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Plane Hits Building in Austin, Texas; Right Plans to Return to Power; Efficient, Ruthless and Deadly; Big Bloopers

Aired February 18, 2010 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, breaking news: fiery images reminiscent of 9/11, as a small plane crashes into an office building housing IRS workers, an apparent suicide attack by the pilot. We are learning more this hour. Stand by.

Fallout from an assassination in Dubai spreading across Europe. Britain, France and other countries are demanding answers from Israel about stolen identities used by the team of killers.

And we are on the front line of that major offensive to drive the Taliban from their last stronghold in Southern Afghanistan. Now we are learning how long the battle might last.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were in the FBI building next door with the Online Trading Academy and the entire building shook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw something fall out of the sky and then a big fireball kind of shoot out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a major wakeup call. You never know -- you never know when something like that is going to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Panic and chaos as a small plane crashes into a seven- story office building in Austin, Texas, sending workers, including almost 200 IRS employees, running for their lives. Flames soon engulfed the building, calling to mind the horror of 9/11. It soon became clear that this, too, was a deliberate suicide attack, apparently by a troubled American man with a festering hatred of the federal government.

We have complete coverage of the breaking news this hour.

Let's begin with CNN's Tom Foreman.

Tom, walk us through how all this unfolded. TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have been assembling this map of the Texas state capital today and all that happened in this event.

If we fly in here to Austin, you can see this was the strike point right down here. The airport is right up here. But all indications from authorities are that it actually started a little bit earlier than the time the plane took off, not far actually from where the building was hit.

This is the home of the gentleman in question, which authorities say they believe he set on fire before he took off this morning. Then, he went from this location up to the airport, which, as you can see, is a bit north. All of this is in north Austin, a little bit off to the west.

This is Georgetown Municipal Airport. This is the type of plane that he was flying. There are people on the ground there who saw him taxi out and leave. We don't know much about it, other than he owns this plane and that he took off from here, according to authorities, and he flew more or less according to them a straight path.

Now, I want you to consider this. This is the airport up here, the strike point down here. He took off around 9:40 in the morning according to authorities. They just revised this a moment ago from 10:00 a.m. to the crash to about 9:55 a.m. for the crash, so about 15 minutes.

We don't know if takeoff is being counted from actual liftoff or taxi time. We know this plane could go up to about 170 miles an hour. It was 20 miles from the airport to the crash sit. And authorities say, based on all of that and their own tracking, they believe that this was pretty much a straight flight down. He did not meander or loop all over.

And, then, finally, he went to the actual crash site, itself, Wolf. That is what authorities believe. And this, again, is on the north side of Austin. There are many businesses up here, many industries located here. This is building in question, the Echelon Building, seven floors, houses about 199 IRS employees.

The big question, of course, Wolf, that everyone is asking, is the one that investigators will now have to ask, too, big, big fire from this airplane. Many people are questioning, was it really just the airplane that made this happen or something more? We have no leads on that, no information really on that at this point, but we know it is one of the things they have to look into.

BLITZER: Whether or not the pilot loaded up the plane with accelerants to make a fire even more devastating, that is a good question and we don't have the answer to that yet.

Tom, stand by.

Our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, is following the investigation for us. Jeanne, do officials believe the building was intentional, the building was a direct target?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: They are not saying definitively that it was, but it is something obviously that they are looking at very carefully, the reason, that manifesto that was left on a Web site registered in his name.

Some people are saying it was a last statement, a will that he left online.

Let me read you a portion of it. It is a diatribe against the government, in particular the IRS. At one point says: "I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different. Take my pound of flesh and sleep well."

The IRS can't comment for us, because of federal law, about any interactions or transactions they had with Mr. Stack. They did send out a statement from the IRS commissioner, however, saying it is an incident of deep concern and that they are working with law enforcement investigators as they investigate it.

Federal law enforcement sources tell me that there is no indication that Stack was working with anyone else. The Austin authorities say they believe this was an isolated incident. One question that is outstanding is this. He was also involved we are told by federal law enforcement with the torching of his house before he took off in that airplane. We don't know what the linkage might be there.

