiling. that roll call has just started. they need 218 votes to raise the nation's debt ceiling the president said we want a clean bill. the speaker of the house is allowing that clean bill to go forward. right now we're all over this story. it's very important. if it fails, there could be a serious, serious downgrading of the u.s. credit rating worldwide. there's fear of a potential default but if they have the votes, obviously, the debt
ceiling will be raised. stand by. much more on that. also the governor new jersey speaking out for the first time about the scandal for brain surgery and they were exposed to a deadly disorder. our own dr. sanjay gupta. he's a neurosurgeon. he's standing by to explain what happened, what patients could do to protect themselves, how could this happen? hey guys! sorry we're late. did you run into traffic? no, just had to stop by the house to grab a few things. you stopped by the house? uh-huh. yea. alright, whenever you get your stuff, run upstairs, get cleaned up for dinner. you leave the house in good shape? yea. yea, of course. ♪ [ sportscaster talking on tv ]
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bridgegate controversy intensified back in his home state. we have team coverage of christie's remarks and the political fallout that is occurring. dana bash has been watching christie all day. how did it go? >> reporter: it's interesting because chris christie used this appearance to promise to make public the internal investigation his office is doing into bridgegate while at the same time saying that it's not a distraction from his second term, the term that he was hoping to use to prove that he can get things done in a blue state. chris christie tried to frame his scandal that exploded around him as a sign of strength. >> if you're a leader, you have to get a handle on the story and take divisive action which is what we did. >> reporter: christie only got one question about september's
lane closing controversy during this hour at the economic club, a friendly forum. the questioner, greg brown, is someone that christie appointed to the rutgers board in 2012. >> it's not been the most enjoyable in the last six weeks. on the other hand, we need to do our work. >> reporter: christie's meetings with republicans stayed behind closed doors, something democrats are using to label him as a pariah. >> rather than greet the fellow government in public. >> reporter: but here gubernatorial candidate bill brady did come to show his support. you are the only republican running for office so far to appear in a public place with chris christie. why? >> i don't understand why anyone wouldn't. he's head of the republican governor's association which is going to raise a lot of money to help elect a republican governor here in illinois. >> reporter: democrats are determined to keep the pressure on christie, even sending ted
strickland 350 miles to taunt him. governor, why exactly are you here? >> i'm here because governor chris christie, his office at least, engaged in reprehensible behavior. >> reporter: as for christie, most of this is supposed to make him a national figure in the first place, like criticizing washington. >> they either have to change themselves or they have to be replaced. >> reporter: even if some comments may now have a different context. >> voting, especially for an executive, a governor, or a president is a visceral action. people look at the person and say, do i like the person? do i trust him? >> reporter: now, christie also praised on the last republican president, president george w. bush, calling him grossly underappreciated as president and also made a point by saying that he handled with class by not butting in but as for the
current president, barack obama, he also sounded pretty partisan, like most republicans would at saying that he is to blame for the partisanship and the toxic atmosphere in washington. wolf? >> dana, thank you. we're going to get back to you shortly. let's go to new jersey now, in the capital of new jersey, trenton, with our new developments in that bridgegate scandal. chris frates is on the scene. >> reporter: good news for governor christie. the state election commission says he's allowed to use his campaign funds to answer questions at the u.s. attorney and legislative panel have about bridgegate and the re-election fund to answer those questions and he's also allowed to tap into that donor base and ask them for more money should he need it. now, something important to note
here, wolf, this isn't money that chris christie himself could use for a personal lawyer and it's not something that any of his former employees, like his campaign manager bill stepien could use. this is to get records from the re-election campaign. good news for christie, he doesn't have to pay for that. >> he's hired major high-profile attorneys, right? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. he's hired -- his re-election campaign has hired somebody from pat and boggs and there's plenty of lawyers working for chris christie and now we know that at least one of them, the one representing the re-election campaign, will be able to be paid by money left over from his successful run in november. >> what's the latest on that rumored helicopter ride he made on september 11th, early reports suggested that maybe he flew over the george washington bridge traffic scandal.
