Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; Wall Street Reform Standoff

Aired April 19, 2010 - 18:00   ET



Happening now, hope for millions of stranded air travelers. Authorities are moving to reopen air space that has been closed for days by a massive cloud of ash. But will that cloud now cause problems over America?

And 15 years after the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, is the United States again at risk for a domestic terror attack? I'll ask homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano.

And Pope Benedict is back at the Vatican after meeting victims of sexual abuse by priests. But where does the Catholic Church's painful scandal go from here?

Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A stunning setback to al Qaeda in Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi officials say the terror groups' two most senior leaders were killed in a nighttime attack north of Baghdad. The group was behind a series of recent attacks, including bombings near three embassies in Baghdad.

Officials say Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi were tracked down by a joint U.S.-Iraqi force and died in an exchange of fire. Vice President Joe Biden made a special appearance in the White House Briefing Room to call this a potentially devastating blow to the terror network.

Let's get the details from CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom. He's live in Baghdad.

And Mohammed tells us about the details. How did this go down?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, the operation that killed the two most senior al Qaeda in Iraq leaders happened early Sunday. According to U.S. and Iraqi officials, it was a nighttime raid that involved missile strikes and ground forces.

Now, a lot of the information that was obtained in order to locate the safe house happened after the arrest of several al Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders over the past few days. That's according to Iraq and U.S. officials. Also, we learned that when the safe house was located, the two men were hiding in a hole within the house, and that's where their bodies were found after the strikes were conducted.

Now, it's not just the U.S. military here that's heralding the importance of this operation and how much of a blow this is to al Qaeda in Iraq. Also, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave a press conference earlier today in which he said this broke the backbone of al Qaeda here.

He also said that these joint strikes thwarted attempted attacks by al Qaeda that were going to be carried out against churches in Baghdad in the next few days -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, Mohammed, we heard from the vice president today in the Briefing Room, and he says, and I'm quoting here, that a U.S. soldier who was killed by supporting this assault, he mentioned him as a hero. Do we know anything about this individual?

JAMJOOM: Suzanne, we initially heard about this death yesterday. There was a release from the U.S. military here that said a U.S. soldier had been killed in a helicopter crash and that three other U.S. soldiers were wounded in that crash on Sunday.

Now, we checked on that again today. It was confirmed to us by a spokesman for the military here that that crash did indeed happen during the time of these operations against al Qaeda in Iraq. But they said that right now an investigation is under way, and no details yet were being released beyond that -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: OK, thank you so much, Mohammed Jamjoom, there in Baghdad.

Want to get more on the potential impact of these deaths.

Joining us now, CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend.

And, Fran, the U.S. sees this as a major blow to al Qaeda in Iraq. But the vice president, Biden, says it goes beyond that. I want you to take a listen.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This action demonstrates the improved security, strength and capacity of Iraqi security forces. The Iraqis led this operation. And it was based on intelligence the Iraqi security forces themselves developed following their capture of a senior AQI leader last month.

In short, the Iraqis have taken the lead in securing Iraq and its citizens by taking out both of these individuals.


MALVEAUX: Fran joining us now. First of all, we heard from Mohammed Jamjoom, who said that this was the U.S. military that was a part of this mission, but it was the Iraqis that were leading it.

What does this tell us about the capabilities of the Iraqis? They were in the forefront, but they still needed U.S. assistance. How do you assess how strong that military group is?

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's still a very good sign, that the Iraqis were in the lead.

But the most -- one of the most difficult things, Suzanne, is the ability to turn intelligence from raid to raid, to extract the intelligence from a raid, to turn it into operational leads, and then to follow it up with another operational activity. That's -- that's a really sophisticated military capability that I think -- I suspect the Iraqis are still developing.

And so you want U.S. military support to show the Iraqis how we do that, how we do it quickly, how we do it effectively. And, clearly, that's what happened here. They were able to turn it quickly, based on the leads they were getting in prior raids. And so that's a good sign, frankly.

MALVEAUX: Does this make it any easier to remove U.S. troops in a timely manner on Obama administration's timetable, or does it look like we could even pull U.S. troops out sooner?