So, why, a big unanswered question at this point, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jeanne Meserve, thanks very much.

Let's bring in our national security contributor, Fran Townsend, a former homeland security adviser to President Bush.

The government, how does it monitor these kinds of incidents? What is going on?

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, earlier in your broadcast, Wolf, Brian Todd talked about oftentimes we have seen these sorts of incidents happen, it's an accident, as in the case when Cory Lidle slammed into a building there.

But sometimes there was the 15-year-old in Tampa, where it was a suicide event. People are in private aircraft, small private aircraft, all the time all around the country every day. They take off and land safely.

And, so, this is a small fraction, the ones that come to public attention that end tragically. This guy, though, I think what you're going to find is investigators are looking, were there warning signs? Were there things we should have picked up?

He clearly was very angry. He posted this manifesto. Was there something that should have tipped us off to not let him get on that plane today?

BLITZER: Because you have to get a physical exam in order to get a pilot's license. And the question is at that last physical exam that this individual had, was there any sign of instability, for example? I don't know what the answer is, but that would be something we would probably look at.

TOWNSEND: That is right. And what investigators want to know now is, was that part of that physical exam at all? Was it just a physical exam or did they look at whether or not he was emotionally stable?

You mentioned earlier, Wolf, it really is. There were only 40 gallons of fuel on that plane. This is -- we have seen, if you look at the pictures going back to these other incidents that Brian Todd talked about, very small fires, very minimal damage to large buildings.

And then you look at what happened today in Austin. Was there an accelerant? Were there other explosives on the plane?

BLITZER: Because it looks like there must have been something on board the plane to cause that devastation of that building.

TOWNSEND: That's right. Or he may have slammed into something inside the building.

But investigators are going to want to understand why was there was such pervasive damage in this case particularly in light of the fact that he had set his house on fire earlier in the day. This guy, there is -- clearly was disturbed and was an arsonist.

BLITZER: The local police in Austin, we had that news conference in the previous hour, says it appears to have been intentional, a singular act, an individual acting on his own, the facility being targeted, and then they concluded by saying no cause for alarm.

I guess what he meant is because this looked like an individual isolated incident.

TOWNSEND: That is right, but I can tell you, Wolf, having been in the federal government and looked at aviation security, what you worry about right now in the immediate aftermath are copycats.

I think what you will see is in the near term random security measures looking to make sure that there is nobody else, mentally unstable individuals, who might take this as their inspiration and try to do something similar.

BLITZER: That is really a serious concern, copycats, indeed.

TOWNSEND: Right. BLITZER: Fran, don't go away.

We will have much more on this story.

But there's another major story we're following as well, an alarming report from a United Nations watchdog on Iran's nuclear intentions, the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying Iran may be working on a nuclear warhead right now. This is the strongest warning yet on Iran from international inspectors. The statement comes in a draft report obtained by CNN.

Responding to this, the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, told reporters aboard Air Force One there would be consequences if Iran continues to ignore its obligations, didn't spell out what those obligations would be.

We will have more coverage of the breaking news here in THE SITUATION ROOM, what we are learning about the pilot who apparently flew his plane into that Texas office building. We will talk about his suicide note with a former FBI profiler.

Also, we go inside of that major anti-Taliban offensive in Afghanistan. Our CNN reporter on the scene, Atia Abawi, she is embedded with U.S. Marines. This firefight is getting intense.

And Israel's spy agency suspected in a shocking assassination. We are going to show you how Mossad earned its reputation as efficient, ruthless and deadly.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is in New York with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: In a move sure to get the Chinese all riled up, President Obama met today with the Dalai Lama at the White House.

The president commended the Tibetan spiritual leader's commitment to nonviolence and stated his support for the preservation of Tibet's identity and human rights.

After the meeting, the Dalai Lama told reporters he was very happy with the session and that Mr. Obama was very much supportive. The exiled leader says he admires the U.S. as a champion of freedom and talked about promoting religious harmony and human value.

Here's the problem with all this. China warned ahead of time that the meeting would damage relations with the United States. The Chinese view the Dalai Lama as a separatist who wants to overthrow Chinese rule. The Dalai Lama says that's not true. And critics are after President Obama for not meeting with the Dalai Lama last fall when he came to Washington, all of which is why the White House kept today's meeting very low-key.

