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Killer Whale Kills Trainer; Military Contractors; Bills in the Senate; Toyota Chief Confronts Recall; Bipartisan Summit

Aired February 24, 2010 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, a company associated with shocking controversy sees another, the business formally known as Blackwater. Why did an employee for its subsidiary take weapons intended for the Afghan national police using a name from the animated show "South Park"?

The apology heard around the world, Toyota's chief takes center stage and says he is sorry for the chaos, saddened by the deaths in his cars, but this did not stop lawmakers from grilling him.

And death at Seaworld, a killer whale terrifies an audience by dragging a woman to her death. We have new details about the victim, and it appears this whale was involved in other deaths as well.

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

First the breaking news out of Florida where a killer whale attacked and drowned an experienced trainer as an audience watched in horror. Dan Brown (ph) is the president of Seaworld Orlando.


DAN BROWN, PRES., SEAWORLD ORLANDO: I must emphasize this is an extraordinarily difficult time for the Seaworld parks and our team members. Nothing is more important than the safety of our employees, guests, and the animals entrusted to our care. We have never in the history of our parks experienced an incident like this and all of our standard operating procedures will come under review as part of this investigation.


BLITZER: Brian Todd has been digging into this story. Brian, what is going on?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, new information we've just obtained from the Orange County Sheriff's Office. Spokesman Jim Salosman (ph) tells us the name of the trainer who was killed. She is identified as 40-year-old Dawn Brancheau (ph). We are told her family has been notified of her death.

Dan Brown, president of Orlando parks, you just heard from there, said earlier that she was one of the most experienced animal trainers at Seaworld. Brown said that she drowned in this incident. The Sheriff's Department told us from what they initially gathered it appeared at first that she might have fallen and slipped into the tank. But an eyewitness has said the whale jumped up and grabbed Brancheau (ph). Here is that witness' account.


VICTORIA BINIAK, WITNESSED TRAINER'S DEATH: She was standing on the rock right above the viewing area. He jumped -- like he took off, and he came back, he jumped off, grabbed her and started thrashing around and then her shoe fell off. And he was -- he was thrashing her around pretty good. It was violent.


TODD: And we also have new accounts from eyewitnesses who saw an earlier killer whale show at Seaworld just a short time before this incident. Listen to what this visitor said about how the whales were behaving during that earlier show.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was obvious that one or two of the whales was not listening. And in fact they started speeding around the tank there. And so there was a little bit of confusion and they let the whales kind of do their own things and the trainers all got out of the water. And then they came back and explained you know this is a little unusual. And here's what's going on. They are simply not listening to our commands.


TODD: Now we're told that the name of the whale involved in this incident is Tillikum (ph). This is an 11,000 pound, 22-foot long creature, one of the largest whales in captivity. Researching back we found that Tillikum (ph) was involved in the 1999 death of a man who climbed into the tank at Seaworld. Tillikum (ph) and two other whales were also involved in the drowning of a trainer at a park in British Columbia in 1991. Wolf, again, you know the lead of our story here, we've confirmed the identity of the trainer killed, 40-year-old Dawn Brancheau (ph). She is said by the head of the Orlando parks to be one of the most experienced animal trainers at Seaworld.

BLITZER: The animal rights group, Brian, PETA issued a blistering statement attacking what they do at Seaworld in Orlando.

TODD: They really did Wolf and they didn't waste much time doing it. This is the statement in part reading, the death of the Seaworld trainer following the attack by Telly the whale is a tragedy that didn't have to happen. For years, PETA has been calling on Seaworld to stop confining ocean going mammals to an area that to them is like the size of a bathtub. And we have also been asking the park to stop forcing the animals to perform silly tricks over and over again. It's not surprising -- excuse me -- surprising when these huge smart animals lash out.

This is not the first incident in which a trainer has been harmed by an animal who has been deprived of any semblance of life. And they go on to say it's time for Seaworld to heed PETA's advice and let marine mammals live in peace with their families in the world's oceans. Switching to giant robotics would be a win-win situation that could have saved a woman's life today. Again PETA really with that statement, just literally moments after this incident occurred -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Brian thanks very much. We will have more on this story later. Let's move on though to some other important news.