what do we know about that? >> reporter: we know that state lawmakers said yesterday that state lawmakers investigating bridgegate here in trenton said they are interested in whether or not christie used his helicopter to fly over the george washington bridge and whether or not he had anybody in that helicopter with him. today the state police put out a statement and said that during the three flights he took that week, none of them went over to george washington bridge. now, that will be of interest to lawmakers who are wondering when did really christie find out about the bridge backups? did he maybe see them as he went over the bridge? state police saying, no. >> we know that more subpoenas have been issued. chris frates in trenton, thank you. coming up, have republican leaders surrendered on an issue where president obama staked out a firm line. and clarence thomas on race in america and hurt feelings. also, patients exposed in a hospital to a fatal disorder. dr. sanjay gupta will tell us
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looking at a live picture right now, 216 votes. they need 218 votes. they are voting on a clean debt limit bill, raising the nation's debt ceiling. no strings attached. that was the demand of president obama today the speake john boehner he accepted earlier they wanted conditions attached to go ahead with even a vote but in the end he agreed to allow this vote. 216 votes right now. strategically it could be a strong tactic, though, for the republicans. they want to move on, get back to obamacare. they see that as a huge issue looking ahead to the midterm elections in november of this year. john king is over at the magic wall to explain what is going on. john, tell our viewers how it looks looking ahead to november. keep an eye on the house floor at the same time. >> wolf, let's start with the basic math and we'll show you the united states senate as we go right now and it's decided to go south on me. let me see if i can fix it.
try it again. that's not going to work so we can't do this. i will tell you one thing, republicans want to focus on obamacare, obamacare, obamacare. between now and the elections. one of the ways that they are trying to do that is with early ads and key target states hitting vulnerable tieing them to the president. take a listen. >> kay hagan, she just doesn't get it. >> senator begich did not listen. how can i trust him again? >> if i had to vote for the bill again, i would vote for it tomorrow. >> we'll get back to john in a moment. that's the breaking news that we're following. they've gone over 218 votes in the house of representatives. they are at 220 right now. so they've agreed in the house, 221, to raise the nation's debt ceiling. the legislation will go to the senate where it's expected to
pass. the president will sign it into law and there will not be any problem with the nation's credit worthiness, no degrading of the credit worthiness right now. so obviously a very important development for u.s. economic policy. the treasury secretary jack lew said they need to do this by the end of february. they now have done it in the house of representatives. >> the nays are 201. the bill has passed without objection. the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. >> there you have it. it's passed the house of representatives. they got more than the 218 votes. got to go to the senate. already some members of the senate indicating they may try to filibuster meaning that they would need 60 votes to get it passed in the senate. 55 democrats. 53 democrats and two independents. dana bash, i assume they have 60 democrats and republicans in the senate to pass this?
>> reporter: likely so. but as you said, it is not going to be easy. it's not just going to fly through the senate. our ted barrett who covers the senate just talked to ted cruz of texas who, not surprisingly, says he will make sure that it will be a 60-vote threshold required to pass this in the senate. just taking a moment to talk about what happened on the house floor and the numbers that we saw, wolf, only 28 republicans votes yes. 199 voted no. so the vast, vast majority voted against this clean debt ceiling increase. they needed so many democratic votes. 192 democratic votes to pass this. so, you know, we've certainly been looking at this, asking why john boehner decided to go ahead and do this and the answer was pretty simple. he has set from the get-go that he did not want a fight on this.