It wasn't held in the Oval Office, where presidents traditionally meet with world leaders. There were no reporters allowed. And there was only a single still photograph released. Transparency, remember?

Meanwhile, it might not be the best time to tick off the Chinese. Relations are already strained between the two countries due to trade disputes, a recent U.S. arm sales deal for Taiwan, and a censorship argument over Google, not to mention the fact that the Chinese hold a staggering amount of U.S. debt , hundreds of billions of dollars worth.

So, here's the question: Is now the time for the U.S. to irritate China by meeting with the Dalai Lama?

We are having some technical difficulties with our blog today, so, instead, you can e-mail us at caffertyfile@CNN.com. I apologize. We have some gerbils in the computer equipment and the stuff ain't working like it's supposed to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: But I'm sure it will eventually, and we will fix it and get back to business.

Jack, thank you.

A British general says it could be another month before the Taliban are out of Marjah, the group's haven in Afghanistan for opium production and the seat of its shadow government.

CNN's Atia Abawi is on the front lines right now with U.S., British and Afghan forces.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIA ABAWI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Responding to the enemy.

U.S. Marines and Afghan forces came under attack late Thursday afternoon. Day six of Operation Moshtarak proved that the fight for Marjah rages on. And there seems to be no end in near sight.

MAJ. GEN. NICK CARTER, British Army: I guess it will take us another 25 to 30 days to be entirely sure that we have secured that which needs to be secured.

ABAWI: Unit 1-6's Alpha Company used state-of-the-art weaponry and technology against the crackles of AK-47s coming from nearby fields and mud compounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot discern the size of the enemy force at this point in time.

ABAWI: The Taliban have been fighting in small groups throughout the city, hiding in homes, stores and fields, slyly making their way to U.S. positions.

They have had months to plan their attack after NATO openly announced this operation late last year. But, still, commanders are hopeful that Marjah will be a turning point in the Afghan war and that some of the fighters will put down the arms and turn to the Afghan government.

CARTER: We think that the shaping operation that ran for some eight weeks leading up to this operation was very effective in terms of getting after some of the leadership and also some of those who might otherwise have fought.

ABAWI: As the sun was setting, the fight continued, lasting for nearly two hours, testament to an enemy that hasn't gone away.

Atia Abawi, CNN, Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We are following the breaking news this hour, including the apparent suicide note posted online by the pilot whose plane crashed into that Texas office building. We will dissect it for clues with a former FBI profiler.

And the shocking assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai, now Interpol is stepping into the case.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

BLITZER: Interpol, the international police organization, is now making public the stolen identities used by a team of 11 assassins who took out a top Hamas official in Dubai. And fallout from that hit is now spreading across Europe.

The accused killers suspected of working for Israel all carried fraudulent passports from countries, including Britain, France, and Ireland.

Those countries are now demanding answers from Israel, as CNN's Atika Shubert reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Six photos-, six suspects all holding genuine British passports, but Britain says this is a case of ruthless identity theft.

The passports were valid, all issued in the names of British citizens living in Israel, but were fraudulently used by the suspects. Britain's prime minister is promising to get to the bottom of it, assigning the serious and organized crime organization to lead an investigation.

GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think this is a matter of investigation and we have got to know the facts. We have got to know what happened. We have got to know what happened to British passports. It's as simple as that. It's an investigation that has got to take place before any conclusions are drawn.

SHUBERT: Britain's Foreign Office called Israel's ambassador to Britain to a meeting and invited him to share more information, but little came of it.

RON PROSOR, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO ENGLAND: I was invited last evening to a meeting with Sir Peter Ricketts, the permanent undersecretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I was unable to add additional information to a (INAUDIBLE) records request. And concerning the questions about the meeting, itself, as you know, it is not the usual way to talk about what happens inside those meetings.

SHUBERT (voice-over): Britain's foreign minister, David Miliband, has said he will be asking Israel's foreign minister for more answers when they are both in Brussels next week.

It seems the Dubai incident has the potential to spark a diplomatic row with Israel, and Britain is not alone.