Hundreds of weapons, hundreds signed out from an arsenal in Afghanistan by someone using the name of a cartoon character. These are stunning revelations that we are learning today up on Capitol Hill where lawmakers say U.S. contractors now are in their words simply out of control. Our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is following this story for us. Pretty, pretty outrageous what we're learning Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Well for some time now there has been a real challenge and a real problem with finding someone or some government official to step up and be accountable for what these private contractors do.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Private contractors come under fire on Capitol Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Blackwater, Blackwater, Blackwater, Blackwater, Blackwater.

LAWRENCE: Remember that name? Technically it doesn't exist. The company that was banned from Iraq changed its name to Xe (ph) and then it created a subsidiary called Paravant (ph) to get defense contracts in Afghanistan. Paravant (ph) had all of Blackwater's people but none of its history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who did you think you were working for?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody was working for Blackwater, right? So what was Paravant (ph)? It was just a name?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that is -- that would be an accurate statement, ma'am.

LAWRENCE: Paravant (ph) was not authorized to carry weapons, but that didn't stop contractors from armoring themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On November 6, 2008 you said the following in writing. I got side arms for everyone, 9-millimeter sigma's (ph) and holsters. We have not yet received formal permission from the Army to carry weapons yet but I will take my chances. Pass the word. I will try to get out there in the morning with Bobby. Is that correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I wrote that e-mail ma'am.

LAWRENCE: One employee took hundreds of AK-47s from a storage bunker, but neither the company nor Defense Department can find a shred of paper work to document it. Even after a new rule required Afghan officers to sign for those weapons, Paravant (ph) took another 200 rifles. They were signed out by Eric Cartman (ph).



LAWRENCE: There is a "South Park" character by that name but Blackwater/Xe (ph) says no Eric Cartman (ph) ever worked for the company.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is ultimately responsible at CENTCOM for overseeing these contractual arrangements?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, I do not know the answer --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who did you report to on these issues?


LAWRENCE: A Senate investigation found it nearly impossible to figure out who was supposed to hold the contractors accountable. An incident where one contractor accidentally shot another trainer got written up in a report, but the right people didn't read it. And Congress says the Army failed to investigate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Until the contractors are held to the same standard as the men and women that are there in the uniform, we are going to continue to be back at this and I don't care how many names they make up for Blackwater.


LAWRENCE: So time for some solutions, right? Well the contractor Xe (ph) says it's hired a new management team and imposed strict orders on following the rules. Some contractors are working with the Army to improve oversight. And a new proposal from Congress calls for creating one central agency, Wolf, to oversee all the contractors no matter which agency they're working for.

BLITZER: Some of the problems I guess could be foreseen when the U.S. military perhaps under orders has to subcontract so much of its work that in earlier days they would have done themselves. They now need private contractors to do a lot of it with the scaled down military.

LAWRENCE: You are talking 70,000, 75,000 contractors in Afghanistan alone, so they are needed. They can't do the job without the contractors, needs to be better oversight over all of these --

BLITZER: Yes, it's a lot of outsourcing. A lot of those contractors are not even Americans, they're foreigners as well.

LAWRENCE: Most of them.



BLITZER: Thanks very much for that Chris.

Attention all Toyota owners and other car drivers. The company's chief raising his right hand and swearing he won't let another death happen involving a Toyota, then later he actually cries. We have the tape and painful echoes of the massacre at Columbine -- a gunman launches another attack just two miles from the Columbine High School, but a brave teacher stopped him.

And new clues in the mysterious assassination of a Hamas commander, suddenly, suddenly the number of suspects more than doubles and the conspiracy seems to stretch around the world, even here to the United States.


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: You don't have to look very far for signs that our government is indeed broken. Here is one more. The House of Representatives has passed 290 bills that are stalled in the Senate. "The Hill" newspaper reports that frustrated House Democrats are out with a list of almost 300 pieces of legislation that they have passed that the upper chamber has yet to act on.