TOWNSEND: Well, I wouldn't say sooner, but I think that this is exactly the kind of activity you would want to see, you would want to see them making.

Look, I think that Vice President Biden is absolutely correct. This is probably the most significant capture/kill operation since the killing of Zarqawi. Is really is extraordinary, because, if you look at it, you took out not only the lead operational commander in al- Masri, but the inspirational, the strategic, the policy adviser in al- Baghdadi.

And so to take out both at the same time will throw the organization into disarray. I think this is to the credit of General Odierno for the U.S. military and for the Iraqi forces. I think it's a very positive development.

MALVEAUX: So, we also understand that the U.S. troops, they found some communications between these two leaders who were killed, and also potentially other al Qaeda outside, including Osama bin Laden, and his lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Does this lead us any closer Osama bin Laden and capturing and even potentially killing him?

TOWNSEND: Well, one would hope so. Time is what will tell us that.

But what it does tell us is, we are getting closer. You know, we have heard intelligence officials say they feel that we're closer to bin Laden. This is exactly the sort of tactical intelligence you would want. But we have to understand, even if it doesn't lead to their immediate capture or kill of bin Laden or Zawahiri, what it will give the U.S. intelligence and military communities is insight to what they're thinking, what they're prioritizing, how they feel that things are going in both Iraq, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan.

All of that is incredibly valuable, beyond just the capture of bin Laden and Zawahiri.

MALVEAUX: I don't mean to be crass in this way, but is it better off that we have these two leaders inside of Iraq, al Qaeda leaders inside of Iraq, dead or alive? Or are they not more valuable if they hadn't been killed and perhaps could provide information about future attacks or the whereabouts of bin Laden?

TOWNSEND: Oh, no, it's a good point, Suzanne.

You always -- the preference is always to get them alive, because you have the potential for additional intelligence. But, as we know, the military and intelligence officials rarely have the choice of either/or. If you can't capture them alive, you want them to kill them to take them out of the operational scene, so that they can no longer plan attacks and kill Iraqis and Americans, to kill civilians needlessly.

So, if you have got the choice, you absolutely want to capture them, but if you don't, and you don't have the choice, better to kill them and take them out of the operational picture.

MALVEAUX: OK. Fran, thank you so much, Fran Townsend.


MALVEAUX: Well, packing a gun to prove a point, a so-called open carry rally with gun owners openly displaying their weapons -- why they say their Second Amendment right is in danger.

Plus, the battle over financial reform -- what it really means for Wall Street and for all of us.


MALVEAUX: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File."

Hi, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: How you doing, Suzanne?


CAFFERTY: Incumbents may want to take note of this.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trailing the Republican front-runner in Nevada by double digits. The Mason-Dixon poll conducted for the "Las Vegas Review-Journal" newspaper shows Republican Sue Lowden getting 47 percent of the vote, compared to just 37 percent for Harry Reid.

The poll also includes a slate of third-party and other candidates who get very little backing. Reid has been in trouble in Nevada for some time now. His campaign had always argued that the presence of these third-party candidates distorted the real picture.

Reid claimed that when the election was actually held, these minor-party candidates would split the vote and he would still win. But this poll suggests that adding these minor candidates into the mix doesn't really bleed support away from the Republican.

Experts suggest that voters rarely choose third-party candidates, especially in close races, when the stakes are high, because they don't want to feel like they're wasting their vote. Reid's people still sound confident that the senator can win a fifth term. What else are they going to say?

Another recent poll shows the Senate majority leader with an unfavorable rating of 56 percent in Nevada. The people in his own state can't stand him. And it's not just Harry Reid who might be in trouble. People are increasingly angry about their government. And they're likely to take it out on the incumbents come November.

Let's hope they do.

Here's the question. What message does it send to incumbents if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trailing by double digits in his home state of Nevada?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

Maybe the electorate is finally going to wake up this time.

MALVEAUX: I imagine they're a lot of people who are afraid at this point of whether or not they're going to keep their job. So, we will have to see.

CAFFERTY: Well, they ought to be, because they're not doing a very good job.

MALVEAUX: All right, Jack, we will see what folks got to say. All right, thanks.