(voice-over): France and Ireland have confirmed that four other suspects used fraudulent passports from their countries. Both have called their Israeli ambassadors for an explanation.

Germany has also met with its Israeli ambassador after Dubai police reported that one of the suspects used a German passport. Dubai police are also talking to friendly nations to identify five new suspects.

But with no proof of Israel's involvement, how will these countries react?

ROBERT LOWE, MIDEAST ANALYST: They could go through means of diplomacy, diplomatic measures, trade, military cooperation, as well as intelligence-sharing and cooperation. They could look to reduce the relationship with Israel on all those counts. They could also seek to use the E.U. and go for a collective E.U. approach. And France, Germany and Ireland are also involved in this. And the British are more likely to smooth this over after a point and let the fuss blow over.

SHUBERT: The bottom line, with so many signs pointing to an Israeli operation, Britain and other governments have for now stopped short of naming Israel or its spy agency, Mossad, but the incident has had a chilling effect on Israel's diplomatic relations in Europe.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And we will have more on the Mossad coming up later this hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Stand by. We have got other developments.

Meanwhile, the breaking news we are covering from Texas, a fiery crash of a small plane into an office building in Austin, the state capital appears, to be deliberate. What led the pilot the carry out such a violent act? We will talk to a former FBI profiler about the suicide note the pilot apparently left on the Internet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: A small plane slams into an office building, causing a huge fireball. Did the pilot's problems with the IRS lead to the crash? We are examining the apparent suicide note posted on the Internet.

Eight American missionaries held in Haiti, they are now back in the United States. But two Americans remain behind bars, accused of child kidnapping. What the woman who led the group is now saying about her situation, we have more on that.

And European officials demanding answers from Israel right now about stolen identities used by a team of assassins who killed a top Hamas leader in Dubai, this as Dubai says it is almost certain Israel's Mossad is behind the killing. We are going to take a closer look at the Israeli spy agency known for its efficient, ruthless and deadly operation.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY CULLEN, EYEWITNESS: It shot right across that light and right across the highway, went right into the building directly, exploded in a fireball.

The fireball was probably 50 feet each side of the impact. It shook me. The people from the restaurant said it shook the whole building, I found out later.

And then the windows began to fly out of the building. There must have been a lot of shock inside, a shockwave.

The windows flew out. And there's pink insulation pads flying all around. Imagine this. Then the venetian blinds start to wave out. They go out with the shockwave. Then the fire started and began curling up the first floor, went to the second floor. Then the fire guys arrived. They were here in, it seemed like, minutes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We are following the breaking news this hour, the fiery crash of a small plane into an Austin, Texas, office building housing offices of the IRS, an apparent suicide attack by the pilot, who left behind what seems to be a suicide note on the Internet.

For more now, we are joined by Gregg McCrary. He's a former FBI profiler.

Greg, thanks very much for coming in.

GREGG MCCRARY, FORMER FBI PROFILER: You're welcome, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let me read this excerpt from this suicide note, this apparent suicide note. "While very few working people would say they haven't had their fair share of taxes, as can I, in my lifetime, I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind, nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say."

Assuming this is Joseph Stack, the pilot suspected of taking this plane and crashing it into this building housing IRS offices, what does it say to you? If you were still actively involved as a profile for the FBI, what would you be starting to conclude?

MCCRARY: I think, when you look at the entire letter -- and that is a relevant section, but if you look at all of it, I think the things that we tend to see is this sort of dangerous confluence of paranoia and depression -- in other words, the world is a very threatening place. Everybody is out to get him.

He certainly is fixated on the IRS. And, then to me, the real alarm bells come at the bottom of the letter, toward the end, where he says that -- talks about violence as being the only way to handle this thing. Violence is the only way to handle this.

And so it's a guy who has developed these suicide ideations, has a constricted view of his options, and now he's reduced it down to violence being the only way to handle it. And that obviously is a very -- you know, a very disturbing place for this guy to be.

BLITZER: Let me read another little excerpt from this apparent suicide note. "I know I'm hardly the first one to decide I've had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country and it isn't limited to the blacks and poor immigrants.