The stalled bills include big ones and small ones, everything from health care and climate change and Wall Street reform to a civil war battlefield preservation act and naming a federal courthouse in Iowa. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office says this list is put together during each Congress but that this year's is probably the largest ever. Nevertheless, Pelosi is not blaming her Democratic counterparts in the Senate.

Instead, she lays the blame on the Republicans who are abusing their right to filibuster. Excuse me, Madame Speaker, didn't the Democrats have a filibuster proof majority up until that special election in Massachusetts -- anyway I digress. Some Democratic congressmen aren't shy to fault their Senate colleagues for not doing more with their super majority when they had it.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (ph) suggests that the senators see themselves as a house of lords, his phrase, and that they are out of touch with the American people since they are not up for re- election every two years. Over in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid also blames the Republicans for backup of legislation. Aren't you in charge, Harry?

The Democrats started with Reid and Pelosi have to figure out how to get all their troops marching in the same direction. Not easy when a bunch of Democrats are in the room. The people's business is piling up and the Senate is sitting on its hands. Here's the question. How can Washington accomplish anything if 290 bills passed in the House are simply stalled over in the Senate? Go to and post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: All right Jack, thank you.

With all the recalls, worries, deaths and a public relations disaster over Toyota, this was the man so many people had been waiting for. The president of Toyota going before Congress explaining it to lawmakers, but he was also talking to you. A congressional panel is investigating the recall of more than eight million vehicles over issues of sudden acceleration and unresponsive brake pedals. And Toyoda, the man, began with an acknowledgement.


AKIO TOYODA, TOYOTA PRESIDENT: In the past few months our customers have started to feel uncertain about the safety of Toyota vehicles and I take full responsibility for that.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our congressional correspondent Brianna Keilar -- Brianna, high drama on Capitol Hill today.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: High drama, a very intense hearing today, Wolf, but also after the hearing, the head of Toyota Global, Akio Toyoda, addressed a number of Toyota employees at the National Press Club (ph) here in Washington and he got pretty emotional. Take a listen.


TOYODA: You and your colleagues across America and around the world, they are with me.


TOYODA: (INAUDIBLE) and they encourage and they're inspiring. Words cannot express my gratitude.


KEILAR: And part of his gratitude is for the fact that a lot of the people he was addressing today actually have been outside of these hearing rooms for the last two days. They are here from plants. They are here from dealerships around the country and they've been here to support their company -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A lot of the complaints though that the problems don't just involve floor mats or carpeting or even sticky pedals, gas pedals, if you will, but there's a much bigger problem involving the computers or electronics.

KEILAR: This is the concern of many lawmakers and some engineering experts that the problem could go to the actual computers in these Toyota vehicles. He was asked about that today and Mr. Toyoda said that he stands by what's called the electronic throttle control system, the computers in these vehicles.

He said Toyotas has been testing these vehicles rigorously, trying to basically create a situation like one of these computer problems that some people suspect may be happening. And he says they can't do it, so he's standing by it. He is saying that it's mechanical and that it has nothing to do with the electronics, Wolf.

BLITZER: It was also fascinating that they suggested that Toyota executives including Mr. Toyoda, they didn't know how widespread these problems were at the highest levels of the company.

KEILAR: And they were asked Wolf when did they know about these serious acceleration problems, these kind of runaway cars, if you will. It was fascinating to me listening there in that hearing room, Mr. Toyoda, as well as Mr. Inaba, who is the head of Toyota North America, they said they really didn't have an idea until late December. I mean we're talking just a couple of months ago and really just a few weeks before that massive recall in January.

And what's more, you heard government officials, federal regulators in the Transportation Department talk about a meeting where they sent people from NHTSA, the National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Administration over to Japan. They say this is where they really lit the fire under Toyota with this meeting. In this meeting today Inaba and Toyoda say that they were not in this meeting and they didn't even know it was discussed, Wolf. It was in mid-December and they weren't aware.

BLITZER: Brianna Keilar watched it all day for us. Thanks Brianna very much. I just found out that Akio Toyoda is going to be a guest tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE". That airs at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. I think you're going to want to see Larry's questioning of Mr. Toyoda.