MALVEAUX: Well, the global gridlock which has stranded millions of travelers may be starting to ease. Authorities in Europe are moving to reopen some of the airspace that was closed after a volcano in Iceland sent a massive cloud of ash into the atmosphere.

But could the cloud pose new problems for North America?

I want to turn to our meteorologist Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center.

Chad, we are also calling you an active volcanologist. I understand that's a real word, so I'm going to use it today. Put that hat on.



MALVEAUX: Tell us where this cloud of ash...


MALVEAUX: Tell us where it's headed.


MYERS: The problem is, the ash was up at about 40,000 feet, because that was the initial eruption, so that was up where the planes fly.

What's going on now is that this ash has kind of settled down a little bit, so it's at lower levels. So, yes, the airspace is opening. That doesn't mean the airports are opening, because the airplanes still would have to fly through that lower level of ash. Everywhere that you see red through here, that's where the surface ash cloud is, from surface to 20,000 feet.

So, you can't take off through this ash. Even if the air is clean at 40,000 feet, you can start north, you can start south, you can start east or west, but the problem is, you can't just fly through this at this point.

So, opening airspace is not really all that perfect when it comes to people being stranded. You can still be stranded, because you can't get to that airspace that's open, because you have to fly through that cloud. And so it's going to get better, but there are still puffs coming out of this -- this volcano right now to about 10 to 15,000 feet. And that's the stuff. That's the stuff that gets down to the ground that you and I or people in Europe, at least for now, might have to breathe.

MALVEAUX: So, Chad, what's the long-term impact here? Could this actually affect the climate or even the food supply? What are we looking at?

MYERS: Oh, it could certainly affect climate, and volcanoes affect climate all the time. This is a giant, magnified piece of what is a piece of ash that's flying up in the sky. Obviously, it's very small, because it stays up there a very long time.

But could you imagine this in your lungs? Plus, this right here, this is not fertile whatsoever. Yes, OK, there are fertile places in Hawaii, Kauai, one of the most fertile places, but it takes a long time for volcanic ash or volcanic lava to become fertile.

So, if there is enough of this on the farms, and we know that this is happening, up to 10 inches deep in some spots in Iceland, those farms are worthless now, because you can't plant in some land that's not fertile. You could try and plow and try and get some more fertile ground and dirt from below, but it absolutely will.

It could cool the atmosphere. It also could make great sunsets. That's kind of irrelevant. But it also could, for some people, get those N-95 masks that we all bought for H1N1 flu.

MALVEAUX: Right. Right.

MYERS: You probably will have to be wearing those around if the ash gets to your part of the country or the world.

MALVEAUX: All right. Chad, thank you so much, our acting volcanologist. Appreciate it. All right.


MYERS: You bet.

MALVEAUX: In the Senate, both parties had been working toward a Wall Street reform bill, but there has been a falling out now. Democrats are pushing ahead, planning on introducing a bill this week.

But Republicans say they're united against it. I want you to take a listen.


SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Our bill ends too big to fail. Bailouts end forever. Management is fired. Shareholders lose. Creditors lose. There is a liquidation of assets that occur.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The creation of a $50 billion bailout fund, it seemed to me, and many others, that the very existence of this fund would perpetuate the same kind of risky behavior that said to the last -- that led to the last crisis.


MALVEAUX: CNN national political correspondent Jessica Yellin, she is standing by.

I want to start off with our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.

And, Dana, you have been following all the twists and turns regarding this whole debate. Does it look like this reform bill can even make it to the floor this week?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Suzanne, the partisan bickering that has made it so hard to bridge philosophical differences, that really has defined this Congress, it is no different on this issue, even though, when you're talking about financial reform, everybody agrees that the rules for Wall Street need to be changed, so that taxpayers are not on the hook once again in a time of crisis.

But Republicans, to answer your question, do say that they believe they have all of their senators lined up in order to block Democrats from bringing the bill that they have crafted to the floor, as they want to, this week.

And one of the biggest arguments we have heard from the Republican leader is about something that's in the bill, a $50 billion fund that would be put in -- the money would be put in by actually Wall Street firms. And it would be to try to be out there as potentially a way to, you know, get the taxpayers off the hook in the future.