"I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be many after, but I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at 'big brother' while he strips my carcass. I choose not to ignore what is going around me. I choose not to pretend that business as usual won't continue. I have just had enough."

MCCRARY: Absolutely. This is the constricted view of his options. He's had enough. There isn't anything more he can do. He's paranoid big brother -- he's looking over his shoulder at big brother. He just doesn't see any way out of this thing.

So that's the issue and I think more and more will come to light, you know, as we know more about him and the situation. Obviously, he apparently set his house on fire before he went and did this, so this was one big, big suicidal event.

So I think -- the other key thing is keeping an eye out. I know earlier you had Fran Townsend on, and she talked about the potential of a copycat effect, and that's something I think we need to maybe talk about again just for a second. These things tend to come in clusters and in people who are mentally disturbed or on the edge tend to look at an event like this, and it pushes them over the edge. They tend to come in clusters, so I think we need to be sensitive to that.

She also talked about TSA and homeland security getting ramped up. That's fine, but they're really probably not likely to prevent another incident with a deranged loner like this. It's going to come from us. By that I mean you and I and our fellow citizens who see people around us who are disturbed and so fort.

We need to not ignore them, but to pay attention to them. And if they're in a position where they think violence is the only answer, then it's time for further assessment and there'll be some critical intervention.

BLITZER: Does it look like this was just a suicide that he wanted to kill himself and do it in a dramatic way? Or was his intention to kill other folks at the same time?

MCCRARY: Well, I sort of think he was intending to kill other folks. This is a homicidal/suicidal event. I think flying that plane into the building was -- he intended to kill other people. And you see the irrationality of it, because in other parts of his letter, he talks about how bad it is. I think he's talking about the medical and insurance industry and killing tens of thousands of people, and he's outraged by that. But no, he's going to go murder some people as well. So we see how irrational this individual really was.

BLITZER: And obviously, if in fact he put accelerant instead of just fuel in that small little Piper Dakota, that would clearly be designed to make this suicide of his not only a suicide, but as you say, a homicide.

MCCRARY: Yes, very much so. I think even -- especially if he did that, but even just the fact he flew this into an occupied building and there's no doubt, I think it's obvious he knew what building it was, and where he was going.

This is really a victim-targeted crime, if you will. He targeted that building specifically, and certainly, as the investigation unfolds, we'll find out more about it, whether there is accelerants or other explosives or anything in that plane. That certainly would substantiate that idea.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, we don't know for sure yet.

MCCRARY: Right.

BLITZER: We're just speculating right now, but I'm sure in the next several hours and days we'll know a whole lot more of what was in that plane, what wasn't in the plane, and who this individual was and what was he trying to achieve.

Greg, thanks very much as usual.

MCCRARY: You're very welcome.

BLITZER: Gregg McCrary is a former criminologist and behavioral scientist over at the FBI.

Eight of her fellow missionaries have now been released, but she and one other are still being held on kidnapping charges in Haiti. Laura Silsby was in court in Port-au-Prince today and spoke to CNN afterward. You're about to hear what she had to say.

And why thousands of Bruce Springsteen fans may soon be getting a refund.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Conservative activists from around the United States are meeting here in Washington right now, and it shouldn't surprise anyone that they are not saying a lot of nice things about President Obama.

The annual CPAC convention is a showcase for rising Republican stars like Senate candidate Marco Rubio of Florida, but some of the most thunderous applause for the day was reserved for a veteran -- warhorse, I should say, of the right. That would be the former vice president of the United States, Dick Cheney.

Let's bring in our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.

Candy, you were there today. It was pretty rousing reception he got.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It was. He really did because all the attention really was on Marco Rubio, the conservative Cuban-American from Florida giving quite a race in the primary, the Republican primary against Charlie Crist, the current sitting governor who once looked like the shoo-in to get the primary nod from Republicans to run for the Senate.