There is a lot at stake tomorrow here in Washington for President Obama. Can he make the controversial health care summit more than just politics? I'll talk to one of his top advisers at the White House.

And the president is pushing nuclear power as an important source of clean energy, but now one state is going in the opposite direction, saying no to nuclear power. We'll explain right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa what else is going on?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Wolf. Well prepare to say good-bye to the Hummer. General Motors announced it will shut down the brand after a deal to sell it a Chinese company fell through. Sales of the SUV never recovered after gas prices soared above $4.00 a gallon during the summer of 2008. Hummer is actually the third brand to die since GM's restructuring. It follows Saturn and Pontiac.

And a Colorado teacher says he always wondered what he would do if a school shooting broke out. Well yesterday David Benke (ph) found out, he tackled the gunmen as he was about to reload his rifle at a middle school just two miles from Columbine High school. Two students were shot; one is still in the hospital. Bail for the 32-year old suspect is set at $1 million.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is out of the hospital after suffering a mild heart attack. His office says he was admitted to the hospital Monday with chest pains. He had a stress test and a heart catheterization. This was Cheney's fifth heart attack. His first was back in 1978 when he was 37 years old.

And a long time aide to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has announced she is resigning. Meg Stapleton (ph) has served in that post since 2006. Stapleton (ph) says she needs to spend more time with her husband and young daughter. A source close to the Palin family says there are no immediate plans to hire a replacement -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much Lisa for that.

A broken government and stalled efforts at health care reform. Is President Obama getting the best advice he can? What is going on in his inner circle? We will talk about that and more with Valerie Jarrett; she's one of his top advisors.

And surprising new twists in the assassination of a Hamas leader, as investigators reveal multiple new suspects and a possible U.S. connection.


BLITZER: On the eve of the Obama administration's bipartisan summit on health care reform, the battle lines are still drawn between congressional Democrats and Republicans. Can the president somehow, somehow get them to find common ground tomorrow?

And joining us now from the north lawn of the White House Valerie Jarrett, she's a senior adviser to the president. Thanks very much for coming in. Let's look ahead to the big summit over at Blair House (ph) across the street from the White House starting tomorrow morning. The House Republican leader John Boehner (ph) says you made a big mistake in not inviting governors to come in. He would have liked governors to attend. Why not governors also?

VALERIE JARRETT, SENIOR ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: Well first of all, good afternoon, Wolf it's a pleasure to be on your show. The governors of the United States were in town over the weekend and the president had an hour, hour and a half meeting with them on Monday, a very robust meeting. Health care was front and center on the topic and so I think we've had an opportunity to hear from them this week. We have been working with them throughout this process. They've been integrally (ph) involved. I think tomorrow is an opportunity to have that conversation with Congress. And of course after tomorrow, the governors will be -- continue to be involved as they always have.

BLITZER: How much flexibility is there in your position, the White House position on health care reform? You put out a detailed plan earlier in the week for the first time, but how much flexibility is there?

JARRETT: I think that the president said very clearly he is open for all new, good, fresh ideas. He thought it was important in this stage in the process to put clearly up on the Net so everybody could see what he thinks is a strong idea, but he welcomes all ideas. And we are optimistic that people will come to the table tomorrow with their best ideas that will deliver health insurance reform once and for all for the American people.

BLITZER: Is the public option right now dead?

JARRETT: I can't say it's dead. I think the president has said from the beginning that he thought it was important. Clearly the votes aren't there right this minute to support a public option but he thought it was important because it would help provide competition and bring down costs. So I think those principles are still in place and we are interested in figuring out ways of making it affordable, bringing down costs, covering people who have preexisting conditions, covering people who don't have access to health care.

We think that this is important for American families. It's important to business. The president just spoke to the Business Roundtable this afternoon. Had a great conversation with them, how aligned our interests are in terms of business and families and workers and government and I think that health care is one example of how we want to work together with everybody to do this once and for all. Wolf, you know this is something that seven presidents have tried to do. It's challenging. It's hard. But after all, isn't that what people were elected to do and we're hopeful about tomorrow.