he understood the sporimportanc the country not defaulting on its debt and the political liability if they had a big brinksmanship fight. that's why he did this. certainly, there were a lot of discussions over the last two weeks, serious discussions within the house republican caucus about various conditions that they could put on this. but the reality is they were going through the motions, wolf. they were telling us a couple of weeks ago that they simply did not see the votes being there for any kind of condition along with this debt ceiling within the republican party because there were so many people who would not vote for the debt ceiling no matter what was attached to it. they knew they would have to pull off the band-aid and do this which would be a short-term disappointment but positive in the long term. >> they don't have to worry about that, at least not in the
house of representatives. it will go to the senate and they need five moderate republicans to break the 60-vote filibuster. let's see what happens tomorrow. that's dana. thanks very much. let's go back to john king over at the magic wall. we were talking about the midterm elections and how the republicans, they are sensing not only can they keep their majority in the house but they may become the majority in the senate? >> that's right. that's why speaker boehner is taking grief from the conservatives. he wants to get to november and avoid any landmines. let's look at the senate calculation and at the math. democrats are at 55, counting the two independents that sighed with the democrats. 36 seats up, a lot of republican seats up but if you look at the early terrain, a lot can change between february and november but these are the races. you can see the white races. these are the ones viewed right now as potentially in play. only two of them, kentucky and
georgia are republican seats. look at all of this terrain. republicans think it's almost automatic that they pick up this south dakota seat held by a democrat. they think it's almost automatic to pick up the west virginia seat. they are very confident although they say it's going to be a tough one. where does that get you? that's 46-44. let's keep going through the math. this is going to be a tough fight all the way through. they think they can get mary landrieu and defeat begich. republicans think they can pick up alaska. then you're looking at a map where arkansas would be their next visit and mark pryor. democrats, don't get nervous. if they got those, wolf, which is a big but, 49-44 and then north carolina, michigan, new hampshire, virginia, and iowa. now, should republicans be confident they can get those states, these are the 12 states. see the blue highlights? 12 states now held by democrats that republicans will target for
the senate this year. well, let's take a look. if they are red, that means president obama lost them twice in 2008 and 2012. you can understand, especially given the president's standing now where they are confident about alaska, arkansas, louisiana, west virginia, north carolina is split because the president won it once and lost it once. why are they confident about the blue states? colorado, iowa, michigan, new hampshire that the president carried twice? well, because of this. at the end of last year coming into the election year, look at the president's approval rating. that's why if they can keep this focus on the president and his health care plan, they can get that plus six in the senate and keep their house majority. again, it's early but republicans think for the moment these numbers and that map favor them. >> yeah, they are pretty confident right now but there's a lot that could happen between now and november. john, come on over here. our chief political analyst
glor gloria borger is here as well as jeffrey toobin. >> she was being blunt about it and, you know, john went through the math over there and it's pretty obvious, four democrats are going to seek re-election in states that mitt romney wants. this is difficult for them. they have a fine line to walk, though, which is they want to distance becoming and when you look at obama's numbers on competence and trustworthiness, those numbers are down. so they want to maintain a distance, assert their independence but they don't want to turn them into something that
can't do anything for the next few years. so that's a problem. >> sure. it certainly is. jeffrey toobin, let's talk about the law in all of this. specif specifically on the affordable care act. the president keeps delaying implementation even though it was supposed to be fully implemented by 2013. a couple of questions. and you've stu deedied the law this. republicans say it's not constitutional, either he implements it or doesn't implement it. and can a republican president sign an executive order reversing in effect reversing obamacare? >> how can he keep delaying all of these provisions? as the supreme court held, obamacare is a tax. it has tax provisions and there
is a provision of law that predates obamacare that says the secretary of the treasury, who supervises the internal revenue service, can delay, can effectively administer any new provision of tax law. and that is what the obamacare administration is putting their support -- they are trusting in that piece of legislation which they point out is not new, has applied to all new tax laws for many years and that's why they say this is justifiable. now, can a republican president turn it around? not exactly. once the law is administered and on the books, it can't be revoked, except by an act of congress and certainly a president would seek to tweak anything he or she could to make obamacare different if not gone altogether. >> john, let me get back to the breaking news. the house of representatives
narrowly passed clean legislation, raising the nation's debt ceiling, which is what the white house -- the president had demanded. what does it say to you, this narrow approval, now that we can move on to the senate? >> it says to me that they are willing to sake short-term hits. the speaker is taking hits. why didn't we get something this? things happen and people blame the republicans. not quite the size of the scope of the government shutdown but people are pointing their fingers at the republicans. get through the debt ceiling, his idea is to get to november and we win. we add seats in the house, in the senate, and then people won't be pointing their fingers at us. >> don't you think republicans learned a little something from the shutdown which is that they don't want to go through that again so that even the most conservatives were saying, look, we're going to end up having to
hold our noses so let's get it over with? >> guys, stand by. up next, should ex-convicts be able to vote? the obama administration's new push. and clarence thomas talking about race in the '60s and where he'd be now if he let his own feelings get hurt. honestly? this deal was way too good to believe.