So all eyes were on Rubio until of course Dick Cheney showed up and said what every conservative in that audience was already thinking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think when we can achieve the kind of results that we've achieved in places like Virginia and New Jersey and Massachusetts --

(APPLAUSE)

CHENEY: The sky is the limit here. I think 2010 is going to be a phenomenal year.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CHENEY: For the conservative cause. And I think Barack Obama is a one-term president. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Very popular man, very popular words with that very conservative audience, but once again, if that was the face of the past, the face of the future, Marco Rubio, that conservative from Florida who came and got them on their feet many, many times, and issued a warning not just to Barack Obama, but to his own party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: From tea parties to the election in Massachusetts --

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: From tea parties to the election in Massachusetts, we are witnessing the single greatest political pushback in American history.

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: Now, the political class tries to make sense of all of this. But, they can't, because never has the political class or the mainstream media that covers them been more out of touch with the American people than they are today.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: But again from Rubio, a very definitive warning to other Republicans saying that the old order is going by, and just because you are perhaps endorsed by the establishment, say, if you are Governor Crist of Florida, it doesn't mean you won't get a primary challenge.

As you know it, Wolf, Governor Crist has quite a primary challenge on his hands with Marco Rubio.

BLITZER: Yes. He's in a fight of his political life. Let's get back to the former vice president Dick Cheney for a moment. When I heard what he had to say predicting Barack Obama would be a one-term president, when I saw the rousing reception he received from the conservatives, knowing he once ran for the Republican presidential nomination, how farfetched is it that he, Dick Cheney, would seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 to challenge Barack Obama?

CROWLEY: I don't know what's further fetched than very, very farfetched, but he's not going to do it. In fact he joked with the audience as he did last year saying oh you know this is such a rousing audience you almost make me think that I should rethink this and run again, but I won't.

So he enjoys this. I think -- and so many people have said we almost heard nothing from him when he was vice president. Now he's everywhere. And I think this is the freeing of Dick Cheney. He's going to show up. He's very popular with this group. And he enjoys the give and take of just hardball politics.

BLITZER: Yes. I have covered him for many, many years. I personally would not rule out the possibility -- if he's healthy, if his heart is OK, and he can do it, I wouldn't necessarily rule it out depending on what happens in the midterm elections, then he could make up his mind, but we'll see.

CROWLEY: Dinner?

BLITZER: Sure.

CROWLEY: Dinner?

BLITZER: I would have brought you dinner with you anyhow.

CROWLEY: It's a deal. OK.

BLITZER: So even if --

CROWLEY: So you can pay either way.

BLITZER: I'm not predicting he will but I'm just saying I wouldn't rule it out, and I will be happy to pay.

CROWLEY: OK.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What else is going on, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, it sounds like you have a pretty good bet there with Candy there, Wolf. But in the news today a court appearance today for two American women who remain in custody in Haiti accused of child kidnapping.

Laura Silsby who led the group of missionaries spoke to CNN briefly after the hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Laura, how did that meeting go?

LAURA SILSBY, MISSIONARY CHARGED WITH KIDNAPPING: It went very well.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Really?

SILSBY: I am trusting God for all truth to be revealed.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And how do you --

SILSBY: And believing that God will reveal truth through the Haitian justice system, and they are seeking the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you miss your colleagues who have left?

SILSBY: You know, I am glad they were able to go earlier than me. That is good. I am trusting God.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you -- are you happy with the Haitian judicial process as it's currently happening?

SILSBY: They are doing the best they can.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you have any idea when you may be able to go home?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She will be free.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Any idea when you might go home?

(CROSSTALK)

SILSBY: I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only God knows that. OK. May God bless you. I'm with you. You will be free.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Could it be today?

SILSBY: Not today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: Eight Americans of the group arrived back in the United States last night after a judge ordered them free. They were arrested January 29th accused of trying to take children out of Haiti without adoption papers.

Homeland Security officers have lost 179 firearms because they didn't properly look after them. A report by the inspector general says the weapons were lost between fiscal years 2006 and 2008 after being left behind in restrooms, cars and other public places. The DHS says it's taken immediate action to correct deficiencies identified in that report.

And Ticketmaster will offer refunds for 14 Bruce Springsteen concerts. Live Nation Entertainment unit reached a settlement with federal regulators to refund money to people who bought marked-up tickets to the concerts last year. The settlement gives them the difference between the marked-up price and the ticket's face value.