He says it's akin to a permanent bailout. Something really interesting, though, happened on the Senate floor today, Suzanne. A fellow Republican called out the Republican leader. It was not so subtle, didn't do it by name, but it was very clear what he was talking about, talking -- saying that the rhetoric was ludicrous and incorrect, and then he lashed out at both sides for politicizing this issue.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Rhetoric that in essence is used to sort of brand something in a way that really isn't the way that it is, to me, is not productive. And I didn't come here to do that.


BASH: Now, Corker is one of several Republicans who has been working with Democrats, negotiating for months on this issue. And he says he is pretty upset the Democrats have stopped those negotiations, want to bring it to the floor.

There are a few other Republicans who the treasury secretary met with. The main Republicans, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, today, they said that they too are not ready to vote for this yet, but if there just would be a little bit more time, that they do believe there actually could be a bipartisan solution to this very big problem.

But, Suzanne, Democrats say that they don't buy it. The White House clearly doesn't either. That's why they're pushing Democrats to get this to the Senate floor as soon as possible.

MALVEAUX: All right, Dana, thank you very much.

And covering the White House, we know that the president does not want that $50 million fund potentially to bail out those banks in this legislation.

I want to get more on the major sticking point now, that proposal for that pot of money that would be used to dismantle the failed banks.

And we bring more of that with our CNN national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, who is here.

And, Jessica, can you explain this to folks, what that's -- what is that all about? JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Let's break it down, Suzanne.

We know everyone hates bailouts. It's one thing both sides agree on. So, the question is, why is there a so-called $50 billion bailout in the bill? And why is everybody arguing about it? OK, first, the fund is not taxpayer money. It's banks' money.

And, according to the bill, banks would pay into this pot of money. It would just sit there waiting while these banks are functioning healthy. It would wait until one of these firms starts to go bad. Now, eventually, if that firm gets so sick that the government is convinced that its toxins could spread and infect the whole economy, government officials will come in and break it up.

But just like a real funeral, that costs money. There are expenses associated with smoothly closing a business. So, where would that money come from? Under this bill, it would come from that $50 billion pot of money that the banks have been paying into. So, in essence, these banks would pay for their own funeral, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: OK, so, Jessica, it sounds like the fund could be taken out of the bill as part of a negotiation, that some folks are calling for that. Where would this money come from?

YELLIN: That's right. And, as you point out, even the administration doesn't want this fund.

So, if it's negotiated out, a couple options. After one bank fails, the other surviving banks could be required to pay the funeral costs, at least. Or the other option is that taxpayer money could be used, at least temporarily. If this bailout fund doesn't exist, taxpayers could temporarily pay for the funeral costs, and it would be paid back. And that's the irony.

If you get rid of the fund, it actually increases the chance that taxpayer money will be spent, something both sides say they don't want.

MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you very much, Jessica. It's all starting to make sense now, graphic. I appreciate it. OK.

Senators subpoena the Obama administration, demanding documents from the Pentagon and the Justice Department about the Fort Hood massacre.

Plus, new research shatters a notorious 160-year legend involving cannibalism.



MALVEAUX: Anti-government protests seem to be spreading, but, with an African-American president, is race a factor in this political anger? I will ask Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. And is Pope Benedict doing enough to help heal a Catholic Church damaged by a spreading sex abuse scandal?


MALVEAUX: Fifteen years ago today, the U.S. was stunned by the Oklahoma City bombing carried out by a young Army veteran with a seething hatred of the federal government.

Now we're seeing a new wave of anti-government resentment rising, compounded in some cases by the historic election of Barack Obama.

I talked about that with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.


MALVEAUX: Madam Secretary, thank you so much for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

One of the major differences between 1995 and now is that you have an African-American president.

And this was what former President Bill Clinton said to our own Wolf Blitzer. I want you to listen.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Obama is different, and symbolizes the increasing diversity of America. And both of them -- and, for him, it's like a symbol of, he symbolizes the loss of control, of predictability, of certainty, of clarity that a lot of people need for their psychic well-being.


MALVEAUX: To what degree do you think having an African-American president factors into the philosophy or even the motivation behind some of these anti-government groups that we see today?

JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, we certainly, in some, hear it mentioned. So, it's not about speculation. It's what they're actually saying.

But, you know, the Secret Service is constantly monitoring the safety of the president and his family, and devoting the resources to make sure that the president, the vice president and their families remain safe.

And that is something that, you know, there's just no -- no quarter left unspent in order to make that happen.

MALVEAUX: To what extent, when you take a look at the these vast groups, these extremist groups, does race play a part of that? Is that a small percentage, or is that a lot of folks out there who take exception to the fact that this is an African-American president? NAPOLITANO: Well, as I said, it is mentioned by some. But lots of things are -- are now being mentioned. And so it's really hard to extrapolate from what a few are saying to what all are saying or would all believe. There's, obviously, a great deal of -- of political anger out there and angry rhetoric out there.

But as I said earlier, you know, that's something that we -- that we've had constantly in our country's history. We may not like it and don't appreciate it, but it is -- it is protected under our Constitution -- under our sense of values.

Where it's not protected was where you start moving into preparation for and carrying out of violent acts. And that's where law enforcement -- local, state and federal -- have to be synced up and leaning forward, sharing information, sharing threat information, specifically, so that the -- the risk of something violent occurring, something like an Oklahoma City, something like a 9/11 or some other horrific crime, that those risks are minimized.

MALVEAUX: What is the biggest threat now facing Americans?

Is it from a domestic attack, is it from local groups or is it from foreign groups like Al Qaeda?

NAPOLITANO: You know, I don't have the luxury of ranking those things. We have to lean forward and be prepared for both, that it could be an international terrorist or a domestic terrorist. It could be someone who is a -- a U.S. citizen who now has been trained in an international camp and come back.

All of those things are phenomenon that are currently happening in the United States. All of them are things that, you know, we are constantly working, as I said, to -- to minimize the risk that they could actually go from those kind of extremist and violent extremist beliefs into violent action.

MALVEAUX: But certainly, Madam Secretary, there's a way of measuring which -- which organization, which group, which individual is -- is most prepared and perhaps the most potentially threatening to the United States?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I -- I'm not sure. I think that's a -- you know, I think that's a question the media might ask.

I'm not sure that's quite the way that law enforcement would respond. Because if we are attacked internationally, it doesn't give any comfort if I say, yes, well, internationally, it was ranked number two or -- or the reverse. We know that there are continued attempts, for example, by Al Qaeda and its affiliates to take down commercial airliners. We saw an attempt on that on Christmas Day. We know that there are domestic militias that are organizing in the United States. We saw that with the arrest of the Michigan militia. We know that there are persons who reside in the United States who adhere to violent extremism that connects them internationally, but they wish to carry out their crimes right here in the United States. And we saw that with Zazi. And we saw that with Headley. So we need to constantly prepare for, be thinking about and be thinking ahead of all of those sorts of scenarios.

MALVEAUX: I have to ask you this. We hear you're perhaps on the short list for the Supreme Court nominee.

Have -- have you been vetted or are you considering at all a change in position?

NAPOLITANO: Look, it's -- it's flattering to be mentioned by the great mentioner. But as you can tell from this interview, I've got a pretty -- a pretty big job and I'm really focused on this job.

MALVEAUX: Would you accept it if you were nominated?

NAPOLITANO: Oh, I think that is speculation that really is not required. Like I said, I'm flattered to be mentioned, but, indeed, focused on -- on the big job that I have right now.

MALVEAUX: OK. Madam Secretary, thank you so much for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

NAPOLITANO: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: They say their rights are threatened and their they're protesting with their guns at their sides.

CNN's John King is just back from this so-called open carry rally and he'll share what he saw.

Plus, promiscuous women and earthquakes -- details of an alleged connection few people have discovered -- considered.


MALVEAUX: Deborah Feyerick is monitoring some of the other top stories coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- hi, Deb.

What are you working on?

FEYERICK: Well, Suzanne, Toyota is taking the hit all the while denying it broke the law. The automaker has decided not to fight, but instead to pay a $16.4 million government fine for failing to quickly report problems involving defective gas pedals. That is the largest penalty against an automaker in U.S. history. Toyota recalled more than two million vehicles in January. But the government says the company was aware of their problem pedals months earlier. Toyota denies breaking any law but says it wants to avoid a costly court battle.