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prevent them from voting. joining us is "cross-hire" co-host s.e. cupp and jeffrey toobin is who still with us. among other things he said, the history of the nation has always been to try to expand the franchise, whether it's freed slaves, women, young people, we've always found ways to make it easier to vote. we've always found ways in which we've made the voting process more inclusive. so what do you think about this? is this likely to go anywhere? what is your sense? >> well, he has -- the justice department has filed lawsuits against north carolina and texas to try to overturn their photo i.d. laws and other laws passed in the wake of the supreme courts gutting of the voting rights act. i think the speech today about a felon voting is all part of eric holder i think trying to reorient his tenure as attorney
general away from things like national security and towards civil rights, which is, i think what he'd rather be concentrating on than other areas that have given him a lot of problems. >> where do you stand on this, s.e.? >> i think republicans often get into trouble and i'm not surprised that rand paul and mike lee are with holder on this. republicans often get into trouble and weigh these issues like equal pay, lilly ledbetter and issues that should be important and that are generally designed to also make republicans look very intolerant. often we fall into that trap even when we have good arguments against this stuff and there are good arguments against felony voting. >> first of all, i think this is the beginning of something very important. i think you're going to see a left-right alliance. if you're a conservative and you're worried about government getting out of control, the prison should be at the top of
your list. >> clarence thomas said, "my sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than i was in the '60s when i went to school. to my knowledge, i was the first black kid in savannah, georgia, to go to a white school. rarely did the issue of race come up." what's your take on that? >> first of all, it could actually be true. it could be true when you're one out of a couple of hundred. the problem is, we actually have more difference now to manage. i left the rural south and went to california. i suddenly had to learn that kids from iran are not arab. filipino kids do not speak spanish. we have the most diverse history in the world and you've got to be able to talk about it. >> we have three polls that recently came out. i want to get your sense, s.e., because the atlantic council asked the american people, would you favor normalizing relations with cuba. 56% favor, 35% oppose.
a recent cnn orc poll, do you want some illegal immigrants to stay in the united states and eventually apply for citizenship, 81% favor and 17% oppose. tougher background checks to buy guns, 86% favor. 14% oppose. >> great polls. >> none of this stuff, though, gets through congress even though there seems to be divisive majorities of the people who want it. >> american majorities approve of keystone american majority teas want a lot of things and congress listens to that as well and the american people, i hate to say it, don't always get what they want. it's a divided country. congress and president has to listen to everyone, not just pick and choose the people they agree with. >> look, i think it's actually telling that things are completely off the table here in washington, d.c., actually, if you go to a barber shop, few
things people are willing to discuss. i do wish the range was bigger certainly for the american people. >> we'll see you guys on "cross-fire" at 6:30 p.m. eastern. jeffrey toobin, as usual, thanks to you as well. just ahead, some patients in north carolina may have been exposed to a fatal brain disease at the hospital. so how could this happen? our own dr. sanjay gupta is standing by to explain. and it may be the winter olympic games but it looks more like spring in sochi. how the 60-degree weather is causing some problems for the athletes. [ female announcer ] a classic macaroni & cheese from stouffer's
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imagine going under the knife for brain surgery and waking up to know you have a chance for a rare incurable neurological disorder. that is the scenario some can be facing. a hospital warning 18 patients they may have been exposed to the fatal disorder that can take years to show up. dr. sanjay gupta is here to join us. >> this is a mistake. there are no two ways about it. the hospital has acknowledgedt that. we are talking abo ing about an infection of the brain. what happened is back on january 18 a patient suspected of having the disease under went an operation. what should have happened to the instruments after the operation is they should have gone through a specialized cleaning process.