The FTC says the Ticketmaster refunds could ultimately total more than $1 million, so some good news for Bruce Springsteen's fans -- Wolf?

BLITZER: He packs in those fans at those concerts. All right, Lisa, thanks very much.

Dubai says it's almost certain that Israel's Mossad is behind the killing of a top Hamas leader in Dubai. We're going to take a closer look at how the Israeli spy agency earned its reputations.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Suspicion is swirling right now around Israel's spy agency, the Mossad, in the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai. And while we may never know for certain, we do know that Mossad is well known for its efficient, ruthless and deadly operations.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Jerusalem and she has more -- Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the chief of police in Dubai has reportedly said he is 99 percent sure that Mossad is behind the assassination of a Hamas leader.

He has told Dubai TV that if it is proved it is Mossad, he wants the head of the intelligence agency to be put on the Interpol list effectively making him a wanted man.

No comment obviously from Mossad which has many successes and some failures in its past.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Capturing the architect of the holocaust undoubtedly one of Mossad's greatest achievements. Adolf Eichmann was arrested in Argentina in 1960 and brought to Israel. He was tried and executed in 1962, the only time Israel has carried out the death penalty.

Rafi Eitan was head of that Mossad operation.

RAFI EITAN, HEAD OF MOSSAD TEAM: If we wanted to kill him, we could kill him. Quite easily. But we wanted to take him into trial. And that is much more difficult.

HANCOCKS: Ten years later what became known as the Munich massacre, Palestinian terrorists killed two Israeli athletes at the Olympics in Germany and took nine more hostage, demanding the release of 200 Palestinians. Israel refused and all of the athletes were killed in a bungled rescue attempt by the German military at the airport.

GOLDA MEIR, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: It was evidently planned very well by the terrorists. And our boys paid for it.

HANCOCKS: Israeli prime minister Golda Meir is believed to have ordered Mossad to track down the killers. In 1973 three Palestinians were killed in Beirut including Mohammad Yusuf al-Najjar, head of Black September, the Palestinian group which carried out the attack. Three months later in Lillehammer in Norway, Mossad agents killed the wrong man, a Moroccan who had no connection to the attack. Five agents were caught and imprisoned but released to Israel two years later.

Mossad waited six more years to get the right man killing Ali Hassan Salime in Beirut.

RONEN BERGMAN, AUTHOR, "SECRET WAR WITH IRAN": Throughout the years, Mossad earned himself a reputation of efficient and ruthless intelligence agency with, quote, "license to kill".

HANCOCKS: But an attempt to poison Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Jordan in 1997 failed spectacularly. The Mossad agents were caught and Jordan's late King Hussein forced Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister then as now, to send the antidote to save Mashaal and release Hamas' spiritual leader Sheikh Yassin, a man who Israel killed a few years later.

Danny Yatom was head of the Mossad at the time and ordered the hit.

DANNY YATOM, FORMER MOSSAD HEAD: No. I'm not sorry at all. I think that no terrorists can enjoy any immunity, and they should know exactly that the free world will chase them if they continue to execute terror attacks.

HANCOCKS: He agrees with the policy of ambiguity when asked about operations.

YATOM: Everything should be hidden, because it is an unlawful operation in any other territory.

HANCOCKS: The current head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, is saying nothing. By remaining silent, there is less likely to be international repercussions and any international agency in the world likes to keep their targets guessing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HANCOCKS: A quick update on the investigation in Dubai. Eighteen people are now accused by Dubai police of being involved in this assassination, and we understand that two Palestinians are currently in custody.

We've also heard from Dubai police that one of the unidentified people is a woman who is wearing a large hat and white trousers and was seen hovering in the hotel lobby. Wolf?

BLITZER: Paula Hancocks in Jerusalem with that report. Thank you, Paula. We'll stay on top of this story for our viewers.

Jack Cafferty is next with "The Cafferty File," plus more breaking news of that suicide plane attack in Austin, Texas apparently targeting the IRS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Get right back to Jack for "The Cafferty File -- Jack?

CAFFERTY: The question this hour: Is now time for the United States to irritate China by meeting with the Dalai Lama?