And a suicide bombing has killed at least 22 people in Pakistan. It happened in the marketplace in the northwest city of Peshawar, near the Afghan border.

The apparent target -- police say officers who were there watching a political rally. Earlier in the day, a boy was killed by a bomb outside a school run by a police welfare foundation.

And an interesting explanation for the cause of repeated earthquakes in Iran. A cleric there is blaming promiscuous women for the country's frequent earthquakes. He's quoted in his Friday sermon saying women who dress immodestly, lead young men astray and commit adultery and that increases earthquakes. He goes on to say the only solution is to adopt to Islam's moral codes. Iran is one of the most seismically active countries in the world -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: I guess so.

Thank you, Deb.

Well, saying Americans' Second Amendment rights are in trouble, protesters took to the streets today. Here in Washington, they were not allowed to bear arms. But at a rally in Virginia, where it is legal to openly carry certain weapons, some took full advantage.

Our CNN's John King, he's joining me now. And he hosts "JOHN KING USA" at the top of the hour -- John, you were at that rally. I'm sure you saw a lot of people who were -- who were packing.

What was the mood?

What -- what was their cause?

JOHN KING, HOST: It was an interesting afternoon, Suzanne, an interesting day. They were out there all day. And it was, number one, evidence of the rich disaffection many of these people have with their government. And what was striking about it is that they were in a national park land right on the edge of the Potomac River, allowed to carry their weapons in there because of a law signed by who?

Barack Obama.

Remember, when he signed a law not that long ago...


KING: -- he didn't like this part of it. But it included allowing you to carry a weapon on federal park land.

So many of them were there with their weapons. They believe they have that right and they wanted to demonstrate their Second Amendment rights. But the complaints were not so much about guns. Yes, some of them think that President Obama and the Democrats want to infringe on their Second Amendment rights. But the broader argument was much more disaffection with government, the health care bill. They say it's not grounded in the Constitution. George W. Bush's bailouts.

What was most interesting about it to me was, yes, they were disaffected; yes, they're not fans of this Democratic president or the Democratic Congress; but they had a lot of complaints about George W. Bush and saying a lot of Republicans also created what they believe to be a government that is out of touch with the people and out of touch with the Constitution.

Not that many people. A relatively modest celebration. Very polite. They're angry, don't get me wrong. But they were demonstrating in a very polite way.

The question is, are they -- their critics say they're fringe and that they're wrong, number one.

Their critics say they're also wrong that Second Amendment rights are under siege. But they are part of -- when you add up all the pieces -- the Tea Party was here last week. Now you have these Constitutionalists, states rights, gun rights folks.

When you add them all up, what happens in November?

Because they're less happy with Democrats than Republicans.


KING: But they're not happy with any politician.

So how does that manifest itself between now and November?

It's a big question.

MALVEAUX: I'm curious about the whole idea of the Second Amendment, because what do they point to in the Obama administration, because the president, during the campaign and now has said he's never, you know, said taking your guns away is an important thing for him to do or his administration.

Where are they getting that from -- that fear, that concern, that they're not going to be able to bear arms under his administration?

KING: I was asking that question, saying in the 15 months of this administration, point to one thing this president has done to take your guns away.


KING: And they can't. And, again, in fact, they're in that park because of a law the president reluctantly signed.

One thing they do remember, remember that fundraiser where he was recorded on tape saying there are people out there who cling to their God and their guns?

They remember that. Another thing, Secretary Clinton, at the State Department, has urged the United Nations to pass this ban on small arms around the world. And they take that, as well, that the United Nations -- they're very mistrustful of the United Nations, even more so than the United States Congress. And they see this as some back door way to take away weapons.

But if you ask what has the president signed into law, yes, he's on the record as saying he supports reinstating the assault weapons ban.

But has the White House lobbied for any big gun controls?

The answer to that is no.

MALVEAUX: All right. Well, John, we look forward to seeing your show very shortly.

Thank you.

Well, is Pope Benedict doing enough to heal the wounds in the Catholic Church amid a spreading sex abuse scandal?