the instruments were used on 18 more patients before the problem was recognized. those are the 18 patients in question. the original patient was confirmed to have the disease and that is what prompted this new announcement and this warning as you point out to the 18 patients. >> how deadly is this cjv? what is the likelihood the exposed patients could get the fatal disease? >> if you get it, it is an unfortunately terrible diagnosis. this disease could start off with simple dementia-like symptoms and progresses rapidly. the good news is that it is very unlikely for patients to get this disease through contaminated instruments. in fact we talked to folks at cdc, they couldn't find a confirmed case of getting the disease through contaminated instruments since 1966. what i can tell you is having
done brain iobiopsies the psychological impact is heart to estimate. you just don't know if you have it or not. it can take years for the symptoms to develop. that is the tough part for these 18 patients. very low chance they have it but they have to live with not knowing for a long time. >> i have heard of cases of people purchasing their own surgical equipment before major surgery so they don't have to worry about infection. >> hopefully that wouldn't need to be the case here. but you can understand that concern and you can understand it becoming more of a concern after you hear a story like this. typically when instruments are sterilized it goes through an auto claving process. they use chemicals and heat up the area to 270 degrees. that typically takes care of just about every infectious
agent. you are talking about something known as preons. you have to use other agents, as well. i have heard the stories you have and as a doctor myself i hate to hear stories like that because you like to think we do a good enough job. in this case they didn't. >> thanks very much. to our viewers remember you can see dr. sanjay gupta on his show. it airs saturdays 4:30 p.m. eastern and sunday mornings 7:30 a.m. eastern. a new spill in west virginia has people worried about the water. sludgy waste left over from coal mining has leaked from a ruptured pipe into a creek overnight miles from the major chemical spill. that one is a dangerous chemical. local officials are on the scene containing the spill. they are testing the water. they say it does not affect drinking water. just more problems for west
virginia. >> alarming testimony from the nation's top intelligent official warning the threat from al qaeda is growing. it looks a lot more like spring in sochi. how the 60-degree weather is causing problems for athletes. [ park sounds, sound of spray paint ] ♪ we asked people a question, how much money do you think you'll need when you retire? $500,000. maybe half-million. say a million dollars. [ dan ] then we gave each person a ribbon to show how many years that amount might last. ♪ i was trying to like pull it a little further. you know, i was trying to stretch it a little bit more. [ woman ] got me to 70 years old. i'm going to have to rethink this thing.
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happening now al qaeda rising. a chilly warning about the world's most feared terror organization. why is it gaining more strength? what happened to controversial photos of osama bin laden's body? back in the headlines, monica lewinsky. i'm wolf blitzer and you're in "the situation room". it's the most infamous
terror, the ruthless force behind the most shocking attacks. despite efforts al qaeda is not only continuing its deadly mission, it is thriving and finding fertile new ground to grow. jim sciutto is here with more on the serious warning coming. >> i have listened to a lot of these hearings. this is sobering testimony. we knew the threat was evolving but it is clear lly formidable with new safe havens called an apocalyptic disaster. after two decades of war, targeted assassinations al qaeda is not on the path to defeat. today the nation's top intelligence official delivered a sobering assessment of the terror threats facing the u.s. al qaeda 13 years after 9/11
still a danger as core al qaeda in pakistan has developed working relationships with aligned terror groups in north africa, middle east and asia. >> is al qaeda on the run and on the path to defeat? >> no. it is morphing and franchising itself not only here but other areas of the world. >> syria is a new safe haven for al qaeda affiliated groups, perfect combination of lawlessness and combat training. in syria the intelligence community estimates 75,000 plus foreign fighters, hundreds believed to be westerners. more than 50 of them americans, some of them being recruited to carry out attacks when they return home. >> so the longer this goes on really and the more fighters that go in, et cetera, et cetera that the more likely there is a greater threat to the united states of america, would you agree? >> i would.
>> reporter: one growing fear that terror groups will acquire some of syria's massive arsenal of chemical weapons. the threatening behind threats against the sochi olympics. >> aspire to acquire weapons of mass destruction to further their agenda. the current instability in syria presents a perfect opportunity for al qaeda and associated groups to acquire the weapons or their components. >> reporter: hampering u.s. attempts to continue the threats the massive leaks by former nsa contractor, edward snowden. >> tourists and others are going to school on u.s. intelligence sources and methods and trade craft. and the insights are making our job in the intelligence community much, much harder. >> one of the most damaging, a detailed map of the world wide internet fiber infrastructure which shows most internet
traffic goes through the u.s. this has made terror suspects much more surveillance-conscience and therefore harder to track. a terrorist communicating between yemen and pakistan may not know the e-mail is likely to go through servers and are less likely to communicate that way. >> learning lessons. a life or death debate unfolding. the issue a possible drone strike on american citizen tied to al qaeda. let's go to barbara starr working the story for us. what is the latest on the u.s. targeting of an american involved overseas? >> reporter: u.s. intelligence has this person under surveillance in pakistan. that is where this american citizen is said to be located. one of the key questions we don't know the answer to yet, what is the imminent threat he
poses? is it a threat to the u.s. homeland? is he is a threat to u.s. forces in afghanistan? is he plotting to attack u.s. forces? and the key question on the table is what to do about it. pakistan is resentful of the drone strikes. the u.s. has to decide if it wants to anchor more or is it better to keep an eye on this person and see where he goes and see if he links them to bigger fish. >> the u.s. now saying hamid karzai is about to release highly dangerous detainees from custody, men who have already killed american troops in afghanistan. this obviously a huge concern to the united states. >> the u.s. is furious about it. it is expected on thursday, actually. 65 of 88 detainees being held by afghanistan will be released. the u.s. says this is in absolute violation of an