BLITZER: On the public option it was not in the president's plan that he released this week. That's because he didn't think he had the votes. Is that right?

JARRETT: That's exactly right and so it's something that he said from the beginning he thought would be a way of bringing down costs and having competition. If people have other ways of accomplishing that, we are welcome to those ideas. And we've made it very clear that we are encouraging everyone to come to the table, deal with substance and let's really roll up our sleeves and get something done.

BLITZER: If you can't get that cooperation from the Republicans and you lose a few Democrats, is that reconciliation process, getting just 51 votes, working through that process, is that something that is still on the table if necessary?

JARRETT: You know what, Wolf, my view is this, I'm optimistic that we are going to be able to get something done and so I don't want to go in to tomorrow -- and certainly the president is going in tomorrow with a very hopeful view that we're going to have a partnership with everyone coming to the table and working together. I think that that will happen. I think that what the American people want is an up and down vote on health care.

We've had a very long and healthy debate about the issue over a long period of time. And we are hopeful that tomorrow we are nearing the end and that the American people can have that vote and that we can move on and begin to deliver better, better health care on their behalf.

BLITZER: But you're not ruling out the 51-vote option?

JARRETT: I think they want an up and down vote, Wolf, I don't want to really talk about procedure and all of that stuff. Let's really focus on tomorrow. Let's take first things first and let's go into tomorrow with an attitude that we really can get something done and that new and good ideas will come to the table. We will have an honest debate about the proposal that the president put on the table and then let's cross the bridge of what comes next after tomorrow.

BLITZER: We did a poll this week, we have been working all week on the so-called "Broken Government" series that we had and we simply asked the American public in this CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, is the government broken? Look at this; 86 percent say yes; 14 percent say no. Here's the question. The Democrats are in charge of the White House, the House and the Senate. How much responsibility do you have for the fact that so many Americans think the government right now is broken?

JARRETT: Well, Wolf, let's take a step back. I think though what you see in that survey is an enormous amount of frustration and anxiety on behalf of the American people that's fully justified.

We came through the worst economic crisis certainly in my lifetime and you think about where we were a year ago, and now we really brought it down to just about breaking even, we are seeing positive growth. It's moving forward, 6 percent rate. But the fact of the matter is, the unemployment rate is 9.7 percent. Of course the American people are frustrated. We share that frustration. And that is why tomorrow is so important. You discussed how you are covering it live. That is critical. The American people deserve to see their government at work. They want to understand what are the issues? What are the differences and most importantly, what are the common things that are going to change the quality of their life? That is what tomorrow holds for them and if we can have that engagement, we are going to make progress for our country and people will start to feel that government is working for them again.

BLITZER: At least tomorrow in the six or seven hours there will be transparency including CNN's cameras inside and we will have extensive coverage as you know. One final comment on a column in the "Washington Post" that is generating buzz. That President Obama listened too much to you and not enough time listening to the white house chief of staff. "Obama's problem is that his other confidants particularly Valerie Jarrett and Robert Gibbs are part of the cult of Obama, in love with a president they believe he is a transformational figure who needn't dirty his hands in politics." I'm sure that caused a lot of buzz at the white house. I want you to respond.

JARRETT: Not so much buzz. Look, we work as a very close team in the white house. I think the president is at the top. He encourages people to come in and speak freely about what their ideas are and that is something they begun in the campaign and has certainly continued in the white house. We have a strong working team. There is nobody harder on us than we are on ourselves. Every morning we get up and we say, what can we do better today than yesterday? The president is the one that who is the most critical of himself. And so I think it's kind of a Washington game to say who is in and who's out. We have a very strong team that works collaboratively together. It's a team that is devoted to a transformational president. I think that is -- that is who the American people elected and that is not anything any of you are ashamed of.

BLITZER: Valerie Jarrett, is the senior adviser to the president and we will watch it tomorrow with great interest. Thanks very much and good luck.

JARRETT: You welcome and thanks for covering it tomorrow.