MALVEAUX: After a quiet meeting with victims of sex abuse by priests in Malta, Pope Benedict XVI was back at the Vatican today, marking the fifth anniversary of his election.

But is he doing enough to heal the wounds in a Catholic Church beset by scandal?

Our Brian Todd -- he's been looking into this -- Brian, obviously, they're trying to move forward here.

What are they -- what are they doing?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, to move forward, that's the really central question here, Suzanne, that many are asking. There are so many who are applauding pope's latest mess -- meeting with sex abuse victims. But some observers say really does not move the meter forward for really addressing this scandal.


TODD: (voice-over): He's met only three times with sex abuse victims. The latest, like the others, was in private. With the most serious crisis surrounding the church in recent memory threatening to engulf his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI is being scrutinized over his ability to publicly manage the abuse scandal.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: I think it's an open question whether simply allowing these questions that have raised about -- that have been raised about his record to linger, whether, ultimately, that's going to work as an exit strategy from this crisis.

CNN Vatican analyst John Allen is referring to allegations back when he was archbishop of Munich the pope responded inadequately to an abuse scandal.

Benedict's defenders say he didn't know the details of that case.

But analysts say the Vatican's had a fractured overall response to mounting allegations of priest abuse in Europe and they question whether the pope or those around him can craft a wider message of zero tolerance to church leaders and get the public to buy in.

I spoke with Mark Serrano from a group called Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. Serrano says the priest who abused him for four years was also shuffled around to other dioceses. Years after he Serrano reached a settlement with the church, he broke his confidentiality agreement. And he says, since then, 24 other men came out and said they were abused by the same priest.

MARK SERRANO, PRIEST ABUSE VICTIM: What is it going to take for this pope -- this papacy to address the culture of this situation once and for all, to -- to make people feel satisfied that they are really kind of taking this problem on, head on and moving forward in a positive way?

It's astonishing that the Vatican still things like meetings with victims meaningless, symbolic public relations gesture is action. Real action is making bishops fully accountable for hiding sex offenders in the church. In the U.S., the policy has -- for child protection, has no penalty for bishops who do not comply.


TODD: Serrano says no bishop has really been held accountable for the practice of moving sex offenders to different dioceses.

Contacted by CNN to respond to that, an official with the Conference of Catholic Bishops says the bishops in the United States are held accountable by their fellow bishops and by others in their dioceses. This official pointed to the case of Cardinal Bernard France Law, who resigned as archbishop of Boston because people in that diocese were not satisfied with his handling of the abuse scandal there -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: So, Brian, the scandal has hit hard in the United States. It's now sweeping across Europe.

TODD: Right.

MALVEAUX: Do we expect to see another front when it comes to this sex abuse scandal?

TODD: Many observers and analysts believe that the next front in this has got to come from the Southern Hemisphere. And when you look at the breakdown of where the Catholics are in the world, where they live, that would seem to bear it out. This is a map from the group This is a group that kind of breaks down Catholic trends around the world. You see the largest concentration of Catholics here in the Southern Hemisphere is in Latin America, clearly, there in Paraguay, Brazil and other places there.

But there's also a trend in Africa, in sub-Saharan Africa, where missionary work has really kind of raised the profile of the Catholic Church there and gotten many more converts.

Suzanne, what Mark Serrano says, he's especially worried about the trend in Africa. More and more people are converting to go Catholicism there. More people may be dependent on the Catholic Church for us sustenance in some areas, so they may be less apt to report abuse when they experience it. That's a real concern right now.

MALVEAUX: So they suspect that we may see cases in many, many other parts of the world?

TODD: That's right. Especially in the Southern Hemisphere. They say look for that to be the next front in this overall wave of -- of the abuse scandal.


Thank you very much, Brian.

Jack Cafferty is next with your e-mail.

Plus, the volcano whose name is causing almost as many problems as its ash.

CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a Moost Unusual look.


MALVEAUX: Time now to check back in with Jack Cafferty -- hi, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Suzanne, the question this hour, what message does it send if -- to incumbents, if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trailing by double digits in his home state?

John in Arizona: "Reid tried to shift too far to the right to make the Republicans happy with the health reform bill and he lost the American people in the process. And he didn't get any Republican votes anyway."