agreement they have with the karzai government. these are people say are very dangerous and have been responsible for u.s. and alliance coalition deaths. and the u.s. officials says if they find them plotting on the battlefield they will go after them and capture or kill them. >> apparently there is still no agreement with karzai to allow a residual u.s. force to remain in afghanistan after 2014. he's going to be out of office in a few months. what's going on? >> this gets to the question can the u.s. do business with karzai at this point. the presidential election is in april. one of the questions is do you just wait for him to go and try to negotiate with the next president? he is not signing the agreementt that the u.s. needs in order for u.s. forces to stay in afghanistan after 2014. and james clapper who you saw in jim sciutto's feed also very
dire today about how he looks at karzai right now. have a listen. >> obviously takes two to sign this. and it's my own view, not necessarily company policy. i don't believe president karzai is going to sign it. >> the top man in u.s. intelligence not a very optimistic outlic. >> clearly a serious problem. we are learning new information about some of the most controversial photos taken. pictures showing the dead body of osama bin laden. were they destroyed in what some critics charging as an illegal cover up. brian todd investigating this part of the story. >> this information coming out two years after the raid. a freedom of information quest bringing it to light. this e-mail saying to subordinants if you have the photos, get rid of them. >> reporter: in the highly
charged days after the killing of osama bin laden news consumers searched for any morsel information about the raid. the obama administration faced intense pressure to release photos of bin laden. the associated press and the conservative group judicial watch filed requests for the photos. and judicial watch filed a lawsuit. this e-mail sent, all photos should have been turned over to the cia. if you still have them destroy them immediately or get them to the blank, whoever that was still classified. >> if these records were destroyed there may have been crimes committed. >> reporter: tom fitten believes it shows a cover up, the possible suppression of key documents. >> there are laws that prohibit destruction of public records. it shows contempt for the law.
>> the pentagon wouldn't comment. a spokesman wouldn't comment nor would the cia or the white house. in the days after the raid president obama told cbs's 60 minutes why he believed the photos of a deceased bin laden should not be made public. >> it is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who is shot in the head are not floating around as an insightment to additional violence. >> reporter: it is not clear whether any photos of bin laden were destroyed. could any of the seals have taken personal photos? general says it is likely they were ordered not to by their commanders. >> wouldn't be surprising if they shook them down and said i want to make sure you don't have something hidden away someplace. >> reporter: mark says the seals
would have dedicated someone. he believes if photos were ordered to be destroyed he was trying to protect american troops in dangerous areas. >> what about photos of bin laden buried at sea? >> judicial watch says it has asked for that as a compromise. not going to release the photos of bin laden at least give us those. the obama administration says it is not going to release those. very concerned about insightment of violence. still ahead crippling snow and ice from texas to georgia all the way to the northeast. officials are bracing for an emergency as severe weather moves in threatening millions of people in the eastern u.s. it's the opposite problem at the winter olympic games. new details of how bad the snow shortage really is. we are going to sochi. [ male announcer ] this is the story of the little room
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introducing cardioviva: the first probiotic to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels without a prescription. cardioviva. historic and catastrophic. officials hope those words will grab the attention of millions of americans in the path of a storm system expected to bring devastating snow and ice to much of the eastern u.s. we are looking at live pictures from across the south right now caught badly offguard by a winterer storm two weeks ago. that fresh memory prompted officials to declare emergencies in georgia, alabama and other states. our meteorologist joining us with the latest. what critical information do our viewers need to know? >> they need to know if you live
from birmingham to atlanta all the way to augusta, columbia, south carolina into north carolina that you may be without power for weeks. it literally will be that bad. there will be a couple of million homes without power before it's done. here's the storm moving to the east. the difference between this storm and the last this gets to atlanta in the morning. that helps because people won't go out at all. kids are not going to school. school is cancelled. that's great because that didn't happen last time. the low goes right across to the south of georgia and makes an ice storm from georgia through the car lie carolinas. to new york city and philadelphia and d.c. the real big problem will be the
ice. this ice storm in this very large area will knock down so many trees power companies will take weeks to get all of those lines back up. they like to get mutual aid from other states around but all of the other states are going to have something, too. they can't send mutual aid to atlanta to get power lines because augusta will have thousands of trees down. columbia will have thousands of trees down. so will charlotte and raleigh. another round of snow in the winter that just won't quit. >> and plane cancellations are already starting already, right? >> i don't think we will get ten percent of the planes in or out of hartsfield tomorrow. there is no chance. it's a snow event for the northeast but the big problem will be the ice event for
atlanta, georgia because it is the ninth largest city. many more areas get effected. >> very different problem at the winter olympic games it feels more like spring or summer in much of the area around soechch causing problems with some of the athletes. nick paton walsh is there for us. >> reporter: at night the temperature drops down here at the coastal cluster but sometimes it is feeling just a little bit too tropical and that's having an impact on some of the most important sporting events in the mountains. on the slopes something is clearly missing. it's not just the esnow but the cold, too, to keep the snow hard. temperatures could rise to over 60 degrees on thursday. down here away from the mountains the warm weather shouldn't have been a surprise about sochi.