BLITZER: We will have live coverage tomorrow beginning at 10:00 a.m. eastern here on CNN. I will anchor it with the best political team in television. Cameras inside the Blair house across the street from the white house. You will see it in "THE SITUATION ROOM" and on CNN.

One state moves to rid itself of nuclear power. Why it could soon become a nuclear free zone. What's going on?

And the parents of a missing actor give an emotional plea amid growing concerns over his state of mind.

And the bottom falling out for Toyota's once stellar reputation, what consumers are saying.


BLITZER: This important programming note for viewers, later tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE," the head of Toyota, Akio Toyoda himself will be the guest, 9 p.m. eastern. You're going to want to see this later tonight.

Lisa Sylvester is monitoring other stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What else is going on Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Wolf. Vermont Senate is moving to close the state's only nuclear power plant after 2012. Lawmakers voted against a 20-year extension. Backers say the plant is getting old and less unreliable. Opponents of the move say Vermont needs the energy from the plant and the good paying jobs.

The parents of a missing actor are pleading for him to contact them. Andrew Koenig was visiting friends in Vancouver when he disappeared more than a week ago. You may remember him as a friend on "Growing Pains." His father said Koenig stopped taking antidepressants a year ago and is probably in a very depressed state.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is asking to meet with the heads of five health insurance companies next week. The invitation comes as Democrats are ratcheting up their attacks on the industry ahead of the bipartisan health care summit tomorrow.

And it's a political score and it could come on a basketball court. A spokesman for President Obama says an invitation to play the new Republican senator from Massachusetts is being studied. Scott Brown is in the seat held by Ted Kennedy. They are organizing the event to benefit local charities. They can always do --

BLITZER: If he continues voting with the Democrats in the Senate, they will have that basketball game at some point. The president -- we only hope there will be TV cameras, right?

SYLVESTER: Absolutely. We will have you covering it. You are a big basketball fan.

BLITZER: I'm going to see the Wizards later tonight. Thank you very much.

A new twist to the killing that seems something out of a spy novel, the assassination of a Hamas leader in a luxury hotel. Suddenly the number of suspects explodes. Is there a U.S. connection at the same time?

Plus, outrage over cost overruns. The price of many taxpayer projects like the U.S. capital visitors center exploding far beyond the estimates but why?


BLITZER: Suddenly the number of suspects more than doubled in the killing of a Hamas commander. Authorities in Dubai put the size of the hit team at 26 people. The conspiracy teams to stretch around the world with one trail even leading here to the United States. Paula Hancocks is at the scene of the killing in Dubai. Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the hotel behind me is the hotel with the Hamas leader Mahmoud al Mabhouh was assassinated. It's a hotel with an extensive security camera system. It gave CNN a little more footage that implicates 15 more suspects.


HANCOCKS: On this security camera at the airport, a man and woman arrive the day before a Hamas leader is killed in his hotel room. They are traveling on Irish passports. Dubai police see the passports are frauds. They are 15 new suspects that police added to the list today into the investigation of the assassination of Mahmoud al Mabhouh. And another country involved, three on Australian passports. One traveled to Dubai almost a year ago for Amsterdam according to the police for planning purposes before leaving to Hong Kong. The other two arrived in August. And police said they left on a ship to Iran. Each revelation raising more questions than it answers. Why would it take 26 people on one man without a bodyguard? One man tells CNN that Hamas should have told the Palestinian embassy he was coming and they could have provided security.

KHAIRI ALORIDI, PALESTINIAN AMBASSADOR TO UAE (through translator): What happened could not have occurred if there was not a security breach. Hamas refuses to acknowledge this. As if they are gods or something. This is wrong.

HANCOCKS: The implications of the investigation are global. Passports in Europe and Australia, police have released details of 30 credit cards. Two Palestinians still in custody and 26 suspects, Dubai police are still operating under the assumption there may be more. The police chief still believes that Israel's intelligence agency Mossad is behind the hit. They broke ranks with the policy of no comment Tuesday, applauding the assassination of al Mabhouh. Israeli security forces say the he was smuggling weapons from Gaza and was a key link between Hamas and Iran.