Lisa writes from Portland, Oregon: "Any time is a good time to irritate the Chinese regarding their human rights abuses. They need us economically as much as we need them which gives us the bully pulpit no other country has. The Chinese will change their ways if they are pressured from within and without. A strong American voice on behalf of human rights can only help strengthen those cries for justice within China."

Troy writes: "Obama had the Dalai Lama over to his home on the top floor of the White House, his residence. The president can invite whoever he wants to his home and it's no any of China's business. If we bow to them for that, what else will we have to boy to them about?"

Matt writes from Washington -- pardon me: "Who cares about angering a bully? President Obama has an opportunity to help resolve the 60-year Chinese occupation of Tibet through diplomacy and negotiation. It's the least that a Nobel Laureate can do."

Ted in Illinois: "Of course President Obama should meet with the Dalai Lama. They should all get together and drink some beer."

Lisa in San Jose: "The Chinese are choosing to be irritated by Obama meeting the Dalai lama which makes it their problem not ours. Meanwhile are you sure that your side isn't being knocked out by a Chinese-authored hacker attack for even posing this question?"

And John writes: "It's just insignificant saber rattling. There'll always be something to make China irritated with the U.S. or vice versa. We're the two most powerful nations in the world and we'll always maneuver for dominance over the other. But our futures are so linked economically we have to like each other. China wants the U.S. to be health and prosperous. How else are we going to make our loan payments?"

Our technical difficulties for the moment seem to have been fixed, so if you want to read more on the subject, you can go to my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile and check it out -- Wolf?

BLITZER: And they will, Jack. You know they always do. Check it out. Thanks. Jack Cafferty with "The Cafferty File."

We're following the breaking news of that suicide plane attack that apparently targeted the IRS in Austin, Texas. The latest developments only a few minutes away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Vice President Joe Biden the victim of a blooper? Our Jeanne Moos finds the latest major slip-ups caught on camera. "Moost Unusual." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sometimes it's the little things that you can't get out of your head.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened to his head? I'm sure that's what everybody is asking at home.

MOOS: A British Sky News anchor was asking the network's Washington correspondent --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess I don't know, is a simple answer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Looks like he walked into a door --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe we'll get a chance to find out a little later.

MOOS: And with that, she walked into the "Austin Powers" trap.

MIKE MYERS, ACTOR: My mole-stake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was that?

MOOS: The British journalist's mistake was forgetting that it was Ash Wednesday and that VP Joe Biden is Catholic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's been up in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics so whether there was some accident on whatever little ice there's been up in Vancouver, we don't know.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably having to go on those tea trays down the (INAUDIBLE) or something. Certainly that's not quite a bruise, doesn't it? Anyway, never mind.

MOOS: But Ash Wednesday crossed someone's mind in time for Kay Burle to make amends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. I know that I am a very bad Catholic. I know now that it is Ash Wednesday and I know that those are ashes on his forehead. I hang my head in shame.

MOOS: Hey, the vice president probably didn't mind. He had his own problems back when he was trying to praise a state senator in a wheelchair.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Chuck, stand up, Chuck. Let them see you. God love you, what am I talking about?

MOOS: Now normally Oprah knows what she's talking about.

OPRAH WINFREY, TV HOST: Wow, wow, wow, wow.

MOOS: But the other day she evidently didn't know about the birthmark quarterback Drew Brees has on his cheek.

WINFREY: All right, who just kissed you? There's a big old --

MOOS: Posted one person, "Let's pray she never has Mikhail Gorbachev on the show."

(On camera): But come on, who hasn't embarrassed themselves? Making an innocent mistake like that, sometimes we just don't see things for what they are.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Peter, are you going to ask that question with your shades on?

MOOS (voice-over): It turns out the reporter has macular degeneration.

BUSH: I'm interested in the shade look, seriously.

All right. I'll keep it then.

BUSH: For the viewers, there's no sun.

I guess it depends on your perspective.

MOOS: From Oprah's perspective, sure looked like a lipstick kiss. If only we could just kiss birthmarks goodbye with a (INAUDIBLE).

WINFREY: OK, who just kissed you?

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.