the surprise for many was vladimir putin's choice out of all of russia to bring the winter games here. in some ways russia was ready. organizers admitting tuesday the use of stored snow for the first time, reserves from the last season. reports of skiers stuffing snow into their suits to keep cool. practices and events delayed. american athletes saying the snow was too soft. >> it is pretty wintry up top and spring-like in the bottom. hopefully it gets cold at night. >> another jokes he like to compensate with a margarita, chips and salsa. elsewhere the russian olympic athlete lit the flame friday but on monday tweeted a part apology about a picture she tweeted last year of barack obama with a banana superimposed. she said in rare perfect english that she had great respect for the president and should have said earlier that she didn't
support the tweeted program or racism. that probably won't warm things up between washington and moscow. vladimir putin said on monday dates back to almost cold war attitudes. you have to acknowledge the furious russian attempt to keep spirits high here. they have been spending volunteers, young russians welcoming athletes arriving putting them in the stands to fill them up. and you have heard they have been moving snow. despite the many, many hurdles they are doing what they can to keep things afloat. >> nick paton walsh in sochi. a very different story. her affair with bill clinton was the biggest political drama of the '90s. honestly? my kids were always on my laptop.
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the center of a political drama that gripped the nation and nearly toppled a presidency. we haven't heard much from monica lewinsky until now. >> president bill clinton's relationship with monica lewinsky was a big one, a topic grabbing headlines again thanks to republican senator rand paul and new details emerging from a paper from a late friend of the clinton's. it does make you wonder what monica lewinsky is up to these
days. >> monica lewinsky the former white house intern. >> reporter: where is monica lewinsky today? now 40, lewinsky has been keeping a low profile. her former publicest told cnn she is trying to lead a private life. cameras caught lewinsky leaving a party in london. and in new york with friends in 2009. she eearned a master's degree in social psychology in 2006. before that lewinsky hosted mr. personality, a shorlt lived show on fox. she became a household name for having an oval office affair with president bill clinton that led to his impeachment. >> indeed i did have a relationship with ms. lewinskyt that was not appropriate. >> reporter: the affair put lewinsky squarely in the spot
light. her story published a month after the president acquitted of charges. >> i felt like a piece of trash. i felt dirty and i felt used. >> reporter: that same month millions of viewers tuned in to see barbara walters interview lewinsky. >> sometimes i have one feeling. sometimes i'm proud of him still and sometimes i hate his guts. >> reporter: that lip stick she was wearing flew off the shelf. for a while the former intern designed and sold hand bags and served a brief stint as a spokes woman for jenny craig. lewinsky told larry king in 2002 that the biggest misconception about her was -- >> probably that i went to washington with with an agenda to seduce the president and then expose that relationship so i could become famous. >> all a scheme.
>> when that is the farthest from the truth. i had gone to washington as a short pit stop on my way to graduate school. >> reporter: reports going back a couple of years say lewinsky has been shopping around a tell-all book about her relationship with bill clinton. if she does write another book it is sure to be a must-read. you have to wonder if she would really be interested to be back in the spot light in that way. >> thanks very much. and we are just getting this in. the veteran nbc news anchor tom brokaw announced he is diagnosed with cancer. he is 74 years old. he says he has multiple myeloma. we wish him a complete, complete recovery. that's it for me. thanks for