HANCOCKS: The suspects moving around the hotel would have known they were picked up on the security camera as some had been here earlier for planning purposes but they obviously thought it was a risk work taking to get their target. Wolf?

BLITZER: Paula Hancocks in Dubai working the story. She will have more in the coming days.

Toyota's once-stellar reputation for quality is taking a beating among the massive recall and that has consumers questioning and dealers worrying. Our senior correspondent Allan Chernoff has more. Allan?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's stunning. The chief executive of Toyota confessing that his company failed to keep safety their number one priority. Safety worries are now rocking the foundation on one of the most trusted consumer brand names. Now the trust that consumers had in Toyota has been shaken.


CHERNOFF: When the chief executive of Akio Toyoda which had been revered for quality confesses to losing sight of safety, it's a concern to all drivers. Toyota says his company was thinking too much about expansion and not about safe cars.

AKIO TOYODA, TOYOTA PRESIDENT: These priorities became confused. I intend to farther improve on the quality of the vehicles.

CHERNOFF: But promises may not be enough for Toyota owners who are shaken by reports of runaway cars especially when the company's U.S. sales chief says that recalls may not solve the problem.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Do you believe that the recall of the carpet changes and the recall on the sticky pedal will solve the problem of sudden, unintended acceleration? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not totally.

CHERNOFF: Matt drives one of the luxury vehicles, a Lexus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What other car can I get? Will I trust Toyota?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't trust them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you buy a Toyota for yourself now?


CHERNOFF: It's a crisis for the Japanese auto maker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The company is badly damaged. The brand is being damaged also.

CHERNOFF: Toyota dealers say the vast majority of customers are loyal to the brand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 95 percent I would say have been positive. They have owned Toyotas before and are not worried.

CHERNOFF: But Toyota dealers are worried and offers rebates and low financing hoping to hold on to customers. Last month Toyota's U.S. sales slumped 16 percent as the auto market rebounded and now competing auto dealers are going all out to grab more Toyota customers.


CHERNOFF: Toyota is ranked at the ninth most valuable brand at the world. If the company fails to solve the acceleration problem, the brand can lose about one-third of its value in the next year. Sorry isn't going to be enough if the problem isn't fixed. It's performance not promises that will work for the American consumer. Wolf?

BLITZER: Allan Chernoff, thanks very much. Once again, I want to remind you, later tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE" a worldwide exclusive. Akio Toyoda, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation and the grandson of the founder of Toyota joins Larry to talk about his testimony before Congress, his apology and what his company is trying to do to mend its reputation. A worldwide interview and he will take your questions through facebook and twitter, 9:00 p.m. eastern. Jack Cafferty is up next with your e-mail and plus more on the tragedy at SeaWorld in Orlando. What prompted a killer whale to kill its own trainer? Jack Hanna will be standing by.


BLITZER: Right to Jack for "the Cafferty file." Jack? JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question is how can Washington accomplish anything if 290 bills passed in the house are simply stalled over in the Senate?

John writes, "This is more proof nothing works in Washington anymore. Let's abolish the two-party system, go to a parliamentary democracy, this would be the end of the imperial president and in place would be a chief executive accountable to the legislature and capable of being removed by a majority vote of that legislature."

Joe writes, "Say what you will about Pelosi and Bush 43 for that matter but both of them got things done. They were leaders. You can argue about whether the bills and laws are worthy, but they were able to corral people into getting things passed. It says a lot about Harry Reid's Senate leadership."

Dan writes, "A super majority, not just a majority. The Democrats should be ashamed."

Kent in New Jersey, "Nothing will change until all the incumbents are replaced. The only problem the voters aren't ready to replace them. The voters talk but don't act just like politicians and the politics know it."

A in Seattle writes, "The answer to your question is obvious. Washington will accomplish nothing without some break in the Senate deadlock. I fear that is exactly what the Republicans want. No action means no Democratic victories, no Obama victory, the Republicans can then resort to their ways by charging the Democrats with being incapable of governing much the solution Harry Reid has to find the political courage to invoke budget reconciliation whenever possible. If he's unable to hold 51 members together, maybe he's right. The Democrats cannot govern."