Richard in Texas: "This may be an omen of things to come, Jack. It has happened already in Massachusetts. It could sweep across America the same way. I think Americans are tired of the good old boys and girls system and are ready for some new blood in the political gene pool -- hopefully, this time some people with ethics and a spine." Rob writes: "The message is clear. Harry is getting a helmet strapped on his head and is being launched out of Washington, along with the rest of his deadbeat friends running our country." David in Las Vegas: "It shows real anger at all incumbents and, unfortunately, a lack of common sense here in Nevada. If we don't re- elect Harry Reid, we'll have one freshman senator with no influence and one disgraced senator who should resign."

Lynda in North Carolina: "The message I hope it sends is that if term limits are not enacted, we voters will create them by voting all the incumbents out when their time is up. And for most of the career politicians sitting in Washington, that time has long since passed."

Sara writes: "John McCain's trailing in the polls, as well. Maybe you should ask what that says about him. He was the runner-up for president, after all."

And John in Colorado: " I doubt Harry Reid's problems transfer to other Democrats running for re-election. Harry has an unfortunate gene malfunction that causes him to appear on television as a person without a personality. For most of us who don't know him, we doubt he could even fog a mirror, let alone be a U.S. senator. He's probably much better than that, it just doesn't show -- or maybe he isn't."

If you want to read more on this, go to my blog at

It makes him appear on television as a person born without a personality. I can relate to that -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Very strong opinions there.

Thank you, Jack.

We'll, it may be the most famous name that no one can pronounce.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eyjafjallajokull?

I really don't know.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eyjafjallajokull.


MALVEAUX: It's the volcano whose eruption is disrupting world travel.

Our CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a Moost Unusual look.


MALVEAUX: A most unusual volcano name deserves a Moost Unusual look.

Here is our CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While it spewed ashes, newscasters spewed a molten lava of syllables.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Eyjafjallajokull.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eyjafjallajokull. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's Eyjafjallajokull.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eyjafjallajokull.


MOOS: It's a name so unpronounceable, we can't even tell when someone says it right.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm not going to get this name right, but it's Eyjafjallajokull.


MOOS: Most of us are so terrified of its 16 letters...


MOOS: We avoid any mention of the name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the volcano.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From that volcano, whose name nobody can pronounce.

MOOS: "Saturday Night Live" caught onto the way the press is suffering from "volcanic naming avoidance syndrome."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like huge clouds of ash shot into air by Iceland's -- I hope I'm saying this right -- volcano.


MOOS: The real networks are trotting out Icelandic interpreters.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The pronunciation is Eyjafjallajokull.








AL ROKER: The glacier is called Eyjafjallajokull.

Am I pronouncing that correctly?


ROKER: Nearly?


ROKER: How do I pronounce it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, jeez. It looks like we have lost Al.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see, that's what happens when you try and pronounce the name of that volcano.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He might have said something dirty.


MOOS: Even showing folks the name doesn't necessarily help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eyjafjallajokull.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jolijala (ph). Jopu. I don't know.

MOOS (on camera): Altogether, now.


MOOS (voice-over): It's time to go up to Iceland to get schooled by the natives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eyja means island. Fjalla means mountain and jokull means glacier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An easy name to say. Eyjafjallajokull.

MOOS: Yes, well, what English words trip them up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pneumonia. Or how do you spell it? Panommia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To have the same as tired, being weary or something. I cannot say it. I've been percentage for 60 years.

MOOS: Then we have 60 years to learn this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's pronounced similar to yo, I forget the La Yogurt. (VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS (on camera): I like the La Yogurt part.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The La Yogurt is kind of close.

MOOS (voice-over): The U.S. military has figured out a way around pronouncing it.

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Operation E15. E for the first letter of the volcano, 15 for the 15 letters following that.

MOOS: And so has this lady.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we're just going to call it Bob.


MOOS: If you can't say it, make like this opera singer and sing it.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN...


MOOS: -- New York.


MALVEAUX: I've never been able to say that.

Remember, you can follow what's going on in THE SITUATION ROOM on Twitter. Follow me at That is all one word.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.