Mike writes, "You can bet your sweet done question if they contain pay raises they wouldn't be stalled."

And John in Minneapolis, "What are you whining about, the less this collection of clowns touch, the better off we all are."

If you want to read more find it at my blog at file.

BLITZER: High or low expectations for that health care summit tomorrow at Blair house?

CAFFERTY: Oh, I don't know. I think it's mostly political theater and I don't think any meaningful health care legislation is probably going to get passed but just a guess.

BLITZER: Jack, we'll cover it starting at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning all day coverage on CNN. Jack Cafferty and the Cafferty file.

The military started developing this aircraft with a projected price tag of $4 billion. But guess what? Wait until you hear how much the project ended up costing. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All week in our series we've been focusing on what's wrong with Washington. What can be done to fix it? To Lisa Sylvester looking at why so many government projects wind up costing so much more than we were originally told they would cost.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as you know the country is facing a $1.3 trillion deficit for this year yet we still see government projects that are coming in way over budget.


SYLVESTER: With 580,000 square feet and three levels and marble floors and two theaters and the largest cafeteria in Washington, the Capitol Hill visitors' center offers guests a grand welcome. Taxpayers shelled out $621 million, more than two times the original estimated cost. One example of a cost overrun. When the price tag for a project approved by Congress balloons out of control.

PETE SEPP, NATIONAL TAXPAYERS UNION: It is always the natural tendency of bureaucracies and the politicians who benefit from them to sell us something at one price and then Jack that price up later, and in hopes that we won't notice.

SYLVESTER: According to the Government Accountability Office, the military's B22 osprey development cost increased over 200 percent from $4.2 billion to $12.7 billion between 1986 and 2007. The stimulus project originally passed Congress with $787 billion price tag, but later the Congressional Budget Office revised that number upwards to $862 billion, due to higher costs for unemployment compensation. The yucca mountain site for burying nuclear waste has been plagued by delays and cost over runs, leaving the Obama administration to put the brakes on the program. The GAO's projected cost, $67 billion. Why are we seeing these cost overruns?

MANDY SMITHBERGER, PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT: What you are seeing with the joint strike fighter program and the osprey fighters is that it will be way too optimistic and not realistic.

SYLVESTER: Cost overruns happened in the private sector and not reported as frequently as the government. But the Cato institute, a group that favors smaller government says there is not enough oversight of federal spending.

CHRIS EDWARDS, CATO INSTITUTE: Congressional oversight is not a sexy thing to do and members would rather spend on new projects and when you think of a new member of Congress with weapons contractor in their district, they are not very concerned about cost overruns.

SYLVESTER: But when the projects exceed their expected cost, it is not Congress' money at stake, it is the taxpayers.


SYLVESTER: Now, cost overruns tend to occur in large spending projects and we see it across agencies from energy to NASA to the pentagon. Last year lawmakers did pass and it was signed into law a measure that adds more oversight to the defense department's procurement process. It calls for tracking costs growth before a final decision is made to proceed with the project. Wolf?

BLITZER: Aren't these projects supposed to have these cost procurement specialists who are supposed to keep an eye on the cost?

SYLVESTER: Yes, they do but a common problem we hear, they have small staffs and small budgets and don't have the resources to oversee billions of dollars' worth in spending contracts.

BLITZER: A pity. Thanks very much, Lisa. See you back here tomorrow.

Let's wrap it up with some hot shots coming from our friends at the Associated Press, pictures likely to be in your newspapers tomorrow.

Near Athens, Greece, a man fishes in front of an idle ferry during a strike that's crippled daily life. People walk through a market for the prophet's upcoming birthday.

This Friday in Albany, New York, a man clears snow in front of his business.

In London check it out an 8-year-old black Labrador receives a military award for his work sniffing out explosives.

Hot shots, pictures worth a thousand words.

Tomorrow our coverage of President Obama's health care summit with Congressional Democrats and Republicans, the coverage begins at 10:00 a.m. eastern anchoring with the best political team on television.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.